Ushio to Tora – 27

Ushio to Tora - 27 -16 Ushio to Tora - 27 -32 Ushio to Tora - 27 -52

Welcome back, UshiTora – feels like you never left.

OP:”Shuukawari no Kiseki no Shinwa (週替わりの奇跡の神話)” by Kinniku Shoujo Tai

Ushio to Tora - 27 -1It’s looking like a pretty strong Spring, with some intriguing titles to follow later, and Winter has given us two shows that would tank among the best in any normal year.  But as I said in my post after the season finale of Ushio to Tora, it would take unusual circumstances for this series not to finish the year in the Top 10 list.  That may seem excessive to some snobs out there who look down on a battle shounen as a trifle, but what this series brings to the table is my no means trifling.  Ushio to Tora is an exceptional shounen, a relic of another time in the genre that doesn’t feel the least bit stale.

Ushio to Tora - 27 -2I give enormous credit to MAPPA for letting this series be itself and not trying to contemportize it in any way.  That took guts and probably involved resisting some pressure from the production committee, but I fear that modernizing UshiTora would have smothered it, snuffed out the essence of it.  Yes, there are some elements in the series that are distinctly of another time, but even if we recognize them as such they’re part of what gives the series its massive charm.  Ushio and Tora is not timeless in the way a Mushishi is, but rather thrives by being the epitome of a certain time in manga and anime – and in the stark contrast it provides with what they’ve evolved into.

Ushio to Tora - 27 -9The one element in UshiTora that is timeless is its abundance of really interesting and relatable characters.  Good and evil may stand out in starker relief here than we’re used to these days, but they still drive many a story today.  The leads in this story are children, let’s not forget, and indeed Fujita-sensei and Nishimura-sensei make sure we don’t.  The opening scene of the season is deceptive in terms of where the story is going – Ushio and Asako meeting in a blizzard of sakura (a nice homage to the calendar) and engaging in their usual head-butting.  But the moment when Ushio realizes “next year might not come for me” is heartbreaking.  Ninth-graders – no matter how heroic – shouldn’t have to think about stuff like that.  Ushio should be worried about which girl to pick (sadly, a foregone conclusion) and drawing his manga, but there’s a matter of world destruction that only he can prevent to consider.  It sucks.

Ushio to Tora - 27 -10I love the way this story has evolved into a pure battle between empathy and hatred, between hope and fear.  There are random acts of kindness scattered throughout Ushio to Tora – like Asako’s parents offering Ushio a bowl of ramen even though they’ve forgotten who he is.  And Mayuko, my goodness – kindness is so imbued in her nature that there seems no end to it.  It’s quite fitting that she’s taken in the desolate Kirio, because no one could be better suited to show a child who only knows love as a weapon of deception and manipulation what the real thing feels like.

Ushio to Tora - 27 -11The worst possible thing for Hakumen no Mono (who, by the way, is one of the best villains in shounen history) is hope – and the idea that humans and youkai should once again set aside their differences to battle the Hakumen is fraught with hope.  So Hakumen acts, sending out its Hiyou to devour the memories of Ushio and Tora from those close to them.  The terrifying nature of this development for Ushio is brilliantly brought to life, as is Ushio’s profound relief and joy that Tora at least still remembers him.  Asako has certainly forgotten him, but Mayuko perhaps not – and after both are taken prisoner by youkai now in the unwitting service to Hakumen no Mono, she admits to Asako that she sits at home crying over the fact that it’s Asako who Ushio (seemingly) loves.

Ushio to Tora - 27 -12As we know, there are no throwaway characters in Ushio to Tora, and many familiar faces make their reappearances here.  Almost all of them have forgotten Ushio and Tora apart from Saya, who uses her barrier to shield them when things are looking darkest.  The time-traveling demon Tokisaka has remembered too, and shares a terrifying vision of a future he’s seen in his latest travels.  The odds against the prevailing of good seem insurmountable here, but what’s a good shounen final battle without insurmountable odds to overcome?

ED:”Kessen Zenya (決戦前夜)” by LUNKHEAD

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8 comments

  1. Man, I knew it was coming but it really hurts seeing Ushio being forgotten by everyone else. He is such a good kid that doesn’t really deserve all the horrible shit that befalls on him.

    Ushio and Tora is really a manga/anime from another era, and I’m so glad to having it back.

  2. s

    mayuko really is such a sweetheart. Sure one could look at her as the generic goody-two shoes female character but there’s something touching about how considerate she is. Her admitting that she cries at home in secret sometimes because she is painfully aware that she guy she loves, loves her best friend (from the looks of things it’s definitely not “seemingly”, more like “truly”) made me feel for her. Mayuko under different circumstances would have probably wooed ushio without hesitation (unlike asako), but it’s an unfortunate reality for her that asako likes him, and that it is her ushio likes, hence why she cries about it.

  3. “Too good” characters can be a bit boring (or worse) but Mayuko dodges all those traps. Why? Hard to say. Maybe because we’ve gotten to know her and understand why she’s the person she is. We’ve seen her vulnerability. And her decency is so unconditional – it’s like she could never consider selfishness or cruelty for a moment. I really adore both she and Ushio – even if Asako is structurally the female lead, it’s those two that support the whole story for me.

  4. s

    yea i agree; i would also add that even though mayuko is super nice, she’s also got this snarky side to her at times that adds that extra dimension necessary to not make her veer off into “generic goodie two-shoes” land. For me, it’s the trifecta of ushio, asako, and mayuko that support the whole story for me; tho i am guilty for having a slight preference for Asako due to her more strong-willed nature and her proactiveness in the series. Wow, i cant believe i actually prefer the tsundere this time around (though back in the 90’s they were handled much better)

  5. I found this first episode pretty fast paced but nice nonetheless. The new ED is especially nice I think, love the stills they chose. This is going to be an intense ride.

  6. Because of the delay between seasons, it took me a while to again realize that Kirio is a boy…

  7. r

    If there is one element that I don’t mind getting buried in time is the classic 90’s tsundere act. It sticks a bit like a sore thumb in an otherwise great series. Asako is a fine character but what passes as romantic chemistry in this show is so last century…. hur hur. Except scenes like cherry blossom encounter this episode. However, I didn’t feel all that emotional about it, since all this time I’m having some difficulty getting invested into the main pair. Maybe the it’s dated slap/yell routine or maybe becuase of contrast with Mayuko (which I agree she is a great “too good” character). Romantic aspect aside, when Asako lost her memory of Ushio and the scenes that followed were powerful. The show has done a good job showing the bonds Ushio has formed with his friends so it gets across how devastating it was for him.

  8. e

    Mixed feelings here, but they are in the show favour, as first it made me glad to watch these characters again and then dropped the whole amnesia bomb on Ushio, just after he had a nice little moment of sakura-laden romantic delight. The poor kid, it was devastating to watch him at Asako’s. Then Tora came and the derpy faces came back along with some spirit lifting – gotta love that screenshot with Saya at the top… a very welcomed touch of levity :,) -.
    Mayuko is her usual loving self and Im looking forward to the rescue by her loved one… go get her, Tiger >D . Seems like we can’t have ships without one tsundere partner in this show… but I can live with that here.

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