「多宝丸の巻」 (Tahoumaru no Maki)
“The Story of Tahomaru”
Someone call Snake because we’re having a crab battle in this episode of Dororo. This episode marks the beginning of Tahoumaru’s quest for recognition, but before he takes on the crab monster, he has to grapple with the insecurities that are left behind due to his recent discovery of the fact that his parents are concerned about a specific baby. The combination of the new information he received about what’s plaguing his father and the years of neglect from his parents set Tahoumaru towards furthering his goal of paving out his own road to prosperity through his legacy.
Tahoumaru is in an unfortunate situation of being born as the golden child in a family, yet being so sheltered that he will always be an afterthought until the time is right. The elephant in the room has been there since his childhood with his mother constantly praying for Hyakkimaru and the sin they committed by disposing of him. At the same time, Daigo also owes his fortunes to the demons who took away Hyakkimaru’s body parts, so in moments of misfortune, Daigo’s attention is effectively diverted towards the condition of the demons who gave his empire prosperity. This episode does an effective job at showing the level of isolation that Tahoumaru has to contend with based on his parents being so concerned about Hyakkimaru’s presence in spirit that they shove Tahoumaru aside when he gets so much as an inkling that he can contribute somehow.
Tahoumaru’s desperate attempts to vie for his parents’ attention is remedied by the presence of his retainers, Mutsu and Hyogo, who have given him company since he was young. As his only lifelines that keep him from being completely isolated, Mutsu and Hyogo are the only two people who are willing to fully assist him as he tries to find a link towards what his father is concerned about. In this episode specifically, they extract information regarding the baby that his parents are obsessed over and aid Tahoumaru in helping the village face off against the crab monster. Hyogo is particularly selfless in the latter parts of the episode as he saves villagers and takes it upon himself to volunteer as a sacrifice to make sure Tahoumaru can hit the crab’s weak point. Luckily, his retainers are saved in the nick of time by the efforts of Tahoumaru and a stealth-kill from Hyakkimaru.
Much of the tragedy in Tahoumaru’s upbringing is that he has the makings of a truly noble hero in comparison to his father Daigo. The village’s conflict with the crab shows that Tahoumaru aims to use his family legacy as a means to empower himself in a manner that uses his own strength to help those in need. This means putting himself on the line because he has enough confidence in his and his family’s reputation to trust that he can charge in front of the enemy with the full intent of saving lives and fighting as the power of the powerless. Through his noble intentions, however, he is purposefully sheltered from the death and destruction caused by Daigo’s forces and the demonic influence that empowers Daigo. In his ignorance, he assumes he could simply aid his father and take care of any obstacles in his way, even when he’s deliberately shut out of his parents’ world. His investment in trying to unearth his father’s secrets and find out the existence of Hyakkimaru is heading towards the trajectory of a Greek tragedy where misunderstandings, half-truths, blind faith, and hubris end up sealing the fate of our unfortunate souls. Whether Tahoumaru formally meeting Hyakkimaru will result in him being cut down by Hyakkimaru, killed by demons, or betrayed by Daigo, there is a pessimistic future waiting for Tahoumaru as his parents set him up for defeat.