Another stellar episode of UshiTora this week, maybe the most consistent series of the Summer season. This show is simply a marvel of efficiency, rarely wasting a moment of screen time without appearing (unless you’re a butthurt manga reader) to be rushing through the story. If one steps back and takes a look at it retrospectively, if anything the show actually takes quite a bit of time to move the plot forward – Ushio always “getting mixed up in stuff”, as Tora puts it. But that stuff usually ends up being pretty important to what comes later.
I’m not sure what the headline was this week, as an awful lot of interesting things happened. Perhaps it’s that either A. the Beast Spear is capable of taking a girl’s panties off, or B. one of the tenets of the Kouhamei sect is to go commando. We know this because of Sekimori Hinowa (Mizuki Nana), who’s one of the four chosen spear wielder candidates of the sect, and the first one who shows up when Ushio and Tora finally arrive in Hokkaido.
Yes, as Tora predicted, Ushio got caught up in more stuff before he actually got to wherever his mother might be – but then in the boy’s defense, all that stuff finds him because of the Beast Spear. Hakumen no Mono (we actually get to hear its voice, briefly) is aware of the Bast Spear’s presence too, and sends out its hiyou to destroy the spear and its wielder. But Hinowa arrives at the same time, intent on taking the spear from what she sees as an incompetent and untrained latecomer.
I think this is actually a pretty important moment in the series, because it’s really the first time Ushio’s resolve to wield the spear has been tested, and one could easily see where someone in his condition would consider it a burden. And indeed, he actually lets Hinowa yank it from his grasp almost without resistance, clearly tempted by the notion of being rid of it. And this act sets several interesting reactions in motion. We see that Tora isn’t capable of cashing in on the moment (or at least has no desire to). And that the best spear is disinclined to “listen” to anyone besides Ushio, which proves quite the problem for Hinowa when the mass of hiyou show up.
No matter what the disciples of the Kouhamei think, it’s pretty clear that the Beast Spear has made its choice. Ushio gets back in the game in time to save Hinowa (though not before her wardrobe malfunction), a character it’s hard to get a handle on yet. She seems to give Asako a run for her money in the tsundere derby, but she’s enough of a realist to accept that the spear is useless to her at this moment in time. She and Ushio go their separate ways, but I’m wholly confident we’ll be seeing more of her.
Let me backtrack for a moment, because the first to show up when Ushio arrives in Hokkaido is actually Akiba Nagare (Hosoya Yoshimasa), atop his chopper. But Nagare doesn’t reveal himself yet – he only does so after the hiyou have been thwarted and Hisowa has gone on her merry way. Nagare is another of the four chosen disciples, but he professes to be less interested in the Beast Spear and more in Tora. There’s a very funny moment when Ushio lapses into a gushing schoolboy over Nagare’s bike, and then the real action starts when he boards the bus for Asahikawa and Tora stays behind to spar with the guy looking daggers at him.
This is an interesting little scuffle, quite revealing in its way. Nagare is obviously pretty strong, strong enough to seemingly have the upper hand against a 2000 year-old (have we heard that number in relation to Tora before?) youkai. But Tora is the one who shows his true colors here – first what a badass he is, ripping off his own hands and feet and toying with Nagare but leaving him alive. And he gives the most revealing answer yet about why he stays with Tora and doesn’t attack him – “I’m never bored when I’m with him.” That says a lot about both the title characters and how they’ve grown, actually, and about the massive appeal of this series.
ED2: “Makeru na Chiisaki Mono yo (負けるな小さきものよ)” by Waka Danna (若旦那)