Posted by Lenlo on 12 February 2019 with categories: Currently Watching:, Dororo

Hello and welcome to Dororo, your weekly dose of suffering for the season. This time Hyakkimaru get’s revenge, Mio proves herself Best Girl and Tahomaru gets some development. Lets dive in!

Starting off, this episode looked fantastic. Dororo is often very subdued with its animation. Either reducing details or going slow. This week however proved, without a doubt, that when Dororo want’s to it can get really smooth. Both the return fight with the Demon and the battle at the house looked fantastic. Not only was the animation beautiful, but Dororo’s muted color palette it had used up until now is starting to pay dividends. Making the bright color of the fire and golden rice incredibly striking on screen. Dororo also seems to know what character moments are important. As the facial detail and subtle character animation really ramp up during certain, emotionally important scenes. Such as when Dororo confronts Mio about her “job”, the focus on Mio’s face and the care put into her lips, hair and shading really make it stand out.

 

Now though, lets get into some details, specifically the elephant in the room. I was not expecting Mio’s death, or well I was just not this early. I figured some tragedy would occur, something that would force her to leave the orphans. To make her travel with Hyakkimaru for a while as a companion. That isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy what happened though. I think Dororo pulled it off very well, going dark with just a hint of hope, so it doesn’t induce viewer apathy. It was also setup story wise, with many indications that Mio’s work was dangerous. That working between two warring armies was probably a bad idea. That it all ended up tying into Hyakkimaru and his fathers story, along with the land itself, is just the icing on the cake.

As for Mio as a character, I will just come out and say it, I loved her. She is, so far, Best Girl of the season. Sorry Kaguya, but Mio is gorgeous. Everything about her, even her song, has layers. How it calms Hyakkimaru and how she sings it as an alternative to crying. There are so many things I could list about Mio that, even when shoved into just 2 episodes, I loved. From her quiet determination to all of her interactions with Hyakkimaru. From what I understand a lot of it was anime original as well. With a number of small details being added in to form a cohesive full story. Connecting all the disparate parts. Suffice to say, MAPPA is doing a fantastic job here, and I look forward to hearing Mio’s song haunt Hyakkimaru for the rest of the series.

 

Next up is Hyakkimaru, his was a very interesting story this week. He learned from last episode, but at the same time didn’t. Using new strategies and his abnormal body to his advantage. His use of the new prosthetic leg was clever, and showed he can learn through his fights. Yet his impatience was still there, and so he wasn’t there when Mio and everyone needed him. Had he not left to fight the demon, its possible he could have saved them, and I am sure that will haunt him for a while. I also thought the reveal, his reaction, was fantastic. How he did not recognize Mio was dying until she sung the song, and it was only then he got enraged. It made the scene much more tragic to me, that he had no idea what was going on until that moment.

Another aspect of Hyakkimaru’s story I think Dororo did very well this week was his effect on the world. We are watching it from his perspective. We get to see a sort of redemption story, as he earns all of his body parts back from an unjust sacrifice. But what the anime is doing, unique from the manga, is relating that back to the land itself. The sacrifice, for all it hurt Hyakkimaru, has lead the land to fortune. Timely rain, free from war, a peaceful existence. Yet Dororo made it very clear that Hyakkimaru killing these demons is returning the land to how it was, barren and dying. He is hurting the people in his quest, to them making him the villain. It’s an interesting take on “sacrifice the few to save the many”. I love it, and it is very similar to Berserk, one of my favorite series.

Speaking of the Demons, we need to talk about Hyakkimaru’s leg. Last week, I assumed he got his voice back from the bird and that his leg was gone forever. It appears I was wrong. There was an interesting comment on reddit I read however that had an idea for what was happening. That the Ant-lion, when it took Hyakkimaru’s leg, had to give him back his voice. A sort of exchange, that it can only hold one part of his body at a time. On one hand, I think its a very interesting idea. That he can sort of, trade body parts with demons. It opens up possibilities if we meet more intelligent ones. On the other hand, it means that against the greater demons, his limbs aren’t in any great danger. He got his leg back after all. I suppose we will have to wait and see.

 

What I can’t wait for however, is Tahomaru’s story. I think Dororo is setting him up to be a very tragic sort of Antagonist. All this poor kid wants is his fathers respect and his mothers love. Even willing to go off to war to earn it, which contrasts nicely with Hyakkimaru’s tragic experience in battle up to now. Tahomaru isn’t even a bad guy, knowing he was a brat to his mother and that he needs to be better. But he acts out like this because he wants attention, he wants his parents to acknowledge him. Thats why when he will no doubt go after Hyakkimaru, I expect it to be a very sad and tragic story between the two. Fighting the brother they never knew they had, neither really wanting it, but needing to do it to move forward. Well done MAPPA.

Finally, lets talk the ending and what is going to happen in the future. Fact is, one of the soldiers got away, and Daigo already suspects something is up with the demons. This is no doubt the point where he learns of the “sword armed demon” that slaughtered his soldiers. Appearing right when another demon has died and the rains have stopped. Daigo does not seem to be a stupid man, just a prideful one, so I suspect he will realize immediately what is going on. He no doubt already suspects it, if his short scenes up until now are anything to go by. I think this is a good arc to transition to personally, as I think going back to demon a week would be boring after the events we just saw. Dororo’s plot has started moving, and to pause it for filler would be its own tragedy now.

So all in all, how do I feel about this episode. Overwhelmingly positive, to say the least. This was a very strong episode, nailing every category for me. From animation and direction to story and characters, Dororo knocked it out of the park. Between it, Mob Psycho, Kaguya and Kaze Fui, this Winter season is very strong in my opinion. Much more so than last year, at least.

But what do you think? Was Dororo a bit to dark for you this week, or juuuust the right amount of grim? Let me know below and I will see you next week!

7 Responses

  1. Avatar Clio says:

    Man, this episode broke me, which makes me love this anime all the more. The complexity Mappa has woven into this story is heartbreakingly astounding, and I am thoroughly enjoying Hyakki’s development as a character and his journey to humanity. At this point, I am almost fearful for the confrontation between Hyakki and his family, and how many twists will develop before the final one with Dororo. This is easily my favorite anime this season, on par with Bananafish last season, and I am usually not one for gory, violent anime that are cruel to its main characters. But when the story is told artfully, I am hooked.

  2. Avatar Vonter says:

    I went blind to this anime, and without searching I did got the sense it was similar to Osamu Tezuka’s writing. It feels like an old story with romanticed hero, destiny and tragedy.

    The art style threw me off since I think only the dog retained the toon-like style of Tezuka.

    I think despite the monster of the week trope it doesn’t feel as formulaic as other shows because the premise of the MC upgrading his body with each victory at least displays progression and struggle to himself. We’ve seen how recovering his humanity might be both a blessing and a curse as it can feel both love and pain.

    I also wonder how this premise could work in a videogame. Starting with maybe black and white graphics and little to no sound. Then as he regains hearing and eyesight the player could also be overwhelmed on how things change. Maybe the feeling of tact could also be played by adding rumble. And other aspects like skin and limbs could open dialogue branches and the like.

    • Avatar Lenlo says:

      The regaining of body parts, the actual physical progression, does help the monster of the week trope aspect definitely. There’s always a sense of moving forward.

      The video game aspect would be interesting. Seems to me like it would be right up Miyazaki from FROM Software’s alley, with his Dark Souls/Bloodborne/Sekiro series.

      • Avatar Vonter says:

        I mean Nioh already fills the japanese mythology epic in the style of From Software, and it’s getting a sequel. But what I meant was something more experimental like Nier or Nier Automata in which gameplay is in service of the experience. Those games shifted camera styles, and gameplay genres in order to tell their story.

        From Software has a more defined gameplay. One which adds mood and atmosphere to their worlds, since those games demand that you walk and play defensively, which in turn let’s you absorb the environment more.

        • Avatar Lenlo says:

          I had forgotten about Nioh.

          Nier is also a good choice. For me when I think of Nier though, I think of Yoko Tarro’s tendency to shove philosophy into everything. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Automata, but it was very… upfront and at the same time, obtuse, with its philosophizing at you. Naming some characters directly after old Philosophers.

          If a Dororo game avoided that, I think Nier would be a fantastic choice. I just don’t want it to be to on the nose, I suppose.

          • Avatar Vonter says:

            I don’t know, I think Automata was interesting because instead of taking it’s stand on existentialism like series like Eva or several cuberpunk series do. It instead mainly presents the ideas of those thinkers. I think the boss names are to drive in the themes since where I think it shines are in the sidequests, with several presenting grey situations in which neither side is right and both come as flawed in some way.

            I think the weaker aspect was like Utena, the characters are constructs to explore the questions of existence, truth and purpose.

            I suppose like with these type of subjects your mileage will vary depending on how much you’ve seen this story explored. For me, the games felt like a better told version of the Matrix trilogy, since I think it came off as less preachy than thsoe movies.

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