Ushio to Tora – 18

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Well, raise your hand if you didn’t know how that was going to turn out.

While it was always pretty obvious how the immediate crisis in this arc would ultimately be resolved, Ushio and Tora still did a pretty great job (as usual) getting us there.  It does get a little repetitious doing so, but you can’t help but note that this series just keeps nailing it week after week.  It’s one of those series that does so much right and so little wrong (kind of like Haikyuu, in that sense) that it can be a bit tricky to write about.

I really like the dynamic in this arc, for a good number of reasons.  In the first place Izuna is an absolute delight in every scene he’s in, such a wonderful contrast with and foil for Tora.  There’s also a real sweetness to the premise, as old-fashioned as it is – underlying the scenario is a deep sense of affection and gratitude towards Ushio by the girls.  And there’s a refreshingly light hand on the tiller when it comes to any notion of romantic rivalry – everyone in the group (including Mayuko) knows there’s no point in pretending one exists, even if there was an inclination on their part.

The one off note in all this is Asako, but I don’t really hold it against her – she’s just fulfilling her predestined role.  The power of the osananajumi-tsundere double-dip is irresistible in a series as traditional as Ushio to Tora, and the girls all know it.  It takes some of the suspense out of the whole combing thing, and I’ve never found Asako’s constant stream of insults to be especially charming.    But considering it’s a played-out trope that was’t appealing to begin with, it’s executed pretty well here.

Much more appealing than the way the drama ended was what we had building up to that moment, and what followed it.  Tora’s tortured musings on what to do about eating Mayuko, for example (she and Tora are flagged as surely as Ushio and Asako).  I loved the way he reacted when the girls were thanking him for being such a bro, and Izuna’a reaction to his reaction.  I also thought his breaking into uproarious laughter after Ushio showed how badass he’d become was a great, great moment – kind of the official seal on this bromance that’s been building since the very beginning of the series.

I also thought the revelation that the fire-breathing blacksmith was Jie Mei’s brother (and thus what – Ushio’s great-great uncle or something?) was a very interesting one.  Just what is the relationship between this family and Hakumen no Mono?  The pieces don’t all add together just yet – clearly the brother at least despises Hakumen no Mono, yet the women of the family have seemingly been protecting the ayakashi from the wrath of the other youkai.  Perhaps we’ll finally find out now that Ushio is seemingly at last about to face down his family history (if not his mother herself).

One thing can be said with certainty – Ushio has established his GAR cred beyond the point where not even the tsun-twins Tora and Asako can deny it.  The best moment between Ushio and Asako was when he flashed a rare instant of vulnerability with a simple and profound “It hurts”, but when he’d finally wrestled control of his own soul back, Ushio never thought of taking a break despite his obvious exhaustion.  Whatever the unfairness of it, this boy has taken on the burden of his fate without complaint, and tirelessly at that.  He’s an old-fashioned sort of hero for an old-fashioned series, and very much the exceptional one it deserves.

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5 comments

  1. S

    The conversation between the smith and the ghost had me thinking: perhaps the reason to shield Hakumen no Mono was not to protect it, but to protect humans from what they could become by fueling their hate for him? She hints at the Beast Spear being fed by human souls: so maybe she thought sealing away Hakumen was a way to get her brother give up on the foolish endeavour of forging a weapon powerful enough to take it down by sacrificing other people to absorb their strength.

  2. K

    Having read the manga and knowing all the answers to the questions you raise makes it really hard to comment.

    On the episode itself, man that was heartwarming specially the bit about the girls all agreeing in the unbreakable bond between Ushio and Asako. The ride just gets better from here on.

  3. m

    I thought the last scene declaring Asako to be Ushio's girl really awkward. We know it was going to happen, so why did they have to frame it that way. In any case, romance is not a strong factor in the story.

    If I can also venture some guesses, the women in Ushio's family are cursed to be sacrifices to the Hakumen no Mono – maybe it is not just having to protect the Hakumen no Mono, but also having something else taken away. The brother may have wanted to break the curse, and over time, that may have led to immense hatred. I don't think it is that simple of course, we will wait to find out.

  4. e

    Given the unescapable tsun of destiny factor Asako isn't a particularly obnoxious example actually, come on.
    Her verbal denial is not a constant. She is able to interact with in in a calm manner (personal highlight: the Reiko episode. There was the chance for a violent jealousy eruption on a silver platter. None happened. On the contrary she was fully onboard with his concern about the girl and answered to his inquiries about her without any fuss) and she's not beating him senseless for whatever reason. Plus she walks the walk when the chips are down. Huzzah.

    Mayuko sweethart is one tenacious girl. Neither hamburger nor comb will be relinquished. And can trigger some really enjoyably Tora reactions – best lighthearted moments of the episodes? Possibly -.

    Freaky flying eyeballs with ears D: *shudders*

    Penchant for ending up heroically shirtless: like son like father.

    On a more serious note the sentiment behind Ushio's healing was indeed heartwarming. So much giving and take of support and kindness and strength.
    Btw I quite like Simone's comment scenario about Hakume in the comment above. The more I consider it the more it makes sense and makes for a good 'each party has its good reasons' conundrum. We'll see.
    In the meantime our MC is quite literally going to enter the cave of his Hero's Journey it seems. Ah the suspense.

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