Dororo – 02 – The Telltale Bell

Try as Dororo might to communicate as he travels with his new companion, it’s pretty clear Hyakkimaru can neither see nor hear, at least not in the conventional sense. Rather, he depends on a different kind of “sight” in which he can see the souls of objects, and lets Dororo stay close because his soul’s color denotes him as non-threatening.

Dororo, in turn, starts a fire for him so he doesn’t have to eat the fish he catches raw. Between his adept fishing skills and ability to slice up demons, Dororo is sticking with this guy because he knows there’s both people to be saved and money made slaying monsters. One such apparent monster lurks in the forest, ringing a bell.

Dororo and Hyakkimaru end up in a village, where Dororo does the talking, claiming they’ll root out the monster that’s harassing them. But something isn’t quite right: the village has too much money to throw around for guests considering they don’t seem to have rice paddies or any other source of such income.

In the night, the bell-ringing monster appears, but Hyakkimaru won’t budge, which can only mean one thing: whatever that big-headed thing is, it ain’t a threat. The next morning the interim chief introduces them to Bandai, the bedridden chief. Dororo, being a little boy with eyes, is immediately smitten by the woman’s otherworldly beauty.

Hyakkimaru…isn’t. He draws his arm-sword, and Dororo has to hold him back from attacking Bandai. Clearly, she’s the monster, but the villagers are protecting her.

They toss Hyakkimaru and Dororo in a storeroom, where they meet an old blind priest, who explains to Dororo how both he and probably Hyakkimaru “see.” When the lights suddenly go out, Dororo becomes the blind one, while Hyakkimaru goes after a demonic limb that peeks out of a hatch.

The hatch leads outside Bandai’s house, and Hyakkimaru busts in and recommences his attack. Bandai reveals her true form as a giant green demon, whose soul the priest senses as a blood-red; the most dangerous kind.

Hyakkimaru chases Bandai into the bamboo forest, and eventually slices it to pieces and stabs it through the “woman’s” head. The interim chief confesses to having fed Bandai travelers who came to the village so it wouldn’t attack them. The big-headed bell guy turns out to be some kind of youkai that leads Dororo to the gold the village took from their eaten guests. Dororo reprimands them for being worse than monsters for letting one prey on others for profit.

Moving on to their next destination, Hyakkimaru finally introduces himself to Dororo by writing his name in the dirt. Dororo can’t read the characters, but the blind priest can. The priest also recognizes Hyakkimaru as the poor cursed babe he encountered in the river.

With the demise of Bandai, another statue in the Hall of Hell is cleaved in two, and Hyakkimaru gains another part of him that was taken by the demons: his nerves and thus his ability to feel pain. Considering the wounds he sustained in the fight with the demon, he ends up with a lot of pain. But at least he’s not alone; his new friend Dororo will help him in any way he can.

It’s fun watching Dororo learn more about his new friend as we learn beside him, and as he gradually collects more parts of himself. The spunky kid is never not fun to watch. The show aptly balances the friendship-building with quick, brutal action once Hyakkimaru is in Go Mode. It’s also starting to look like with each part he regains, Daigo may lose a bit of the good fortune the demons bestowed upon him. Ah well…that’s why you don’t make deals with demons.

Tokyo Ghoul:re – 01 (First Impressions) – New Faces, New Ballgame

Tokyo Ghoul is back! Umm…yay? I for one wasn’t chomping at the bit for a sequel, to be honest. That’s not a mark against the previous season’s quality, nor my investment in it at the time.

I’ve just watched a lot of anime since Root A, and I guess I’d moved on, while the fact this season does not focus on the main characters from the previous ones further dulled enthusiasm.

Thankfully, the learning curve for getting back into the swing of things—Doves, Ghouls, Orochi, Kagune, got it—wasn’t too bad, and the new characters were introduced along with a comfortably familiar few cameos and name drops, which made the medicine go down easier.

Long story short, a couple of years have passed since Root A, and the CCG are now deploying Quinx Squad, which is not a combination of Quincy and Twix…but it could’ve been. Rather, they’re humans who are able to use the typical Ghoul tricks of the trade thanks to artificial means.

They use those tricks against full-fledged Ghouls that are working against the betterment of society, like the taxi driver “Torso”, so named because that’s the only part of the women he takes.

The Quinx squad is led by Sasaki Haise, whose hair reminds you instantly of Kanzaki Kei, and following that bridge to the past, we later learn Kei is in Sasaki’s head, just as Rize was in his.

Within the various Quinx teams there’s a bit of a turf scuffle over who gets to bring in Torso, but it’s really more of a race between the teams (Sasaki’s superior is Mado Akira, whom we know) and even a competition within Team Mado itself, with Sasaki’s subordinate Urui trying to claim all the glory by himself, manipulating their colleague Shirazu to do so.

I felt immediately putting the team at odds with each other was a nice way to give an edge to the proceedings right off the bat—this is a cutthroat business, and even if everyone’s pretty much on the same side, a lot of other interests are in play.

Rounding out the five-person crew are the timid Mutsuki and Saiko-chan, the only female member who we never see until the end credits.

Urui’s desire to “take initiative” fails in the beginning of the episode, when he and Shirazu have to be bailed out by Sasaki, and it fails at the end, when thanks to Mutsuki and a bit of luck, they suddenly find and engage Torso, but he’s too much for them, especially when a fellow ghoul shows up who’s much tougher.

As such, by all going their separate ways, Quinx Squad Team Mado still manages to end up in the same place, on the cusp of closing a case that will distinguish them among their peers, but which will require the defeat of a rather tough boss. Makes me wonder if the team’s X Factor is the so far off-camera Saiko-chan…or if Sasaki has to draw more from his Inner Kaneki Ken

I wouldn’t recommend anyone unfamiliar with Tokyo Ghoul get into this, due to the fact it doesn’t spend a lot of time holding newbies’ hands, but if you’ve been a fan of the adaptation thus far, I’d say this is at worst worth a look, and at best a must-see.

Pupa – 05

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If the standard 20-odd-minute anime episode is akin to a pint of beer, that makes Pupa a shot of hard liquor: short, potent, and unforgiving. This one stung more than others because it told the tale of Yume’s birth from her mother Sachiko (Noto Mamiko), who inherently knew she was a monster while she was still in the womb, and tried and failed to abort her.

We’re pretty sure this is the first time we’ve heard abortion mentioned so openly in an episode of anime, but Pupa was far from finished. Baby Yume was born with a full set of teeth and a knowing stare that scared the shit out of her mother, who tried desperately to keep her son Utsutsu away from her; obviously, we know that she failed. Another first? infanticide by utility knife, albeit a failed one owing to Yume’s immortality.

Finally, we see baby Yume scarfing down a bird. So wrong. Faced with this unkillable devil child that now has Utsutsu’s sympathy and trust, Sachiko has a psychotic break, and in the hospital, insists her husband beat her more so she can “feel reality.” Jesus. After this latest stinging, burning, traumatic shot, Pupa’s brevity is starting to make sense: any longer than it is would likely be too much to bear.


Rating: 6 (Good)

 

Pupa – 04

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Introducing Maria: the viral researcher who dresses like a witch and has no qualms about her entire staff being killed when Utsutsu, who had been eaten by Yume, wakes up in one piece, alive and not well. Maria confirms that the siblings’ affliction is a virus called Pupa, and she’s eager to continue “researching” them. With this tidbit-episode, the world of Pupa expands to include science, conspiracy, and potential persecution from the likes of Maria.

Utsutsu has vowed not to repeat his father’s sins and protect Yume, but preserving their “normal life” will require him to resort to abnormal measures, namely let Yume feed off him and only him. But even if they manage to make it work, they’re only upholding the illusion of normalcy. In reality, there’s absolutely nothing normal about them, nor will there be unless they can find the cure. Something tells us Maria isn’t in a hurry to find one.


Rating: 6 (Good)