「地獄変の巻」 (Jigokuhen no Maki)
“The Story of the Scene from Hell”

This week’s episode concludes Dororo and Hyakkimaru’s stay at Sabame’s village on a dire note. Directed by the infamous episode director of Gurren Lagann‘s fourth episode (the “breathing deeply” one), this episode captures the unwavering fury and violent backlash that follows Hyakkimaru’s demon-slaying journey through an aesthetic that is as raw and messy as the episode’s underlying conflict.

While Sabame’s allegiance to the moth demon resembled the village compromised by Bandai, his town actually has more in common with Daigo’s empire than it seems. For instance, Sabame’s prosperity is derived entirely from demonic influence as the bales and bales of rice that his village was able to produce is all due to Sabame and his citizens’ outright approval of turning to demons for help. But rather than trying to fabricate a mythos of self-earned glory like Daigo, the whole town is in on what Sabame did as they justify using demons to avoid the grim fate of killing one another for food and survival as they used to. As with most demonic pacts, the sacrifice they make to gain such prosperity is to rob the lives of others, and for Sabame’s village to succeed, their target-of-choice was a temple full of children. It explains the presence of the large baby as it was a collection of the spirits of the deceased children murdered to fulfill the demon’s sacrifice. There is an underlying conflict regarding the morality of triggering a spiritual uprising to exact revenge on the village for killing the nuns and children that satiated the demon moth enough to bless the land with bountiful fields of rice.

Much of this conflict comes to a head with Hyakkimaru’s one-track-mind. Because he is so fixated on killing the demons he needs to in order to restore his body, he doesn’t take into account the human toll that comes with his vengeance. Although Dororo helped spark the fire, it was Hyakkimaru’s blade that effectively wiped out any chance for the village to recover. Much like Sabame’s story of famine and savagery, the outcome of the moth demon’s demise would return the village to these times as the distraught villagers are quick to try to fight for one another’s rice. Dororo might have been upset to see the villagers pay the price for their pact with demons and it didn’t help that there were other children in the village who are affected by losing their homes and parental figures. This is not the case for Hyakkimaru. Far from it, in fact, as he shows no concern for the plight that was left behind as they left the village. Having brutally regained his spine did little to quench his thirst for revenge as every episode finds him more and more focused on killing demons than anything else.

It’s Hyakkimaru’s insistence in trudging forward and ignoring anything other than the instinctual force that compels him to kill more demons that causes a rift between him and Dororo. After finding out the truth behind the village and being saved by the souls of the sacrificed children, Dororo finds herself at odds with the role that she and Hyakkimaru played in the town’s crumbling. Even if the villagers were deplorable in killing numerous children, she retains a sense of guilt from the pattern that tends to come from the demons they kill causing more lives to be thrown away, like a demonic game of Jenga where taking one demon away could cost the lives of hundreds. It’s not something that Hyakkimaru has the time or patience to focus on, but in the grand scheme of things, Dororo has been conscious about trying to get Hyakkimaru to embrace his newfound humanity by being more civil and aware of avoiding consequences that cost more human life. Hyakkimaru’s lack of concern for the newly homeless villagers was the last straw for Dororo as she mournfully turned away from Hyakkimaru as he would continue remaining more fixated on the killing and destruction that the monk warned him against than any kind of empathy. This wasn’t the most opportune time as Itachi swung in with the unfortunate knowledge of knowing Dororo had the second half of the map on her back. It will be neat to see what happens to Hyakkimaru from here as it seems that his concern for Dororo’s absence could cause him to reflect back on what he did that hurt her and ultimately lead him closer to growing to be a more empathetic person as he regains even more of his humanity in the process.


  1. Tezuka’s source manga arc is LESS bleak compared to the retelling here.

    The major anime-original change was Sabame and the whole village being knowing accomplices of the moths, together with the village’s destruction and Sabame’s death. Tezuka’s original had a more black and white story – the moths were the usual evil, manipulative demons who’d bewitched Sabame into doing their bidding.

    Dororo and Hyakkimaru rally the innocent villagers against the demons and successfully slay them. Sabame is thankful to the duo for releasing him of demon control, but the villagers are less grateful after finding out about Hyakkimaru’s prosthetics and chase him away, thinking that he’s a demon too.

  2. I highly doubt that the argument being presented here is to kill the demons or leave the demons in place.

    The problem here is that killing the demon is the necessary task but that it’s important to have compassion for and assist those left in need.

    Hyakka isn’t learning the latter part and that appears to be the concern. He’s regaining physical humanity but losing whatever spiritual humanity he had or was capable of. Dorado’s role appears to be Hyakka’s link to his spiritual humanity and will offer the path for him to leave the destructive path he’s on (spiritually).

    The dilemma here isn’t “oh, hey, these people are happy and well-fed; so what if they sacrifice innocent people to a demon every now and then?”

    1. Well put. I’m not sure that he had spiritual humanity before to lose though. Maybe I’d posit it as… he’s growing in many respects but not so much yet in empathy (or spirituality).

      I can’t really find fault with him though as there isn’t really any reason he would have developed any empathy or spirituality. He’s been a sealed box since the moment of his birth. His path is a long one and having just gained a voice and ears, but not yet eyes, he has barely taken his first steps. I don’t think it’s his purpose in life to suffer for the rest of humanity or for the demons who prey upon them all.

      That all said, I don’t agree with the stance that he is ignoring the issue. He is arguing with himself, albeit clumsily at this point. If he didn’t care, he wouldn’t be angrily telling himself that he is justified in separating himself from the consequences of his actions. He’s not trying to convince anyone else. I also wouldn’t really call it a rift between him and Dororo. Dororo was asking questions about morality and was upset that she wasn’t getting any answers from him. She doesn’t have answers herself yet (NB questions are often more important than answers so this isn’t a criticism, also, she’s young). Also, at this point, she’s just wandered off. She may not get the chance to wander back on her own, but I don’t feel that there is some permanent obstacle between them.

      As an aside, it seems like the moth was double-dipping. It had Hyakkimaru’s spine but was also preying on people at this village. Bad Maimai-onba.

      1. Speaking of spine, I’m interested if the anime will give an explanation on the benefits demons get from owning a body part.

        In Tezuka’s manga, the body parts quest was largely treated as a plot device/McGuffin to drive Hyakki and Dororo’s adventures. I don’t think Tezuka explained at all what gains in power/magic/etc. the demons got from owning a body part.

      2. Good question. It’s kind of murky since demons are one of those things that are pretty much different in every story. In many stories, they just need a sacrifice of something human, even just a bit of blood. Others, they need a human connection to properly manifest themselves in the human world. Maybe they just like collecting parts and being given territories. While it would be nice to know, I don’t feel any loss without knowing. If it remains a mystery, the story still works well for me.


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