Why I love Hell’s Paradise and why we chose it as part of our first show-specific launch
My true obsession with anime (and manga) began in recent years after I started to appreciate how storytelling could be enhanced by the choice of art style, audio engineering, and allusion to folklore and mythology, along with a wealth of other intentional choices. When we decided to begin designing subtle anime apparel for specific shows, I was compelled to feature Hell’s Paradise as one of our first releases.
Hell's Paradise: Jigokuraku is a dark fantasy anime that blends elements of action, mystery, and supernatural horror. Set against the backdrop of a perilous island filled with monstrous creatures, the show follows Gabimaru, an assassin on death row, who is given a chance at a pardon if he brings back the elixir of life from the island.
Described as one of the ‘Dark Trio,’ Hell’s Paradise has been elevated alongside Chainsawman and Jujutsu Kaisen as the bloodier ‘second coming’ of the original Big Three (Naruto, One Piece, and Bleach) of Shounen anime.
The Dark Trio
The Big Three
Shounen are shows targeted at youth male audiences and are typically characterized by juvenile humor and battle sequences. Some of the first shows to reach popularity at scale in the U.S. were Shounen, which is one contributing factor to the early perception that anime viewers skewed male in the U.S., particularly following the anime boom of the 1990s.
However, the Dark Trio differ from the Big Three in a few important ways. While the Big Three sit squarely in the center of the Shounen genre (unsurprising as they arguably helped to define the genre itself), the Dark Trio blurs the line between Shounen and Seinen, shows intended for more mature audiences, due to the level of gore and discussion of complex themes. This evolution mirrors the aging of Big Three fans, now in their late 20s and 30s.
The elements of horror in the Dark Trio also broadens the audience outside the traditional young male core. This is not to say that women do not enjoy traditional Shounen, but according to research conducted by Interpret LA, horror is one of the top genres watched by an anime viewer persona which skews >60% female.
*minor spoilers ahead*
A Dark Story Told with Vibrant Images
"Hell's Paradise" is a visual feast of color. Unlike Jujutsu Kaisen, which favors darker hues of blue and red, viewers are treated to a cascade of vibrant yellow, orange, pink, purple, and red hues.
These bright colors, which usually generate positive feelings, contrast sharply with the dark story. One of my favorite elements of anime is the way the art choices contributed to the depth of the story. Here, the contrast between the visuals and the story mirrors the contradiction of the elixir, something that should make a person immortal but requires death to generate.
A Nod to Traditional Lore
Many anime find grounding in Japanese history, mythology, and religion. Hell’s Paradise is no exception, but it approaches it uniquely by placing overlapping elements from Japanese and Chinese lore side-by-side.
Shinsenkyo is inspired by Chinese history and lore that originated around 200 BC (Qin Dynasty). Chinese alchemist and explorer Xu Fu (Japanese: Jofuku) was tasked by Emperor Qin Shi Huang to retrieve the elixir of life from the immortals that resided on the mountain island of Penglai (Japanese: Hōrai). Though historical texts are unclear about Xu Fu’s final destination, the presence of similar myths and texts referencing his travels implies that his journey took him to Japan.
The protagonists in Hell's Paradise are equivalents of Chinese mythological elements, who hail from Japan. As they traverse the island, they are gradually introduced to Chinese philosophical and mythological aspects, such as Chi cultivation, the primal substance in Daoism.
This provides a captivating exploration of diverse cultural influences, something that resonates with us particularly strongly at Chaku as an American company celebrating cultural influences from Japan.
Why Hell's Paradise for Chaku Apparel?
Choosing "Hell's Paradise" as one of our inaugural releases was a decision rooted in respect and admiration. The show encapsulates so many elements of what I believe makes a truly great anime. Moreover, its artistry aligns seamlessly with Chaku Apparel's ethos. We strive to create designs that are subtle yet impactful, ones that resonate deeply with those familiar with the reference. "Hell's Paradise" provides a canvas that embodies this vision, making it the perfect choice for our brand. Just like we hope to achieve, the beauty of Hell’s Paradise is what is hiding beneath the obvious.
At Chaku Apparel, we're passionate about anime fashion and female anime apparel in particular. We're excited to introduce our latest collection that truly pays tribute to this captivating series. Grab your Hell's Paradise Button Shirt here!
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