「無残帳の巻」 (Muzan Chou no Maki)
“The Story of the Merciless”

There have been a few instances where we have heard about Dororo’s parents, especially his mother. However, in this episode, we learn about why memories of Dororo’s parents leave such a strong, resonating imprint on the characters. Through the vivid brutality of Dororo’s flashback, it becomes much clearer why the pain and suffering they faced forced Dororo to experience life’s biting cruelty so suddenly.

As brigands who ambush samurai in retaliation for the wars that tore through their land and families, Hibukuro and Ojiya are also caring and selfless parents for Dororo. After they were betrayed by their close colleague Itachi, who used his mutiny to align himself with the samurai, they continued to try to care for Dororo in spite of their dire circumstances. The series spares no expense in showing the grittiest side of surviving poor in the anime’s universe as the family had to pick-pocket the corpses from warzones, one of which was currently being consumed by a fatally wounded samurai. Through these circumstances, Dororo’s parents tried their best to support their child through means that reflect on keeping them nurtured and safe. In the face of death, Hibukuro defends his family further by skewering his assailant with the same spear that sealed his fate.

The most depressing circumstance Dororo had to face were the sacrifices Ojiya made that lead to her death. Because of Hibukuro’s early demise, Ojiya had spent the most time raising Dororo and trying to teach her child about the world around them. But as their chances of survival had begun to wane, Ojiya stumbles across a soup line organized by the samurai, one of which being Itachi’s traitorous self. However, when the man administering the soup finds that she can’t be given food without a bowl, Ojiya takes it upon herself to demand that they pour it directly in her hands. For Dororo’s survival, she cups a ladle-full of boiling hot soup in her hands to feed her child, even if the scaling burns and starvation cost Ojiya her life. Flashbacks in Dororo are often shown in black-and-white with colors being utilized to punctuate certain wounds, objects, or matter. In Dororo’s flashback during this episode, the colors seen gather attention towards details that Dororo has experienced with Hibukuro and Ojiya. Golden rice fields and purple fruit end up being the few changes of pace from the suffering seen in the blood spilled, Ojiya’s scalded hands, and the higanbana that continue to follow Dororo as reminders of the grisly fates of Hibukuro and Ojiya.

Aside from shining light on Dororo’s past, this is also an episode where Hyakkimaru gets more used to his current capabilities. He’s been using his power to smell to his fullest as he sniffs anything within his general vicinity to get a feel for what he’s interacting with. At the same time, Hyakkimaru has started to pick up on the meanings of words as he tries to communicate for the first time by telling a nearby person that Dororo is feeling sick. How many words he picks up on is still a mystery though as the priestess tending to Dororo reveals her gender. The ambiguity of Dororo’s gender/sex made for some speculation on whether she was a boy or a girl, but the story hasn’t had to draw a larger target on Dororo’s gender so it’s still an adjustment to start using “she” and whatnot. Dororo was concerned if Hyakkimaru picked up on what the priestess said as her clothes getting cleaned means that she would have to know and might have told Hyakkimaru. But his silence on the situation does beg to question if he understands what signifiers would link to one’s gender or what pronouns hint towards whether someone’s male or female. It is the difficulty in having a character whose grasp on language perception is a work-in-progress when you’re not sure which words he’s picked up on or which phrases he is able to process meaning from. Regardless, the anime leaves us on a more alarming note with both Daigo and Tahomaru being aware that Hyakkimaru’s presence is close by.


  1. “The series spares no expense in showing the grittiest side of surviving poor in the anime’s universe”

    the twist here is that shit like this for real happened in feudal Japan, plenty of history books written about it, life was worth nothing during war time in Japan, status was everything, betrayal at first opportunity was very common.

  2. Back to covering manga material!


    Red spider lilies are usually associated with death in Japan, given they are commonly found in temples and graveyards (also near roads and paddy fields). Their poisonous bulbs made them perfect for keeping away animals and pests from those places.


    There was a bleakness in Tezuka’s source about blind idealism/pride – especially in how manga Hibikuro died. There, the family encounter a travelling princess who offers Dororo food out of sympathy. Hibikuro rudely rejects the food out of pride and throws it back in her face; her guards are furious and kill him for it.

  3. This post from Animesuki discusses Dororo’s overarching theme of survival and her significance to the story.

    – The central theme is of Surviving while being mindful of its Price, the actualization of Buddhist salvation. Tezuka was highly influenced by Buddhist teachings, which say living is suffering, and only by giving up the earthly ego and desires can the soul reach enlightenment and salvation. This survival can be seen in several ways:

    (Daigo’s) land and people (were) dying a slow and protracted death from war and famine (together with his) ambitions. To survive, he literally made a bargain with the devil, which revived his dream, along with the livelihoods of his people.

    It is in the nature (of demons) to consume and destroy human life in order to survive (but) when it comes to survival (is) it right or wrong (?) (W)hose life matters more, when allowing one to live may mean the death of the other?

    (Hyakkimaru has had) to fight back (since an early age) to survive, and slay the demons before they could slay him…(although) it feels only natural that he should slay the demons… to restore his human body… the irony is that…the lives of the people that depend on the devil’s bargain are worsened.

    – They felt Dororo serves as the human heart and soul of the story.

    I feel… Dororo is the least morally conflicted character out of all the people we’ve seen so far… Everyone else, including poor Mio, was caught in desperate situations not of their choosing, and over which they had very little control (and thus compromised their values for survival)…In a world where everyone is a monster, either literally or figuratively, Dororo stands out for being the single pure individual who is acting on what she feels to be the right thing to do.


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