Well, you’re in for a real treat today as I’m joined by Dewbond from the Shallow Dives in Anime blog so that we can discuss the manga series Parallel Paradise. As of the time we had this discussion there were seventy-two chapters. With the formatting of this post it is best viewed directly on the website – Click here! Anyhow, we end up talking for quite a while, so I’ll cut this introduction here and get straight into it.
Hey, Dewbond. Thanks for agreeing to discuss the manga series that I never thought I’d be talking about in a post, but here we are. I guess it makes sense considering that it was your post – Parallel Paradise: No Happy Endings, Probably… that first brought Parallel Paradise to my attention.
I think I’ve made it clear that I’m not fazed by nudity and ecchi, but this was definitely an eye-opener. That said, I think I read sixty plus chapters in about a week, so read into that what you will. This is a thoroughly compelling story that isn’t afraid to be what it is. So, Dewbond, how did you discover Parallel Paradise and what were your first impressions?
Thanks for hosting this conversation Lynn. This is a series that I can’t believe came across my radar, much less gripped me as much as it did, especially considering the content involved. Like you, I am a big fan of the ecchi and harem genre, and I’ve made it clear on…perhaps too many posts that I think it is just as capable of telling “good stories” like the rest of the anime genre. Though its misses are considerably more enraging than others.
Yeah, I think this one ticks all the boxes, especially the ones I’ve seen you have issues with. For one, this series has sex in it. A whole lot of sex, but that is by no means all it has.
Well, the thing is, I don’t care if an ecchi has sex in it or not. It’s more that if the series decides to go in on the sex, then it has to adjust the series accordingly. I’ve said it before, but having sex in an ecchi/harem is pretty much a Rubicon-crossing moment. You can’t go back once you’ve “gone there”. Did you know this was done by Lynn Okamoto, the author of Elfen Lied?
I did, but only because of your original post. It’s a little surprising for sure, but then I think parts of the Western World seem to have a problem with sex in general. Gratuitous violence is fine, but sex is a deal breaker. That just seems to be crazy to me, so it’s refreshing to see a well known and respected mangaka who isn’t afraid to “go there”. I guess at some point we should probably give a little overview of what happened. Do you want to start us off?
Yeah, Lynn Okamoto is quite a trailblazer in “not giving a shit” when it comes to his work. I never watched Elfen Lied aside from the first few episodes, it came around during my time away from anime, but it always did stick in my mind. Anyway way, I came across Paradise when I was searching for a new series (ecchi of course) to dig into. This one was at the top of almost all the lists and I could see why. Once I started reading I binged the entire series in one sitting, probably…fuck I don’t know…60+ chapters at that point?
Yeah, it really grabs you right from the off. For the main character, Youta it’s just another day at school until he sees a weird person outside. Suddenly, this weird person is inside and throwing him through a window. When he wakes, he’s in a strange new world where he encounters a woman with a talking bird. Once she realizes that Youta is a man, she wants to kill him, but then she touches him and, well, a primal urge literally takes over her. It’s only the first chapter, but there is no doubt what sort of series you’re reading. After that, it’s almost impossible to put down.
Absolutely. I haven’t been this captured by a series (at that point) since High School DxD and ReZero, though this seasons YU-NO is getting up there. First of all though, can we talk about the name Youta? That bloody name man, I swear it is like the most common one I see out there. Youta, Yuuta, it’s like the bloody “Bob” or “Chris” of anime.
Yeah, there seems to be at least one every season.
It’s all over the Hentai genre, don’t ask me how I know that! But anyway…yes, Paradise very much starts out like a standard, Isekai but quickly, QUICKLY becomes something very different. Though I do think it was rather smart for the story to not instantly dive into the sex.
Well, if that dragon hadn’t shown up. Even then, it was in chapter two when it did happen, but I think it was the way it happened that was most interesting. An accidental touch when Youta saved Lumi and she lost control of her senses. It turns out that there hasn’t been a human male in three hundred years…
I totally forgot about that dragon. To be honest, the start of this series kinda slips away when the real plot gets moving, It’s a starter that has been done in some way before in anime, but this is an Okamoto piece, so it was bound to get….spicy…and boy does it get spicy.
Yeah, there were several really interesting twists in just the first couple of chapters. The revelation that he was in a world where no one had seen a human male in three hundred years was pretty staggering. He certainly wouldn’t be fighting to get the women, in fact, the opposite would be true. Hence why he needed to disguise himself as a woman. On top of that, all girls that haven’t mated die around the time they turn 20. Yeah, things just got dangerous!
What makes Paradise stand out though is that while the series does start out and have the trappings of a usual by the numbers Isekai harem story, it doesn’t take long for the façade to fall and we see that this story is something different, something darker. I don’t know what Okamoto feels about the Isekai genre, but Paradise feels like his attempt to try and merge his storytelling with a genre that many, myself included, have criticized for playing it WAY too safe. I mean having sex in the story, pretty much full on hentai scenes is not unheard of, but Paradise wisely makes sure that the story is about something as well.
Absolutely, it gets really dark, especially when one of the guardians died in front of Youta, refusing to let him save her. It changed the whole tone of the story, giving it some real substance.
Yes, before that the series felt very much like that standard Isekai power fantasy with just some sex added on, but the death of the guardian really does change the story completely. Tell me, Lynn, what is your overall view of the premise of Paradise? Where do you fall on it?
At first, I thought it was the typical male fantasy of being the only one and therefore irresistible to females, but I loved how it didn’t stay that way. It became a burden and often times a threat. In the later chapters, it certainly wasn’t all fun and games. I’m hooked.
I’m sure there are those that would argue that you could have the story with all the nudity and sex, but I disagree. I think it makes it more real and adds to the dark and grim nature of the world.
I also think we’ve got another mass of twists coming to make the story even more interesting.
We’ll get to this in a minute, but I have to say I agree with what you’re saying. Did the story need all the sex? Probably not, but it adds a crucial element to the story in that it becomes VERY clear that Youta’s predicament isn’t the male wet-dream many would think it was, and even without the looming spectre of death hovering over these girls, the appeal of such a world seems to rub off really quick.
Though I do always laugh at the sheer amount of…fluids gushing from these ladies every time the sexy times start.
Indeed. It’s surprising that no one’s died of dehydration.
Well, they almost do during the legendary “fuck boat” chapters, but I want to also bring up the development of Youta as a character and his reactions to the world around him. How do you think he’s developed as a character so far?
He definitely became more serious as the series has progressed. At first, I found the way he would berate the girls that were suffering from his influence to be odd, but I think he’s become more caring to those that he genuinely likes, which isn’t hard given how some of the girls treat him. What are your thoughts on him?
I have a few things I wanna say about our lead, but to do that…I have to bring up Shinmai Maou no Testament.
Of course, that’s a given. Go on…
Hey man, I don’t WANT to do that, but Youta and Paradise do address probably my biggest hang up with that show.
Anyway, my biggest problem with Shinmai is the fact that the main character, Basara Toujou never really feels the effects of the events around him. This is a guy who suddenly has all of these women depending on him for power and protection and he just goes along with, having to sexually satisfy them in order to make them stronger. There is never a moment where it starts to dwell on him, to hold him back, or tear him down. Constantly having to do this “job” over and over again, not because he wants to, but because he has to, and we NEVER see the downside of that or how it is affecting him personally. He’s just the same guy for the entire damn run, except for possibly the final episode of season one, but that is a discussion in of itself.
Now, we are talking ecchi/harem anime here, they are male power fantasies pure and simple, and no Shinmai Maou did not have to show this at all, it’s clearly not what the author wanted the story to be about, and that’s fine. I accept that, but there is so much fertile ground that is being laid that it is just enraging that the story never goes in that direction, even for just a moment takes the time to go, “how would this all weigh on a person.
Parallel Paradise, however, makes it very clear to the reader that the initial thrill of this premise, Youta having to basically fuck every girl he can get his hands on to save them, has dangerous and unintended side effects. You see how the girls treat him, and how Youta goes from totally into mating, to just begrudgingly going along with it all, he starts to view it as his job, and the longer the story goes on, you start to see that the “male wet-dream” we think he is living is in fact much more of a nightmare.
I mean, what do you think Lynn?
Well, how could I possibly respond to that? I absolutely agree. I think Okamoto does a great job of showing Youta sliding down this slope of despair. As you say, it becomes a job and he becomes a prisoner to it, and he literally becomes a prisoner too, where he is forced to save as many girls as possible, regardless of his own limitations. The way the guardians treat him in the latest arc is shocking and at one point more than a little disgusting. It’s amazing how much the tone of the series changes.
Which makes it the show that does what Shinmai Maou, and several other harems, are either unwilling or unable to do. It throws a bit of shade on the premise and points out that something like this wouldn’t be all it’s cracked up to be. I don’t think there has been a series like that since School Days had its day in the sun.
It’s honestly what keeps me reading, because as I’ve said before, we live in the age of internet access where if you wanna see anime sex, then you can just google up some hentai. Ecchi and Harem series needs more than just tits and ass to keep readers engaged when you have an easy route to go down. High School DxD’s ability to do this is what made it the amazing success it has been, and Parallel Paradise is another example of people working within the genre to try and push it forward. Regardless of whether this thing is your cup of tea or not, you have to give Okamoto credit here.
Definitely. For something like this to succeed, it needs to have a compelling story. Honestly, it’s a shame that something like this will likely never be made into an anime series and even if it was, I think it would be dismissed off hand by those that look down on the harem and ecchi genres.
I’ve certainly not seen or read anything quite like this and I’ve seen a lot of harem and ecchi shows. At the end of the day, I’m looking for compelling and well-told stories and if I’ve learnt anything lately, it’s not to dismiss anything off hand. Sure, I’m not going to like everything, but when I find something that I wasn’t expecting it’s generally better for it.
I guess what I’m saying is everyone should give this series a chance, don’t give up after a couple of chapters, I think you’ll really get sucked into the twists and turns. I have absolutely no idea where it’s going to go at this stage and that’s great.
Absolutely, we are seeing it even now with Shield Hero and other shows, and we are all guilty of this. I threw out Wiseman’s Grandchild because I thought it was more of the same Isekai bullshit, but people are really taking to it. I almost dropped Love is War, but now it’s my frontrunner for anime of the year. People need to give a show time to tell its story, and not judge something because of personal ideology. Parallel Paradise will probably never become an anime, which is a shame because I think many would enjoy it for its ability to go down a route few other harem/ecchi shows go.
But moving on Lynn. Let’s get into the “big twist” that’s happened so far. Care to explain to our readers…spoiler alert of course.
Well, where to begin? I can only assume you are referring to the time Youta died and found himself back in his own world. Once there the same weird character appeared and pulled him out of the window again, sending him back to the world where he was the only human male. Later on, this happened again, but this time the weird character removed their mask to reveal themselves as one of the guardians from Lumi’s city. That was quite the shock and then she killed him again, sending him once more back to the fantasy world.
Or, are you talking about the revelation that Youta is still on Earth, just hundreds of years in the future, possibly… It’s not completely been confirmed and there are some inconsistencies like two moons, but that was quite crazy! It makes me think that the god of deep jealousy is someone we’ve already encountered. There are just so many twists, I’m loving it.
Mostly the first one. I mean that blew me out of my fucking seat the first time I read it.
Having Youta to get thrown back to his world, but be confined to his hospital bed was a big shocker and again breaks the mold of previous Isekai. Too often the old world is just forgotten along with everyone in it, and here we not only see that Youta’s actions had a direct effect on people around him, but the continued method of throwing him out a window is pretty much tearing his body apart. Then that reveal with Lilia, who at that point in the story has basically been forgotten is the one who is throwing him into the world? I mean I was just absolutely floored, I did NOT see any of that coming at all!
What was your gut reaction on the Lilia bit Lynn?
Yeah, I was floored too. She’s obviously going to reappear in the story somehow. Could she be the god of deep jealousy? I’m not ruling it out, plus I need to find out why only some of the girls Youta has saved have the dark ring around their necks!
Any thoughts on that?
I think there is something deeper going on and yeah, I do think Lilia is the god of deep jealousy, or perhaps she is from another faction who has been madly in love with Youta since the start. But this again is the story of twist that other shows just can’t get right. I just finished watching Kampfer which attempt to have a twist similar to this where a character you don’t really pay attention to, ends up being the bad guy, and it honestly was just enraging and mind-boggling compared to this. The Lilia twist honestly had me going back trying to figure out how everything made sense, but in a good way!
It made you go back, but you didn’t question it. That’s the difference. I don’t think it was necessarily foreshadowed but Okamoto did enough with Lilia as a character that you didn’t question it. My jaw dropped for sure, but then I was nodding. Sure, I could see it. It was a great twist, although I think the one with the witch wasn’t handled quite so well.
Maybe by that point, I was questioning everything but I saw that coming a mile off. Either way, the storytelling is surprisingly good. That’s one thing that stands out. The characters are so varied and interesting, even the minor characters seem believable and fairly well fleshed out.
The characters are good for sure, though I don’t think I’d go as far to call them “great” characters, but Okamoto at least shows up to have an interesting cast when he had pretty much a green light to just make the girls mindless sex addicts. I do think the story is going to go to some really interesting and dark places before all is said and done, but for now. Is there anything final you want to say on Parallel Paradise?
No, I’m just excited to see where the story goes. As you said, it’s going to be dark and disturbing. I can see things getting really messed up and if Elfen Lied is anything to go by, you can count on it. It’s been great discussing this, we’ll have to catch up once it’s over… whenever that is.
Indeed, I’ve enjoyed having this conversation about it with you. Overall I think Parallel Paradise is a manga people should give a look. If you can get past the sex scenes, which may be harder for some, then there is a story filled with interesting turns and twists. It’s a take on two genres that are infamous for “playing it safe” and this series should be more known to those who might want a little something more from their Harems, Ecchies or Isekais. Check out Lynn Okamoto’s Parallel Paradise, you won’t be disappointed.
Well, there you have it. That was Parallel Paradise in a nutshell. If you’ve made it this far, I can only assume that you’ve already read it or will now go out and read it. It was a long discussion for sure, but I think we covered some of the really interesting points that make this such a compelling read. Once again, I’d like to thank Dewbond for agreeing to take part. While I’m at it, you should also check out Shallow Dives in Anime, Dewbond’s blog, particularly the ‘Don’t @ Me’ post.
Finally, if you have read Parallel Paradise, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Thanks for reading.