Happy (belated) Thanksgiving to all of LiA’s readers in America. But if you were looking for a turkey, you were looking in the wrong place with Ushio & Tora – as usual this week’s episode was on-point, seeming to fly by in about 10 minutes. I know some manga readers are upset about the pacing, but for a new viewer (at least this one) it’s been pretty much flawless. And let’s be honest – getting a three-cour adaptation for a manga almost three decades old is more than any of us could hope for under normal circumstances. It’s even led to Fujita-sensei getting a new serialization early next year.
Make no mistake, Kirio has very much come in and hijacked this story – but he’s every bit as much a weapon being wielded by another as the scythe he brandishes himself. As for Ushio, he’s still very much in a funk over what’s happened to old Hizaki. So much so, in fact, that Tora attacks him and wounds him in rather ugly fashion, and declares he’s “done” with Ushio. It’s transparently his way of trying to motivate the boy out of his funk – almost brotherly, in a violently aggressive sort of way (in other words, brotherly).
So just what is Kirio, and how did he get to be the little psychopath he is? The source of the problem seems to be Inasa, a priest of the Kouhamei sect who rebelled against the idea of putting all their eggs in the basket of the Beast Spear. He left the temple and set up shop in a creepy old mansion which came to be knows as the “House of Whisperers“. And my notion that Kuin was some sort of Chimaera seems to be borne out by the fact that in his frustration at a lack of progress in developing weapons to combat Hakumen no Mono, Inasa turned to alchemy – with the predictably grisly and catastrophic results.
Inasa may have started building the road that led to Kirio stealing the Beast Spear, but it seems obvious that it was that woman (no, she’s not Kirio’s mother) we met last week who’s the real power behind the boy. That would be Towako, and while she professes to Inasa (we find this out courtesy his diary) that she too seeks to create more weapons that can kill Hakumen no Mono, it’s hard to take that at face value. Even if one ignores his appearance, it doesn’t take a long time to list the candidates who would most benefit from the destruction of the Beast Spear.
So indeed, it appears that Kirio is fundamentally different from the other spear-bearer candidates (and even Inasa) – while he himself doesn’t know it, Kirio seems to be an agent of Hakumen no Mono. Most of the involved parties converge on the House of Whisperers in pursuit of the stolen spear – Ushio and Hinowa (who’s rescued him from the barrier Kirio trapped him in), the Kouhamei priests, Tora and Nagare. Those two make a very interesting pair, by the way, and we really get to see a different side of Nagare here. He portrays himself as a thrill-seeker first and obsessed with his own safety, and shows quite a sense of humor in how he chooses to motivate Tora to punch a hole in a wall. This is an edgier and more dangerous Nagare than the Aniki figure we’ve known up to this point, and he’s that much more interesting for it.
A confrontation with Towako seems imminent at this point – whether she’s Hakumen no Mono herself or just his agent, she’s clearly a very twisted woman. She snatched Kirio as a baby to be part of Inasa’s “Materia” experiments, and when her true nature became so obvious even Inasa grew terrified of her, she seems to have disposed of him (I have no idea if Kirio even knows Inasa existed). Maybe the battle with Kirio and Towako will be where we close the season, but it’s certainly not going to be the final battle – and it’ll be interesting to see whether Kirio survives it to potentially change sides. He’s a victim in all this, certainly, though there have been no shortage of victims in Ushio to Tora.