Ushio to Tora – 07

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Well – when you’re right, you’re right.

Let me just start off by recalling the final sentence of my last Ushio and Tora post:

We’ve only just begun to learn the secrets of Ushio’s family history, it seems – which leads me to believe his father is overdue to reenter the story very soon.

I could hardly have been more spot-on with that one, but then again it’s not as if wild unpredictability is the main selling point of Ushio to Tora.  Make no mistake about it, there’s a tremendous appeal to a series that can execute a familiar style extremely well.  As long as you’re a fan of that style, that is, which I certainly am in this case.  There is a freshness about this show, and that comes from how vibrant and distinctive it feels as it goes through its paces.

No doubt about it, things ramped up in a big way this week both emotionally and narratively.  Maybe the real plot of UshiTora started when Umizatou declared that Ushio’s mother was still alive, and a “wretched woman” at that.  We don’t find out any more detail on that than a frustrated Ushio does, but we sure find out a whole lot else.  There’s a whole lot to the story of Ushio’s mom than what we’ve been told, but there’s a whole lot more to his dad, too.

Shigure-san is certainly reluctant to share any details about his (presumed) wife with his son, but his protestations that she’s dead could hardly be less convincing.  His stalling is just as transparent, that is until he receives a legitimate summons to an emergency, and the truth really hits home when he whips out his cell phone (again – how did Fujita handle that in the original manga, I wonder?) and calls for a helicopter after sealing three evil spirits (actually once needles – gotta love Shinto, even if Shigure is a Buddhist priest) terrorizing a girl and her mother.

So what’s the deal here?  The sect in charge of Fugen’in has a hidden face the public never sees, and the elders are most interested in the fact that Ushio has claimed the Beast Spear and freed Tora.  The main function of the sect, it seems, is to prepare for the eventual battle against the Hakumen no Mono – whatever it is – and the elders seem ill-inclined to believe Shigure’s “not very smart” son is the pre-destined wielder of the Beast Spear in that battle.  The female leader of the sect (Orikasa Fumiko) goes against the will of her underlings in giving Shigure a chance to make the call on Ushio and Tora, but it doesn’t appear they’re inclined to follow her will.

What follows is a very interesting dynamic, where Shigure ends up taking Tora’s side when a quartet of warrior monks arrive at the temple, and Ushio ends up taking Shigure’s side when they attack him.  For all the strain in the relationship between boy and father and father and beast, when the chips are down they stand together against the dishonorable strongarm tactics of the monks.  Ultimately it’s Tora’s strength that allows Shigure to carry the day, and he’s able to send his son off on a journey (which goes through Hokkaido, and his mother’s brother) – with ¥1.2 million and a comb in pocket – to learn the truth about his mother.

This is classic stuff, in a wholly positive way – though I like the slightly unorthodox twist of having the boy chase after his mysterious mother rather than his father.  Both Ushio and Shigure (Tora too, for that matter) come off very well in this episode – things are difficult between them, but there’s a tacit acknowledgement on Shgure’s part that he’s left much to be desired as a father, and on Ushio’s that he doesn’t hate Shigure for that.  All the pieces are now in place for a really amped-up shounen blockbuster, and I can hardly wait to see it play out.

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17 comments

  1. l

    Another shounen series that has the missing but extremely powerful mother of the MC that he chases after is Kekkaishi. It even involves youkai. That completed manga series was a good read. Unfortunately, it didn't get a complete anime adaptation as the manga was still ongoing at the time.

    Ushio to Tora is a great ride so far. It has been methodical in its approach. The future episodes can't come soon enough as it starts getting in the groove of the main story.

  2. S

    From the way this was handled I have a strong suspicion that Ushio's mother is in fact going to be the final boss here, and his father pulled an Obi-Wan on him telling him she was dead. Either she's been possessed by demons and is beyond recovery, or she willingly sided with the yokai for some reason (which could also be genuine understanding for their plight for the right to survive and exist). Or perhaps she will just represent a different side of the argument, and Ushio, with his unlikely friendship with Tora, will be the one able to understand her. Still, amazing episode! I loved how it suddenly kicked the plot into overdrive. Strapping in for the ride.

  3. s

    I've been looking forward to the episode at which the plot finally kicked off for real, and I definitely wasn't disappointed – Ushio to Tora has been doing great work so far, and this week was another step up in that regard. Now if only MAPPA could stop teasing me with that shot of the spear candidates that the sect mentioned… Anyways, so far they're still faithful, though I'm expecting the first cuts pretty soon. Let's see how that'll work out.

    On another note, not related to Ushio to Tora – have you any intention of reviewing the Mushishi movie, Enzo? Seeing how it's been subbed for almost two weeks by now (though it's admittedly been somewhat of a stealth release).

  4. I do of course, but I'm so swamped at the moment I haven't sat down with it. I don't want to watch it until I can really focus on it.

  5. S

    Hey Enzo, are you still watching Charlotte? After the first episode, everything was a major disappointment of fluffy school life with textbook bland MC crap, but with ep 6 & 7, things have now really gone off the deep end. In a really good way. I'm not saying it's a masterpiece , but there's a lot of depravity and darkness there all of the sudden which makes it interesting to discuss and/or hear your thoughts about. Some things hinted in ep 6 launched a tonne of exciting speculation.

    If you want to quickly recap, watch maximum one of the episodes 2-5 (they're all generic boring shit, but I guess knowing exactly what flavour of shit it is will help)

    Ushio to Tora had another top drawer episode. Never disappoints, does it? I'm going to miss the dark haired classmate (assuming she stays in school)

  6. e

    So, he's leaving his love and childhood friend. leaving his school, leaving his normal human life.
    And the story goes into full shounen battle mode.
    This is as classic as it can. Reminding me of Yu Yu Hakusho.
    I don't mind since this is a very good adaptation.

  7. YYH is perhaps the shounen I most often think of when watching UshiTora. Of course this series did come first…

  8. E

    I love the trope of a young boy leaving home on a dangerous journey, probably dates back to The Hobbit and Lord Of The Rings.

  9. Oh, Padawan – it dates back much, much farther than that…

  10. E

    Come to think of it there's still Jules Verne and Journey to The West but that's probably as far as I've gotten so far in literature…

  11. Not nearly far back enough, LOL.

  12. E

    What else is there??? This topic really shows off my inexpertise! I'll throw in Sinbad and Gulliver's Travels as well, I think the furthest I've read are books about Greek mythology actually.

  13. I'm yanking your chain, but seriously – you can go back pretty much as far as recorded history, because that's about as elemental story as there is. Read up on the evolution of the Bildungsroman and you'll get an idea of how far back this goes.

  14. E

    Thats a lot of literature I haven't touched. ^^''

    Thanks for the interesting read!

  15. R

    Now the question is how they'll adapt the rest of the series. I caved and read the manga and this arc is really long. Luckily a lot of the stories are one shots that could be skipped with no issue but 300+ chapters in 30+ episodes has got to be difficult. I'm surprised they haven't cut anything yet

  16. E

    From reading manga reader comments and such it seems they have cut quite a bit actually, some of those monster of the week stuff are about 2-3 episodes in length but the anime adapts it flawlessly enough that I didn't notice either…

  17. s

    the stuff that has been cut is not too big of a deal all things considered that's why most viewers havent noticed. The stuff that has been cut are like character moments and such, which while they add more to the interactions between the cast, can be done without as well in the grand scheme of things….at least right now. Im not a manga reader but i have seen the 90's ovas

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