“I read about an Eskimo hunter who asked the local missionary priest, ‘If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?’ ‘No,’ said the priest, ‘not if you did not know.’ ‘Then why,’’asked the Eskimo, ‘did you tell me?'” – Annie Dillard.
Many of the titles released by Seven Seas Entertainment are particularly heavy when it comes to fan service. Love in Hell pretty much covers this, as well as having a heck of a lot of violence. It seems that the only reason that this is given an “Older Teen” rating rather than an “Adult” one is the fact that there is no sexual intercourse.
The story starts with 27-year-old Rintaro Senkawa who gets drunk and falls to his death. When he awakens he discovers that he is in Hell, but he has no idea what sins he has committed that have resulted in him being punished.
Looking after him is Koyori, a 17-year-old demon. Rintaro is the first sinner that has been assigned to her, and it is Koyori who has to punish Rintaro for his past sins. The punishments are wide, varied, and are all horrible. Whether it is being skinned alive, being made to bathe in the hottest springs imaginable, or simply just having your head knocked off by a huge mallet, being made to suffer is how everyone sent to Hell has to live. Indeed, it is one of the few ways to earn money, and given that having your head knocked off is worth the equivalent of 30 yen, it is not easy.
It must be said that this title is rather amusing. For example, when Rintaro arrives in Hell naked the only thing he gets to cover his modesty is an iPod. There are also other characters, like fellow sinner Matsubashi Yukihiko, who is one of the richest sinners in Hell, thanks to the fact he is a masochist and loves being hurt.
Most of the manga is pretty dark. Not just the humour, but the imagery as well. The tortures that are created are pretty horrific. The art accompanying all also makes it more disturbing. Then there is also the sexual aspect. Koyori is mostly naked throughout the manga – barring iPod loin cloths – and the female demons are all scantily dressed in leather. There is also lots of nudity, including Koyori, and at one point Koyori accidentally gets involved in a gay encounter.
Clearly this is not a series for the fainthearted. Any manga which casually features a demon in the background merrily holding up a pair of severed breasts is not going to please everyone. It is scenes like that which make me glad there is no sexual intercourse in the book, because if there was I would have been worried that Love in Hell might end up going into “extreme pornography” territory.
However, if you like your comedy to be dark, and you are not squeamish, this looks like a series to look into.