A short post on Ushio to Tora seems almost natural, given that each episode seems to last about five minutes. The pacing of the series may irk manga fans sometimes, but it lends the anime an insistence that I find hard to resist. I’m rarely aware that anything is missing (though in this case it was pretty clear there was a lot more to Kirio’s part of the story, and I would kind of liked to have seen it) though to be honest, even if that wasn’t the case I’d still be glad to have this adaptation at all, given how unlikely its existence is.
It might seem like an odd choice to pause for a flashback (3,000 years to be precise) at this crucial juncture of the story, but I think it serves multiple purposes quite admirably. First off as bleak and hopeless as the series left us at the end of last week’s episode, it’s not a bad thing to take a step back from all that. And obviously, this particular flashback is a crucial one in piecing the story (and any hope of Hakumen no Mono’s eventual defeat) together. Tora’s role in all this has remained the greatest mystery, and this ep started to shed some light on it.
I can only assume that Ushio being put inside Tora’s head is the work of the Beast Spear, and it’s an interesting tale that it spins for him. Shagakusa was derided as a “cursed child” for the circumstances of his birth, yet when he grows up to be the strongest warrior in the land, the people who spat on him as a child now hail him as a savior. Only Raama (played by the 1992 OVA’s Ushio, Sasaki Nozomu) and his older sister see through to the kind man inside, but tragedy takes them from him and causes his hatred to spill over. That leads to the “birth” of Hakumen no Mono – who’s been hiding out in Shagakusa’s right shoulder since his birth. Before it flies off to reap destruction Hakumen tells Shagakusa that he will “live forever” – and so begins an eternal question for revenge that eventually leads to the discovery of the beast spear, and the transformation into the beast we know and love.
I’m not sure exactly how this “born from the darkness” stuff with Hakumen works, but now all of the key players have been tied directly into the history of this conflict. For Tora it’s every bit as personal as it is for Ushio (though he doubtless remembers few details about why). I’m also not sure just what Kirio found in his journey into the past with Tokisaka, but it’s clear that it’s important – and that the Beast Spear isn’t ready to call it a day yet. This final showdown, it seems, has only just begun…