The titular Hell's Paradise from MAPPA's Hell's Paradise

This Period Anime About A Ninja Is Set To Be the Biggest Anime of the Season

Even though it’s been regularly dipping below freezing where I live (fun!), it’s ostensibly spring time. Which means exactly one very important thing—a new anime season is upon us. With the winter 2023 season finished, it’s time to sort through the new slate of series and decide what to prioritize watching, what to place in the “we’ll see if I get to it” pile, and what to skip. We consider how and if we can catch up with The Ancient Magus Bride or Dr. STONE. Will Nezuko chill outside of her box more this season?

Recommended Videos

But if you want something fresh and new, something you don’t have to catch up on, I have an emphatic suggestion about a series to prioritize. What if I told you there’s a new series by the studio behind Chainsaw Man and the final season of Attack on Titan that takes place in the Edo period? Where the main character is a ninja? And the secondary protagonist is a badass female ronin/executioner? With horror vibes? Welcome to Hell’s Paradise.

Related: Top 10 Best Harem Anime of All Time on Twinfinite

What’s the set up of Hell’s Paradise?

If you’re hoping that an anime taking place during the Edo period (1603-1867) means samurai and ninjas, you’re in luck! Well, technically, Hell’s Paradise features a ronin, not a samurai. But a ronin is just a samurai who doesn’t work for a lord. Which means you can make a good argument ronin are more badass, because they don’t submit to The Man.Samurai became a ruling class of their own in the Edo period, anyway. So ronin are where it’s at.

Spoilers for Hell’s Paradise’s first episode below!

Anyway, the opening moments of Hell’s Paradise do not fuck around. The first thing you see is blood dripping on a flower. The second thing you see is severed heads. At this point, MAPPA has a reputation for well-executed gore. And that’s exactly what we get here. The series begins with a lord attempting to kill an apparently unkillable man. The first dialogue tells us that it takes several sword chops sword to sever someone’s neck. Who knew!

So that’s the vibe. We learn the unkillable man’s name is Gabimaru, and he’s the best of the best from a village of highly-trained, ruthless ninjas. We eventually learn that he was captured because he insulted the village chief, who is his wife’s shitty dad. Gabimaru proposed leaving the village, because he wants his wife to live a better life in a place where she’s not just seen as a child-bearing machine. I like Gabimaru very much.

Meanwhile, a woman takes great interest in learning as much as she can about Gabimaru in between execution attempts. At the end of the episode, we learn she’s Yamada Asaemon Sagiri, a ronin and executioner. She scares the shit of out everyone in a room just by unsheathing her sword. I like Yamada very much, too.

The color palette of the episode so far has been notably gray. But Yamada proposes a deal to Gabimaru: if he can use his village’s ninja know-how to get the Elixir of Life from the lush and beautiful “Paradise,” she’ll give him a pardon. The problem is, no one comes back from Paradise alive. They come back chopped into little pieces in boats filled with beautiful flowers, blooming buds erupting from their eye sockets. Hence the “horror” vibe.

Where and when can I watch this most badass of series?

Gabimaru and Yamada Asaemon Sagiri in Hell's Paradise

If you are somehow still not convinced about Hell’s Paradise, we even get to see some ninjutsu (ninja stuff!) before the episode’s over. The more Japanese media you watch, the more you realize Western culture has simplified and pigeonholed ninjas to their extreme detriment. (What else is new?) Gabimaru doesn’t don a black hood, jump real fast, and shoot shuriken. Gabimaru sets himself on fire. With his mind. Or something.

So an excellent start, on every front. Hell’s Paradise is the kind of series where I’m already wonder what the actual hell will happen next week. New episodes will drop every Saturday for the rest of the spring season. The simulcast streams on Crunchyroll at 11:30 AM ET. I’m pumped as hell.

(Featured image: MAPPA)

The Mary Sue is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more about our Affiliate Policy
Image of Kirsten Carey
Kirsten Carey
Kirsten (she/her) is a contributing writer at the Mary Sue specializing in anime and gaming. In the last decade, she's also written for Channel Frederator (and its offshoots), Screen Rant, and more. In the other half of her professional life, she's also a musician, which includes leading a very weird rock band named Throwaway. When not talking about One Piece or The Legend of Zelda, she's talking about her cats, Momo and Jimbei.