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Hell's Paradise: Jigokuraku (地獄楽 Jigokuraku?) is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Yūji Kaku. It has been serialized weekly on the Shōnen Jump+ application and website since January 22, 2018. The series has been licensed by Viz Media for an English release in North America.

History

The storyboards for the first three chapters of Hell's Paradise: Jigokuraku were brought to the Shōnen Jump+ editorial staff in 2017. A big fan of Yuji Kaku's art since Fantasma in Jump Square, Hideaki Sakakibara enthusiastically volunteered to take on the series and became its second editor with chapters two and three. He believed that Hell's Paradise was the "mainstream battle fantasy" series that Jump Plus was still lacking and could become a best-seller in print.

Sakakibara was initially concerned with the "multi-protagonist story" of the prisoners, executioners, and the island's creatures. Although he thought having the Battle Royale-style story in a manga would be interesting, he worried it would cause a badly paced story where they would have to split up the pages between characters and be unable to show the main characters' actions as much. However, he credits Kaku's genius at quickly and simply introducing characters and his drawing talent for making it all work.

Plot

During the Edo period, Gabimaru, an emotionless shinobi assassin, known far and wide as Gabimaru the Hollow, serves his village, Iwagakure, by killing the targets he has been assigned to without a shred of remorse. After proving his worth to his village leader, Gabimaru was rewarded with marriage to the chief's daughter. As he spent his time with her, Gabimaru developed feelings for his wife, which was made apparent by the village leader after Gabimaru asked that he give up his life of crime and be given permission to live a normal life with her. Before he was given answer, Gabimaru was ordered by the village leader to carry out one last mission, which he accepts, however, Gabimaru was betrayed by the village after they left him to be arrested and sentenced to death.

Gabimaru undergoes many forms of executions after subconsciously resisting and surviving each one. At the same time, he is interviewed by a woman reporter but later reveals herself to be Yamada Asaemon Sagiri, a member of a clan of highly skilled executioners called the Yamada clan. Sagiri initial attempts to execute Gabimaru but, after hearing about his past, gives him the chance to be free of his wrong doings and live the normal life he desired with his wife by offering him a mission requested by the shogun. She explains that the shogun is looking to gather a group of death row criminals to compete for a pardon he is willing to give away if one of them can retrieve the Elixir of Life from an island that was recently discovered and believed to be Shinsenkyō, however, Gabimaru is warned that the island is dangerous since five expeditions had not made it back. With the thought of seeing his wife again motivating him, Gabimaru accepts and becomes one out of the ten criminals sent to the island along with Yamada Asaemon's as monitors.

Jigokuraku follows the character development of the surviving criminals and executioners as they try to take on the dangers the island has in store for them. After they all gathered together, they see that working with each other is their best bet in survival to complete the mission and return back to Japan.

Lord Tensen, a group of seven immortals, are presented as the main villains throughout the series. Later, a second landing party puts themselves in the middle of the conflict with little regards for the first team's current situation.

Chapters

Main article: Chapters and Volumes

Reception

As of June 2019, over 1 million copies of Hell's Paradise: Jigokuraku were in circulation. Volume two of the series sold 16,328 copies during its first week of release, while volume four sold 20,139. Volume five sold 45,912 copies in its first week.

With 16,510 votes, the series came in 11th place in the Web Manga Category of the Next Manga Awards 2018, organized by Niconico and Da Vinci magazine.

An exhibition of Kaku's manuscripts and illustrations from the series was held at Tokyo Manga Salon Trigger from November 3–9, 2018.

Hell's Paradise: Jigokuraku came in fourth on Honya Club's Nationwide Bookstore Employees' Recommended Comics of 2018 list, compiled by surveying 1,100 professional bookstore employees in Japan.

In the 2019 edition of Kono Manga ga Sugoi!, which surveys people in the manga and publishing industry, Hell's Paradise: Jigokuraku was one of three series tied for 16th place on its list of the best manga series for male readers.

Reviewing the first chapter for The Fandom Post, Chris Beveridge gave it a B grade for its artwork, interesting ideas and covering a lot of ground in its setup so it can move forward. The end reveal reminded him of the novel Annihilation. However, he felt the structure was a little awkward and expressed concern that it would fall into the "usual manga storytelling traps."

External link

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