Given the structure of Dororo, I figured there’d be another slight time skip. Not that I really needed to know what happens next with Osushi and Tanosuke though. Ending right when the brother dies and the sister mourns is the perfect note for that arc to go on. It’s effectively over at that point and in some cases such as this, not knowing what directly follows can enthralling in its own right.
So here we are now at the first of a two-parter and presumably, a very important one at that as we’re introduced Mio (Nana Mizuki), a girl the OP has teased as Hyakkimaru’s love interest. Evidently, she is a wanderer taking refuge at an abandoned house while looking after some orphaned kids. The timing of her first appearance is kind of impeccable. Hyakkimaru is still overwhelmed and troubled by the stimuli of sound to the point that he can barely stand, let alone fight. It’s Mio’s singing that allows him to get used to the sensation of hearing and realize how sound can be a pleasing sensation.
As one might expect, hearing Mio’s singing also causes Hyakkimaru to become pretty smitten with the woman. While obviously the start of a potential romance, this development makes a huge turning point in Hyakkimaru’s arc in general. As he regains what makes him human physically, he also becomes more in touch with what makes him human emotionally. Had he not been able to hear again, he probably would not have been drawn to Mio at all or even just learn that he could feel such a way about someone.
Falling in love though is causing Hyakkimaru to act quite irrationally. Toward the end of the episode, Biwamaru (yeah, he showed up again) scouted out a location for Mio and the orphaned kids to occupy while a war between two clans ensues. However, there is a very dangerous demon residing there as well. Immediately, Hyakkimaru heads out to kill it and that’s also in spite of the fact that he got injured by a different monster not too long ago. Most peculiarly though is that, based on Biwaru’s special vision, Hyakkimaru’s action has colored his white soul with some traces of red. Is that a sign that the youth is becoming corrupted by his feelings for Mio? I hesitate a bit as you’d think him killing a demon to help someone would be a good thing? Hell, helping seemed to have taken priority over recovering long lost body parts.
After fighting the demon, Hyakkimaru loses his human leg. It’s a pretty cruel move for Dororo if you ask me though it may now sink in for the youth completely what pain feels like. That and the fact that he only gets one shot at keeping what he once lost. Somewhat on the upside, Hyakkimaru does regain his voice after killing the demon. I can’t really comment on Hiroki Suzuki’s performance though as the first sounds that come out of the character’s mouth is are screams of pain from having lost a leg. Joking aside, there’s something rather fitting. At the end of last episode, the first sound Hyakkimaru hears is someone in pain over the loss of a loved one. Now at the end of this episode, the first sound he produces relates to his own pain.
As for Mio, I frankly saw the reveal that she is a prostitute coming a mile away. You hear that she only works at night, will take any client no matter what army they serve, and makes pretty good coin and your mind will naturally jump to that kind of conclusion. Whether or not that’ll greatly affect how Hyakkimaru feels about her remains to be seen though. I noticed earlier in the episode that when Mio learns from Dororo about how Hyakkimaru can see people’s souls, she proceeds to cover herself up. Presumably, she is afraid that her friend can see her impurity though an even earlier scene shows her soul colored white. Despite the acts she is literally committing, it appears that her desire to keep the orphans taken care of is valued more. So even if the truth inevitably does come out, maybe Hyakkimaru will still recognize Mio as a good person.
I do have to wonder how long Mio will be around in the story though. Everything about her from love interest status to taking care of orphans to the fact that a war is brewing in the background really doesn’t bode well for her. And speaking of the war, I find it mighty deliberate that one of the factions that is about to fight is the one led by Hyakkimaru’s father, Daigo…
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