How Hell’s Paradise Episode 6 uses Buddhist philosophy to explore Sagiri’s true potential

How Hell’s Paradise Episode 6 uses Buddhist philosophy to explore the Sagiri’s true potential

Hell’s Paradise Episode 6 reminded viewers that monsters and poisonous insects weren’t the only threats on the Shinsenkyo island and that most of the convicts chosen for the expedition could be deadly if left unchecked. Through Yamada Genji’s condescending attitude towards Sagiri, Episode 5 raised several questions regarding one’s principles, strengths, and societal prejudice. Ironically, the senior Asaemon got his karmic retribution from the hands of one of the very criminals they were tasked to monitor.

Since Yamada Asaemon Senta had earlier pointed out how the statues and unnatural monsters of the island appeared to be a haphazard mixture of Shinto, Buddhist and Taoist religious references, it comes as no surprise that Hell’s Paradise uses various religious philosophies to explore more thematic aspects of major characters.

Disclaimer: This article contains spoilers for the Hell’s Paradise anime.

 Episode 6 shows Sagiri choosing “the middle path” in her journey as a samurai of the Yamada Asaemon clan


Genji’s realization in Hell’s Paradise Episode 6


How Hell’s Paradise Episode 6 uses Buddhist philosophy to explore the Sagiri’s true potential
Genji understands Sagiri’s conviction (Image via Yuji Kaku/Shueisha)
  • Hell’s Paradise Episode 6 showed the Giant of Bizen, Rokurota, ambushing Genji and Sagiri in the forest after killing Yamada Asaemon Eizen. Genji managed to shove Sagiri out of the way but had half of his stomach clawed out by the violent convict, before being flung away like a ragdoll.
  • Gabimaru intercepted the giant and engaged in combat while a distraught Sagiri tried to bind the injured Asaemon, unwilling to let her comrade die. Realizing that he would not survive, Genji told Sagiri to run and save herself, but the latter continued her ministrations and tried to prevent blood loss.

Genji commented that Sagiri was a strange person, observing how she had abandoned her earlier manly bravado for a woman’s affection and protective instinct. The younger Asaemon protested in tears that differences between men and women didn’t matter right now, insisting that she did not want her comrade to die.

Hell’s Paradise Episode 6 showed Genji finally understanding Sagiri’s choice to live as a samurai despite being a woman. He smiled and inferred that instead of categorizing everything into binaries, Sagiri had chosen to accept everything within herself and embodied “the middle path.”

How Hell’s Paradise Episode 6 uses Buddhist philosophy to explore the Sagiri’s true potential
Genji acknowledges Sagiri as a Yamada Asaemon (Image via Yuji Kaku/MAPPA)

The “middle path” in Buddhism and other religious philosophy


How Hell’s Paradise Episode 6 uses Buddhist philosophy to explore the Sagiri’s true potential
Sagiri accepts both chaos and order within herself (Image via Yuji Kaku/MAPPA)

Early Buddhist philosophy defines “the middle path” as one that chooses moderation over extremes. The Buddha advises against choosing either a hedonistic lifestyle rife with vices, or an ascetic life rejecting all worldly needs and desires.

He proposes a compromise by accepting the bare minimum of what is required to live without torturing the physical body, realizing that intense asceticism was not the key to enlightenment. While Early Buddhism uses “the middle path” as a practical option over the two extremes of “existence” and “non-existence,” Hell’s Paradise uses the concept in a slightly different context.

The middle path which Genji sees Sagiri as an embodiment of is similar to the Hindu concept of the “Ardhanarishvara.” This Hindu concept depicts a combination of Shiva and his consort, Parvati, and represents the union of masculine and feminine energies. Ardhanarishvara puts forward the belief that masculine and feminine, life and death, and destruction and creation, are two sides of the same coin.

The two apparently opposing forces find their balance in this form, symbolizing the universe itself as a mixture of order and chaos. This is also in keeping with the Taoist imagery of the yin-yang, where the masculine force, yang, must be balanced by and be rooted in yin, the feminine force, and vice versa.

Sagiri’s strength is in acceptance of two contraries

In Hell’s Paradise Episode 6, Genji recognizes within Sagiri an acceptance of the two contrary requirements imposed upon her by her position as a samurai and as the daughter of the current head of the Yamada clan.

  • Sagiri’s hesitation and inability to replicate the painless execution she had seen her father perform rose from her attempts to reject the fear of death and the realization that she was a bringer of death with blood on her hands.
  • Conventionally, logic is seen as a masculine attribute with emotion being its feminine counterpart. Sagiri’s efforts to tap down her emotions and become more cold, calm and rational, proved to be a rejection of half of her identity. 

Keeping Genji’s words in mind, Sagiri strengthened her conviction and accepted the contradictory nature of logic and emotion, unleashing her true potential as a Yamada Asaemon. While being executed, Rokurota saw in Sagiri’s calm visage the void which haunted him his whole life, bringing tears to his eyes. Like a forgiving mother, Hell’s Paradise Episode 6 showed Sagiri cradling the giant’s head on her lap and forgiving him for urges he was born with, telling him that nobody hates him anymore.

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