Dororo Episode 21: The Story of Breaking the Cycle of Suffering

The cycle isn’t broken because I’m still suffering. T_T

Another intense episode as Hyakkimaru slowly loses himself more and more and his feelings don’t subside as Tahoumaru goes after him once more. And honestly, I have to say that hoping for a happy ending seems impossible now. This anime will most likely end up as a tragedy so I should just keep my expectations low so my heart will be less broken by the end. BUT THEN THE NEXT EPISODE PREVIEW…it shows Dororo with Hyakki’s mother and now I’m already creating theories that could possibly turn the tide around. Maybe. Someone stop me.

Tensions are rising as Daigo gets the news of Hyakkimaru approaching, but his timing is bad because the Asakura clan is planning another battle against them. There’s a lot to worry about on his side, but Tahoumaru catches wind of his brother’s return and volunteers to defeat him himself. Considering that he’s lost to his brother twice, it’s amazing that he still has so much resolve and guts to only bring Hyogo and Mutsu this time when his army last time couldn’t even do anything. Daigo lets him go, but he secretly has one of his men follow Tahoumaru discreetly.

I feel for Nui, I really do. I see people misinterpreting what she said about Hyakkimaru running back like a child for his toy. It makes it sound like she’s downplaying Hyakki’s situation, but what she really meant was that, like a child, Hyakki has this single-minded obsession towards his goal and will do literally anything to get what he wants. Which, he absolutely deserves to get his body back, but what he said earlier makes me nervous. She also uses this analogy for Tahoumaru as well as he has this same tunnel vision when it comes to defeating his brother and making his father proud. As a woman in this time period, especially with her status as a lord’s wife, this whole situation is eating her up inside. She wants to be loyal to her husband, the lord, but she also wants to intervene in the conflict between her two sons. Judging by the next episode’s preview, it looks like she’s going to make her decision soon. I’m excited to see her interact with Dororo next episode, and I hope Dororo drills into her head how much Hyakkimaru is suffering and to really give her an idea who he really is and what kind of life he’s led. Because no one on the opposing side has ever given Hyakkimaru a chance to really learn who he is and what he had to go through. Honestly, so many people are lacking empathy it’s concerning.

This episode also showed some deeper connection to Tahoumaru’s relationship with Mutsu and Hyogo, as well as their origins. You can see why they care and serve under Daigo so loyally as he is the one that saved them from where they were locked up and starving. Just like many people in this anime, they were victims of war. However, Daigo chose them both to be Tahoumaru’s aides and they both lived a good life with him. They’ve known each other since they were children and have a very strong bond, Mutsu even going so far as to saying that they are both Tahoumaru’s right and left hands, which is ironic in that they each lost their respective right and left arms. Which doesn’t bode well, especially for Mutsu as it looks like she contracted the plague that’s been hitting some villages. And you know she’s dying because when we see Hyakkimaru’s vision as he looked at Tahou and gang, Mutsu’s aura was a lot dimmer than the other two.

Which gets me thinking…once Mutsu realizes what’s going on with her, will she voluntarily sacrifice herself, or will Daigo realize first and order for Mutsu to be killed, causing Tahoumaru to go against his father? I don’t like seeing it and I think it’s inhumane, but I understand why people in that era would purposely close up and burn down villages infected by the plague and they didn’t want it to spread. They didn’t have the medicine in that time to treat them, but still…it was very hard to watch as Daigo’s men killed a whole village of innocent people, just because they’re sick. But seeing as how Mutsu has it, it’s possible that Tahou, Hyogo, and even Dororo could get it as well. There’s so many possibilities in this scenario and it’s hard to settle on one possible theory. But it’d be kind of pathetic that Tahou would turn on his father because of losing his friend, and not because he understands his brother. However, considering Hyakkimaru was very ready to kill them both doesn’t help. Dammit…

And I understand Hyakkimaru’s rage, really I do, but I feel like he’s taking two steps back again. I get that he wants to see things, and to feel things just like Dororo and everyone else, but that doesn’t excuse pointing his sword at a stranger that was only looking out for them, and even pushing Dororo away from him when she was only trying to calm him down. He absolutely deserves his body, but he also needs a stern talking to. Dororo tried her best, trying to stop him, telling him that she doesn’t want him to turn into someone else (a monster), and what would he do if his mother and father tried stopping him. His answer of killing was so quick and nonchalant it was scary. He doesn’t seem to understand the gravity of what he’s saying and what he plans to do, and doesn’t understand what Dororo means when he wouldn’t be himself. He wants to see, he wants to feel, he’ll be the same person. But will he really? He’s also positive that Dororo will always be with him, and for some reason that stuck out to me and makes me nervous if that was possible foreshadowing to them parting ways again in the end (they were separated this episode but that’s different). Dororo is his anchor, but she’s also his weakness. Dororo is the one that keeps him stable and human, but she is also the reason that he loses himself. The times in the past when he would fly into a rage, Dororo was there to comfort him. But the reason why he’s so desperate this time around is because of Dororo, when he wasn’t able to save her himself from drowning because of his arms, and because he loves her so much. Seeing Hyakkimaru like this saddens me a lot, and it scares me. Especially with Dororo being captured, I’ll only fear that he’s going to get worse.

I’m not even sure what to say about Tahoumaru at this point. I’m disappointed that he can’t even feel a bit of empathy for his own brother that was sacrificed as a newborn. But on the other hand, I understand that he’s a 15 year old that idolizes his father and wants to make him proud and one day lead the land like him, while also caring deeply about his people. He’s seen what the land has become and wants to do anything to rectify it, even if it means having to kill his brother. It’s just tragic, really. But I’ll say it again, it’s upsetting that literally no one on the opposing side even cares enough to sit down and understand Hyakkimaru’s side. I don’t think empathy was huge in war times.

I think the brothers are going to face off once more in the next episode and it’ll be a one on one because it looks like Mutsu and Hyogo will be out of commission. As painful as it was, the fight scene this episode was spectacular. The choreography and animation were spot on, it was brutal, and it was exciting. The fight was even more impactful with that one shot of Dororo crying, as she helplessly stood on the sidelines as she watched Hyakki fight against his own brother. Hyakkimaru is serious about taking down Tahoumaru, reminding Dororo that Tahou called him a demon. My hope of the brothers reconciling is probably at a 0, sadly.

Me this entire episode

The beautiful white horse was a surprising addition. I thought Midoro wouldn’t exactly be important, especially when this beauty of a horse was used in a suicide bombing just like that. What was the point of seeking out an exceptional horse if you were just going to blow it up anyway? Idiots. So color me surprised that the armor from the corpses of soldiers were possessed by a youkai and took the spirit of Midoro and turned into a Rapidash! The fact that you see Hyakkimaru riding it in the next episode preview must mean that it’ll be his ally. At least he’ll ride in style. The next episode looks to be just as exciting as this one.

Does Midoro represent the headless horses in the first OP? I’m not exactly sure what it means though, so I’ll probably look into that. The ED this week became even clearer, though not totally yet. However, the one single clear image we got was at the very end with the long-haired Dororo. Which goes back to me theorizing a happier ending for this anime, where Hyakkimaru will finally regain his eyesight and the first thing he sees is Dororo. I can’t tell if this Dororo is older or her hair simply just isn’t tied up, but for some reason that smiling Dororo in the end gives me hope. The hope that they’ll both pull through this violent mess and live a happy life together. Let me have this, please.

Please.

Berry

We're all just a bunch of weebs

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1 Response

  1. zztop says:

    This episode is anime-original, but uses some bits and pieces of the Midoro arc of Tezuka’s manga. Even then, the horse has a much lowered focus from the source.

    In the manga, Midoro was the war steed of a random cruel warlord that abused and pushed Midoro’s limits. During a battle that goes badly, Midoro is mortally injured but uses the chance to get revenge on the warlord by stomping him to death. A passing demon spirit possesses Midoro, turning it into an evil demon horse. Saburota (from last week’s ep) finds Midoro and thinks he’s tamed it, when in fact it’s using him.

    Midoro’s foal later joins up with Dororo to find its mother. The group meets Midoro and Saburota; Hyakki has to kill the horse when it attacks him thus saving Saburota. The foal is left alone as Hyakki and Dororo continue their journey. (Pretty much a monster of the week arc, as was the trend of the time).

    It’s interesting to compare this childlike anime Hyakki to the manga version – the original was something like Wolverine, gruff and easy to violence, but with enough maturity to be reasoned with. Of course, Dororo was more annoying sidekick who tended to get herself into trouble a lot instead of playing trainer to what is currently the feudal era’s angriest attack dog that won’t listen…

    Official Dororo poster scans from anime magazines:
    https://twitter.com/artbooksNat/status/1117931441566965760
    https://twitter.com/artbooksNat/status/1133046326525079552
    https://twitter.com/artbooksNat/status/1129421732270542848

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