Dororo – 15 – Moths to a Flame

The longer Dororo and Hyakkimaru stay at Lord Sabame’s village, the fishier things get. Dororo finds an almost ideal village full of simple but happy folk who have more than enough to eat. But when he questions an old lady about the nuns and children, she wanders off without answering. The villagers are hiding something, and the ghoul they fought last night was a big part of that something—as well as the reason Sabame insists they stay as long as they like.

Hyakkimaru follows Sabame, but isn’t that good at staying hidden. Sabame shows him the best vantage point of the village, which he would do anything to protect. That includes ghouls, as it happens, and if Hyakki is there to kill them, Sabame intends to stop him. As for Dororo, the villagers trap him under a rice storehouse where he’s to be caterpillar food, but the big baby rescues him as thanks for his earlier kindness, and out of the baby’s head sprout the ghosts of the children who were killed in the fire with the nun.

The fire was set intentionally by Sabame and the villagers as a sacrifice to the demon Maimai-onba, whom he took as his wife. In exchange, they have peace, prosperity, and don’t want for anything. But that butts up against Hyakkimaru’s zero tolerance policy on demons and ghouls, and he attacks Maimai-onba. Almost immediately it’s as if the deal struck with Sabame is called off, as the village is engulfed by flames. When Dororo meets up with Hyakkimaru, the latter’s left leg is shattered.

That night Hyakkimaru, with a makeshift peg leg with a bladder of oil, takes a boat out to a lake where Maimai-onba dwells, enticing it to pluck him up with a flame, then shooting the oil bladder at its body, torching it into ash. In exchange, another statue in the Hall of Hell cracks, and Hyakkimaru gets his real spine back, with his body expelling the artificial one.

But unlike previous demon-slayings, Dororo doesn’t feel right about this. It’s true the villagers got their peace and prosperity through ill-gotten means, but it’s not like the children had any say, and they’re the ones who will suffer most in the conflict that immediately flares up once they realize they no longer have enough food.

Hyakkimaru is utterly dismissive of Dororo’s concerns, and has no sympathy for anyone—not Sabame, not his father Daigo—who makes deals with demons. By the time he realizes Dororo isn’t still right behind him, the kid is suddenly in the clutches of Itashi, who already has one half of the map and wants the rest that’s etched on Dororo’s back. Talk about the wrong time to split up.

Suddenly throwing Itashi into the mix at the end of a monster-of-the-week (spread across two weeks with mixed results), basically immediately after Dororo lagged behind Hyakki out of anger, definitely upped the stakes for next week. On the other hand, Itashi’s appearance felt almost too abrupt and coincidental here. We’ll see how next week pans out.

Dororo – 14 – Kids (With or Without Wings) to Feed

The markings on Dororo’s back, which are only visible when his skin is warm (and he’s never had a warm bath before) form half of the map to his father’s “ambition”—a hoard of stolen samurai gold meant to finance a peasant uprising.

In the event of his death, his wife insisted he engrave half of the map upon her so that she’d never be tempted to draw from it, not even to feed herself or Dororo (these guys were zealots to the last). The other half is on Dororo’s back, though his memory of what was on his mom’s can’t be that clear.

And so while Hyakkimaru is cursed with missing limbs he must fight to get back from demons, Dororo is cursed with the legacy of two parents who could have given him a much better life had they had swallowed their honor pride for his sake.

He also now has a choice of what to do next: find the gold and use it as his folks intended, or use it to life a comfortable life. Biwamaru lays out the choices Dororo has, but he’s not leaving Hyakkimaru’s side, and Hyakkimaru is focused on the here and now and the remaining demons.

Hyakkimaru ignores Dororo’s questions about “what comes next”, and is “saved by the bell” in the form of the approach of two bizarre monsters: an emaciated woman and a giant, demanding baby who grabs Dororo. Hyakki takes no action since they’re “not demons,” and they eventually come upon the ruins of a temple that was apparently burned down intentionally (judging from all the oil).

The big baby vanishes before a well-dressed man with a very odd stare appears: he introduces himself as Sabame, lord of a village and its surrounding lands. Dororo doesn’t exactly trust those weird eyes, but he’s not turning down the offer of a meal and a roof over his head, now is he?

And what a meal and roof! The pair probably enjoy the most sumptuous meal they’ve ever been served, and they eat in front of a traditional band and synchronized dancers. Lord Sabame, who claims to have never left his own domain, is always eager to hear the stories of travelers, and so is more than happy to give them food and room to stay in exchange.

Sabame begins with the tale of an evil nun who abused, enslaved, and sold off orphans. She was killed when the heavens apparently “saw enough” and burned the temple down with lightning. Neither Dororo nor Hyakki quite believe this story, since they saw evidence of arson.

That night, with a huge room all to themselves, Dororo blames the “draftiness” of the house, and not fear, for his adjusting his futon so he sleeps closer to Hyakkimaru (who sleeps with his eyes open). Then a giant caterpillar with four human arms drops from the rafters, and Hyakki wakes up in a flash, blades drawn.

The caterpillar has silk that momentarily immobilizes Hyakkimaru, but he’s able to do enough damage to force the monster to flee, which it does with the help of a giant, poison mist-spewing moth. Dororo and Hyakki prepare wash themselves off in a nearby bath.

Then we check in with Lord Sabame, who has not only not turned in for the night, but is actually facilitating the moth demon, who takes the form of a woman. The “travelers” Sabame hosts apparently become food for the moth’s children, the survival of whom Sabame places the utmost importance.

While Sabame’s methods are fundamentally immoral, he has made the choice to value the moth and its offspring above the lives of innocent guests, just as Dororo’s parents chose to keep the grand cause alive over their only child’s well-being. Just as Hyakkimaru’s victories will continue to threaten Daigo’s lands and his people, how they chose to deal with Sabame could also have larger-scale consequences. For an imperfect world is full of fragile, imperfect solutions.

Tada-kun wa Koi wo Shinai – 09 – Various Things

Teresa’s head maid/nanny/governess-whatever warned her; if she went to Japan, she may encounter “various things”…Teresa just never knew that those various things would include falling in love, and not just with Mitsuyoshi, but with his friends, a simple life of school, having fun, and occasional cafe work…and with Japan.

At the airport Teresa all but confirms to Alec what Alec had suspected; that she has indeed fallen for Mitsuyoshi. But Teresa hasn’t abandoned her plan to marry Charles and become queen. That duty remains extremely important…but now it is competing with…various things.

With the air between the girls cleared, the next time Teresa is near Mitsuyoshi, she stiffens up and becomes conspicuously…formal. Mitsuyoshi does not change in turn; he merely continues being the kind fellow he’s always been, plucking a caterpillar from her hair, picking up her eraser, and lending her and Alec his umbrella (though it eludes me how someone as meticulous as Alec would forget hers).

Mitsuyoshi had hoped Kaoru would be able to share his, but neither of them have an umbrella, so they run through the rain. And the chances of someone in an anime getting a fever after getting stuck in the rain always hover somewhere around 99.999999999%, so Mitsuyoshi collapses. Teresa blames herself for taking his umbrella, and works a shift at the cafe with Alec so Mitsuyoshi can rest and recover.

Yui serves Mitsuyoshi her Special Red-Hot Rice Porridge (I’ll call it Reho-riho), but when Yamashita and Hajime leave his bedside, they neglect to bring down the dirty dishes, so Yui sends Teresa up to his room to fetch them.

There, Teresa finds herself all alone with the guy she’s fallen for, and the wind scatters his photos, all of them beautiful and full of love. Even with his fever, she can’t resist bending over to kiss him, but immediately tears up upon doing so, cursing herself for being unable to “stop.”

At this point its almost assured she’ll have to take a significant emotional hit in order to follow through on her royal duty to marry Charles, whom she simply does not love (though could presumably fall in love given enough time, as with some arranged marriages). But “in love now” tends to win out over “in love down the road, maybe.”

For now, once he’s better, Teresa seems poised to invite Mitsuyoshi to a day of Sky Tree Rainbow Shogun fun. And once she’s done having her fun, she’ll presumably return home and do her duty.

Pupa – 08

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In tonight’s quick dose of unpleasantness, word gets around about Utsutsu’s quick-healing ability, and his sister’s tendency to eat him when she’s hungry. A thug with a knife kidnaps the siblings and “has fun” with Utsutsu by slicing him up with said knife and marveling at said healing. This is done in an abandoned warehouse, the standard venue for such activities.

Not wanting to escalate the situation, Utsutsu simply takes the punishment, but Yume eventually steps in to beg for the thug to stop. The thug is rough with her, setting Utsutsu off, who slugs him and then gouges out his eyes. Yume is horrified at what her brother has done for her sake, but then Utsutsu is tased and the two surrounded by more unsavory people.

Yume can’t go into Beast Mode when it would be useful to do so, i.e. to protect Utsutsu from the baddies. Thus the siblings continue to serve as the show’s heavily-abused punching bags; wretched repositories for all of the misfortune and despair that can be imagined, and that can be inartfully censored with streaks of black and white.


Rating: 5 (Average)