Posted by Lenlo on 28 May 2019 with categories: Dororo

Welcome one and all to the beginning of the end for Dororo. It’s a contentious week for me, as a weak villain goes from terrible to interesting, Hyakki gets angry and the Dororo gets plot armor. Let’s dive in!

Starting off, let’s talk production, as I actually felt good about Dororo this week. Animation wasn’t anything to special, but that has rarely been Dororo’s strong point. Instead it was the Direction that really stood out to me this week. Whether it be how Hyakkimaru was framed at the end of the episode, backlit by the sun, or the overlap between Hyakki and Saburota. The episodes message got across very well and lead to some pretty nice scenes, as you can see. Its a real step up from the mostly disappointing 2nd Cour. Like MAPPA is really stepping up and trying to finish strong. Story wise though, thats where I get conflicted about Dororo this week. As no matter how strong the visuals might be, if there isn’t any content behind it, it will just feel hollow. So that said, spoilers below.

The opening of the episode was easily Dororo’s weakest aspect for me. It was pretty enough with the autumn leaves and such. And I suppose it attempted to show how Hyakki and Dororo’s relationship has progressed. The two talking to each other, and speaking of the future together, etc. But after the last two episodes, it just felt like a load of nothing. I wasn’t invested in it at all. Perhaps I am disillusioned with Dororo this far into the 2nd Cour, but everything up to the and including the first demon fight felt like a load of nothing to me. While I will get to Tahomaru later, let’s look at Saburota to start. It was obvious he would be evil early on, with that smirk at the watering hole and everything. That plus his initial story didn’t make me care much for him.

Simply put, Saburota started off rather weak for me. Like I said, his crazy history made no sense. His mother getting eaten by a demon, only for him to end up leading people to that demon. Helping the thing that killed his family. It didn’t fit with the rest of Dororo, which often grounded its characters. Even Shark Boy was more grounded than that, being raised by sharks basically. But Saburota was not grounded like this, at least not at first. The more we learned about him, the more interesting he got. This was a bit hamfisted of course, with how blatant Dororo portrayed all of this. However for a single episode, I will say it did its job and at least managed to make for a strong ending.

Saburota’s slow burn, of running from the demon and hating his cowardice, to feeding people to it, was good. A sort of self validation that made a lot more sense than some kind of weird deal he managed to make with the creature. It was these flashbacks that really made me start to turn around on this episode. I also thought Dororo did a good job of throwing this back on Hyakki. With the overlapping visuals, showing Hyakki fighting the Demon and Saburota not running away in his flashback. Making it clear Hyakki is the kind of man Saburota wanted to be. Only to, in the end, have him once again justify his own cowardice by labeling Hyakki a demon. Dororo made sure to paint both sides with the same brush in the conflict, something I have missed since the first cour.

Speaking of Hyakki, let’s take a moment to chat about he went this episode. I think Dororo did a good job with him here. Starting with his love and respect for Dororo, then abusing that by trapping Dororo with the rocks. Driving him into a corner with his false-body breaking down as he tries to save her. Then having him respond to that corner by going mad and reverting back to wanting his body back with a vengeance. I enjoyed most everything about this, especially the ending. While I am sad we didn’t actually get to see the fight, what we got was good enough. And having Dororo stumble upon the result, as Hyakki is butchering a corpse with the sun setting behind him was fantastic. It’s the kind of framing I loved back when we first met Junkai. Thought the result of the fight does raise some questions.

Of course what I am talking about there is the lack of body parts Hyakki is getting back. Supposedly the final Demon has been absorbing the sacrifices of the other demons before they are defeated. On one hand, cool, big bad demon final fight. On the other hand, boo, I enjoyed Daigo and Hyakki’s family drama being the final confrontation. Will have to see how it goes. That said, I am having a fun time thinking about it and coming up with theories. One of my personal favorites is that Hyakki is being groomed as a “host” for the big final demon. His declining mental state and recovering body/skill set will probably lend itself well to a demon. And be just depressing enough an ending to fit with the series as a whole. All that said though, it’s time to get into my issues with the episode.

First and foremost, I have a bone to pick with the spring and Dororo getting trapped. At first I was all for it, this is interesting, maybe Hyakki loses something. Breaks his blades, metaphorically sacrificing his chances at killing a demon to save her. Or maybe he cuts off her arm to free her. Maybe even she dies and that kick starts a fall for Hyakki. Instead Dororo tries to have it’s cake and eat it to. Having Dororo get saved by the Blind Priest, and still having Hyakki fall morally. It lead to some great scenes, but I don’t like it and I can narrow it down to a single reason. The Priest. What reason does he have to be there, is he just following them around? Does he exist to spout exposition and get them out of trouble? It’s just do random for such a big moment.

The other issue I have is less how something was done and more how little of it we get. That being Tahomaru and his father, Daigo. I like that we got them, reminding us they exist. Sure, the fact that Tahomaru’s companion is able to walk immediately after he broke his leg or whatever a few episodes ago sucks. But hey, we don’t know exactly how much time has passed, I will give it a pass. But all we really got was Tahomaru feeding some starving villagers, and an update that everything is going to shit. We already knew both of these things. That he cared for his people and the effects of Hyakki’s crusade. I just don’t get why we couldn’t get something more impactful. A confrontation with Daigo or something, or an update on the war effort. Its like the bare minimum being drip-fed to us.

So all in all, how was this weeks Dororo? Alright to pretty good. Started off weak, but really made use of its antagonist this week. There are still some questionable aspects to the episode, but the topic of the episode itself was solid and I enjoyed it. I just wanted… more, I suppose. Perhaps an unreasonable request, but I had high hopes for the series after the first cour. This second cour has had a few episodes that lived up to it. But as a whole it has largely fallen short. However based on this episode, we are entering the endgame. The final confrontation. So long as it can stick that landing, I think I can give Dororo the final go-ahead as a decent watch. Trip though… and I fear I won’t be able to sign off on it. We will have to wait and see.

One Response

  1. Avatar somedude says:

    For the final demon, another interesting theory I came across is that Hyakki may personally have to kill his three family members to get those body parts back. Essentially, the final demon will manifest itself in those three, combining that family drama and cool big bad final demon fight together. As Tahomaru and Kagemitsu have no reservation sacrificing others for their purposes and Nui did nothing to stop them, becoming a monster and getting slaughtered like one seem fitting karma for them. In fact, Nui even described herself and people of Daigo’s land as monsters’ eating away at Hyakki’s sacrifice in Episode 12. Since there are three missing body parts and three people in Daigo’s family, that would make sense. Such act would also be damaging enough for Hyakki’s psyche to make him slide into becoming a demon himself.

    One interpretation I have for the spring part is that Hyakki may have thought about using his blades to destroy the rocks but chose not to, even if it would lead to Dororo’s drowning. The priest had no reservation breaking his blade to destroy the rocks’ holding Dororo’s arm but for Hyakki, his blades are his arms (or at least critical tools in getting body parts back) and may be more valuable to him than Dororo. Perhaps Hyakki got demoralized as he was nearly forced to sacrifice Dororo for a chance at getting his body back, similar to his father. It could be nice foreshadowing for the future where Hyakki may have to choose between Dororo and his body parts.

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