「天邪鬼の巻」 (Amanojaku no Maki)
“The Story of the Amanojaku”
Our nineteenth episode of Dororo is an unfortunately faithful adaptation of the manga chapter where Hyakkimaru weds the daughter of a blacksmith, Okawa. It was at this point in the manga’s publication where Tezuka went way too far in taking the story into the darker, drearier territory to chase after the niche carved out by popular provocateur manga of the mid-20th century. MAPPA could have taken the liberties of excluding such a divisive chapter full of shock-value death scenes and out-of-character moments, but I assume they wanted to flesh out the sign of the times when manga started heading towards the violent and macabre. Regardless, it definitely shows that this episode felt unnecessary in relation to the rest of the series and sets regrettable precedence for how Hyakkimaru’s journey will go now that Dororo has been effectively removed from the plot.
This episode’s main focus is on letting Hyakkimaru’s broken sword deteriorate as he foregoes everything he’s worked for up until now to get married. Originally, he was set to have his sword repaired after his devastating fight with Tahoumaru, but Hyakkimaru sets all of this aside when he meets the blacksmith’s daughter Okawa, who is the polar opposite of cute (even the whole town agrees with me, which is one positive merit of this episode). Hyakkimaru’s consistently uncouth behavior leads him to greet Okata as if he’s a veteran voice actor signing autographs for young, impressionable fans. Okawa is immediately smitten and persuades him to marry her, but I can’t help but feel a little skeeved by the idea of Hyakkimaru rolling with the emotional manipulation that gave Okawa the idea to wed him. Knowing what happened to Mio, it’s especially alarming that he would wish that same fate on Okawa by letting her follow him on a dangerous road towards an early and most certain demise.
What broke the camels back in this episode as how Hyakkimaru went so far as to turn his back on Dororo. After reuniting her in the last episode, it feels like such a slap in the face to have Hyakkimaru lash out at Dororo as violently as he did. I mean, did they really have to make Hyakkimaru asphyxiate Dororo while he was in the demon’s possession? It’s just a highly tasteless route that Tezuka took when he wrote all of this out, and if he wanted to separate the two, he could’ve gone a classier route like what occurred after the moth village. But instead, they constructed a demon and a word-twisting mask for the express purpose of unleashing such cruelty to Dororo and turning Hyakkimaru into an irredeemable monster. I mean, I touched that same mask, and I didn’t do anything too bad. For all I know, I’ve just been blogging as usual. From what I’m remembering though, I can only recall typing all of the typing I’ve been doing. Could it be possible that everything I’ve been writing until now didn’t happen? Or rather, is it misrepresenting what actually happened?
Come to think of it, I am reading back on a lot of this and it doesn’t feel right. It’s as if everything I’m saying is coming out the opposite of how I feel about the episode. From what I watched, it was a decent, light-hearted anime-original that’s a refreshing change-of-pace after some of the heavier episodes. I did enjoy the Talking Head abilities that this episode’s demon had since it offered up some clever wordplay where you had to read between the lines to see how Dororo & Hyakkimaru truly felt about getting married or what the townsfolk’s opinion of the blacksmith and his daughter truly were. I can’t also forget about how adorable Okawa is and how it was too bad that she probably won’t be showing up as an original character made for this episode’s particular plot since they gave it their all to make her incredibly cute. I’d re-write everything above to try to reflect on this point-of-view that represents my true thoughts a lot better, but it already took so much time to write all this out. Guess it wouldn’t hurt to keep up.