One of the most popular series of Shonen Jump+! Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku attracts much attention for its rapid developments that betrays reader expectations. Fujimoto-sensei, a good friend of Kaku-sensei ever since working together on Fire Punch, talks about the unique characters of the story.
Criminal vs executor, humans vs monsters, it’s a life or death ninja-adventure story.
Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku Yuji Kaku
The story takes place on an island which grows an immortal herbal medicine. A battle for life or death between a sinner, an executioner and the monsters that nest on the island. Creator Yuji Kaku has the experience of supporting Fujimoto-sensei’s first series Fire Punch as an assistant.
Hot topic manga Chainsaw Man serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump!
Chainsaw Man Tatsuki Fujimoto
From 2016 to 2018, his first serialized work Fire Punch was distributed on Shonen Jump +. A story about Agni, engulfed in the flames of madness, in a world where people are afraid of the cold snow closing in on the world. Since the release of the first chapter, the story has attracted a lot of interest. Currently, Fujimoto’s Chainsaw Man is serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump. It has become popular with its unconventional characters, such as the main character Denji, who is faithful to his own desires and inherits the power of a demon.
Tell us about the characters from Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku (hereinafter referred to as Jigokuraku)
Fujimoto: I’ve heard that he(Kaku-sensei) has solidified and incorporated the ideas about the various aspects of character design we talked about when working together on Fire Punch. There are various changes in detailed settings, for example, which character is strong, but the designs are still as they were when we discussed it back then. Also, I often talked with Kaku-sensei how current readers do not read the character backgrounds and explanations sandwiched between stories. I said that in order for the story to proceed at a good tempo, it was necessary to convey that the explanations “existed there” and I think Jigokuraku does this very well.
Interviewer: I remember there were a lot of people who liked talking about manga at the Fire Punch workplace.
What is the most impressive part of Kaku-sensei’s character drawing?
Fujimoto: What I find impressive about Jigokuraku is the shadows drawn on the characters. It’s hard to explain, but when you try to draw emotions on a character, it becomes a bit too much if you draw in a lot of facial expressions. But adding in shadows doesn’t make it overwhelming. I think Jigokuraku draws this in a really good way. Also, this isn’t about the characters but there’s a scene where I thought “oh, so this is how Kaku-sensei will draw this''. It’s the scene where the Tensen gathers and it’s drawn as a night-pool looking place. For the Tensen, sexual intercourse is part of their training right? So with that in mind, I feel in the current day and age you’d think of a night pool looking place as their stronghold. Of course, in the world of Jigokuraku a night pool isn’t realistic but drawing something similar to it gives a bit of realism. For example, if the place was drawn as a dark cave looking place, there’s no romantic atmosphere so it would be hard to have sexual intercourse. However, a night pool seems more “like it”. This is just my prediction, but I think Kaku-sensei dislikes places such as a night pool in the real world and has drawn it as the place where the villains prosper (haha).
What impression do you get from the main character Gabimaru?
Fujimoto: When I’m reading the series, I feel that the main character Gabimaru is a lot like Kaku-sensei himself. At the start of the story he is portrayed as an outrageous character, however the more you read, his kindness appears and grows. Even in the story itself it was pointed out that his impression has changed quite a bit. Kaku-sensei himself is an ordinary person at first glance, but when you dig down and listen to his story, you find out he’s interested in very unusual things (haha). I felt that such unexpectedness is similar to Gabimaru.
However, I believe that the main character should be similar to the creator. The main character appears the most throughout the story right? That’s why it’s easier to write, if the creator makes their own emotions as the main character’s emotions. If you try to force the main character to have different feelings from yourself, it won’t continue. So, I believe there’s no choice but for the main character and creator to be alike.
Who is your favorite character from Jigokuraku?
Fujimoto: I like Sagiri. When I first saw her, I thought “Kaku-sensei has intentionally drawn a character that’s my type!”. As with Sagiri, the women drawn by Kaku-sensei are designed on the premise that they are “all cute”. There is quite a lot of variation with the men, like body size, cool or gross guys and stupid guys but all the women are cute. There’s a reason for this too. When I was trying to draw a woman that I didn’t like in Fire Punch, Kaku-sensei said, “you don’t have to do that. All the girls can be cute!!”. But, in the end I drew a girl I didn’t like. However, after her first appearance she gradually changed to a type of girl I like (haha). I learnt that you should just include your favorite elements in the female characters. That’s why in Chainsaw Man I keep in mind for the girls that they’re “all cute”(haha).
What impression do you have about the monsters that appear in Jigokuraku?
Fujimoto: When making an unpleasant design, you need a lot of energy. I know because I went to an art university. When you try to make a “very beautiful model,” over a long period of time, something starts to look off about it. While making it, you become unable to see the work objectively and so the neck may become longer or the ears become too big and it’s still beautiful, however there’s a bit of unpleasantness within it. I feel that in Jigokuraku there are many creatures that express that same unpleasantness common to such “beautiful models''. For example, the Tensen transforms to become a flower-like creature, but the face will be on the flower petal and furthermore turned inside out so it makes you feel “creeped out”. I find this really cool but normal people would feel a bit uncomfortable.
Also, the creatures from Jigokuraku look like creatures that came out of the games Silent Hill or SIREN, but Kaku-sensei doesn’t play games so I don’t think he got his inspiration from there. Then, when I saw Hōko, I felt that the inspiration came from works of art that use tree trunks and branches to express people.
What character from Jigokuraku will you be drawing?
Fujimoto: The character I like most is definitely Gabimaru, but the character I want to draw is Sagiri. Also, I’ve never drawn a character wearing a hakama like hers, but it looks fun to draw, so I’m excited.