「絡新婦の巻」 (Jorougyumo no Maki)
“The story of the Jorogumo silk spider”
Contrasting with the Mio arc of last week, this episode of Dororo lets the cast breathe a bit as the tone and side-story are far lighter in nature. Rather than focusing entirely on Hyakkimaru gaining one ability at the time, Episode 07 puts his empathetic traits to the test as he starts to learn about how the ability to hear and speak can influence the judgment calls he makes. Along the way, he also approaches the first time that Dororo and his vision sway him from killing a demon.
The demon in questions also turned out to be extremely empathetic as the spider demon Ohagi begins finding herself invested in humanity through the compassion and love that a villager named Yajiro gives her. After taking her into his home, she picks up on parts of Yajiro’s personality that are surprising to her and is captivated with why humans are willing to act out of their own personal interests. Instead of being wary of a spider woman or killing bugs that invade his home, he is willing to offer her a hand and free any trespassing insects that make their way inside his home. Through the warmth that Yajiro has, especially considering that he’s risked life and limb to free villagers from their oppressive ruler, Ohagi shifts away from her own demonic instincts to suck the life force from men in order to do anything she can to protect Yajiro from danger.
It helps that the episode’s premise concludes with the notion that the village that put out the bounty on the kidnapper was corrupt. With a penchant for working villagers to death and keeping them enclosed in the village to ensure they are fully devoted to their ruler, it puts Yajiro’s efforts into perspective as he smuggles them out of harm’s way from the tyrannical ruler of the village. Dororo’s decision to side with Yajiro and Ohagi also stems from the fact that they were tricked into finding their kidnapper to keep the status quo and never intended on paying anyone to find them. Taking the foreshadowing of something sinister is brewing about the town into consideration, the episode does shift the main conflict of the episode towards how the ruler and his village have far more ulterior motives than Ohagi.
While Hyakkimaru doesn’t regain any limbs from killing a demon this time around, this episode spares his soul by giving him a better understanding of the emotions of others as well as himself. After all of the moments that he’s been trying to kill Ohagi, it isn’t until he sees her trying to protect a wounded Yajiro that he decides to back down. My idea of the situation is that, through a combination of what he saw when he killed the possessed swordsman and when Mio and the children were killed, he had just learned to relate personal suffering to the posture and audio cues he’s able to witness. As a result of the torment that he himself has experienced, he is able to read the situation far more clearly and can see that what Ohagi has been trying to do this whole time was to protect Yajiro instead of going on the offensive to gratify a demonic urge to kill. While it’s a relief that Hyakkimaru took it upon himself to let Ohagi go, it is definitely a relief for the episode to end on his first laugh. The start of the episode had Dororo try to tickle Hyakkimaru because he regained his sense of feeling, but it was Dororo getting attacked by a small spider that he eventually freed that caused him to giggle at the situation that befell on Dororo. It wasn’t the moment where Hyakkimaru got to experience a new sensation, but instead, it was a moment where Hyakkimaru was able to experience a human emotion that goes far beyond a new limb; as it turns out, the part of his humanity that Hyakkimaru regained in this episode was his ability to get in touch with human emotions such as compassion and laughter.