Ushio to Tora – 08

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Before he even boards his flight to Hokkaido (with a very excited Tora) to find out more about his mom, supernatural trouble seems to gravitate towards Ushio. Case in point: a bitter, grieving young woman named Yuu (an angsty Toyosaki Aki!) whose father was, according to his co-pilot Atsuzawa, killed by a monster in the air. Yuu blames Atsuzawa, because there’s no such thing as plane-wrecking sky monsters…right?

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Well, actually, there is; Tora calls is a Fusuma, and it stalks his plane as well. Before that, Ushio does a fine job both introducing himself to Yuu and offering a comforting hand during takeoff, admitting to her he’s scared of flying too. As for Tora, he’s having the time of his life. The the Fusuma attacks and all hell breaks loose.

The pilots are killed, so Atsuzawa must take the controls and try his damndest to save Yuu for his late comrade’s sake. Ushio prods Tora outside the plane to deal with the Fusuma, who is weak to fire, but Tora can’t breathe enough of it to kill the sky youkai, and neither lightning nor melee attacks have any effect.

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The Fusuma is truly one of those sinister yet also immensely irritating bosses for whom only certain tactics will work. When Tora breaks it to Ushio that he needs to take a more active role with his Beast Spear, Yuu is eager to lend a helping hand, and Ushio actually shares the spear with her as they deliver a blow to Fusuma.

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Ushio then steps outside himself, trusting in and depending totally on Tora to keep him from flying off the plane to his death, and slashes all the Fusuma’s limbs off, separating him from the plane and allowing JASDF fighters to finish him off with the requisite amount of firepower, courtesy of a missile. But wouldn’t you know it; our boys still aren’t out of the woods, as the crippled plane’s rear landing gear won’t respond.

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It’s another job for Tora, whom Ushio basically goads into doing by saying it’s okay if he can’t lift a plane. Tora, throughout all of this, still doesn’t quite get why Ushio is so eager to save strangers like Yuu, but is protecting Ushio so he can someday eat him—having him die by other means won’t do. So he serves as the rear landing gear, the plane lands roughly but safely, and Yuu, Atsuzawa, and the rest of the passengers are safe and sound.

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Ushio wants to help out with the rest, but Yuu sends him off to take care of the important stuff he has to get to, and Tora also keeps him on task. The implication is that the cute, feathery-haired Yuu, who has now seen the monster who killed her father and helped to slay it, no longer blames Atsukawa, and will be just fine…though she wouldn’t mind seeing Ushio again. Bawwww…

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Ushio to Tora – 07

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When Umizatou mentioned that Ushio’s mother is still alive, Ushio obviously wanted to get the lowdown from his dad ASAP. After all, he’s been told all his life she wasn’t alive, and now that he’s grown up a lot more, wields the beast spear, is able to bend Tora to his will, and has slayed multiple high-level youkai, he believes he deserves the truth.

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However, his dad slinks away before he can get any, and from there we’re offered a look at what Aotsuki Shigure is typically up to when not chilling in the house: sealing youkai, saving lives, and conferring with a counsel of five elders who sit in a room made of light (seriously, doesn’t that light get annoying after, like, five minutes?).

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There, Sigure reports that the beast spear is out, in his son’s possession, and that the youkai Tora is haunting said son. The elders are taken aback by this news, certain that no mere child can wield the spear. Nevertheless, Shigure gets their leader, a female, to reluctantly allow him to personally test the competence of Ushio and Tora. If they fail the test, he’ll eliminate them both.

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That night, Shigure tells Ushio in a roundabout way (by pushing cash his way) that in order to learn about his mom, he’ll have to go on a journey to Hokkaido. Then he turns his staff on Tora and initiates the test. Ushio believes his dad is trying to kill Tora, but Tora realizes something else is going on. Things get more complicated when three monks from Shigure’s sect roll in to try to confiscate the Beast Spear.

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After Ushio came between his dad and Tora when they fought, it’s his dad and Tora who work together to fight off the monks. But Tora doesn’t kill them, explaining to Shigure that Ushio forbade him from killing or eating humans, and as long as Ushio has that spear, Tora will obey. So Ushio and Tora pass Shigure’s test, but Shigure may have made enemies of his sect by preventing them from doing their duty.

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But Shigure will deal with all that. For now, he wants Ushio to start that journey to learn more about his mom, with Tora in tow. I kinda wish Asako was going with them too (indeed, neither girl appears at all this week), but even without her I’m sure Ushio and Tora will provide ample entertainment and action in their traveling adventures to come.

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Ushio to Tora – 06

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U2T turns in yet another beautifully balanced blend of action, supernatural peril, comedy, drama, and even a little quiet romance in it’s beach episode. And hey, what do you know, the girls aren’t wearing string bikinis! They do run into an urchin who likes tossing sand on people’s stuff, and Ushio smacks him upside the head because it’s the kind of shit he hates, because he used to do it.

Meanwhile Tora is enjoying the ocean—the one thing in the world that hasn’t changed in 500 years!—and comes upon its guardian, Umizatou, who wants assistance dealing with an ayakashi, a kraken/leviathan/Monstro-like superbeast made from the souls of those lost at sea. Tora is game for a challenge, but Aya-tan is in a much higher weight class.

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Back on dry land, Asako chases down Tatsuya, the little kid Ushio smacked, having known a kid who lost his mom and acted out. He runs afoul of some toughs, but the badass Asako makes quick work of them (God, I love her) comforts Tatsuya, and fixes the toy phone his mom gave him. They then decide to go out in a boat…

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…Just when the ayakashi draws closer to the shore. He swallows up Tora, who tells Umizatou to summon Ushio, and then the ayakashi swallows up Asako and Tatsuya, boat and all. Interestingly, cell phone signals aren’t effected by the beast’s tough skin or ethereal barrier, and she gets in touch with Ushio, who tells her he’s on his way. Tatsuya is freaked out, but Asako is (quite understandably) scared too.

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Yet she teaches him an important lesson there: one can’t think about how scared they are when they’re scared. Fear is the mindkiller and all that, so even if she’s acting less scared than she is, she’s going to put on the act to keep hope alive. When things start attacking them, hope arrives in the form of Tora, who isn’t rescuing them out of the kindness of his heart per se, but only fears harsh reprisal if Ushio learns he let them die. I believe this is also the first time Tora talks directly to Asako, after interacting with Inoue last week (Inoue kinda gets this week off, but that’s okay).

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When Ushio finally arrives, the ayakashi proves a tough customer, and everyone ends up precariously dangling from it’s digestive wall and hanging on for dear life. When Asako passes out, it’s up to Tatsuya to forget about his fear long enough to climb down Ushio and Tora and grab hold of her before she’s sucked down into the stomach.

Ushio then tears a piece of his spear’s cloth, and the spear homes in on the ayakashi’s internal eye and stabs it. Thus weakened, Ushio and Tora (with the others in tow) combine spear and lightning to tear the ayakashi a new one, releasing a huge number of trapped souls in the process. It’s a great sequence, full of carefully-orchestrated chaos.

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The beast thus vanquished, Ushio, Asako and Mayuko head back home, having made friends with Tatsuya, who learned a lot from them (I continue to enjoy Ushio and Asako’s semi-flirtatious repartee). Ushio told him what Asako’s dad told him years ago, which is why one day he showed up looking from her perspective like he’d “grown up” a little bit: his mom is always watching, so not only shouldn’t he act out, but he shouldn’t ever feel scared or alone.

But what’s this? Umizatou knows the name Aotsuki Ushio, and apparently thinks his mom is still alive, and warns Tora to cut all ties with him as soon as possible. Is he merely talking youkai-to-youkai, and not understand the friendship growing, or will Ushio one day be unable to stop either himself, the Beast Spear, or both from whacking his increasingly loyal, empathetic tiger-like buddy?

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