Does Sagiri Love Gabimaru?

    Another Shonen, another shipping rumor. But in Hell's Paradise: Jigokuraku, Sagiri and Gabimaru might not be that simple a relationship.

    The problem with having both a male and female as the deuteragonists of a series is the inevitable shipping. This is what’s happening with Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku, where people are questioning whether Sagiri loves Gabimaru. Because both frontrunners are going to be spending a lot of time alone, the natural inclination is that they just might become a couple later on. However, this might be one of the few rare instances where opposite sex protagonists are not going to end up with each other. 

    Does Sagiri love Gabimaru? No, of course not. Lest we forget, the entire reason Gabimaru even agreed to the suicide mission that is the premise of Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku, is because he wants to reunite with his actual wife, Yui. Yamada Asaemon Sagiri, his executioner, is well aware of this fact. At best, Sagiri might admire him for his resolve and some of the actions he has taken so far, but it isn’t romantic love in the slightest. And frankly speaking, the budding companionship between Sagiri and Gabimaru has been one of the highlights of the series. 

    But it is fascinating to see how we’ve veered from the trope of ‘first girl in anime = love interest’ in Shounen anime. But there’s also a more refreshing turn of events, where two characters of the opposite sex don’t automatically have to get together. We’ve discussed this before when the topic of Power and Denji in Chainsaw Man comes up. Just because the two share an intimate friendship, doesn’t mean they are destined lovers. And it’s so refreshing to see anime promote a camaraderie between male and female characters, without romantic undertones. 

    Of course, I wouldn’t go around calling Sagiri and Gabimaru best of friends as of yet. Like, that isn’t what we’re saying here. But if you’re thinking Sagiri is in love with Gabimaru, or will fall in love with him in the future, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. Still, their relationship is one worth dissecting and that’s what we’ll be doing today in another segment of Lore Analysis. Today, let’s explore the dynamics between a condemned man, their executioner and the bonds that connect them. 

    Yamada Asaemon Sagiri: A Woman Fighting Her Own Heritage

    Yamada Asaemon Sagiri

    Before we can get to understanding the relationship between Gabimaru and Sagiri, it’s important that we get a grasp on the kind of person Sagiri is. Because when we meet her in the first episode, she appears to be this very self assured woman, devoted to her craft and diligent with the people she’s been assigned to.

    However, we quickly realize that isn’t the case at all. Despite how she figured that Gabimaru The Hollow was just a facade he took on (because Gabimaru truly didn’t want to leave his wife behind) Sagiri is just as unsure about some of her own convictions. Those probably stem from being born into the infamous Yamada clan, and being a female Asaemon. It doesn’t help that she is the daughter of the clan leader, Yamada Asaemon Kichiji, who is also known as ‘Cannibal Kichiji’. While the rest of her family finds it easy to carry out their jobs as heartless executioners at the beck and call of the Shogunate, she is still uncertain. 

    After all, being the young daughter means she’s the future heir of the legacy of her clan. A clan that is known for its cruel indifference towards everyone. But Sagiri is not like that, at least not completely. She is talented with the sword, as is her birth right. But she feels conflicted at the lives she has to end up taking in the process of proving herself as to her father. So, when she was assigned to Gabimaru The Hollow, a Shinobi known for his cold hearted assassinations, even there she found something worth salvaging. 

    Sagiri is a skilled executioner. That doesn’t mean she likes the alienation that comes with the job. 

    Gabimaru And Sagiri: A Platonic Love Emerges

    Gabimaru And Sagiri

    So, how does one go from being the executioner of an assassin, to a friendship that survives a near cannibalistic magical island? Through a shared goal, of course. Because at first, both Gabimaru and Sagiri were as different as they come. 

    Sagiri was to be his handler at best , and she emphasized this fact to Gabimaru. If he stepped one toe out of line, she would kill him without hesitation. They were going to Shinsenkyō, a mysterious island, to search for the Elixir Of Life. But he was still a Death row convict and she was his executioner. In her eyes, they weren’t even allies.

    But slowly, over the course of their mission together and a few killing attempts at one another, a partnership did end up forming. When Gabimaru went missing, Sagiri showed genuine concern over his safety and went looking for him. Gabimaru, in turn, realized that she wasn’t holding him down after all, and even became grateful to Sagiri for reminding him that redemption is a path still available to him. After all, she was the first one to see that Gabimaru didn’t want to actually die, that his feelings for Yui are what kept him sane. 

    Gabimaru understood that the blood on his hands didn’t define his entire life, and that reuniting with Yui was his end goal. And Sagiri helped him come to this epiphany. So, try as they might, they couldn’t view each other as enemies. When Gabimaru lost his memories of Yui when he burnt himself out using Tao, Sagiri was the first one to voice her concern. Even when Yuzuriha, a Kunoichi herself, thought that Gabimaru had perhaps made up everything about Yui existing. Which wouldn’t be hard to believe, considering Iwagakure’s Chief was known for his impeccable Genjutsu

    But, after that initial doubt, Sagiri said she believed Gabimaru because his feelings were far too honest and earnest to be anything otherwise. She even shed tears over him at one point, because while he was still a criminal to her, she believed he had changed as a man. This change of attitude in Sagiri prompted Shion to ask if she was in love with Gabimaru, which Sagiri rejected. She clarified that what she felt for him was pity, that he had to grow up in a place like Iwagakure and have his whole future taken for him. 

    However, it was when the two were reunited and Gabimaru admitted that bringing Sagiri back alive was one of his main goals, that Sagiri finally realized that she didn’t want to be considered an enemy anymore. Rather, to her, the two were dear friends and getting Gabimaru back to Yui would be Sagiri’s honor. 

    Opposite Sex Friendships In Anime Have Evolved:

    Gabimaru And Sagiri

    Again, I’ve spoken about this time and time again. Seeing the interactions between the opposite sex in anime morph from slightly suggestive to genuinely heartwarming in some cases, has been enlightening.

    And that’s not to say shipping isn’t fun. It’s an enjoyable aspect of watching an anime, should you choose to view it as such. However, it has been nice seeing friendships between a male and female character be normalized instead of sexualised. I keep using the example of Denji and Power, but that is because Chainsaw Man is known for being so explicit in most aspects, especially when it came to people like Makima and her treatment of Denji. Yet with Power and Denji, it became a heartfelt relationship, platonic in almost every way. And you don’t get to see that very often.

    Similarly, despite Sagiri and Gabimaru being the only allies to each other in a ‘Survival Of The Fittest’ style challenge, you don’t ever see it become something more. Not even as a onesided romance. There is no unrequited love here, nor is Sagiri a replacement for Yui. Gabimaru is his own person, Sagiri is fighting through her own demons. And in those unlikely circumstances, they find a friend in each other. 

    And really, that’s what makes their dynamic so intriguing.


    Anza Qureshi
    Anza Qureshi
    Anza Qureshi is a writer, licensed dentist and certified Uchiha fangirl. When she isn't doing root canals or listing down anime waifus, you can find her screeching about her favorite JRPGs across social media.

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