「さるの巻」 (Saru no Maki)
“The Story of Saru”
Continuing the trend of the last episode, “The Story of Saru” is relatively upbeat in tone with Hyakkimaru and Dororo helping a boy named Saru vanquish a caterpillar demon who swallowed the sister figure who helped support him. The emotional turmoil that comes from experiencing new sensations or encountering new characters/demons isn’t present this time around since Hyakkimaru’s fight in Episode 08 doesn’t carry any painful consequences that often linger in the wake of a demon.
Saru’s personal story is the roughest the episode gets as it explores his backstory as a wandering orphan who is reviled by anyone he’s encountered except for one woman that he calls his “sister” that helped give him his name. While Saru is able to share valuable time with his new sister, she ends up volunteering to be the new “bride” for the caterpillar demon, sacrificing herself to be fed to the demon so that it doesn’t swallow up entire towns full of people. When we’re lead to believe that she was killed by the demon, Saru and Dororo are able to concoct a strategy to exploit the demon’s weakness to sunlight, but not before spending part of the night mourning for his lost sister. The resolution paints a far more optimistic picture, however, when she ends up recovering from captivity inside of the demon, allowing her to reunite with Saru and continue to offer him support and affection.
This was also an interesting episode for Dororo since he played a key role in helping slay the demon. In addition to coming up with the plan to attack him using light alongside Saru, he takes an active role in fighting a demon for the first time. From acting as bait to jumping on the demon and wrangling its side with a lasso, he put himself on the line to assist Hyakkimaru in weakening the demon so that he can defeat him with his strength and agility. After Hyakkimaru regains his ability to smell, Dororo’s efforts to try to make enough of an impression on him worked in his favor after Hyakkimaru addressed Dororo by his name for the first time. Saru’s sister giving him a flower to offset the smell of the sulfuric fumes put Hyakkimaru’s mind at ease, but after shouting several times during the fight to get the demon’s attention, it was a relief for him to be able to say Dororo’s name as they walk off. Dororo might not have gotten as much gold as he would have wanted, but Hyakkimaru saying his name definitely struck his core as it was meaningful for him to finally verbally communicate with him. No matter how little he said, it spoke volumes for Dororo to have their bond develop that much. With two episodes that gave Hyakkimaru some mercy, hopefully, the future will be as kind to him.