Dororo Final Episode (24): At what cost?

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Biwamaru returns to support

As bad as things were looking in the previous episode, I actually quite liked this ending. There are a couple of parts that felt a little bit rushed, but I liked the overall bittersweet tone to this finale. This series as a whole has been a fun journey. It’s rough around the edges at times, but it’s a gritty look at humanity. Admittedly, the message has an archaic undertone to it, but there’s still plenty of relevant material to find.

Hyakkimaru questions his brother

I enjoyed this conversation between Hyakkimaru and Tahoumaru in the end. Tahoumaru basically starts with a tirade about all that Daigo has given him, and Hyakkimaru asks why its made him feel inadequate. It’s hard not to feel sorry for Tahoumaru given what we’ve seen of his childhood, but Hyakkimaru definitely has a point here.

Jukai arrives to save Hyakkimaru

This series doesn’t let up on its painful scenes, even right at the end. Of all the heart-wrenching scenes that depict Hyakkimaru regaining his organs, I think this is the saddest one. After fighting so hard to regain his vision, the first scene he sees with them is the loss of the two mothers willing to give everything to help him.

The final demon falls

In contrast, the final demon goes down pretty easily. I guess it’s meant to imply that Hyakkimaru’s final battle was purely mental after all, but it’s disappointing to see. The characters hyped up that demon so much, and it basically gets taken out in a single attack.

Daigo finally talks with Hyakkimaru

It’s strange that Daigo gets to survive in the end, but I do like that he’s used to prove that Hyakkimaru has finally changed. I guess there’s something to be said about Daigo being forced to live with everything he’s done, assuming he doesn’t die immediately after Hyakkimaru leaves him. There was definitely a lot of blood in that scene despite Hyakkimaru’s choice.

Hyakkimaru leaves on his own journey

I also think it’s sad that Hyakkimaru has to leave Dororo behind after finally getting his body back. Honestly, I understand this development, but it’s still sad to see. Given the speech Dororo makes about using her own strength to survive rather than relying on the samurai, it would be awkward if she continued to rely on Hyakkimaru to protect her. It’s fitting that she forges out on her own, but it would have been nice to have more of an epilogue where the two reunite. Oh well…

Final Score: 8/10

This series has been fun to watch, if not for the fight scenes alone. It’s not lacking in emotional scenes to give it more flavor, though.

Dororo Episode 23: Things are going great

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Tahoumaru tries to talk down the raging Hyakkimaru

This episode is really not making me feel good about how this series is going to end. However, I like that the episode finally attempts to address the moral question that has been looming over the series as a whole. Dororo is a great advocate for Hyakkimaru in this episode, and I’m hoping that the ending won’t end up as grim as the series seems to be foreshadowing.

Hyogo taunts Hyakkimaru

I get that these people are trying to protect their land, but it’s lines like these that make it hard to sympathize with them. Hyakkimaru’s sacrifice is necessary to keep them alive, but they could at least accept the cruel thing that they’re doing. The idea that Hyakkimaru’s body was Daigo’s to give to the demons feels like a way to dodge the guilt the sacrifice to me.

Mutsu and Hyogo finally take down the horse

The scene with the flaming horse was interesting for me, since it seemed like a clear parallel for Hyakkimaru. A cherished loved one calls out to the horse, allowing it to regain its senses. However, Mutsu and Hyogo use the opportunity to cut the beast down, losing their own lives in the process. Dororo is even clearly shown in the reflection of the horse’s pupil as it dies, which heavily implies that something similar is going to happen with Hyakkimaru.

Dororo berates the villager

I’m happy to see this debate happening. Many of the conversations before now have been fairly sanctimonious, so they never felt like they were getting at the core issue. Hyakkimaru isn’t even exempt from this, since his quest to regain his body has become entirely one-dimensional without Dororo’s intervention.

Hyakkimaru's mother comments on the situation

I’m not entirely sure I understand the outcome of the interaction, though. Dororo seems to side with Hyakkimaru, but she also looks ready to beg Hyakkimaru to give up his body in the next episode. Perhaps she’s just saying that she wants Hyakkimaru to do whatever it takes to remain human.

Daigo faces off against the Asakura army

Part of me is annoyed at how much Daigo is sidelined in this series by the war with the Asakura lands. This is really his problem, but it looks like the battle is being entirely decided by his sons.

Jukai prepares to do what he must

Seeing Jukai doesn’t inspire confidence. Hyakkimaru’s surrogate mother and his real mother are both racing to his side at the moment along with Dororo. This can’t end well, huh?

Dororo Episode 22: Poking the hornet’s nest

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Hyakkimaru vows to get Dororo back

Well, it seems that things aren’t going much better in this episode. As expected, Hyakkimaru isn’t taking the kidnap of Dororo very well, and his new demon friend probably isn’t helping. It actually makes for an interesting setup for a finale, because it’s hard to truly decide who to root for. Hyakkimaru seems to be standing in a better position, but I get the sense that his current course of action won’t ultimately work.

Mutsu succumbs to illness

Mutsu goes through kind of a weird arc in this episode. I think she has a strong performance throughout the episode, but I’m not so sure about the ending. With her speech about being Tahoumaru’s right arm in the previous episode, I really liked this line to Hyogo. With Hyogo’s left arm lost, Mutsu is effectively asking him to fight in her place and fulfill her role as Tahoumaru’s right arm. It’s a great interaction.

Daigo's wife tends to the sick

Am I the only who thinks that everything about this episode seems to suggest that Hyakkimaru’s mother is going to die? I’m honestly surprised she’s survived so long, but it seems like she’s meant to contribute to Hyakkimaru’s return to humanity.

Hyakkimaru rides forth on his new steed

Look, I know I’m not supposed to enjoy this outcome, but this combination of Hyakkimaru and the flaming horse is really cool. I also like that Hyakkimaru’s clearly exuding the red demonic aura that he typically sees in others.

Mutsu offers herself to the demon

This scene was one that I feel I initially misjudged. From the onset, Mutsu’s escape seemed to contradict her earlier words to Hyogo, so I was surprised when she comes just to offer herself in Hyakkimaru’s place. I was expecting her to be here asking the demon for power, but she instead chooses to sacrifice herself for the land. It would have put an interesting spin on the moral argument of the episode if it had worked.

Tahoumaru fights with some new eyes

I have trouble with the ending, though. Mutsu goes through an impressive character story throughout the episode, but I tend to think it goes away when she accepts Hyakkimaru’s arm from the demon to replace her lost one. To me, it seems to slightly cheapen her ability to let go from earlier. I get that Tahoumaru needs his loyal retainers to fight Hyakkimaru, but I think it’s a bit unfortunate.

I’ll be curious to see how this turns out, though. From Hyakkimaru’s side, it’s hard to blame him for being enraged at Tahoumaru for this move.

Dororo Episode 21: A familiar flaming horse

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Dororo spots some soldiers

The hard times are not getting any easier. This series has an interesting sense of subdued drama to it. Normally, you’d expect to see heavy, over-the-top screaming in these fights, but the main encounter goes along at a reasonable pace. It’s definitely hard to see Hyakkimaru falling deeper and deeper towards a more feral side, given how much we’ve seen him grow. It makes me wonder if we’re just headed towards more tragedy at this point.

Daigo sacrifices some villages

I suppose this is the weekly reminder that Daigo’s land is suffering. I’m curious to see how they’ll resolve this, but this certainly has been the main moral dilemma of the series. Daigo cruelly cuts off the villages that are infected by the epidemic, and it’s not like any of those villagers played a part in his decision. Or did they?

Dororo tries to stop Hyakkimaru

I understand why Dororo pushes to stop Hyakkimaru from fighting his family, but it’s still kind of a hard choice. I can’t fault Hyakkimaru for wanting a normal body. That being said, Dororo watched her parents die, so it’s reasonable for her to not want Hyakkimaru to go through that. Also, it’s clear at this point that Hyakkimaru is losing his way, so she surely want to help him.

The mother is worried

This was an odd scene for me. It’s reasonable for Hyakkimaru’s mother to worry about her sons and curse her own powerlessness in the matter. However, this seems to be the first time I recall seeing her act genuinely concerned for Tahoumaru. Where was this before?

Hyogo and Mutsu join Tahoumaru to face Hyakkimaru

Showing Hyogo and Mutsu’s past in this episode doesn’t bode well for their futures. They seem to have gotten out of this fight with their lives, but Mutsu is looking pretty dim in this scene. Is this just a function of their relative resolve to fight Hyakkimaru? Or is Mutsu facing another problem entirely?

Hyakkimaru faces off against Tahoumaru

To be completely honest, I liked the last fight between Tahoumaru and Hyakkimaru more than this one. That being said, this fight was still pretty impressive. The camera largely centers on the two as they face off, and there’s a clear progression of moves in the fight itself.

Hyakkimaru is pushed off the cliff

The random intervention at the end seemed a bit overboard, though. I get that Daigo instructs that guy to watch over Tahoumaru, but the character itself seems to come out of nowhere. Anyway, I look forward to seeing Hyakkimaru ride in on a flaming horse next week. If he does it, that certainly won’t be a good sign, since he typically kills demons without prejudice.

Dororo Episode 20: The nature of revenge

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Tahoumaru sees his suffering subjects

After the lighthearted fun of last week’s episode, this episode really got back into the gritty bits. Despite the obvious implications for Hyakkimaru in the episode, I thought that the antagonist introduced here was interesting. He seemed to have a different thought process than typical revenge seekers. As for what comes next, it looks like Hyakkimaru is preparing to confront Daigo again, so I’m curious to see how that will turn out.

Dororo admires the scenery

I think it’s cool that Dororo is recognizing her own sense of comfort while travelling with Hyakkimaru. In the past, she’d been too distracted to simply notice her surroundings. This scene does a good job of showing how far she’s come. Similarly, we see Hyakkimaru attending to her more, especially when the combat starts.

Saburota introduces himself

As I mentioned before, I liked how Saburota was portrayed in this episode. He’s introduced as a typical samurai with a vendetta against the demon Hyakkimaru is hunting. However, he ends up with an interesting reaction to the death of his mother, albeit a rather sick one.

Saburota teams up with the demon

Rather than blindly running at the demon who killed his mother, Saburota instead decides to help the demon kill others. Basically, he’s inflicting the same suffering on others. It’s a strange approach that makes a lot more sense when you see his backstory.

Saburota returns in shame

His twisted form of vengeance is simply a manifestation of his own fear. Unlike Hyakkimaru, who’s willing to sacrifice his own life to get his body back, Saburota isn’t strong-willed enough to fight what he sees as an impossible fight. So, there’s no point in trying to kill the demon because he’d just run away from it. It’s a cool idea, giving his character some surprising depth.

Hyakkimaru cuts down Saburota

This episode also sees Hyakkimaru killing another human. Who knows what the implications of that will be? That being said, I’m curious about the fact that he didn’t get his arms back. Given his inability to help Dororo earlier in the episode, the story was clearly setting up the return of his arms, but he once again regains nothing.

The demon's arms glow

Given the fuss about the newly unleashed “final” demon, I’m guessing it has something to do with Hyakkimaru’s arms. In this scene, the statue’s arms start glowing in response to Hyakkimaru’s victory, which implies that the demon is holding on to Hyakkimaru’s arms now that the Goddess of Mercy is no longer holding it back.

Dororo Episode 19: Opposite day

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Hyakkimaru finds a horse

Well, we definitely got a lighter episode this week. I guess it worked as a bit of a breather after the more dramatic episodes. At a certain point, I feel like Dororo’s insecurities about her relationship with Hyakkimaru are becoming a recurring thing. However, I think the episode worked for injecting some fun into a primarily dark story.

Hyakkimaru chooses to be with Okowa

This episode was surprisingly subtle with its “opposite day” gimmick. I liked the fact that the episode immediately jumps in with the first villager Hyakkimaru and Dororo meet. I didn’t think anything of it when the villager said that the smith in the village wasn’t any good. It makes the scene an interesting one in hindsight.

The villagers wish Okowa well

I liked seeing Dororo and Hyakkimaru fight an enemy without brute strength. Dororo got to shine a bit more in the episode as a result, since she tends to be more perceptive than Hyakkimaru. That being said, I did struggle with buying into Dororo’s struggle. Feeling abandoned by Hyakkimaru feels like something she’s already overcome, so it’s weird to see it again.

The smith was to create a sword to stop fighting

I realize that the source material for this series is incredibly old, so I wonder if Rurouni Kenshin is based off of this concept. It certainly seems familiar.

Hyakkimaru wants his swords

Hyakkimaru really doesn’t get any goofy scenes, so this scene was hilarious to see. I do wonder why he doesn’t just flatly reject Okowa now that he can speak normally, but what do I know?

Hyakkimaru finally regains control

This hug was also a nice touch. These two characters are great together.

Dororo Episode 18: Enemies

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Shark boy ponders his sharks

As far as juggling four different factions goes, this episode did a pretty good job managing them all. It crystallized the relationship between Tahoumaru and Hyakkimaru, while giving nice character moments to Dororo and Itachi. The episode also delivered what I thought was the best fight sequence I’d seen in a while from the series. Even fighting at a massive numbers disadvantage, Hyakkimaru is awesome.

Hyakkimaru arrives to save Dororo

Well, I was honestly expecting the transformed demon shark to be more of an issue, but it looks like it was just a stepping stone in the episode. I suppose it finally solved Hyakkimaru’s right leg problem. I’m not that upset about it, though. Even with a freshly mutated form, that shark looked pathetic on land. I wouldn’t have believed it if it had given Hyakkimaru a hard time.

Tahoumaru tries to kill everyone

Tahoumaru’s really gone through some drastic changes, hasn’t he? I understand why he might feel forced to stand against Hyakkimaru, but there’s a strong sense of irony in him calling Hyakkimaru a demon and accusing others of siding with him. After all, that’s basically what his father did.

Hyakkimaru recognizes his enemy

I’m definitely curious to see what the implications of this line will be. Hyakkimaru is outright declaring Tahoumaru to be his enemy, which could mean that he’s willing to kill Tahoumaru if the situation calls for it. This mentality could give him a good chance to be the better man in the future, so it could work out.

Itachi tries to protect Dororo

Itachi’s such a weird character for me. It seems like there’s a lot going on with him, but I ended up with mixed feelings about his death. In that sense, I think he accomplished what he was trying to do. He seems to redeem himself right at the end by saving Dororo, indicating that he’s always cared for her in some way. But he dies showing off the greed that we’ve come to expect from him.

Dororo admits her own shortcoming

In contrast, I like that Dororo comes to realize her own immaturity in this scenario. I got the sense that she acknowledged the heavy burden that comes with the treasure before her, and she deferred taking it in deference to that. It’s a strong moment for someone who started out as a ragamuffin attempting to use Hyakkimaru to earn some money.

Dororo Episode 17: Catching up

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Jukai is criticized by a bystander

When this series wants to hit the emotions, it sure knows how to do it well. I was looking forward to seeing what Jukai would bring to the series with his return, and I was not disappointed. I’m still questioning the ethics that this series seems to be trying to push a bit, but I definitely liked watching Jukai react to the older Hyakkimaru. Tahoumaru also gets reintroduced at the same time, so I’m curious to see how he’ll play into the story now.

Jukai is ignored by the ghoul

I like the idea that Jukai is ignored by the ghoul in this episode. I was expecting it to be such a minor point, but it played into the ending of the episode surprisingly well. I think it’s cool that Jukai regains his will to live by meeting Hyakkimaru again.

Jukai wonders how Hyakkimaru thinks of him

Jukai’s really an excellent way to show how far Hyakkimaru has come in his journey. It’s hard to remember that Hyakkimaru’s last interaction with him was long before he eventually met Dororo. I also liked seeing how expressive Hyakkimaru was in their conversation, what was essentially their first spoken conversation.

Jukai deduces that Hyakkimaru has killed humans

Jukai’s position on Hyakkimaru’s situation felt hard to pin down. My basic understanding is that Jukai just wants Hyakkimaru to stop going down a path that would take human lives. On the one hand, I agree that Hyakkimaru shouldn’t just cut down anything in his path, human or demon, in order to get his body back. On the other hand, I’m not a fan of the fact that Jukai seems to side with Daigo a bit. I think the idea that Hyakkimaru is dooming them to death by regaining his body is a weak argument. It implies that they deserve their current condition.

Tahoumaru resolves never to give in to emotion

I’m looking forward to seeing how Tahoumaru develops in this story. I can somewhat understand the idea that his emotions held him back against Hyakkimaru, but that statement implies that he’s decided that sacrificing Hyakkimaru was the right choice. Also, it’s not like he was trying to negotiate fairly with Hyakkimaru. That being said, I do think it’s interesting that he seems to see himself as the noble one while Hyakkimaru’s basically the feral rebel.

Hyakkimaru knows who Jukai is

As I said earlier, the emotional impact of this scene is very well done. Not only does Hyakkimaru recognize the same warm feelings he got from his real mother in Jukai, he also calls to Jukai specifically using the word that Dororo taught him. It’s a nice combination to honor the people who somewhat act as his emotional anchors.

Dororo Episode 16: Hungry sharks

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Itachi wants to see Dororo's back

It was quite interesting this week to see Dororo off on her own. Throughout the entire episode, I was kind of expecting Hyakkimaru to show up at the last minute, but it seems like the story is committing to keeping them apart. The episode ends with Hyakkimaru reuniting with Jukai, the man who gave him his prosthetics. So presumably, next week’s episode is going to flip perspectives and give Hyakkimaru his own solo story.

Itachi found Dororo's mother

Itachi goes through a weird series of shifts throughout the episode. I think I mentioned in the episode where he was introduced that I somewhat agreed with his willingness to follow along with the trends of the world. Dororo’s father seemed needlessly stubborn by comparison. But it’s hard to feel sorry for Itachi after seeing that he dug up Dororo’s mother’s grave. Yeesh…

The sharks leave everyone for later

I wasn’t expecting demon sharks, but they were definitely cool. Part of me really wants one of these sharks to be a demon that contracted with Hyakkimaru’s father, even if it seems incredibly unlikely. I just think it would be nice if Dororo helped restore one of Hyakkimaru’s organs while the two are separated. That would give the two a stronger sense of connection.

Dororo stands up against the shark

Watching Dororo stand up against the shark was awesome. I like the idea that she’s shown to take after her father, and it’s just generally entertaining to see her take matters into her own hands. You get a true sense that she’s learned to be self-sufficient while travelling with Hyakkimaru.

Itachi turns on Dororo again

The ending got a bit harder to watch for me. Seeing Itachi slip back into his search for the treasure at any cost isn’t particularly surprising, but it’s unsettling to see him turn on Dororo so easily. In many ways, it makes his character feel a lot more real, though. He has a clear sense of motivation, which can either be good or bad depending on the situation.

Hyakkimaru meets a friend

Wow, it’s been a while since we saw that guy. I suppose these stories are meant to mirror each other. Dororo meets Itachi to show how far she’s progressed as a character, and Hyakkimaru will similarly meet an old friend from his past.

Dororo Episode 15: Parting ways

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Dororo tries to stay a bit longer

This week’s episode felt like a strange, mixed bag. I thought that the general story was excellent, but the execution felt lacking. On the more obvious side, I felt like the animation in this episode was noticeably shaky compared to previous episode. But more than that, I thought that the general pacing of the episode was a bit forced, to the point where the message was potentially distorted.

Dororo investigates the warehouse

As I’ve said in previous episodes, I like seeing Dororo act independently. She eventually calls out to Hyakkimaru for help when she gets into trouble, but she ultimately gets out of the situation without him. It does a great job of setting up the ending of the episode, when she chooses to part ways from Hyakkimaru.

The villagers sacrifice the orphans

I also liked the idea that the villagers were directly responsible for the death of the nun and the orphans. I don’t know if the episode really makes it clear why they did it, but it does set it up well. While outwardly nice, the villagers are shown to be clearly guarded around Dororo, indicating that there’s more to the village than the lord himself.

Dororo reunites with Hyakkimaru

What I thought was less clear was Lord Sabame’s role in whole ordeal. He’s shown in the same scene that depicts the nun’s death, but Dororo seems to imply that the villagers acted without his intervention. Additionally, the aftermath scene heavily suggests that he sacrifices himself to stop the fire that Dororo started, which could mean that he was just trying to help.

Hyakkimaru regains another organ

It’s been a while since Hyakkimaru got an organ, and this one was a bit gruesome. I’m still a bit underwhelmed by the fight with the moth, since Hyakkimaru just kind of confronts it and immediately kills it. It did manage to escape him a few times throughout this story, but this is kind of a weird climax. Also, I wonder what the implications of getting his spine back are. Does he have faster reflexes now?

Dororo questions her actions

I quite enjoyed seeing Dororo question the pair’s actions by the end of the episode. While it’s true that the villagers committed a heinous crime, it’s hard to truly say that they deserved to have everything burned to the ground. Even though Dororo wasn’t directly responsible for the fire, it’s interesting that she questions whether their arrival ultimately ruined the town.

Dororo leaves Hyakkimaru

I think that seeing Dororo leave Hyakkimaru behind in her frustration makes things interesting as well. While her run-in with Itachi clearly gives Hyakkimaru a reason to “save” her and prove that he cares for more than killing demons, I appreciate how she acts upon her own doubts.