「ばんもんの巻・上」 (Banmon no Maki: Jou)
“The Story of Banmon, Part 1”
The conflict that Dororo has been building up to between Hyakkimaru and his family has reached its fever pitch in this episode as he finally comes face-to-face with his father Daigo after all of these years. As the combined efforts of the Asakura army and Banmon have ravaged Sukeroku’s village, Hyakkimaru finds himself drawn towards Daigo’s province. However, his presence in his fight alongside Tahoumaru opened up Pandora’s box with Daigo taking the initiative to further pursue Hyakkimaru.
In this episode, we get a firsthand view of what Daigo’s province looks like and the influence that the demons had in his land’s prosperity. As the wealthy capital of his empire, it is highly prosperous in its outdoor markets, entertainment options, and overall wealth. The drought present from Hyakkimaru’s demon-slaying has yet to fully take his main province by storm as the general public is satisfied by the prosperity that Daigo has brought them. Enough so that they are more than happy to embrace any of the rhetoric that Daigo brings to the people such as a humorous stage play that dramatizes Daigo as a heroic figure that killed demons to bring about a new era of growth for his empire. Its funnier from the viewer’s perspective because of what we know of Daigo praying to demons for his fortune, but also because the audience is left out-of-the-loop on who exactly Daigo is aside from the ruler of a wealthy empire, including Hyakkimaru and Dororo. For all of the politics and warfare that happens within the world of Dororo, only the viewers are given context behind the destruction, chaos, and demonic influence left behind by both Daigo and his rivals.
One theme that is explored through Daigo’s family is the foreboding fear of divine retribution. As Daigo begins to connect the dots between the sudden appearance of a disabled demon-slayer, his wife is fearful that they are reaching the point where the gods exact their vengeance of the Daigo empire for making a demonic pact for wealth and glory. The monkey’s paw scenario they face, however, drives Daigo in an irate state of mind as he swears to protect the demons helping him by striking down Hyakkimaru once he’s within his sights. It’s a perfect storm of chaos with Tahoumaru learning from one of the midwives of Hyakkimaru that he’s come to exact revenge against the empire, the headless deity statue in Daigo’s wife’s room getting an even larger crack by its neck, and Daigo finding Hyakkimaru during his fight against Banmon. The next episode is ramping up to reach even higher heights with how quickly it took for the two to reunite.
One word of caution, however, was given to Hyakkimaru when Biwamaru notices that his spiritual energy shows him that he’s killed humans. Hyakkimaru’s last bout with vengeance had come to him in a much more vulnerable state as Mio’s death led him to slaughter all but one of Daigo’s men on that day. With the effect that Daigo’s demonic pact had on Hyakkimaru, however, could challenge his grasp with his emotions. With that level of bad blood, the restraint he had from not killing the spider woman might not be as present. And since Daigo has the same spiritual mark on him indicating that he’s murdered men before, Hyakkimaru is forced to weigh the emotional and spiritual toll that comes with murder. Biwamaru warns Hyakkimaru to be careful with the murder mark that his soul has, but with his discovery that Daigo also carries this mark, it could also force Hyakkimaru to try to compare and contrast the duality between his actions and his fathers as he decides whether to pave out the same path of blood that his father underwent when he aligned himself with and whether the level of evil he faces will the Hall of Hell.