A perfect manga for bloodthirsty people
There is a certain quality in Bloody Battle manga like Gantz and The attack of the Titans where it feels like our main characters could die at any time. It’s an addicting subgenre, and for those hungry for another blood-soaked title they can sink their teeth into, look no further than Heaven from Hell: Jigokuraku, written and illustrated by Yuji Kaku. The series began serialization in Shonen Jump + in 2018 and ended airing in January 2021 with 13 volumes collected. Heaven from hell is a dark and bloody action manga bursting with style and tension and that is exactly what you should be doing for your next manga.
Heaven from hell opens with the execution of Gabimaru the Hollow, a master ninja, infamous for his composure on his missions and his utter lack of empathy for those he slaughters. Gabimaru is about to be beheaded, but the blade simply shatters upon impact with his neck. The death row ninja seems apathetic to the idea of living, but every attempt at execution, whether burned at the stake or torn by cattle, ends in complete failure. During his imprisonment, he begins to speak with an archivist about his life with the Iwagakure shinobi clan and how he married the chief’s daughter. It is then revealed that the record keeper is in fact an executioner of a famous clan of blade testers and offers Gabimaru an opportunity to earn his freedom.
In the southwestern seas lies a mysterious island known as Shinsenkyo, known for its beautiful floral surroundings. Rumor has it that an elixir of life exists somewhere on this island that is believed to grant immortality to whoever drinks it. However, the island itself is a complete mystery, as whoever returns from it comes back in the form of a smiling corpse overgrown with flowers. To gain his freedom and return to his wife, Gabimaru must venture to Shinsenkyo, along with several other criminals on death row, and bring back the elixir of life for the shogun.
What are you investing in Heaven from hell quickly, is that we do not waste time in these first chapters. Chapter One establishes Gabimaru, Chapter Two introduces the rest of the supporting cast of criminals and executioners sent on this journey, and in Chapter Three we have already made landfall on this mysterious island. He set the bar high for one goal in mind, and from there, his 127 chapters are in the service of achieving that goal. There’s no filler or fluff that slows the pace of this suicide mission, and the manga is still able to explore its characters and world to its fullest potential.
Moreover, although it has a more serious tone, Heaven from hell certainly hits that Suicide Squad feel if you still want it after the latest James Gunn movie. Initially, around 40 prisoners are selected for this deadly excursion, except that instead of having bombs implanted in the head, each inmate is paired with one of the members of the Yamada Asaemon clan. They are all master executioners renowned for their ability to behead a person in one fell swoop without any pain. If a prisoner tries to escape, attack his executioner, or provoke him in any way, his partner will kill him before he even realizes it.
As Suicide Squad you get a feeling right away that anyone in this cast could die at any time, not just from what may be lurking on this island but from the men and women they are associated with, and that really makes for a read. tense like you ‘you never know when you can let your guard down, just like those same prisoners.
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Take Gabimaru’s partner, Sagiri, for example. Sagiri is unique in that she is one of the very few executions of women in the Yamada Asaemon clan, and this has unfairly earned her a great deal of contempt from some of her more “traditionalist” relatives. Although a little inexperienced, Sagiri is no slouch when it comes to the blade. She’s competent enough to keep Gabimaru on her toes, and her strict and diligent personality bounces off the easy-going ninja pretty well.
Sagiri isn’t the only compelling character on this list either; even the MC, Gabimaru, has more to do than he suggests. Gabimaru was raised to be the ultimate killing machine for his clan, which is how he earned the nickname “The Hollow”, but married life was what opened his heart to emotion. Gabimaru’s wife made him feel things he thought were unnecessary. She taught him what it meant to be human and that at the end of the day, he didn’t have to live a blood-soaked life if he didn’t want to.
That’s why Gabimaru is on this death trap on an island in search of an elixir that may not even be real. All this so that he can return to his wife and start a life she can be proud of. It’s a simple motivation, but also a serious one, especially in the way he puts it so boldly in the face of the overwhelming obstacles he faces on this island.
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The rest of the supporting actors all bring a fun and unique perspective to this situation. The fun-loving kunoichi, Yuzuhira, is realistic about their situation, but cunning enough to know how to use the people around her to her advantage. The king of bandits, Aza Chobei, is fearless no matter what he faces and is ready to tear anything in his path just to have the elixir of life for himself. Even other executioners like Tenza and Shion, who carry honor and compassion in their hearts, can see that these convicts are more than criminals, and can put aside their differences in the service of survival.
Of course, what elevates this series is the force with which it is communicated that this is truly a suicide mission for these characters, as the more they venture into the island, the more dangerous it becomes. . Yuji Kaku brings out the most gruesome and unnatural conceptions of Shinsekyo’s ecology and wildlife. From unnatural human-faced insects that inhabit the forest, to the weirder monsters that seem to share some commonalities with Tao and Buddhist symbolism, to what lies in the heart of this island, waiting and watching humans come here.
As of this writing, the series is complete and 10 of its total 13 physical volumes have already received Western versions. If you want a more affordable way to test whether the series is for you or not, all 127 chapters in the series are also available to read on the Viz Media website with a $ 2 per month Shonen Jump subscription. If you are looking for a solid fighting manga with excellent art, fun characters and a tense atmosphere, give Heaven from Hell: Jigokuraku a shot.
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