Posted by Lenlo on 26 March 2019 with categories: Dororo

Welcome to the first cour finale for Dororo! This week the Kagemitsu family reunites, Tahomaru turns a blind eye and Hyakki starts a war. Lets jump in!

More than usual, we need to talk about production, because Dororo really stepped it up this week. The direction, as always, was fantastic. There were a lot of shots I loved. From Daigo turning to face Hyakki, to Oku viewing him through the Buddha statue. Hyakki standing on the wall, forcing his way into the family and promptly being pushed away. There were a lot of great shots that stood out throughout this episode. Thats not even mentioning the step up in fluid animation we got this week in many of the fights. Sure, the archers are basically machine gun storm troopers, but hey. The actual sword and demon fights looked fantastic. The green flame flying through the air, taking shapes and lighting up the sky. Clearly MAPPA put a lot of care into the episode, and that’s not even mentioning the story content.

Story wise, lets start with Daigo and Hyakki’s meeting. This went about as I expected, with Daigo immediately going for the kill. Previously mentioned stormtrooper archers aside though, their actual chat was interesting. Lots of hints were dropped for Hyakki to start figuring out whats going on. To give him a reason to follow Daigo back to his house and meet the rest of the family. Essentially, it was a short meeting to spark their interest in each other. The connection between Daigo’s scar and Hyakki’s baby-form was a nice reminder that this is basically their first meeting. Their relationship is screwed from the start. There was also some nice action here, with Hyakki kicking up the rocks to take out the torches and such. Though that wasn’t the focus of course. Before I get to deep into there family dynamics though, lets talk Dororo’s little jaunt in the woods.

The nicest thing I can say about Dororo’s jaunt is that it served its purpose. It felt like a through-line to connect the two episodes, without really leaving the episodic format Dororo has had so far. For the most part, I could take it or leave it though. I had very little interest in their side story. Not to mention some inconsistencies, such as how Dororo knew the prisoners were going to get strung up on the Banmon. She had left before that decision was made/announced, so I have no idea how she knew about that. Still, the segment did do one important thing. It showed us how Daigo’s lands are viewed from the outside, a land of demons and monsters. Yes, they are invaders, but at the same time, would you not want to get rid of a place protected by demons? It’s a nice juxtaposition, I think.

That juxtaposition of demons and blessing mentioned, lets hop over to Tahomaru now. I love what Dororo is doing with him. Tahomaru isn’t given some half baked story, he isn’t lied to nor is he tricked into anything. When Tahomaru confronts his parents on Hyakkimaru, they tell him everything. Daigo stands by what he has done and how it has benefited his people, and basically gives Tahomaru the same choice. Destroy the demons on the hill, doom their people, or get out of his way. What I love about this is that Tahomaru investigates the issue himself, and eventually makes his own decision. No one pressures him on it, sure you could say he just wants his fathers respect, but still. This is his decision, one that he knows is wrong, but makes out of his love for his people. A love established 2 episodes ago.

It’s not like this is any easy decision for him either. Tahomaru is clearly shown to be agonizing over it. Dororo makes it clear that Tahomaru want’s his family to be together, he respects his brother. I saw a post explaining Tahomaru’s use of ani-ue, or honored elder brother, and that with his previous behavior of wanting his parents love makes it clear. He doesn’t want to fight. Yet when he weighs his personal desires and his knowledge of the demons against his brother, he sacrifices his own pride for them. He turns a blind eye to justice, and poetically, in doing so Dororo has him lose an eye. Subtle, I know, but most anime would spell this out with a monologue so I like Dororo’s attempts at Symbolism here. It fits perfectly along the lines of my belief that Tahomaru’s story will be one of tragedy.

Speaking of tragedy, oh boy, was that ending unexpected. When Hyakkimaru met his mother, I was prepared for a tearful reunion and a “I cant keep you safe, run” sort of ending. Instead, she sides with the rest of the family and outcasts him. His entire family abandons Hyakkimaru, saying it is better if he dies for a people he never met, from his brother to his mother. To top it off, Oku commits suicide, unable to bear the guilt of her condemnation. Just… wow, his very existence is tearing this family apart, and I love it. Contrast this with Dororo’s family, who all died for her basically. Her family is dead but loved her, while his is alive but has forsaken him. They are the only ones the other has left at this point. Its beautifully tragic, and the sort of dramatic twist that I relish.

So all in all, this was a fantastic cour finale for Dororo. We have family drama, status quo changes, and even a brewing war caused by Hyakki’s actions. So many are going to die, his name will be dragged through the mud and he will be hunted. At the end he may even have retrieved his body, but at what cost? The parallels to Kentaro Miura’s Berserk, in my opinion one of if not the best manga ever made, are astounding. I have no idea if Dororo influenced Miura in any way, but I would not be surprised to find out it did. All the story beats are there, in the fledgling form. If Dororo manages to capitalize on this, to draw this story out to a complete conclusion, then I think it will be a real treat. All it has to do is stay the course laid out.

But what do you think, is Dororo getting to dark for you? Perhaps this cour had some other issues I missed? Let me know down below, and I will see you in April when Dororo returns on the 8th!

9 Responses

  1. Avatar Crixdec says:

    Throughly enjoying this one. Hyakimaru defending the kids against the fox demon was probably the most eye catching part for me. I wasn’t expecting the suicide(although I’m not exactly sure if it was successful, there was a lack of blood leading me to believe it wasn’t). Ultimately I don’t know where the show is off to now but I am looking forward to it. That said it has been a while, I do hope Hyakimaru gets a body part or something back soon. I quite curious as to how getting back one of his arms might affect how he fights

    • Avatar Lenlo says:

      Indeed, the body parts are a necessity. I think he most likely got something back from the Spirit Fox, but it just hasn’t manifested yet. If that Fox wasnt a major Demon I dont know what could be, you know? Still, the first cour was quite rambling and he still got parts back. I expect the series will be much more focused moving forward and should speed that up a bit.

      As for the suicide not being successful… I suppose? I figured the spreading of the white light/spirit particles did that job and they just didn’t want to be overly graphic with it. But considering what they have shown before, that doesn’t make much sense. I hope they don’t bring her back though. It was a powerful moment and I would prefer it not cheapened.

      • Avatar Crixdec says:

        I do agree about the suicide, I honestly can’t see what else the mother can do in terms of plot. I wouldn’t mind if Hyakimaru got his eyesight back from the fox either, that would be rather interesting too

  2. Avatar somedude says:

    You know, call it a hunch but I think this particular fox demon may not be completely dead. When we see the Hall of Hell at the end of this episode, the statue that represents it gets rather nasty crack but is otherwise mostly intact compared to other destroyed statues. Also, when the statue gets destroyed, Hyakki gets a body part back almost immediately but that didn’t happen this time either, which is rather strange.

    In fact, one rather twisted way to keep Oku relevant the plot is to have her dead body possessed by one of the 12 demons. Since the mother committed suicide offering her life to 12 demons so she may join in Hyakki’s suffering, perhaps that allowed the fox demon to jump to her body? Afterall, it was possessing banmon so it wouldn’t be too surprising for it to possess a human to escape certain doom. In such case, Hyakki would have to cut his mother down himself, which is going to be pretty devastating to his already unstable psyche.

    • Avatar Lenlo says:

      Having his mother become the vessel for the Fox Spirit would be an acceptable way to bring her back I suppose. It would be an appropriate amount of suffering, all things considered. I assumed the Fox was dead because not only did it hit the Banmon, but the Banmon collapsed. Effectively opening the land up to war. It seems a bit of a betrayal to the viewer at that point to have the Fox survive beyond the arc its relevant in.

      Still, the possession and sacrifice to the demons is an interesting thought and one I had not considered. If he doesn’t get a body part back at the start of the next episode, we will know if something is up or not.

  3. Avatar Animosh says:

    “Just… wow, his very existence is tearing this family apart, and I love it.”

    Bwahaha, never change Lenlo. ;)

    By the way, what did you make of the whole “one versus many” moral dilemma? (I know you talked about it from Tahomaru’s point of view a bit, but you didn’t give your own opinion on it.) Daigo obviously isn’t a good person: he didn’t sacrifice (if you can even call it that, because he didn’t seem to care enough about his loss for it to warrant that title) his son for the good of his people, but because he wanted power and status. And the picture is probably more complicated than what we’re seeing now (maybe Daigo’s land is flourishing at the expense of neighboring regions, and given that demons aren’t exactly trustworthy, maybe the demons are simply looking for a chance to break free from the contract and stab Daigo in the back). But assuming for the moment that the choice really is between Hyakki’s well-being and the flourishing of an entire region, do you think Tahomaru made the right decision? Or are you siding with Dororo here, judging that profiting from the sacrifice of an innocent child can never be justified?

    • Avatar Lenlo says:

      I avoided my own opinion for a reason, but since you asked here it is: It depends. Not satisfying I know, but hear me out.

      Boiled down, this becomes a basic trolly problem. Do you kill one person through personal action, or doom many through inaction. Are you guilty of the many’s death if you do nothing? For me, it comes down to “Do I know the individual?”. If I know the individual being sacrificed, I would probably choose them. But if its some random person I dont know, versus my family, my community? Well, sucks for them.

      If I was the individual, and the many were strangers, I would feel cheated. But that comes down to personal morals.

      So to give a solid answer… I think Daigo is a bad guy for making the sacrifice in the first place, but I don’t blame Tahomaru. The reason for this is simple, the why. Daigo may have had good results, but he didn’t care about his people. Tahomaru though, as was shown over 2 episodes, truly does care for his people. He isn’t making this decision for personal gain and it legitimately hurts him, but he does it for his people. The reason behind the action matters, not in the results, but in how I judge the individual.

      I am rambling at this point, but as I said, I don’t blame Tahomaru. I think he made the best out of a shitty situation and chose the people he grew up with over the brother he never knew he had. There was no good option there, and so he sacrificed his own morals and sense of justice for others. Its not near the level of Hyakkimaru, but Tahomaru also sacrificed in that scene in my opinion.

      • Avatar Animosh says:

        Ah sorry, I didn’t mean to press you into talking about something you purposely avoided. But thanks for heeding my unreasonable request anyway! I always think it’s interesting to learn about people’s personal morals and stuff. :)

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