I’m not an artist, nor am I an expert in art and animation. I understand there are plenty of art styles out there, and some are pretty unique. If I don’t like it, it doesn’t necessarily mean the style is bad. I just don’t like it, like how some people don’t like the art for Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure or One Piece. But then there are styles that are so distracting that I can’t properly enjoy the episode because of how choppy and unpolished it looks. Is it the art style, or is it just bad? I don’t know, but all I can say is that I didn’t like this episode at all!
To give some context to what the hell I’m even talking about, this episode was directed by Kobayashi Osamu. I think most people will remember his work for episode four of Gurren Lagann, probably being so infamous for being so drastically different from the rest of Gurren Lagann. He handled Dororo’s first ED, and he also handled this episode as well. If you thought the episode looked wonky, no it’s not MAPPA’s budget issues or anything. They let Kobayashi Osamu have creative freedom with this episode and….I can’t say it was successful.
And it’s not just the animation of the episode that was less than stellar, it was just the episode as a whole. Nothing felt right. The transitions were terrible, namely with Hyakki talking with Sabame, and Dororo dealing with being trapped. The two scenes kept going back and forth from each other with slow fades, where I think it would have been better to play both scenes completely, but separately. A lot of things were also very confusing, or just plain…ridiculous. The plot was easy to understand though, which was Sabame wanting nothing but peace for his village. He worked with the moth demons, taking the main one as his wife, and feeding them. But the whole village was in on it, which was plainly obvious to see when Dororo asked that old lady about it and she got the stank eye. It was everyone that killed the nun and children and fed them to Maimai. The villagers followed Dororo as she explored the area and trapped her underneath the storehouse so she could be eaten, and upon learning of the truth from Sabame, Hyakkimaru became enraged and was reminded of Daigo.
This in itself is really important as Sabame serves as a parallel to Daigo. They’re basically one and the same, pretty much selling their humanity to do “good”. But that cost the lives of many, and it’s disgusting. Hyakkimaru fends off against the smaller moths and once he reunites with Dororo, he goes off to kill Maimai at the lake where he gets his spine back (!!!!!). Dororo gets saved by the large baby thing, which really was the collective soul of all the dead children. Dororo found the oil that was used to burn the temple and spilled it, either by accident or not? That part I don’t really get. When one of the moths for some reason suicide bombs the watch tower (?), the whole village is engulfed in flames. And somehow the oil Dororo spilled caused the entire place to burn down?
The most important thing that came out of this episode was the aftermath of everything. The entire village burned down, people died, and Dororo feels guilty. Hyakkimaru basically gives zero shits, and because of this, Dororo just ends up leaving without him even noticing.
I know this is another moral dilemma of the show. So far we’ve seen demon hunting being more of a positive thing, as it helps Hyakkimaru regain his lost limbs and it helps people too. This is the first time that it’s done harm. I suppose. The whole village was in on their dirty secret, and you can’t forget that they’ve killed so many people. Not just the children but plenty of innocent travelers. The thing is that there are children, like that little girl, who is innocent who is going to suffer now. I just don’t get why Dororo feels guilt when she was the one that spilled the oil, that somehow spread throughout the village even though it looked like it was in the storehouse that was far from the other houses? I still don’t know if she spilled it on accident, but it looked like she did it on purpose. Another thing is that I don’t even understand what happened at all. Why did that moth suddenly just crash into the watchtower? Was it attracted to the fire because, well, moths are attracted to light/fire? If that’s the case, well…alright then. I just don’t get the cause of the fire. But I also don’t even think it’s fair of Dororo to say that them coming there caused all this, like a domino effect. It’s not like they wanted to burn the place down.
Dororo’s decision in separating from Hyakkimaru was shocking though. Though, again, I don’t like it because the episode didn’t do such a good job with it. What happened to Dororo being terrified of Hyakkimaru leaving her behind? What happened to her emotional speech from the statue carver episode where she said she’d never leave Hyakkimaru’s side. But she does anyway, and without any emotional turmoil. Just “God Aniki you’re dumb. Hmph!” It’s not something where she wants to be alone for awhile, she literally walked in the opposite direction from him. I’m not saying it’s bad that she left him, but the way it was handled was. And she bumps into Itachi and her reaction was also lame. I would have expected anger towards him, but it was a simple “Oh, hey Itachi.”
Somehow Itachi knows about the map so bad things are surely going to happen. Hyakkimaru has been very cold lately, and I think his separation from Dororo is probably going to wake him up. Hopefully he’ll realize how important she is to him and this time apologize and really sit down and listen to what she has to say.
This sudden shift in directing was a huge mistake because it was really hard to get through this episode. I’m sorry, but it looked terrible. I guess I’m not into Kobayashi’s style, but that scene of Hyakkimaru running up the hill after Sabame? Looked terrible. The only detailed shots we got was when they were zoomed in on the character’s faces, and when not they were literally just blobs with beady eyes. It was incredibly distracting and it was very hard to take the episode seriously. But the directing and the feel of the show itself was very weird and wrong. Like I said before, transitions were terrible, scenes didn’t go together or make much sense at all. How did Hyakkimaru make a flamethrower of his leg, and how did he kill Maimai when it literally just came out of the water? Where did her human form even go? Why couldn’t they spend time showing us how she and Sabame got together? Hyakkimaru got his spine back, which I didn’t expect at all. How…how was he even walking with a fake spine made of cups and string. How did Jukai even get that into him? I know he’s a doctor but even this is a stretch! I felt like this episode was all over the place and this is the first time that I can say that I just did not like this episode at all. There have been other episodes that weren’t as interesting but there were still things I ended up liking about it. This had some important scenes, but the way everything was handled made it all to be a mess.
And this directorial and stylistic change to happen at such a pivotal and important point was a mistake, I think. There are good things here, and it wasn’t ugly all the time. There were legit some good looking scenes, and some that were reminiscent of the ED visuals with Hyakki and Dororo.
The spirits of the children was probably my favorite part with its lighting, and just how sweet they looked. The close up shots were also good, and the dark colors of the end was great. But there were too many distracting and bad looking moments that made it so hard to watch this. Just…everything about the episode was bad. Next episode it looks like things will go back to normal, thankfully. Itachi’s back to being a punk ass bitch and Dororo’s gonna find herself in some trouble. Hopefully Hyakkimaru will find her and they can have a nice reunion, though with one leg, it’ll be tough.
Body parts (been awhile since I pulled this out!):
- Right arm
- Left arm
- Left leg
Ears Nerves Skin Voice Nose
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This episode was pretty bad, but I’m glad it will be back to normal next week. I’d argue that Sabame was trying to do the right thing (as his father before him), while Lord Daigo is selfish and just wanted to be rich and gain notoriety. They are both terrible people, but Lord Daigo is wayyy worse lol.
Also, it was super weird how nonchalant Dororo was meeting Itachi again. Like, you’re really not mad after he publicly humiliated your mom and she died shortly afterward?
He was trying to do the right thing but he was going about it all the wrong way. I can’t tell who is worse, but it’s really fucked up that Sabame and the villagers continued to kill innocent people after they fed all of the children to the moths. But, yeah, they’re both terrible people.
The emotion in this episode was nonexistent. Itachi finding Dororo in the first place was pure coincidence, but her reaction to him was not what I would expect. The last time she saw him she wanted to throw a rock at his face. Now after not seeing him for years, she barely reacts. Everything about the interaction was wrong, but it looks like we’ll see a more defiant and rowdier Dororo next episode.
Surprisingly, the source manga arc was LESS bleak. MAPPA really upped the suffering and blurred the moral lines for their retelling.
The major plot change was making Sabame and the villagers accomplices of the moths to uphold their village’s peace. The village’s destruction and Dororo’s guilt are also anime-original.
The source story was more black and white – the moths were your typical evil, manipulative demons who’d bewitched Sabame to carry out their bidding. On finding out, Hyakkimaru and Dororo band the villagers together to attack and destroy the moths (the collective ghost also helped out too.)
A freed Sabame is thankful to the duo for rescuing him. However, the villagers are more ungrateful after discovering Hyakkimaru’s prosthetics and chase him out, suspecting he’s a demon too. Overall Sabame and the village survives.
Manga Hyakki got his leg back instead of a spine (although in the PS2 game version, the spine was one of many recoverable body parts that helped boost your game stats.)
My impression was that Dororo naively spilt the oil to prevent the village from using it again, without realizing the consequences if it were to catch fire and destroy the food supply. Hence the guilt once she realizes what happened.
It does illustrate something I’ve noticed on the leads’ characterization, namely Dororo being the human aspect. In this case, the human ability to empathize and reflect on consequences (even if the other side don’t deserve it). (Plus she’s still innocent and yet to be locked into any stone-set viewpoint on life.)
Anime Hyakkimaru lacks those aspects in comparison, moving largely on black-and-white instinct. There’s a semi-feral quality to his character, more animal than human at times. (IMO more like a big attack dog, with Dororo as his trainer/caretaker).
What’s your opinion on this?
PS. Plus Hyakki’s stubborn, one-track-mind approach to the whole business.
That’s an interesting change they made, and I think the decision points to what you mention about their characterization. Dororo is the one in the pair to be the bearer of empathy and sympathy. This version of Hyakkimaru doesn’t exactly possess these qualities. Sort of? I say sort of because we’ve seen him show care and concern for others like with Mio and the children. He’s always shown concern for others, but ever since his falling out with his family he’s been stuck with this stubborn mindset of only looking for demons and only focusing on what HE wants to do. He’s brushed off Dororo a lot and doesn’t even concern himself to what happened with the village (though they had it coming).
But you’re right that he’s mostly based his life around with a black and white mindset. It’s always been like that for him as he attacks anything that’s red, and leaves things alone that are white. He’s been in his own world for 16 years, living a life that only he could understand. I do agree that you could kind of describe him as an “attack dog” (white is good, red is ATTACK). While Dororo is in the back watching over him.
Then again, I feel like it’s not fair to say that. He learned to hold back and approach things differently with the Ohagi episode. He saw Ohagi as evil at first because of her red soul, but stopped from killing her when her soul turned orange and when he found out that she never actually killed anyone, and she was protecting Yajiro. That was Hyakkimaru’s first step in seeing the world less black and white and more gray.
I feel like it was just this episode that didn’t handle the characterization well. The main reason why he’s so stubborn and cold right now is because of what happened with his family. Though it’s true that Hyakkimaru still has many more things to learn, and one of those things is appreciating Dororo and actually listening to her. Dororo does hold a huge role in this story, and that’s shaping Hyakkimaru to understand human emotion more and seeing the world in different ways.
(also the oil thing, I just don’t get how the fire spread so quickly when the oil was all in one spot :/)
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