「ばんもんの巻・下」 (Banmon no Maki: Ge)
“The Story of Banmon, Part 2”
For the 12th episode of Dororo, Hyakkimaru’s bitter reunion is further intensified when his family confronts him several times during as he pursues Banmon. Even with his disabilities, Hyakkimaru finds himself slowly learning that his father fed him to demons for his empire’s sake and commands the army responsible for Mio’s death. What makes the episode impactful, however, is how Hyakkimaru’s survival affects his remorseful mother Osu and his brother Tahoumaru, who is forced to come to terms with the reality behind his power.
One of this episode’s greater dilemmas was regarding the path that Tahoumaru would cross. Much of the information about Daigo’s demonic pact had come to light all at once. After learning about the possibility that his parents had gotten rid of their first child, Daigo came in to confirm that he sacrificed him to demons. Initially, Tahoumaru was outright disgusted by his parents’ actions and sought to undo any of the suffering that Hyakkimaru had undergone due to the demonic pact. However, fate would rule against any of his wishes as demons cast him out of the Hall of Hell where he intended to end his villages alliance with demons. Daigo’s defense would also weigh on Tahoumaru as their village would be reduced to ruin if the curse was undone, and Tahoumaru had styled himself as the warrior for his people. These circumstances would eventually drive Tahoumaru to align himself with his father as he resigns to the fate that he could only get to where he is today because of the status quo fueled by demonic influence within his father’s empire.
While Tahoumaru had submitted to his father’s will upon understanding the painful reality that Hyakkimaru’s suffering was their prosperity, his mother Osu is tormented by this fact. Ever since the day of his birth, she prayed endlessly for her long lost son’s safety and forgiveness. But upon his return, the guilt would flood back on an overwhelming scale as she was compelled to face her guilt upfront. Hyakkimaru was able to sense that there was some uneasy force that binds him together with his father and brother, but his reaction upon noticing his mother is far more subdued. Dororo mentioning his mother even brings a wistful smile to Hyakkimaru’s face. It’s in this fondness, however, that makes her reunion with him all the more agonizing. Her words, “I cannot save you,” hit Hyakkimaru the deepest as she sorrowfully apologizes for the fact that her family and village have greatly benefited from his agony. The voice that would initially keep him from tearing apart Tahoumaru and the army that helped kill Mio would bring him the unfortunate reality that the demons who stole his body parts prevent her from supporting him. Whereas Sukeroku had received the good news that his mother survived his village’s destruction, Hyakkimaru had to witness his mother stabbing herself with her words of helplessness lingering with him on his way out of his father’s village.