Studio MAPPA’s latest anime series, Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku, is creating waves among the anime fans. Though the anime is known for its insane fight sequences and brilliant visuals, much of the show’s popularity rests on its central protagonist, Gabimaru the Hollow. As a proficient shinobi since young age, Gabimaru is feared among his peers as a formidable assassin. Moreover, his name is enough to strike fear within civilians.
However, it is his peculiar name – Gabimaru the Hollow – that raises questions on his identity and personality. Why is he called ‘the Hollow’? And is his name even Gabimaru? While the ongoing anime series provides some hints on his moniker, the answers to these two questions can be found in the manga only.
Note: This article contains spoilers from the Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku manga.
The reason behind Gabimaru the Hollow’s moniker in Hell’s Paradise is rooted in Iwagakure’s shinobi traditions
Jigokuraku: Hell's Paradise Ep.1
Gabimaru The Hollow🔥!!
As a manga reader, watching these scenes of Gabimaru at the start of the series in anime version is still surreal!! MAPPA does a great job on the adaptation of the first episode👌!!#Jigokuraku #HellsParadise pic.twitter.com/pOYyP6Wnom
— EAGLE |cr: Tokyo Ghoul (re-read) (@eaglelionanmin) April 2, 2023
To get into the root of the name, one needs to look into Gabimaru’s history. Born to a normal jonin couple from Iwagakure village, Gabimaru was originally named “Tsuki,” which means moon. He was named by his mother who thought that the single kanji character of moon (月) would have an ominous undertone and would signify his growth in life without love. However, soon after, the chief of the shinobi village killed the couple after learning that they want to move places in order to live a peaceful life away from the village’s social and political affairs. The act of execution happened right before the baby’s eyes, which is how he became exposed to killings as an infant.
Later, he was taken under the chief’s wing and made to survive the arduous training that came with being a shinobi of the village. But Tsuki was unlike any other young candidates of his age who were also vying for the title of ‘Gabimaru the Hollow’. As such, this moniker is a codename used by a single shinobi who is feared and outmatched in strength and abilities than others of their age or rank. The name is passed down to the next generation after a worthy successor proves their mettle to defeat the present Gabimaru the Hollow in a battle of life and death.
Hell's Paradise: Jigokuraku
Ohhh man they really keep tryin Gabimaru the Hollow.
They done tried burning him, head-missing him, Brave-Hearted him, and One Piece Oden him
— TheStudioBears (@TheStudioBears) April 5, 2023
As it happens with adopting the name ‘Gabimaru the Hollow,’ the training also involves the successor to be raised and conditioned as a emotionless person who would stop at nothing to achieve his killing ambition or not show any emotional weaknesses on the battlefield. Suffice to say, ‘the Hollow’ is suggestive of a shinobi being nothing more than a killing machine. They are a walking husk of a human being who would function at the orders from the higher ups and assassinate their targets without batting an eyelash. Moreover, they would be emotionless to the point that they won’t even care about their own health, meaning if push comes to shove, they won’t hesitate to sacrifice themselves without thinking about their life.
The similar thing happened to Tsuki as well, who was a worthy contender of the title given his potential and display of raw strength and flair. Over time, his skills improved drastically as he continued assassinating several candidates competing for the title. When the time came, he was eventually made to participate in the Rite of Succession ceremony, which entailed him fighting against the 57th Gabimaru of Iwagakure. In a predictable outcome, he become the victor of the battle, earning the title of the 58th Gabimaru the Holllow by slaying the previous one.
Hell's Paradise episode 2. I like the way Mappa and the stuff are handling the gory scene/horror aspects of this series and on the other hand Gabimaru the Hollow living up to his name what a brutal sequence. #Jigokuraku #jigokuraku_anime pic.twitter.com/0JYsWwtsNr
— 𝙕𝝙𝗞𝝞🥷🏽 (@Zakiabjr) April 8, 2023
After the battle concluded, Shija, another candidate who feared Tsuki but was trained by the latter, revealed to him that he had been killing the other opponents as a way to extend his support towards Tsuki so that he could take the title of ‘Gabimaru the Hollow.’ Although Shija’s exact intentions are unclear, his “support” for Tsuki could be seen as a way to get away from the responsibility of being the next Gabimaru – a feat that basically robbed one’s own individuality and reduced them to being a killing machine.
Years later, as viewers see in the anime, Tsuki’s moniker is now an extension of him. Although his background is yet to be adapted in the anime, present instances from the anime show his incredible strength and bloodlust. He spent his shinobi years carrying out his missions and killing his targets without displaying any emotion, which eventually changed by little due to the influence of Yui, his wife and the eighth daughter of the Iwagakure chief.
— KarmaXIX (@KarmaXIX_) April 15, 2023
Although his wife’s influence is large and strong on his present constitution, as seen in the episode 4 and 5 battles on Shinsenkyo, he seems to be at odds with his dual personalities, especially with the protection of Yamada Asaemon Sagiri. Moreover, this change sometimes leads to him reverting back to his bloodlust persona to achieve his goals, such as fighting off the strange entities on Shinsenkyo.
The present Gabimaru the Hollow is a complex person. Despite being given the title of ‘the Hollow’ that is supposed to symbolically remove his humanity, Tsuki shows a side that even he didn’t predict because of his wife. As the anime series progresses, viewers will see more of his dual personalities in the upcoming episodes. And as he aces through several gruesome battles, it remains to be seen if he would be able to leave Shinsenkyo with the elixir of life and return back to his wife.