Dororo Episode 3: The Story of Jukai

This anime continues to mesmerize with its storytelling as we finally get the story of how Jukai and Hyakkimaru met and grew up together. It was a pretty emotional episode, and while there were time skips I didn’t feel like the episode was jumbled with too many things. Instead, it transitioned and flowed very smoothly and told a great story. The flashbacks being in monochrome was a great touch as well.

The episode started off very powerful as we saw men crucified on stakes. We see a soldier running and see Jukai grab him by the hair by force and nails him to the stake. I like that the show made this scene in full color to show us just how vivid this was. One of the men’s wives comes over but ends up getting stabbed by someone, and for some reason that was enough to make Jukai have a breakdown and attempt suicide. We don’t know the full details of why Jukai served under this terrible Lord and how loyal he was to him, but it was enough to see that he had just gotten to his breaking point. It just kept building up until he couldn’t take it any longer. But his fall not killing him, the water instead made him get picked up by a boat where he was taken to a country where he learned to make prosthetics. Seeing that he was probably still alive for a reason, he set off to help those in need with his prosthetics. He helped a boy with a missing leg named Kaname, who ends up as a sort of student under him where he helps others get used to the prosthetics Jukai would make for people free of charge. It was a normal and fruitful life he led until Kaname heard of the rumors of Jukai’s past. Kaname’s father was killed in the same crucifixion way and the only reason he didn’t kill Jukai was for a little boy he needed to help. I could feel a pang in my heart when Kaname removed his prosthetic leg and limped out of Jukai’s life for good. That hurt.

But I could understand both sides. Jukai was trying his best to atone for what he’s done, but the damage has already been done and he’s affected people, and one of those people is Kaname. I’m sure Kaname has a lot of hatred for Jukai, even going so far as to choose a life without a leg than keeping the one he had, but he never ended up killing Jukai. Which meant Jukai could still help people, even in his despair. Like I said in my recent Egao no Daika review, war is a terrible thing and there are never any winners. Both sides lose something and they have to live with that.  This seemed like the end for Jukai but something appeared in his life that made him have a reason to keep on living again.

Is it weird that I thought baby Hyakkimaru suckling on Jukai’s finger was adorable? Normally it would be adorable, but seeing as how terrifying he was as a baby….well, ah, still cute. I was always curious about seeing how Hyakkimaru grew up as a child and it was cool seeing how he would interact with things and seeing things from his point of view. While it was cute how he was confused by the crab biting his face, it was very interesting seeing how his “sight” worked through the flower. All living things are with a green aura, but when he plucked the flower, the aura changed into a red one before fading away completely as the flower died. It was also heartwarming to see how even though Hyakkimaru couldn’t even see, hear, or feel Jukai, there was still a strong connection between them that turned into a father/son relationship. The juxtaposition of Hyakkimaru’s life with Tahoumaru’s was bittersweet though as we saw Daiga show Taroumaru so much love, Taroumaru getting professional sword practice while Hyakkimaru struggled in his state. It makes me want to strangle Daiga so bad, but it just made me at least a little happy that Hyakkimaru had someone caring by his side.

To protect himself from monsters and demons, Jukai taught Hyakkimaru to fight but soon learned to regret his decision as he saw that Hyakkimaru didn’t understand the consequences of killing. But then one day, as Hyakkimaru killed a certain monster, he suddenly regained one of his legs. This, Jukai knew, was the start of Hyakkimaru’s own journey.

I teared up bad during their farewell. Hyakkimaru is basically like a son to Jukai since he took care of him since birth, and they created a bond between each other through their unique circumstances. Through Hyakkimaru’s point of view, we saw Jukai’s aura which was gray, like all humans. But you could see in the part of the aura of his face that there was a tinge of blue, for his sadness. With his limited communication, Hyakkimaru lifted his hand and felt Jukai’s face, sort of caressing it in a reassuring and loving way. And it hit me that Hyakkimaru can’t even feel anything, but he did that anyway because he does love Jukai. And since I’m a sensitive idiot, I practically started crying at this moment.

It was just beautiful. Their stories were told really well and not once did I feel like it was rushed. It was seamed so well and I felt like we got all the info that we needed. In that short amount of time, we got attached to these two and I could feel the love in their relationship. It was all just done so well and I loved it. Looks like I was right last week, because we did learn in the end (back in the present time) that Hyakkimaru did get his sense of pain back. I wonder if it’s just pain or all physical sensory touch in general? Him stamping at the fire with his leg was reminiscent of some little kid putting their hand on a hot stove to see if it would hurt, and of course it did but this was a new thing for him. And now I’m curious how Hyakkimaru will behave from now on. He had no problem with fighting monsters before because he couldn’t feel pain, but now that he can, will he be deterred from the pain and also learn to fear? It’s so fun to think about how Hyakkimaru will learn to be more human as he becomes more human and how rapidly his life will change.

I just love this show a lot and I always feel like the episodes are short. I can’t wait to see what’ll happen next time with our main characters and what body part Hyakkimaru will gain next.

4 thoughts on “Dororo Episode 3: The Story of Jukai

  1. For me, this anime stands out because of the creative liberties and additions they’re making to Tezuka’s story so far (adding more substance to the source), especially when the ani-industry’s habit is to be slavishly faithful to the source either due to diehard fans or excessive creative control by the mangaka/IP holders.

    Jukai’s backstory and lingering regrets are anime-original. In the manga he was just your average kindly doctor who just happened to find Hyakkimaru and raise him. None of this drama existed in the source.

    Kaname is also anime-original – manga Jukai didn’t have any prior assistants or connections. I’m not sure if the anime intends to reintroduce Kaname again or if he’s just a one-off character for this episode.

    Fun fact – in the manga Hyakkimaru could use telepathy to project his thoughts to others to “talk” to them. Here, you have to work off his actions and body language, until he gets his vocal cords back.

    1. While there’s nothing wrong sticking close to the source material, I do love it when they add more and unique additions to it. And that’s so fascinating! I think adding this drama for Jukai was a smart decision into actually making him into a character. Making Jukai to be a kindly doctor would have been okay, I still would have liked him. But adding this backstory to him and making him an emotionally conflicted character adds so much depth to him that it makes me care for him as much as the other characters. He’s not just some side character now.

      The addition of Kaname was also fantastic and added even more to Jukai and the story. It’d be nice if we saw Kaname again. It’d be interesting if he learned of what Jukai did for Hyakkimaru and to see if his opinion would change though I believe he was always conflicted. Making this a two cour, they really are taking their time to flesh out the story and the characters so I’m really happy!

      I think I prefer what the anime is doing. I think the telepathy would have been too convenient and…bullshit-y. As much as I want to hear Hyakkimaru speak and to have him communicate with the others more clearly, having him only doing that with his actions and body language is pretty special. Disabled people were never painted in good light back then so seeing this disabled boy (with his very unique circumstances) trying to communicate and live a normal life is fantastic to watch.

      I just really love this show! ٩(♡ε♡ )۶

  2. I love how it feels like I’m watching an old Kurosawa flick at times. These guys really appear to respect Tezuka and want to honor his work…

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