「無常岬の巻」 (Mujou Saki no Maki)
“The story of the cape of no mercy”
Our latest episode of Dororo reunites Hyakkimaru and Dororo as they try to maneuver their way around the island. But as they try to get back to civilization, they and the bandits face heavy opposition from an incoming ambush from Tahoumaru. On top of all of this, they’ve incurred the wrath of Shiranui, who is thoroughly upset that the humans have once again stomped on his happiness by killing both of his sharks.
The main attraction of this episode was the reunion between Hyakkimaru and Dororo. It was very heartfelt with Hyakkimaru relaying much of the compassion he learned from Jukai onto Dororo with the same head-holding expression of endearment that they shared in the last episode. Through this gesture, Dororo was overwrought with emotion as she still deeply missed him in spite of how he acted towards the village he left in ruin with the moth demon’s demise. But what Hyakkimaru’s visit with Jukai helped solidify was the fact that Dororo was his closest link to humanity as a whole. The time he spent with Dororo gave him a sense of belonging and companionship that invigorated the emotional core of Hyakkimaru that the demons were never able to take away from him.
Because Hyakkimaru is emotionally attached and invested in his time with Dororo, it strengthened the more introspective side of Hyakkimaru that evaluates his motivations towards protecting Dororo as well as learning about those around him. Although he rationalizes Tahoumaru as his enemy, it is through his own questioning that led him to this conclusion. Whereas he could’ve just kept swinging in whichever direction his vision took him, he was more apt to ask Tahoumaru and his retainers why exactly they want to kill him. The fight was easily the most visually impressive action we’ve seen in the second half, but the impression I received from this episode’s central conflict is the pendulum swinging with Hyakkimaru embracing his personal feelings as Tahoumaru closes off his own. At this point in time, raiding an island to kill off anyone in sight isn’t off the table for Tahoumaru, and while he still felt tension when his retainers were injured, the direction he’s charging in at this point is not looking bright for him.
Itachi might not have entirely changed in this episode, but with his death inching closer and closer, he continues to straddle the line between showing some form of sympathy for Dororo and being self-absorbed in his pursuit of her father’s treasure. Throughout the episode, he’s constantly switching motives, whether it be trying to help Dororo escape to safety or restlessly aiming to pursue the treasure no matter the casualties. Although Dororo kept trying to stop him from mindlessly chasing after the treasure, much of her growth came from being able to put aside any of the animosity that she has towards Itachi. As he breathes his last breaths of air, she intends on respecting his wish to see her father’s treasure before Shiranui causes the rockslide. After Itachi dies, she even goes as far as pray for his soul, hoping that he doesn’t cause trouble for her father in the afterlife. Even though they didn’t take the treasure with them, Dororo learns in this part of her journey that she wants to have more time to learn about the correct path before she returns to claim her fortune.