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Hell's Paradise's Creator Is Also Behind Ayashimon

Sep 03, 2023

After the hugely popular Hell's Paradise manga captivated fans, creator Yuji Kaku wrote another manga that subverted shonen's most common tropes.

Hell's Paradise: Jigokuraku has been among the Spring 2023 season's most popular anime, generating many compelling online discussions while developing a large and devoted fan base. Interestingly, the writer behind the Hell's Paradise manga, Yuji Kaku, has another series that subverted many popular shonen tropes.

Beginning in 2021, a few months after the Hell's Paradise manga wrapped up, Ayashimon was published in Weekly Shōnen Jump with a simultaneous English release on Shueisha's Manga Plus website. The series would run for under a year, releasing three volumes before it was canceled. Here's what Ayashimon is all about and why it's still worth checking out for all shonen fans.

RELATED: Hell's Paradise's Sagiri Has a Sobering Connection to Jujutsu Kaisen's Yuji Itadori

Ayashimon follows Maruo Kaido, a young man with immense strength that comes from being a massive manga fan. Ever since he was young, he's wanted to be like his heroes, Kinnikuman and Dragon Ball's Goku. To make this dream a reality, Maruo spent every day copying these characters' training routines, leading to him becoming super strong. Alas, this strength has a downside -- he has no way of controlling it, meaning every gym, combat sport and job rejects him, leaving him down on his luck.

However, this all changes when Maruo bumps into Urara, a young girl being chased by a load of mobsters. After dispatching them, Urara reveals that she's both an oni and the head of a yakuza group. It turns out that this world is full of organized crime groups and supernatural creatures called ayashimon. These groups were at peace until recently, but the death of the largest syndicate's leader caused the various factions to begin fighting for power. Impressed with Maruo's strength, Urara invites him to be the first member of her new gang, dragging him into a massive inter-gang conflict.

RELATED: Hell's Paradise's Sagiri Is What Naruto's Sakura Should've Been From the Start

What makes Ayashimon stand out is how it flips several popular shonen tropes. One of the most fascinating subversions surrounds Maruo's power. Most manga series act like getting physically stronger is always better, with the heroes' increased strength having no downsides. However, Ayashimon works hard to show the downside of being super strong.

Maruo's strength leaves him cut off from society, as he can't do simple tasks without destroying equipment or hurting people. It shows that living for combat isn't as romantic as shonen manga often makes it seem. The fighter in question runs out of foes to clash with because people won't put their lives on the line once they reach a certain level of notoriety, leaving them without purpose. Ayashimon perfectly displays through Maruo as his passion for fighting is portrayed as both a positive and a maladaptive coping mechanism -- especially when he ends up facing supernatural creatures later on.

RELATED: How Mashle's Mash Burnedead Subverts the Chosen One Trope in Relatable Ways

Ayashimon also has a fascinating monster power system. The various ayashimon use money that has been imbued with a specific emotion by humanity to create physical forms. Destroying this body doesn't actually kill them; all it does is unbind their soul, forcing them to wait many years before they can become physical once more. This system suits the story, acting as an excellent metaphor for how quickly corruption and tension can spiral out of control, dragging more and more people in until everyone's hands are dirty.

The manga also handles the criminal world's internal politics faultlessly, emulating the messy webs of power and influence seen in the real world. It makes Ayashimon's setting feel more grounded and realistic than other similar manga series, while balancing the story's supernatural elements and making the plot more vibrant. It hammers home that any world full of powerful supernatural beings would quickly devolve into in-groups and out-groups governed by informal rules rather than the constant "everyone for themselves" battles seen in other manga.

Ayashimon is a fascinating tale that twists several shonen tropes in unique ways, leading to a series that stands out from its shonen peers. It also features some excellent world-building, making it perfect for Hell's Paradise and Yuji Kaku fans who want to see what else the writer can do.

Jonathon Greenall has been writing for many years and has written for several websites, poetry collections, and short fiction collections. They're also an analog game designer who has written and published several popular roleplaying games. A lifelong anime fan ever since their first exposures to Sailor Moon and Revolutionary Girl Utena, Jonathon loves talking about anime, from big hits to the weird and wonderful corners that are often overlooked.