「鬼神の巻」 (Kishin no Maki)
“The Story of the Demons”

With Dororo‘s final episode inching closer and closer, the stakes continue to rise when Hyakkimaru has only one more demon to kill to regain all of his senses. But as Hyakkimaru continues to get incensed by anyone blocking his path towards getting his eyes back, the rest of the cast must contemplate how they will co-exist in the world with the future looking grimmer by the minute. The anime uses this next-to-last episode to solidify the notion that, no matter if Hyakkimaru or Tahoumaru wins their duel, there will be underlying consequences that will require more than just demonic influence or divine intervention to rely on.

The first half of the episode served to set the stage for a final duel between Hyakkimaru and Tahoumaru. The Rapidash of vengeance had the sole responsibility of eliminating Mutsu and Hyogo as the horse uses its last moments to kill both of them. Hyogo especially got the short end of the stick when he died from getting his head ripped from his body by a horse, flailing about through the last vestiges of his demonic arm’s influence like a headless chicken before collapsing. While it helped to make sure that Hyakkimaru’s hands and blade were untarnished by the blood of Tahoumaru’s retainers and friends, it mainly helped to get everyone else in the battlefield out of the way so that the two brothers could duke it out alone. It was impactful when Tahoumaru reacted to his retainers’ deaths since they were his closest companions who he had a mutual attachment to, committing himself to ensure their safety and comfort as they assure his. They pulled a similar move with the Rapidash and its child, but since we’ve spent more time with Mutsu and Hyogo, it stings far more to see Tahoumaru lose the two people that made him feel more human in the midst of his warpath to get rid of Hyakkimaru.

But what makes this episode meaningful is when Dororo is discussing Hyakkimaru and the demons with Nuinokata, Biwamaru, and the lost villagers. While two of the villagers are quick to jump towards the logic of allowing Hyakkimaru to get defeated if it means that it would save Daigo’s nation from perishing, Nuinokata helps rein in that line of thought by acknowledging that it would seem like a likely solution. However, “seem” is the key word as their prosperity would merely come from another’s hands, leaving them unprepared to face the world if that fortune were to reverse. This rationale is at its most valuable at this point considering that much of the suffering that had plagued the land had been a lack of preparedness towards draughts and turmoil. When their fortunes reversed, rather than being able to come together to find a solution outside of relying on the demons to help them out, Daigo had used the samurai to wage wars and use conflict as a means of regaining his fortunes. But force and conflict had only brought suffering, decay, and poverty to wherever Daigo’s troops and samurai roamed. War in Dororo is presented as completely unsustainable for the survival of not just nations, but people as well with the more blood-thirsty characters running the risk of being consumed by their lust for war, vengeance, and blood, driving otherwise well-intentioned people to become demons. It’s what drove Daigo and Tahoumaru to gladly use Hyakkimaru as a sacrifice for their nation’s well-being, and it is what Biwamaru and Dororo fear will transform Hyakkimaru into a demon who knows no other way of living than to find more and more people and demons to kill. As a majority of the main cast descends on the flaming castle where Hyakkimaru and Tahoumaru are having their final duel, it begs to question whether the victor will give in to their demonic urges, or if they will be able to walk away with a clear conscience and a solution that could bring about prosperity to their world without giving in to their rage.


  1. The anime has stronger leanings into Buddhist philosophy than its predecessors.

    Buddhism teaches that human desires and cravings cause suffering not only to others, but for our spirit too. The ideal is to liberate ourselves of desire to reach enlightenment, but desire is what makes us human; not many are prepared to take that path. Thus, the practical actualization of Buddhist salvation is by being mindful of our actions.
    Your mindfulness allows you to not identify with the impulses of your strong emotions or directly act from them; to not hold on onto everything that affects you in any way, to collect yourself and seek a more ideal way of conduct.

    Both Hyakki and Thaoumaru are extreme examples of a lack of mindfulness, wholly embroiled in their respective desires at the expense of others.

  2. I’m really not sure how it can be argued that Hyakkimaru is in the wrong here.

    “For the greater good” and “the needs of the many” and all that only applies when it’s a person being given a choice, and that person choosing to help another.

    Suggesting that he’s wrong is saying that if a person kills someone in an alleyway to harvest their organs, and then gives those organs to those who would die without them, that they are in the right.

    More people living and prospering in the end does not in any way give you the right to rob others of theirs to make this happen. Not only are you not a great person for doing so (and the person attacked not a bad person for trying to defend themselves), but you are a monster. You are worse than the demons you are contracting with.

    1. The anime’s ultimate point is NOT about who’s right or wrong. It’s about the pointlessness of struggle and suffering.
      All the central players, like Hyakki and Tahoumaru, are so lost in their desires they can’t see the suffering they’re causing to themselves and others. Something that could’ve been avoided if they’d been mindful, to take a step back and calmly find a more ideal way.

      1. Please explain what the “more ideal way” there would’ve been for Hyakkimaru to get his body back, because, from what I’ve seen, it’s pretty clearly established that the only way for him to get his body parts back is to kill the demons, and that by doing so, he would hurt the country being protected by them.

        That’s the trade/scenario that his father set up, that he is now having to deal with.

      2. @hjerry2000

        That isn’t the point. The way the things are, the more Hyakkimaru regains his human parts, the more of his humanity he strips away to get them. In the recent episodes, Hyakkimaru has been more of a raging beast than anything, especially if Dororo’s not around him. This show, from the looks of things, support Buddhist values. In Buddhism, the root of all suffering is attachment. In fact, we can compare Hyakkimaru’s story to Anakin Skywalker from Star Wars. In Star Wars, Anakin was attached to the survival of his wife. But in seeking power to protect her, he crushed anything and anyone that he thought barred his way, and in the end, caused her death with his own hands. Hyakkimaru is very well on the same path in seeking his lost body parts. According to Buddhism, they say if you search for the object of your desire while destroying everything else in your way, so too will your own spirit be destroyed.

        There is a reason this show is called Dororo, and not Hyakkimaru. Dororo knows what is happening. Dororo is symbolically Hyakkimaru’s lost heart. She sees the sad end that awaits Hyakkimaru if he completes his mission in this manner. That is why she would ask him to abandon his quest because the cost to his soul is simply too high. What Hyakkimaru has to do, is to learn to let go. Let go of attachment to his lost body parts. Btw, this is similar to what Yoda advised Anakin to do in Revenge of the Sith. The Jedi tenets are practically lifted from Buddhism FYI.

        If Hyakkimaru were to give up his crusade right this minute, he’s already regained enough already. He already has enough body parts to fully pass off as human, and he has his aura vision to perceive the world around him, and above all, he has Dororo. He’s functioned well enough without his sight, and he doesn’t really need his eyes except for completion’s sake.

        Not just Hyakkimaru, this cautionary tale of attachment and desire can also apply to Tahomaru. In seeking prosperity for his father’s land, he lost his two loyal retainers and friends, and now he lost his humanity. (Eyes do NOT belong there thank you very much!) Now, he’s on a collison course with Hyakkimaru, but I think he will fall harder than Hyakkimaru because of the same reasons Hyakkimaru is falling, and because he didn’t have a Dororo on his side.

        Like I said, there is a reason why this show is called Dororo, and not Hyakkimaru.

      3. All that says is that what he’s doing is not pointless, nor was there a better way. He is a vidtim of circumstance here.

        What could be more under his control is his anger, but he is not in the wrong to be fighting or killing here.


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