Dororo Episode 24: Dororo and Hyakkimaru (Final Impression)

“The path I take. Does not lead that way. I am human.”

The series finally comes to an end with an ending much more bittersweet than I was imagining. I would always imagine the worst when it came to this show, but I wasn’t completely heartbroken though I’m not totally happy. Lots of surprises and sort of…questionable decisions were made. There’s a myriad of opinions on how the ending went, but let’s start with what even happened.

The fighting continues between the brothers, and Lady Nui and Dororo are on their way to the castle. The priest, or Biwamaru (why did it take 24 episodes to say his name?), followed along to help Lady Nui out. Dororo comes upon Biwamaru at a well with Nui at the bottom, going through the secret passage there. She stops Dororo from following her and tells her once again to always stay by her son’s side after all of this is over, foreshadowing what she was planning to do. She ends up running into Jukai, and I’m glad they met, and they head off to where the boys are together.

The fight was still brutal and intense but took a very emotional turn. Hyakkimaru can see in Tahoumaru’s soul that he’s lacking something. What is he lacking, and why when he supposedly grew up with everything? It’s his heart, and love, that he never got. While he had everything, Tahoumaru admitted that he always lost to Hyakkimaru, even though he was never there. I’ve saved my opinions about Tahoumaru until now just to put my emotional differences aside, but he was always what I thought he was: a very tragic character. His entire life, he yearned for the love of his mother and the attention of his father. But his gripes mostly were towards Nui, and seeing the flashbacks of a young Tahoumaru being constantly ignored by his mother absolutely broke my heart. His attempts at her attention were always in vain as she would look over him or ahead of him, and he was left feeling without the love of his own mother. That’s why losing Hyogo and Mutsu was excruciatingly painful for him because they were the only people to really give him the love and attention that any other child would want. They were always by his side through thick and thin, possibly being the two most important people in his life, possibly more so than his own parents. While Nui’s lack of attention was obvious, Tahoumaru always felt this way about Daigo as well. He felt like his father’s mind drifted off sometimes and that only made Tahoumaru more eager to take on his duties as heir and impress his father, thus leading to the decisions he made.

In the end, Tahoumaru was another victim of Daigo’s selfishness. As much as some of his decisions left me disappointed, it’s not like he’s the only character to do that. In the end, it just made him an incredibly well-written and complex character. Tahoumaru was a boy with a large and kind heart who only wanted the best for his people. He was intelligent and had the drive to help anyone. While at first he was sympathetic upon learning about Hyakkimaru’s existence, he still turned to side with his father and with his people. He was fed the same propaganda Daigo kept spouting and since this is his father and he wants to make him proud as the heir, he did what he had to do and took his father’s side. He was just a 15 year old child that wanted the love and attention of his parents, the decisions he made along the way made sense.

His maturity shows as he admits his loss when Hyakkimaru decides not to kill him. While sweet this scene was, I do have my issues that it happened too quickly. They were literally at each other’s throats a minute ago, and then made peace. Hyakkimaru also showed his growth and maturity for choosing not to kill him because they’re both the same. It was also a really nice touch to add Hyakki’s memories and a dust cloud shaped as Dororo as he swung his sword. It looked like a moment where Hyakki would have given his brother one of his signature forehead nuzzles as a sign of his love for him, but it was at this time the 12th demon interrupted.

This was another moment was pretty…anticlimactic. I would have expected a big showdown between Hyakki and the 12th demon, maybe with Tahoumaru tag teaming with him. Instead, we got a crystal creature and Hyakkimaru easily piercing through the red crystal, thus killing the demon. That’s it. Not very exciting at all, but at least Hyakki was able to get his eyes back in the end.

The next scene left me very conflicted as Hyakki collapses, and Nui and Jukai arrive. What has me conflicted is that while Nui was finally able to tell Hyakkimaru how much she always loved him and Hyakki was finally able to feel the warmth of his mother, it saddened me that, once again, Nui ran to Hyakkimaru first and left Tahoumaru on the side. Which is literally the whole conflict between Tahou and his mother. Jukai also reveals the statue he carved, handing it to Hyakkimaru and telling him to live on as a human. As they tell him to go on ahead, with Dororo coming in to help him, Nui goes over to Tahoumaru. She lays his head on her lap and apologizes for ignoring him all this time, and letting him know that she does love him and will never leave his side. Before Hyakkimaru leaves, he’s finally able to open his eyes and gets a glimpse of his “mothers”. While the scene itself is sad, with the fire and all, I think this is the only time where one of his body parts started with a positive moment. Even though there was fire and the inevitable end of them, Hyakkimaru was able to see the beautiful smiling face of Nui and Jukai. And after, the sweet little face of Dororo.

My conflict is whether Jukai, Nui, and Tahoumaru even needed to die? Or did they really when their bodies were never found? Why couldn’t they just escape? I take it it’s because Tahoumaru was already on the brink of death, and this is what Nui chose to do anyway. I still think it was unnecessary, though. Jukai I kind of understand as this man has been suicidal from the start, and ever since his last meeting with Hyakkimaru he finally deemed himself worthy of dying which was foreshadowing of this happening. He felt he was able to accomplish what he wanted to do and finally brought an end to himself. I thought it was a good end to his character, but I still feel like Nui and Tahoumaru did not need to perish as well. Honestly, it makes me kind of mad.

I wanted a pathetic death to Daigo, but I think his punishment was even better honestly. After a few days, Hyakkimaru wanders off to the Hall of Hell where Daigo waits. I’m sure he fully expected Hyakkimaru to end his life right then and there, but instead Hyakkimaru takes the sword and stabs it through the helmet beside him. Leaving Jukai’s Goddess statue in front of him, he claims that his reason for not killing him is because it doesn’t coincide with the path he’s chosen for himself: being a human. He leaves the statue and tells Daigo to carry on as a human and not as a demon.

In the end, Daigo showed who he truly was. He was a complete scumbag that wanted nothing more than power, and he even admitted that he would sacrifice again and again to get what he wanted. He was a powerless coward and still is, and in the end, he lost everything. His wife, son, home, kingdom, he’s now just a lonely and pathetic soul and has to live with himself like this…unless he commits seppuku because he can’t fathom living a pathetic life now, or he bleeds to death from his wounds. His entire world came crashing down on him and he absolutely deserved it, and his soft cries were music to my ears. And it speaks to Hyakkimaru’s immense maturity that he did what he did. He’s serious on reflecting what he has done and on starting a new path. While he was always alive, now he’s fully been born.

One thing I would have liked is if Biwamaru didn’t spell this out to us. Instead of him telling Dororo, it would have been more impactful if Hyakkimaru was the one to tell Dororo all this, bid farewell to her, and give us a sad departure. It’s been rammed into our heads that the two were made for each other. They promised each other that they would always be together and Nui even wished Dororo to do so for her, so for Hyakkimaru to suddenly go off on his new journey without saying a word to Dororo doesn’t feel right to me at all. She’s incredibly important to him so it only would have been right for him to say all this himself, as it also would have been a great character moment for Hyakkimaru too.

I do like that Hyakkimaru decided to leave. As much as I didn’t want them to separate, though it’s kind of been hinted, this is something that Hyakki needed to do. He’s always been reliant on Dororo to be his emotional anchor, and for her abilities she did the best she could. But that’s the thing, he can’t rely on Dororo any longer. He’s finally taken in the atrocities that he’s done and now, with being a human, he wants to embark on his journey of self-reflection and really understand the world and also himself. If he took Dororo with him, it wouldn’t work out. This is something he needed to do on his own, and so he did. And with a smile on his face, he treads forward.

Dororo stays behind and uses her father’s riches to help the people out. I’ve seen people complain about Dororo being on her own, but people seem to forget that she’s been on her own for most of her life and at a very young age. I think she’ll be fine. With her money, she takes on leadership for herself and uses it to help everyone and years go by. As we see her running on a bridge, we see her turn to the very beautiful girl she grew up to be as she runs towards an older Hyakkimaru among rice fields (he planted Mio’s seeds?!). It took awhile, but they were able to reunite. And yes, I’m very happy about that.

This episode was a bit of a mixed bag with really good things and really off things, making the finale a little underwhelming. I felt that if the show had at least one more episode, things would have been wrapped up a lot better. I would have loved to have seen Dororo being a leader, and I would have loved to have seen Hyakkimaru on his journey alone experiencing the world. And of course, I would have loved to have seen the time skip of the two reuniting. Would it be possible if we could get a couple OVA episodes of this? At least Hyakkimaru ended up surviving, so that makes me very happy.

But Biwamaru believing that more than blood and despair will await them in the future, and the Warring States era? What does that even mean? You can’t leave us hanging like that!

FINAL IMPRESSION

I was in love with this show from the very beginning. The first episode completely blew me away and in the end I can still say that I love this show. Yes, it’s not perfect. While the first twelve episodes were near perfection for me, there were some stumbles in the second half of the show where it kind of lost a little bit of its steam. Animation dipped a lot and some stories weren’t as good as others, or didn’t seem important at all or were executed terribly (I’m looking at you, episode 15). But once it hit episode 16, it started picking back up to being the Dororo I love. And while episode 19 was funny, it really was a waste of time and I think that time could have been used to flesh out the last arc better.

There’s downsides, sure, but I feel the good outweighs the bad by far. The show had so much personality and tackled story and character writing that I feel most anime nowadays don’t strive to do. Dororo isn’t a “safe” show that follows a typical formula, and it has characters that aren’t as cookie cutter either. It’s a show that doesn’t shy away from the atrocities of its time, showing the wrath of the samurai and how people of the time suffered in gruesome ways with starvation, prostitution, cannibalism, etc. and I appreciate that it’s not afraid to show these things as it adds to the realism of the era. Everything from the story and the cast of characters were painted in a gray, where the show made you think which could be right and wrong. It’s not just this, but it’s not just that either. There’s so many ways to look at the certain situations and not one answer is necessarily right, and it just leaves you thinking and kind of driving you crazy. In a good way, of course. This show wouldn’t be half as interesting if it wasn’t like this.

Fight choreography was stellar and when it mattered, the animation was stunning and fluid. The painted backgrounds were gorgeous and the scenes were only made better with its lovely OST. The main plot itself was done well, though felt rushed at the end. The monster of the week episodes were fine as well, especially when they added to character growth and interpersonal relationships, namely with Hyakkimaru and Dororo. I only had a problem with a few of them where I think we could have done without them as some felt pretty pointless.

But some of my favorite things from Dororo was how they handled Hyakkimaru’s entire character from his start as a living doll, to slowly becoming who he was at the end, his relationship with Dororo, and just Dororo herself.

I think the studios did an amazing job with Hyakkimaru. He started off as deaf, blind, and mute and so he had his own way with communicating with everybody, which was through his body language. It was amazing how much detail went into accurately portraying how a disabled person like him would act and how he slowly came to learn things. How he was fascinated by the feeling of rain on his skin where he would stand in the rain for hours, how he smelled every single thing in sight once he got his nose, how sound was absolutely deafening for him once he got his hearing. His way of communicating by pointing, reaching out for an object and missing because he can’t see it, and slowly showing his emotions. How he slowly got used to speaking but his words at first came out a little awkward and slurred. The amount of detail is astounding and I loved it because of how real it felt. Hyakkimaru’s growth to who he became in the end was also an absolute treat to watch, and I’m glad that he was able to learn and finally just…live. Like he wanted to. Like he deserved to.

However, one of my absolute favorite things from this show was the relationship between Dororo and Hyakkimaru. They had one of the most unique bonds I’ve ever seen in an anime and to see it grow and grow over the course of the show was amazing. It’s amazing that Dororo was just a kid tagging along with this guy only because he was strange, and this random guy just let this kid follow him, only because her soul was gray and she was no threat. But then this awkward bond formed into such a strong and beautiful friendship/sibling bond where the two found a person someone to live for. It was fun watching Dororo adapt and try to communicate with someone deaf, blind, and mute. Their interactions were really unique, and Dororo soon found herself to be in a caretaker role as she helped Hyakkimaru out on his journey and taught him new things, while sometimes they both learned lessons of their own. It wasn’t always perfect, there were bad moments between them, but they cared about each other so much and vowed to always be together. Just like any other siblings, they always made up in the end. Good, bad, depressing, and funny moments were had. And I always appreciate strong sibling relationships since we hardly ever have them, even though Dororo and Hyakkimaru aren’t even related. But that just makes their bond even more beautiful: two kids practically alone in the world without family, finding family in each other. And I can’t get over how emotional that makes me. These two are just precious.

And Dororo is now officially one of my favorite characters ever. I’ve already talked about my love for Dororo so many times, but she’s such an amazing character. She can be bratty and a little ridiculous, but the strength in this child is amazing. And I’ve also already explained why the show is named after her, but it makes me smile that the finale episode’s title is Dororo and Hyakkimaru. Dororo is ball of pure sunshine living in a terrible world, but she picks up herself with all the strength that she has and faces the world with a smile. She’s an admirable little girl, and it makes me so happy that she grew up to be a fine girl leading a group of people into fixing their land and lives. She’s taken after her mother with her looks but takes after her father with her charisma and leadership. I just love her to death, so so much.

I think for the most part, MAPPA and Tezuka Production did an amazing job. They made so many changes from the original manga and from what I learned, they just did it better. They fleshed out the characters more and made the story and character designs appropriate for modern times and I just have to applaud them for the work they did. I know this show isn’t perfect, but I really don’t care and I still love it to death and it’s definitely marked itself to being one of my favorite anime of all time. It’s a unique show with a distinct personality that I feel most anime lack and I appreciate the changes they made from the source material, even if it wasn’t successful all the time. I was enamored with the world and story from the beginning and throughout the show’s run, I became so emotionally attached to these characters and show so much that it made me shake with anticipation each week. I joked about suffering every time the new episode came out, but I had so much fun. It was a huge highlight to my Mondays, especially after Mob Psycho 100 II ended. And now that Dororo is over, my Mondays are going to be so empty. This show is so special to me, and man I would love at least one OVA episode to flesh out the stuff from the finale. I hope they could at least do that. I just want an excuse to see older Dororo and Hyakkimaru because they’re both beautiful~

Even with its bumps, Dororo was amazing to me personally and I’ll give it a solid 9/10. Dororo, Hyakkimaru, and what this show did for me will always remain in my heart and I know it’s a show that I’ll constantly think about. While it made me sad and stressed, it also made me so happy and I’m so sad it’s over. This anime is fantastic and I would recommend it to anyone, and I know I’m going to give it a rewatch very soon.

Berry

We're all just a bunch of weebs

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3 Responses

  1. zztop says:

    Hyakkimaru leaving comes from Tezuka’s manga, but the original ending was even more open-ended.

    In the manga, the duo end up rescuing a village that Daigo’s enslaved to build a castle for him. They defeat the Nue demon possessing Daigo, capture the castle, and drive out Daigo and his wife.
    Manga Hyakkimaru entrusts Dororo with his sword, telling her she must stay behind for good and make a life for herself at the village they saved. He walks away to continue his quest alone, leaving a sobbing Dororo behind.
    The final page depicts the Hell Hall’s gates, with a paragraph stating no one knew of Hyakkimaru’s later whereabouts, and that 50 years later the many wars burnt the Hell Hall to the ground together with its demon statues.The End.

    The 60s anime ended the same way, except Daigo kills his wife for trying to defend Hyakki, and Hyakki slays Daigo.

    The live action movie had a more upbeat ending, especially for Tahoumaru. Although Tahoumaru is accidentally killed fighting Hyakki, the demons convince Daigo to give them his soul in exchange for reviving Tahoumaru back to life. The demons are good on their promise, but then Hyakkimaru has to slay a demon-possessed Daigo. (Daigo’s wife gets killed defending Hyakkimaru.)
    Later on, the brothers reconcile and make amends. Tahoumaru tries to give his elder brother the country’s throne, but Hyakkimaru refuses and entrusts his sibling to make the country a benevolent utopia as discussed in an earlier meeting. Hyakki and Dororo continue the body-parts journey. The End. (Supposedly there were plans to make 2 more sequels, but they never came to pass. Also there was more romantic undercurrents, since Dororo was an adult woman.)

    Except for the live action, Tahoumaru was killed off in all other versions. He died in the manga (and 60s anime) Banmon arc, and also in the PS2 version as a possessed boss demon.

    How do you think the previous endings sum up compared to the anime?
    I read some comments saying it felt rather unnecessary for anime Tahoumaru to be killed off just like that. Considering the live action’s events, they could’ve made Tahoumaru the new ruler, with a more scarred, but wiser and renewed outlook on life. Somme think the anime writers were trying to push the bittersweet drama angle too hard. What do you think?

    Dororo extra fancomic of the 12th demon screwing up the body parts distribution (img 2) https://www.pixiv.net/member_illust.php?mode=medium&illust_id=75272974

    • Berry says:

      When it comes to the manga, I know it was a cancelled series so no surprise the ending is a lot more unsatisfactory. I’ve also seen the scans of the last couple pages where Hyakki leaves Dororo behind. And while this version kind of was the same, it was more hopeful than sad. The original anime I guess is slightly better because Daigo dies? shrugs

      The live action movie is very interesting (except the romance, NO THANK YOU!), and when it comes to Tahoumaru, it’s actually something I was wishing to happen. Personally, I did not think Tahoumaru had to die and I’m still angry that they chose to make him die along with Nui and Jukai. I think they would have kept the ending to be just as bittersweet if Tahoumaru ended up surviving too with the parents sacrificing themselves for their children. It still would have been very impactful, and Tahoumaru could have continued on with his life as ruler. His character didn’t need to end there, and Tahou offering his brother the land and ruling power, only for Hyakki to refuse was actually a scenario I pictured in my head. With Dororo behind and with her large wealth, she and Tahou would have been an amazing pair in reconstructing the land.

      I understand Nui wanting to spend the rest of her time with Tahoumaru, but as a mother I would want my children to keep on living. Just those words of love and confirmation I think would have been enough for her son because it would have given him the peace of mind that, yes, his mother did love him all this time. He would learn from his father’s mistakes and rule on with strength alone, not with the cowardly help from demons. And he can have a healthier relationship with his brother, which would be icing on the cake. So yes, I agree that it was unnecessary that Tahoumaru had to die and I’m very angry about it.

      Other than Tahoumaru’s fate, I do like this ending too but I wish it was handled a little differently (the last demon fight, how Hyakki and Dororo were separated). Only because of Tahou I would prefer the movie’s ending, but I like this ending as well because Hyakki rightfully so got his body parts back and had a brighter future, as well as Dororo. If the anime had more time, like at least one more episode, I think this ending would have been a lot stronger. Still, I enjoyed it mostly.

      PS: So I’m a dummy, does that mean the whole story took place before the Sengoku/Warring States period even started, or right at the start? I had already thought they were already in the Sengoku period what with all the civil wars and suffering. That means worse things await them? Oh goodness, Japan your history kind of sucks. >_>

      By the way, thank you for all your comments each week! I always looked forward to them to see what changes they made from the manga and I appreciate them! :D
      What did you think of the anime yourself?

  2. zztop says:

    PS. I think Biwamaru’s talking about the onset of Japan’s Warring States period, running from 1467-1600.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sengoku_period

    Japan would be having civil war for nearly 133 years until Tokugawa Ieyasu solidified his power in 1600 to form the Tokugawa shogunate; which would itself last until 1868.

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