Ushio & Tora
by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 26 of
Ushio & Tora ?
Good and evil. Science and spirituality. Humor and sincerity. And yes, Ushio & Tora. This powerful show has been all about a constant battle between opposing forces, but I didn't put two and two together until today, when I realized that these opposites can often attract and turn the best parts of each other into something even better. In “Tatari Breaker,” these forces must reconcile and work together in order to triumph over adversity,
Over at the H.A.M.M.R. Institute, the scientists are quickly losing ground as the all-encompassing Bad Guys as their failed experiment, the Hakumen no Mono shard, becomes more powerful. Their first response is still pretty cold—they're ready to save themselves and detonate the area, wiping out the monster along with their injured colleagues. But after being faced with Ushio and Asako's righteously indignant faces, Dr. Helena can't take it any longer and agrees to help them. We learn (and this is admittedly pretty cliche) that she lost her son when he was only seven, and since then she's adopted a hardened exterior that has allowed her to perform heartless experiments with no regard for humanity. She makes it all up by helping Ushio, Tora, and Asako save the day and even perform a rescue that she'd previously called scientifically impossible. “In science it is clear what you can and cannot do,” she says, but as Ushio and Tora's power goes off the charts, she realizes that they have a type of power immeasurable by calculations: “I finally understand where their power comes from: a trusted partner, people to protect, a powerful enemy,” she says.
In the end, it takes a little of column A and a little of column B to save the day. This is an episode about gray areas. The Hakumen no Mono shard is evil, but it's using innocent Metamorphs to shield itself that Ushio wants to save. Ushio knows the scientists said it was impossible to save Bal-chan and destroy the shard at the same time, but he insists the Beast Spear says otherwise—so he's trusting intuition over expertise. Still, it takes Ushio's intuition from the Spear and Helena's scientific expertise to make that victory possible. It also takes Tora's funny moods and Tora's serious-business mode combined. It takes Asako's heart and Helena's research. Just because forces oppose each other doesn't mean one is good and the other is bad. Ushio's dad, who represents religion in this show, makes a poignant observation when he is informed of the Institute's corruption: “So even science is steeped in sin.” Visual effects enhance the fascinating duality of this episode, illustrating the silence before a devastating explosion, the fragility of human bodies and the power of their spirits—yet the episode never loses its trademark Ushio & Tora humor.
Overall, it's a much deeper message than the black-and-white world order of previous episodes. It'll be sad to see Ushio & Tora take a break for the next three months, but this is an adequate halfway point that will ideally guide the epic conclusion of this show once it returns. This almost could have been a satisfying conclusion to the show, but the Hakumen no Mono awaits with one eye open, and that imagery alone is enough to keep me anticipating the next chapter.
Ushio & Tora is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Lauren writes about anime and journalism at Otaku Journalist.
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