Having dished out some nuanced episodes for the past few weeks, this episode of Dororo feels comparatively more straightforward. There’s a centipede-like demon called Nokosaregumo who terrorizes a village in a cloud until said village offers it a sacrifice. Hyakkimaru and Dororo just so happen to be traveling by. Cue episode.
There is still a personal angle taken with the plot though. The guest character of the week, Saru, tries to stop Nokosaregumo as the latest sacrifice is a woman who he a sisterly figure in his life. It’s his motivation that compels Hyakkimaru and Dororo in offering to help. The chemistry Dororo has with Saru also keeps things engaging. Those two share a number of characteristics such as the fact they’re societal outcasts, have lost their families, and try to keep a positive attitude in spite of their hardships. You get the impression that Dororo has found someone he can relate with 100% which makes his friendship with Saru believable.
If not for nuance, Dororo‘s eighth episode is worth seeing for the spectacle. The monster designs in this show have been solid but damn, Nokosaregumo is a sight to behold. I just love the slight cross between centipede and a Chinese dragon. The sheer size of it combined with the black clouds really give it an imposing aura too. Not to mention, this allows for more aerial combat, eventually resulting with Hyakkimaru and Dororo riding on the monster’s back as they try to slay it for good. The most interesting thing about the fight though is that this is the first fight where Hyakkimaru initially struggles to land a hit. Due to the black clouds and the sheer size of the monster, all Hyakkimaru can see is red. In other words, he’s essentially blind and thus, he is forced to use on his other senses (well, the ones he now has) to try and get the jump on the monster.
Which brings me to the one huge piece of character development this episode does offer. There’s a recurring pattern to be found in Dororo where Hyakkimaru regains his body parts but must also learn to embrace those facts. He had to step into the fire to understand what pain is like and it’s only when he hears Mio’s song does he recognize the potential beauty of sound. In this episode, what helps Hyakkimaru win the fight is by making use of his voice. Mind you, it’s a bit crazy that he is essentially performing echolocation but that can be excused as the utility the action brings is undeniable. It’s thanks to the action that Hyakkimaru accepts that he should use his voice, first by now calling Dororo by his name. I doubt we’ll be seeing this character hold a conversation but progress is still progress.
I’m curious then what kind of adventure will convince Hyakkimaru to embrace his sense of smell. See, that’s the reward he gets after defeating Nokosaregumo. Obviously, he needs it but as to what will convince him that he does, I’m honestly stumped on the possibilities.
Is it just me or has Hyakkimaru’s first exposure to his senses been consistently unpleasant? Once he regains his sens of touch, he discovers what pain feels like. The first sound he hears is a woman crying. The first sound he utters is his own pain. Hell, the first word he says is the name of the woman he loves who just died. Geez, Tezuka was a cruel writer, wasn’t he? I suppose his first time smelling something is considerably more tamed by comparison. It’s just the stinky gases of a geyser that he’s exposed to. Still, it counts. And I have to wonder this: when Hyakkimaru regains his eyes, what will be the first thing he sees?
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