by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 10 of
Dororo (TV 2019) ?
This week, Dororo is a family affair. In an impressive undertaking of dramatic irony, Daigo's deepest secret is coming to light in a way that is sure to backfire spectacularly. Now, Hyakkimaru and Tahomaru are working together to undo their father's evil—unbeknownst to them. Hyakkimaru and the titular Dororo take a backseat this week for another anime-original episode that goes more in depth into Tahomaru's character than ever before. While Osamu Tezuka's original manga never had a true conclusion, “The story of Tahomaru” establishes a new element in Hyakkimaru's family drama that may have major implications for the show's eventual finale.
This single episode is the most sympathetic portrayal of Tahomaru yet. In the original manga, Hyakkimaru's brother was primarily an adversary. Later, in the Dororo-inspired PlayStation 2 game Blood Will Tell, he was initially a demonically-possessed villain for Hyakkimaru to fight. This time around, however, we get a portrait of a young man as kind as he is troubled. You'd think that the son given everything that Daigo denied to his firstborn would have it all, but instead he's got it just as bad: raised by a strict, tight-lipped father and a melancholy, mourning mother. His aides, Hyogo and Mutsu, who are anime-original characters, are his true family, the ones he can really count on when his parents are too wrapped up in their own concerns.
Tahomaru's kindness is shown in direct ways. When his soldiers refuse to listen to the villagers, Tahomaru not only believes their tale but admonishes the soldiers for refusing to help his people while they are suffering. When his aides offer to sacrifice themselves to the demon, he won't hear of it. While he initially drugs his father's aide with truth serum to question him, he ceases this after the man, attempting to retain his loyalty, tries to bite off his own tongue. This is particularly telling, considering how badly Tahomaru wants to uncover his father's secret. In the end, however, Daigo is only hurting himself. Tahomaru knows that his father made the land plentiful, but he doesn't know he accomplished that through a deal with demons. So, of course, he's not going to see the crab demon as anything but a hindrance to his people. When Hyakkimaru lunges in for the finishing blow, neither the brothers nor their father has any idea about the unlikely team-up that just occurred.
Even if you haven't read the manga, by now it's easy to tell which episodes of Dororo are anime-original based on the body count. For all of its glibness, Tezuka's manga was dark. This episode explores Tahomaru in more depth and with more empathy than he's ever received before, but its primary aim is to put more pieces in place for an impending conclusion. It's a monster-of-the-week episode made weaker than usual by the absence of our two leads, but a much-needed piece of the puzzle in Hyakkimaru's family drama.
Dororo is currently streaming on Amazon.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist.
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