Author’s Note: Apologies for the paucity of images while I search for a workaround and/or wait for the new open source WLW to play friendly with Blogger.
Even the breather episodes of Ushio & Tora are still pretty jam-packed and intense, but this definitely was one – a step back from the relentlessly dark and weighty material of the last extended arc. It’s been one hell of an impressive run but it sort of felt like high time for a little more humor and a little less consequence.
I found myself in agreement with Tor for much of this episode. Mayuko does look absolutely delicious, and it does seem kind of dumb to me for her to simply step aside and let Asako “have” Ushio. Altrusim is in itself a good thing of course, and it’s Mayuko’s selfless spirit that’s one of her most winning points. But this smacks of dramatic imperative more than anything – this is just what the trope dictates, and Mayuko is taking one for the team.
If we’re going to have an ep that steps back from the focus on Ushio and the main plot, Tora and Mayuko are great subjects to build around. This is the closest thing to a real pairing in the series, truth be told, though it is something of a milestone for Mayuko to flat-out admit that she dreams of marrying Ushio. Tora and Mayuko are winning characters on their own, but they have great comic chemistry together – and more than comic, to boot.
This being UshiTora we do get some youkai, danger, violence and carnage – but the disconnect from the Hakumen no Mono plotline makes a pretty big difference. The two youkai in question (the toad does indeed look eerily like Albert Einstein, though I have no idea what comment that might be making) have an odd ritual of inviting people up to their high-rise office and asking them what makes a worthwhile death. When they don’t get a good answer (and apparently they never get one) the toad sucks out the brain of the human in question.
How do Mr. Toad and Mr. Snake choose their victims? Why did they choose Mayuko? I don’t know, but all of this is really just a pretext to get Mayuko and Tora together. Mayuko excuses herself when Asako goes over to Ushio’s house to nurse him back from a stomach issue and Tora sees through this immediately. This sort of human behavior still mystifies him even though he’s seen plenty of selflessness from Ushio.
Things get pretty serious with the two youkai, but not before Tora and Mayuko exchange vows, so it’s now official that they’re a couple. Heck, Tora even consents to call Mayuko by name. There’s a lot of charm to the interactions between these two, no doubt about it, and seeing them playing off each other is a great way to push the reset button a little bit and give the series what feels like a fresh start as we get ready to end the season.