by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 11 of
Dororo (TV 2019) ?
It's about time that our boys got a vacation. This week, Hyakkimaru and Dororo visit the prosperous land of Lord Daigo to spend their recently earned cash. But trouble seems to find them wherever they go, and with an ominous title like “The story of Banmon, part 1,” it's only a matter of time before the demon of the week shows up. The momentum in this story is building up, and the fates of Hyakkimaru, Tahomaru, and Daigo are becoming increasingly intertwined as we lead up to some kind of reckoning. This episode has a faster pace than usual, and it still leaves us on a devastating cliffhanger.
This episode is a moderately altered adaptation of the Banmon arc from Osamu Tezuka's '60s Dororo manga that doesn't share the original story's tragic body count (yet). Rather, it begins on the lighter side with plenty of antics from Dororo, who has comfortably adjusted to the role of Hyakkimaru's agent and promoter. The duo has a great time in the central city of Daigo's region, even though Hyakkimaru has a lot on his mind. Though he doesn't seem to know why yet, Tahomaru (and later Daigo) share the odd black-and-white gradient aura that Hyakkimaru has previously seen only in his own silhouette. Meanwhile, Tahomaru is getting closer to solving the mystery of his parents' secret. Daigo was disturbed by his attendants' report, and though the subtitles say “son,” Daigo and his wife are just discussing a "child". So even though Tahomaru overhears what appears to be a revealing conversation, he's still somewhat in the dark. It'll take a chat with the village crazy (who is, unsurprisingly, less crazy than she is traumatized by the shocking truth of Hyakkimaru's birth) to obtain another piece of this puzzle.
In the original manga story, Hyakkimaru and Dororo go straight to Banmon and meet a distinctly unwelcoming Tahomaru. This time, they hear about the demon-infested wall through a rumor in town, and if anything, Tahomaru may become an ally later in this difficult fight. At the moment, their inspiration is to help an orphan kid, Sukeroku, with a very distinctive voice; you may have noticed he sounds just like Naruto, because he shares the same voice actor. Hyakkimaru squares off against the nine-tailed-fox-inspired demon in an unusually compelling action sequence, made particularly engaging by the demon's hypnotic ethereal design. The cliffhanger arrives when Sukeroku and then Dororo get captured, and Daigo arrives on the scene. All episode, father and son were circling ever-closer to one another, leading to this impending showdown.
This feels like a lead-up to the conclusion, but I know that Dororo is scheduled to run for 24 episodes, well into the spring anime season. So instead, we're gearing up for a turning point conflict. Everything is pointing to a Bad Time for all, from the new crack on the goddess of mercy statue, to the priest's admonishment of Hyakkimaru for killing humans, to the threatening arrival of Daigo, a local hero with a dark secret nobody knows. The episode comes to an end so quickly after such a fast pace that it feels like an abrupt screeching halt. It's going to be difficult to wait for the inevitably bloody resolution next week.
Dororo is currently streaming on Amazon.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist.
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