Hell's Paradise: Yui Is The Source Of Gabimaru's Strength

Jul 19, 2023
Hell's Paradise: Jigokuraku's power system is all about finding balance, and Gabimaru's wife is truly the Yin to his Yang.
Hell's Paradise: Yui Is The Source Of Gabimaru's Strength

In Hell's Paradise: Jigokuraku, the fundamental source of energy, Tao, is responsible for the power in all living things. Like the real-life Taoist teachings of China, the Tao of Hell's Paradise can only be correctly harnessed by achieving a balance of weakness and strength, or Yin and Yang.

As an assassin raised in the Shinobi village of Iwakagure, Gabimaru was trained to achieve pure power and mercilessness in combat from an early age. However, that merciless nature began to waver due to his relationship with his wife, Yui, leading him to entirely refuse to kill altogether. While the change in demeanor inspired by his wife appeared to be the source of Gabimaru's weakness to his shinobi peers, that weakness would later prove to be his greatest advantage in achieving the balance of Tao necessary to survive the overwhelming power of Lord Tensen.

The Real-Life Inspiration Behind Tao in Hell's Paradise (and How it Works in the Series)

Taoism is a philosophical and spiritual tradition introduced in Lao Tzu's "Tao Te Ching," written around 600 BCE. Its essence lies in guiding individuals toward achieving harmony between themselves and the world. Through inner balance, Taoist practitioners aim to enter a state of natural alignment with the universe, characterized by spontaneity and tranquility. According to Taoist teachings, the true nature of Tao cannot be fully captured in words but can only be grasped through direct experience and immersion. As Lao Tzu wisely states, "The Tao that can be described is not the eternal Tao."

In Hell's Paradise, just as in the real Taoíst teaching, there are several ways one can set out to achieve the inner balance of Tao. Through practicing consistent meditation, patient compassion, and even mindful copulation, Taoist practitioners hope to reach the state of Tao. In fact, sexuality takes a strong place in Hell's Paradise's understanding of Tao, as the Tensen openly practice what they call Bochu Jutsu in order to circulate the Yin and Yang between one another. Ultimately, in Taoist philosophy, the main purpose of the practice is to achieve the middle path between extremes. This middle path, symbolized by the dichotomy of Yin and Yang, requires recognizing that all things are in a state of constant fluctuation between good and bad, light and dark, and positive and negative.

The story expands further when considering the principles of Taoism, which include the concept of the five phases representing the physical elements of the world within the balance of Yin and Yang. These five phases are Minor Yang (wood), Major Yang (fire), Yin/Yang (earth), Major Yin (water), and Minor Yin (metal). These elemental properties play a significant role in Hell's Paradise, shaping the characters' associations and aligning with the concept of Tao. For instance, Gabimaru embodies the element of fire, Sagiri is connected to wood, and Nurugai embodies water as their elemental properties within the series.

How Gabimaru's Wife Gives Him Strength Through Weakness

There are multiple ways that Gabimaru's wife provides him strength, and they all have their root in the Tao. One of the simplest ways she keeps him balanced is that she gives him someone to fight for. The power of having someone to fight for is an important source of strength in Hell's Paradise and a reoccurring theme throughout the series. This is seen in several characters throughout the series. Some good examples of this phenomenon are seen in the relationship between the Aza brothers, as well as in Tenza and Nurugai's relationship.

Chobei's survival in the Tan pit was fueled by his unwavering determination to protect his brother, showcasing the power of his resolve. Similarly, when faced with Lord Tensen, Tenza's unwavering will to fight for his master and new disciple empowered him to hold the Tensen at bay, allowing the others to escape. This selfless desire to fight for others serves as a significant source of Gabimaru's own fighting spirit. His unwavering dedication to his wife drives him to do whatever it takes to return to her, regardless of the obstacles.

Another profound way Yui strengthens Gabimaru is through her love, which softens him and grants him the ability to balance and access his Tao. Raised as a shinobi in Iwagakure, Gabimaru was conditioned to be cold, ruthless, and strong. However, these qualities alone are insufficient for harnessing Tao. Tao demands a balance between coldness and warmth, ruthlessness and kindness, and strength and weakness. Yui's love provides Gabimaru with precisely that equilibrium. Although his peers viewed Yui's love as a source of weakness, they failed to realize that embracing that vulnerability would ultimately lead to even greater strength for Gabimaru.

During Gabimaru's memory loss and his return to his ruthless assassin nature while battling Chobei, the true role of Tao in combat was put to the test. Initially clouded by anger, Gabimaru struggled to fight Chobei. However, Mei managed to remind him of what he was fighting for, triggering his memory of his wife and reestablishing his connection to Tao. This scenario highlights that Gabimaru's bond with his wife is what truly enables him to tap into the full power of his Tao. Without the vulnerability that his wife forces him to acknowledge, Gabimaru's raw strength is ineffective against the formidable Tensen. It is within the balance between fullness and emptiness that Gabimaru's true power emerges. The title "Hell's Paradise" perfectly captures the Yin-Yang dichotomy, and Yui brings a glimpse of paradise to the hellish existence Gabimaru endures.

Sagiri Serves As Gabimaru's Reminder of the Middle Path

Gabimaru's unwavering determination to reunite with his wife fuels his extraordinary displays of strength. However, the connections he forms on the isolated island of Shinsenkyo prove to be equally invaluable for his survival, with his bond with Sagiri emerging as the most significant. Sagiri serves as a grounding force for Gabimaru, helping him confront his feelings for his wife. She was the one who initially revealed to Gabimaru that his will to live was deeply rooted in his love for Yui. In this sense, while Yui represents his vulnerability and Sagiri embodies his strength, she also acts as the bridge that harmonizes their contrasting elements.

In fact, Sagiri embodies the middle path in more than one way. Sagiri defies societal expectations as an Asaemon executioner, challenging the traditional gender roles associated with the position. She possesses a unique blend of strength and vulnerability that complements Gabimaru's character. In the absence of his wife, Sagiri becomes the source of weakness he needs, yet she can also exhibit a strength surpassing his own when required. It's intriguing that Sagiri's Tao element is wood, traditionally associated with masculinity in Taoism. However, her natural weakness to Gabimaru's fire element highlights her role as a crucial link between Gabimaru's Yang and Yui's Yin, serving as the potential key to reuniting them once again.

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