Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku is the hot new Shonen in town, with a protagonist that seems to have much more different motivations than what we’ve come to expect. But that brings up certain questions, like is showrunner Gabimaru’s wife even real? Or is this an entire hellscape he dreamt up? Well, considering the show’s setting, it’s not hard to see why queries like these have new found fans completely puzzled, especially if they aren’t long time readers of the manga and are just tuning in for the anime premiere.
So, is Gabimaru’s wife real? Well, despite what a certain arc in the manga had most fans think, yes, Gabimaru’s wife Yui is very much alive. However, the question is likely stemming from an incident in Chapter 44 where Gabimaru The Hollow loses his memories thanks to overusing his Tao. When one of the convicts, Yuzuriha, suggests they try to leave the island behind, Sagiri rejects it because of her goal to help reunite Gabimaru with his wife. But Yuzuriha comments that Gabimaru is from a place known for its illusions, implying Yui might be one too.
Obviously, that is a dark thought process to follow. What makes it even more troubling is the fact that Yuzuriha, a Kunoichi herself, might be right. I mean, it’s not like Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku can’t go down that route, where Gabimaru is feeding himself lies to survive outside of Iwagakure’s control. It’s bleak and traumatic, which would certainly fit into this narrative of convicts destined to die on a magical island, searching for something that might or might not exist.
But here’s the deal: That is simply not true. Yui does exist, she is Gabimaru’s wife and the two share a bond that is very innocent compared to the life that Gabimaru has lived so far as a famed Shinobi soldier. But it’s also easy to see why this question would be coming up, considering we only have Gabimaru’s word on who Yui was. And, well, that might not be enough. So today, let’s discuss a little more about Yui’s place in the manga, in another segment of Lore Analysis!
Who Is Yui, Really?
Before we could fully crack down why people think Yui might be a figment of Gabimaru’s imagination, let’s actually take a look at her.
By all accounts, Yui should be a prized noblewoman of her era. She is, after all, the daughter of the Iwagakure Chief, meaning she might hold substantial power in her hands. However, she is only number 8 in a line of descendants, and the Iwagakure Chief is not a kind man. When she expressed her wishes to live as a normal woman, he burnt Yui’s face to teach her a lesson, where she is nothing more than breeding stock to provide him with more soldiers.
But Yui doesn’t let that break her spirit. Kind and gentle, she knows that she lives in a place that thrives on bloodshed. But despite that fact, she never views its residents as monsters or people worthy of her contempt. Even if she is directly related to the person that enables this cruel system of turning children into killing machines ripe for the slaughter. Though, that’s probably why she accepts someone like Gabimaru so wholeheartedly. And it’s why she’s so strong willed in the face of adversity, keeping up hope in better times.
Her scars, it turns out, are just pieces of her to love more.
Gabimaru And Yui: A Love So Soft
To be frankly honest, Yui and Gabimaru should resent each other. Gabimaru was only married to Yui because he was the Head Assassin of Iwagakure. And Yui was offered as a bride because her father wanted her to birth new assassins, ripe for the picking for his cruel system.
But, as stated before, Yui is much more than just a timid housewife for Gabimaru. Instead, she looked at his bloodstained hands and cradled them with a care he has never experienced before. Even when he was so closed off, Yui would invite him to eat with her, practicing tiny little customs and traditions together to make him feel less like a cornered wild animal, and more humane.
And it’s these acts of genuine kindness that pulled Gabimaru from the brink, where he was supposedly empty inside, and made him accept a part of him that he thought long dead. Yui kept her human spirit alive, making Gabimaru believe in its existence more so. The extent to which she influenced him was immense, to the point where he started sparing his targets instead of killing them in cold blood.
Yui turned him from a weapon into a person that deserved love and respect, regardless. For that alone, she was worth leaving the world of Shinobi behind. Something that cost both of them dearly.
Gabimaru’s Wife Is 100% Real:
Shinsenkyō is a fever nightmare that Gabimaru is going through solely for Yui’s sake. And while, yes, Iwagakure’s Chief could’ve used his impressive Genjutsu to create the myth of Yui in Gabimaru’s head to ensure he always returned to his rightful owner, that is not the truth.
In Chapter 52, Gabimaru ends up recalling all of his memories, even those of Yui. But people were still skeptical, considering how the burnout from using Tao, considered the equivalent to spiritual energy in Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku, makes you lose parts of yourself. But Gabimaru insists that she is not merely a figment of his imagination.
Upon further questioning, Gabimaru explains that while he might not be good at explaining, the one thing concrete to him is Yui. And how the tiniest things about her, like how her eyes narrowed when she smiled, or how her voice was light and airy compared to the heavy atmosphere she lived in, were what he could recall, clearer than anything. There was no one point where he fell in love with her, but rather it was the gradual progression of her brightness, the essence of which he can feel in the flowers blooming around him, or the warmth of the sunlight.
Gabimaru also acknowledges that no one has reason to believe him, that he has no substantial proof to offer beyond her name and his memories of her. But to him, that’s enough to keep moving through a nightmare realm that he is stuck in. It’s all he needs to face horrors beyond comparison, the promise of meeting Yui again as her husband.
And from what we can tell, they might have ended up reuniting near the tail end of the manga series. So nope, Yui is definitely not an illusion. Gabimaru’s wife is as real as they come.
Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku is turning out to be a really interesting series, one where many tropes of the genre are being turned over their heads. But frankly, I’m just happy to see a Shonen protagonist that recognizes romantic love as a motivator from the start, instead of being clueless.