What They Say:
Long ago, a ferocious monster terrorized the land, until a samurai, wielding the legendary “Beast Spear”, sealed him away. 500 years later, a middle school student named Ushio Aotsuki accidentally uncovers the monster in a hidden cellar under his family’s temple. The unsealed monster and the spear attract many other supernatural creatures to the temple and Ushio is forced to release the monster in order to defeat them. Ushio names the monster “Tora” and unwillingly work together to battle other spirits and demons.
Content (warning as portions of this review may contain spoilers):
Whoo…boy. I’d been somewhat lamenting for the last couple of weeks that for something that supposedly had a lot of source material to get through in a short amount of time, the show was taking a while to get to the actual meat of things. So it seems to rectify that, it’s throwing a whole lot of plot at us this week and there’s quite a bit to take in. Although it’s certainly not a bad thing since it not only introduces a lot of new elements, but also helps to an interesting shift on a familiar one in particular, making it the show’s best episode to date.
Coming into this episode I wasn’t completely sure if the show was going to address last week’s big revelation about Ushio’s mom right away, but I’m glad to see that both the show and Ushio didn’t waste any time on that front. He goes to confront his dad on the matter who unsurprisingly, knows the truth about the matter but refuses to tell Ushio about it. What’s a bit more surprising though, is that he knows a lot more than that as it turns out he’s connected to a religious sect that’s been exterminating demons for centuries. Given his prominence in the theme song I was expecting him to be more relevant than the show was letting on up to this point, but not quite that much. Dads usually tend to be given the shaft in some manner when it comes to shonen as they’re usually either A) not around, B) completely ignorant to what their kids are doing or C) dead, so the fact that he gets to play into the big picture that way is kind of neat, and something I’m looking forward to seeing play out more.
After hearing about Ushio taking possession of the Beast Spear, the higher ups in the sect order Ushio’s dad to take it back and eliminate Tora. Apparently both due to the potential revival of some powerful yokai and the fact that the sect already has their own set of candidates trained to wield the spear, and I imagine both those things will come into play later. Of course rather than eliminating them, Ushio’s dad instead opts to test the duo and deems them a worthy pair, but not before battling it out with Tora in a much improved fight sequence from last week. Things only get more heated when the other priests who disagreed with his approach show up to take care of the job themselves but together with Tora, he manages to fend them off.
The biggest moment in the episode though, comes down to the second confrontation between Ushio and his dad concerning the fate of his mother. It’s made pretty clear that Ushio’s dad doesn’t really want to touch on the subject, but that he also thinks that Ushio would apparently be better off just thinking his mother was dead. Especially so since he doesn’t have enough memories of her to know what she’s actually like. However even though Ushio acknowledges that his dad might be right about that, he can’t bring himself to just ignore it either and decides that he has to confront the truth for himself, regardless of what it may be. While we can tell it’s not nearly enough to dissuade Ushio’s dad from thinking it’s a bad idea to have him and his mom meet, he decides to honor Ushio’s wishes and sends him off on a journey to locate her. It’s not exactly the most in-depth look at an estranged family situation, but it’s at least good to see that the complexity of the situation is acknowledged and it’s a perfect follow-up to the theme of the previous episode. Even if some of these events mean Ushio’s dad isn’t winning any father of the year awards, at least as far as anime dads go, he’s proving to be one of the better/more interesting ones, and coming from a series wrapped up in 90’s cliches that says a lot.
After taking a while to find it’s footing, this week’s Ushio and Tora steamrolls us into the plot in a pretty big way. There’s quite a few big revelations and setups to be had here, but the show thankfully decides to follow up on the one that best transitions from last week’s by letting us learn more about Ushio’s father. While the events of the episode serve to further complicate the situation with Ushio’s parents it also helps to set the stage for a larger story by sending him off to find his mother, and I’m eager to see where that journey ends up taking things.
Streamed By: Crunchyroll