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.