Dororo – 13 – Face/Off

Since leaving Daigo’s lands Hyakkimaru has barely slept, as he seeks out any and all demons to kill until all of his parts have been returned, and Dororo is worried about him. He suggests they head to a hot spring for some rest and recovery, but has to lie about there being a monster there to get Hyakkimaru to go along.

Turns out Dororo’s only half-wrong: there is a monster in these parts, but it can be found under a waterfall. A great stone statue possessed by a demon cleanly cleaves the faces off victims. A woman with long black hair is delivering these fools to be de-faced, and she in turn can look and sound like anyone.

When Dororo encounters the statue while collecting firewood, the woman appears as his mama, and the resemblance and sound of her voice are so familiar he can’t help but want to call her Mama, which she allows (her real name is Okaka).

As Hyakkimaru dozes, Okaka tells Dororo the story of the statue, a giant Fudo that was to be a scorned carver’s masterpiece and thumb in the eye of his detractors. But he never completed the face, working himself to death but never satisfied with the results.

As Dororo starts to nod off, Okaka reveals that she drugged the both of them, and that she is in fact the carver, revived by a demon to complete the Fudo’s face. And Okaka thinks she’s finally found the perfect face in Hyakkimaru’s.

When Dororo comes to, he’s just in time to slow Okaka down before she can place Hyakkimaru in the path of the Fudo’s giant sword; that buys enough time for Hyakkimaru to wake up, cut himself free, and start hacking at the Fudo, much to Okaka’s chagrin.

Dororo, whose guileless kindness has clearly had an effect on Okaka to this point, manages to convince the carver of the madness she has wrought. Okaka doesn’t know how her obsession with artistic perfection has turned him into a murderer.

The demon within the Fudo isn’t so contrite, however, and it slashes Okaka nearly in half with its sword. Hyakkimaru finishes it off, and the demon disperses, but before Okaka dies and turns to ash, she asks if she can feel Dororo’s smiling face—like the kind face of the Buddha statues she once carved.

Dororo apologizes to Hyakkimaru for getting tricked by his mama’s face, but Hyakkimaru tells him out loud that he’s fine, and that they should proceed to the hot spring to rest. Once they get there, they find Biwamaru is already there (and he believes they were fated to keep meeting like this).

They also encounter a father and two rugrats who jump into the spring and splash about, disturbing the tranquility. But they also notice something on the annoyed Dororo’s back: an elaborate red tattoo that looks like some kind of map. That just may indicate where they should head next, as they’re currently lacking a set destination.

Dororo returns with a new OP (not as good as the first but still nice), ED (wonderful vocals with somewhat muddled visuals, though that’s probably the point), and demon-of-the-week. We also learn Hyakkimaru’s mom is still alive (though not in good shape) and that Daigo believes his deal with the demons is still in effect, but who knows for how long.

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Kyousougiga – 10 (Fin)

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Koto and Myoue travel to the celestial plane and meet their grandfather, God, who tells them they’ll be the ones to replace Inari, who will then disappear. Not liking the sound of that Koto and Myoue leave the plane and travel through a time continuum until she finds Inari and Lady Koto and busts in with her hammer. As she beats up Inari for being selfish, Myoue restores Lady Koto. God agrees that the thirteenth plane will be allowed to exist, while Inari will not disappear and remain with his family.

Just as it always announced at the start of every episode (or in this case, at the end), Kyousougiga was a story of love, life, and rebirth; with the latter two being possible because of the first, a love that started with a rabbit that became a beautiful woman. Inari states that before her, he merely wandered the world aimlessly, separate from it. Lady Koto and their children became his real world, and the start of his real life. He went on to make a common mistake family heads often make, out of stubbornness and obligation: to arrange the future in which his offspring would live; a future that didn’t include him, as he’d pass his duties to them.

Armed with the wherewithal to challenge his unilateral decisions was Koto. Just as she wanted to spend a little more time with Myoue before carrying out his death wish, Koto loved her father too much to let him quietly disappear. This results in climactic celestial family squabble, and ultimately, a happy ending for all. Inari meant the transfer of his heart and soul to be his final act of love to his children, but the only love Koto wanted was to experience the love of her family all in one piece, including him, sharing sunsets, meals, and other good times.

For all its whimsical extravagance of its fantastical setting, Kyousougiga always remained true to its staunchly human, immanently relatable themes of love and family. It was a story that left us as warm and fuzzy as, well, a rabbit.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)
Final Cumulative Rating: 8.400
MyAnimeList Score 
(as of 12/22/13): 8.08

Kyousougiga – 01

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In ancient times, monk Myoue Shounin leaves Kyoto to resid in the mountains of Takao. What he draws can come to life, including a black rabbit named Koto who falls in love with him. Koto makes a deal with a Buddha who gives her human form. She and Shounin have a family made up of Kurama, a drawing, Yakushimaru, a human, and Yase, a demon. This strange family garners derision from the town, so they move into the drawing of Kyoto, “the Mirrored City”.

They live there for hundreds of years, until Koto starts to dream of the world’s end, a warning to return her human form she borrowed from the buddha. She and Shounin depart for parts unknown, leaving their three children. Fast-forward to the present day, when Myoue Yakushimaru has replaced his father as Takao monk. The sky fills with unusual lightning, which he thinks could be a sign of Shounin returning, but it turns out to be a girl named Koto from a parallel dimension, looking for her guardian.

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This stylish, engrossing, inventive series has been teasing us with small tastes since December of 2011, but has finally gotten a run of ten episodes in which to expand its already dense and tantalizing story. We’ve been licking our chops for some time, and this first non-recap episode takes us all the way back to the beginning with Myoue’s father. It’s a charming, romantic tale that turns bittersweet when Koto, the rabbit who became a lady, then a wife and mother, has to leave that ideal life. There’s an alarming abruptness to going from happy family to three kids on their own, but Mirror-Kyoto is devoid of war or suffering, so the kids fare fine.

Once we’re in the age of cell phones and video surveillance (this episode covers a formidable length of time), the three now run the city like their parents once did, in the configuration we’re familiar with from the OVAs. Then, out of the blue, a girl who vaguely resembles their father suddenly makes a big, Terminator-style entrance, flanked by twin demon brothers, brandishing a big hammer, hunting a black rabbit we know to be Myoue’s mom’s original form. Just as suddenly as he lost his parents, Myoue gains a family.

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Rating: 9 (Superior)