Dororo Episode 23: The Story of the Demons

We’re only one episode away from concluding this tragic tale. All the players have arrived and finally next time we will see what kind of conclusion Dororo will bring us. As stressed as this show makes me (and I mean very stressed), I’m sad this is almost over. This entire episode was a ride from start to finish and it left on us with a very ambiguous feeling.

Not two minutes in and I was already fuming at what Mutsu and Hyogo said, of Hyakkimaru’s parts never belonging to him. I get that they’re under the demon’s control, but that was absolutely heartless. I miss the sympathy they had for him before, but this was disgusting. A very quickly the both of them met a very gruesome end not by the hands of Hyakkimaru, but by the hooves of Midoro. It was extremely brutal seeing Hyogo get beheaded and Mutsu getting ripped to shreds. The scene was even more unsettling as the demon’s influence in their arms made them move on their own to land their finishing blows on Midoro. It all happened so quickly that it was shocking, and it was interesting while Tahoumaru is basically a demon at this point, he stopped his fight with Hyakkimaru and ran to his friends’ sides. To which Tahoumaru still has a bit of humanity in him even if he’s being influenced by the demon, but also his own desires of fulfilling his father’s wishes. As they both die, Hyakkimaru finally regains both of his arms. Midoro ends up dying as well, but not before seeing her child one last time. But I felt awful for the foal as it had to see its mother die before them, and it stayed by her side even in death. Is it bad that I was more affected by Midoro’s death more than Hyogo and Mutsu’s?

It absolutely broke my heart when Hyakkimaru hid his arms and swords behind his back once Nui came over to him. He was afraid. He finally got his arms back, but he was afraid that she was going to take them back from him. But his body language is pretty interesting. He showed nothing but malice and rage toward Tahoumaru when it came to retrieving his body parts, ready to attack. But in the face of his mother, he puts his arms behind his back and shows fear. She calls his name and steps forward, and he inches back. His eyebrows are furrowed but he doesn’t show any malice towards her. There’s no sign that he’s going to attack her, but he sat there as if waiting to see what she would do. It’s mostly fear.

Nui wasn’t able to say what she wanted to because Tahoumaru interrupted, which was very frustrating. I wish she had more of a backbone and was able to get out the words she wanted to say so the fight in the castle would have never happened. Hyakkimaru’s reaction shows that he doesn’t necessarily hate her. There’s lots of anger, but he had no problem pointing a sword at innocent people and killing them. And yet he didn’t do that to Nui, even though she’s seemingly on Daigo’s side (though not really). If Nui was able to say what she wanted to say, I think Hyakkimaru would come around. But that’s going to have to happen in the finale. The scene was very sad, and then my anger rose again as Tahoumaru proceeded to call him a “thing” and a “curse”, causing him to run away.

I’m not too sure how I even feel about Tahoumaru right now. I hate this side of him, and it’s laughably ironic that he dares call his own brother a demon when he himself is a demon with his eyes. I understand the position Tahoumaru is in, but I suppose my personal feelings are getting in the way so sorry about that. When it comes to him, I’m going to have to wait until the show is over to really understand my feelings for him. Though I will say it is sad that he’s taking care of his own father’s business, but as the heir, I’m sure this is something he wants to do as he wants to become a powerful lord one day. It’s just disheartening that he basically has become another Daigo. So am I angry? Yes, yes I am. Will there be a turnaround with him in the ending? It could be possible but his chances of living are low.

As the boys continue fighting, the random villagers from before appear along with the monk who showed up earlier. Their whole conversation was interesting as it was the culmination of all the themes and morals of the show, complete with flashbacks of pivotal moments. One of the guys overhears what they were saying and mentions if maybe Hyakkimaru should continue what he should do or sacrifice himself? After leaving flowers on Mutsu and Hyogo’s corpses, because Dororo is a literal angel that holds no hatred even to the people that treated her and Hyakkimaru like garbage, she jumps at the guy and smacks him with tears in her eyes. Angry at what he said, she tells him how he could live on knowing they were living through someone’s misery. Yes, he and the other villagers went through their own misery, but Hyakkimaru did too. Dororo has experienced her own fair share of misery and tragedy, but she can’t even begin to understand the mindset of these people. One other villager mentions, yes, but in exchange of the suffering of many? Nui chimes in that that seems the most logical, however, it’s fragile. Finally, she was able to say something I was hoping someone would. Nui compares them all as baby chicks being fed by a hen. They made Hyakkimaru be the sacrifice to their prosperity, and yet they remained complacent. Something they never got on their own can never be protected, so the prosperity was going to dwindle on way or another. Also, these are demons we’re talking about and this is something that’s always been on my mind from the start. Who’s to say that the demons would keep up their end of the bargain without a little catch? Whenever anyone in any fictional work makes a pact with the devil or demons, something bad always happens. Their so called prosperity was fragile from the start and I had a feeling that one day it would crumble, whether it was Hyakkimaru’s fault or not.

On the topic of strength the monk brought up, he mentioned by pursuing strength that you may find yourself no longer human in that obsession. But interestingly, he brought up not doing anything would do the same and Nui mentions her powerlessness as a mother.

Dororo retorts that to not be the cast all the time though. To stop yourself from being a demon, all you need is love and a heart. With that, you can still have the strength to fight on. Just like Hyakkimaru is doing, he’s actually pushing himself and doing something. That’s strength. They can all complain about war and the samurai taking away everything, but nothing will be done if they don’t do anything themselves. And they won’t know what kind of power they have unless they try.

As the brothers fight in the castle, Dororo makes her way to Hyakkimaru, begging for him to not turn into a demon. She will be his eyes, she’ll be his limbs, it doesn’t matter. Just no matter what, don’t turn into a demon! The shot above was a brilliant piece of symbolism as Hyakkimaru stood in the doorway. On one side, a light is white. And on the other, the light is red like a demon. This perfectly encapsulates Hyakkimaru’s current being. Even though we’ve seen more of a demonic Hyakkimaru, his humanity isn’t totally gone. As he was making his way to the castle, it seemed to me like he was having his own inner conflict. What is a human? Why is everyone getting in my way? They’re mine. But the words of Jukai and others kept racing in his head. He’s still trying to figure out what’s so bad about what he wants? The above shot shows he’s not totally gone, but the speech about a strong heart is going to go into play with Hyakkimaru in the end. Is his heart strong enough to stop him from losing himself? Or, is his heart running over to him right now?

What kind of ending we’re getting, I don’t even know. But they gave us a lot of hope with this episode, especially with Dororo’s inner monologue at the very end as she was running to the castle. Maybe Dororo is Hyakkimaru’s heart. We already know that she’s his anchor to retaining his humanity, she’s done it multiple times and she knows that she might be the key. She’s been with him from the start of his journey and she’s the only one to form this special connection with him that no one else has (no offense, Jukai). She wants to stay by his side and always be there for him, like she always said so. She promised, even if everyone else rejects him, he still has her and dammit she’s going to make sure that’ll happen. But she wants to trust that Hyakkimaru won’t turn and hopes for him to have a strong heart. It’s very obvious why the show is named after Dororo and not Hyakki. While Hyakki is the main character and the story is about him and the retrieval of his body parts, all the morals, heart, and love lies in Dororo herself. She’s the only one in the show to have a clean consciousness and no hatred. She’s the most important person to Hyakkimaru, who relies on her for everything as she is the one to teach him about everything. Just like in the show’s OP and ED, Dororo is the one that will take Hyakki from the darkness and bring him into the clear light. Just that is enough to give the show a little bit of hope for its ending.

The brothers fight, Dororo runs toward the castle and Nui decides to go as well. After their discussion on strength, she’s going to her sons and use her own strength to hopefully bring this all to an end. Just…please don’t let anything happen to her. Daigo is off to fight against the Asakura, and wouldn’t it be amazing if he died pathetically in battle? It would have been more satisfying if Hyakkimaru was the one to end him, but a pathetic death would be satisfying too.

But one interesting and maybe concerning bit in the end of the episode was Jukai’s appearance, saying “It is time to do what I must do.” as he pulls a statue out. Do what? Is it a statue to protect Hyakkimaru? Sacrifice Hyakkimaru? Sacrifice himself? Jukai suddenly became the wild card in all this and now the hope is gone and I have no clue what will happen. Would Jukai really do something to Hyakkimaru, because he realized he raised a demon? I don’t even want to think about that. Maybe Dororo will run into him if that’s the case. Honestly, I don’t know.

Music was on point this episode, and as always the visuals and fight choreography was fantastic. The stress is real and I can already feel the stress and anxiety for the finale. While Dororo has had a bit of a bumpy ride, I’ve enjoyed this show to pieces. I’ll be glad to not have stress, but the show’s end is going to give me the same empty feeling I had when Mob Psychoo 100 II finished, which was also a Monday show. I’m going to prepare myself for the finale, and even though I told myself to abandon all hope for a happy ending…I’m still going to hope for an ending where Hyakkimaru and Dororo can still live a happy life together. Let’s hope for the best, everyone!

Berry

We're all just a bunch of weebs

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3 Responses

  1. zztop says:

    If you’re interested, I can detail you a list of how the source manga and previous Dororo adaptations ended for next week’s post, to compare with how the anime ends. Interested?

    Compared to other versions, I think the anime has stronger leanings into Buddhist philosophy, as illustrated in the conversation.

    Buddhism teaches that human desires and cravings cause suffering not only to others, but for our spirit too. The ideal is to liberate ourselves of desire to reach enlightenment, but desire is what makes us human; not many are prepared to take that path. Thus, the practical actualization of Buddhist salvation is by being mindful of our actions.
    Your mindfulness allows you to not identify with the impulses of your strong emotions or directly act from them; to not hold on onto everything that affects you in any way, to collect yourself and seek a more ideal way of conduct.
    Both Hyakki and Thaoumaru are extreme examples of a lack of mindfulness, wholly embroiled in their respective desires at the expense of others. By not taking a step back to assess the situation, they are now in this mess.

    PS. Hyakkimaru majorly screws up mounting Midoro the horse: https://www.pixiv.net/member_illust.php?mode=medium&illust_id=75159810

    • Berry says:

      Oh my god thank you for the laugh. I definitely needed that after this episode. Though I was worried Hyakkimaru screwing up on mounting Midoro would involve him accidentally stabbing her. Shame on me. ;^;

      That’s very tempting but let’s save that for the finale! Though I think I know what the manga ending is, and I don’t think that will happen. I’ll play it safe and go into the finale blind, just in case they take some stuff from the other endings. I might recognize it and freak out (if it’s bad/sad).

      And that’s perfect. I know that this is a very Buddhist story, but unfortunately I’m not very knowledgeable on Buddhism so the meanings of some moments or characters probably went over my head. But it’s exactly as you said it. They’re both so trapped in fulfilling their desires that they’re not only hurting themselves, but others (and Daigo can also be included here). They definitely could have assessed the situation and done things differently, but Daigo’s desires got in the way as well. Well, it all started with him. :/

  2. Albert says:

    I very much doubt that this one will be better than the previous one.

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