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.
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.
The Review: Content (warning as portions of this review may contain spoilers): Welp it’s about that time folks. We’ve finally come to the show’s season finale and we have a long
Welp, it’s about that time folks. We’ve finally come to the show’s season finale and we have a long three-month break before it makes it’s return. Given that, it’s only appropriate that the series makes it’s temporary exit with a bang, and enough of one to make up for the semi-repetitive nature of the material being thrown our way.
As Tora arrives to save the day, the ensuing fight ends up resulting in a gas leak and the HAMMR scientists decide to jump ship and leave everyone else behind. Ushio and Asako have a problem with that, though, and try to convince them it’s not right to abandon the others like that and to imagine what it would be like if it were their families they were leaving. This is enough to sway one of the scientists named Helena, and she claims there’s a device that could be used to separate Baladandy from the beast, but she and Asako have to go to activate it themselves.
Meanwhile, Ushio joins Tora in the fight, but both have difficulty fighting off the beast due to its ability to adapt. This ends up resulting in Helena getting caught up in one of it’s attacks and leaving Asako to activate the device. Asako manages to succeed and save Baladandy, but it’s not quite enough to stop the Hakumen beast and even though Ushio and Tora manage to finish it off, it just starts regenerating. Helena decides there’s no other choice but to make the lab self-destruct and take the beast with it, but she herself has to be left behind because her injuries are too far gone
Seeing the strength displayed by the trio’s sense of trust and empathy, Helena is reminded of her own child and how she was unable to save him despite devoting so much of her life to science. She tells Asako that as a scientist she’s always felt that science has too many limitations and it’s those limitations that can drive scientists to do amoral things for the sake of progress, even if their intentions may have been in the right place at the start. Her last words to Asako are to keep moving forward so that everyone’s sacrifices aren’t in vain and with that Asako has to make the painful decision to leave her, and just barely makes it out herself thanks to Tora’s assistance. While that leaves things on somewhat of a downer note, Helena also managed to record another message for her colleagues stressing the importance of empathy and how people like Ushio and Asako may be what’s truly needed to put Hakumen down once and for all.
It’s not quite the show’s strongest material, but this makes for a pretty good note to leave things on for now. While I still don’t think the whole science as a metaphor for human nature thing works quite as well as the show thinks it does, it certainly does a much better job with that material than it did with last week’s episode. Once again I’m impressed at how quickly the show can establish everything it needs to regarding a character, and while there’s nothing too amazing about Helena’s story it certainly ties into the theme of the episode really well and it’s enough to make her death at the end a pretty tragic one. Though it’s also worth noting that said death has much more of an effect on Asako than it does Ushio, and while it may just have been a way to get those themes across again without having to use Ushio directly, I’m kinda hoping the show takes that somewhere since I certainly wouldn’t mind her having more prominence in things going forward.
As we head into the show’s season-long break, I have to admit it’s come quite a long ways from my initial expectations. I came into the series expecting a grungy testosterone fest and battles up the wazoo. While the show’s certainly delivered on that end of things I wasn’t expecting it to have nearly this much heart, and though it doesn’t do anything particularly original for a shonen, it delivers its cliches with a lot more emotional punch than I would have originally given it credit for. I’ll miss the series during its break and I’m looking forward to seeing how it manages to wrap everything up when it returns.
In Summary: Ushio & Tora ends
Ushio & Tora ends its first half in a literal bang as our lead duo races against the clock to beat the Hakumen beast and escape the lab. Though it’s not quite on the same level as the best stuff we’ve seen from the series, this episode managed to at least make the semi-repetitive nature of it’s themes work better as Helena’s inability to find the answers she wanted through science ties in pretty nicely with how Ushio and co’s sense of empathy is what allows them to find the strength they need and it makes her death in the end all the more effective. There’s no telling where the show will go next after it returns from its long break, but I’m still as excited as ever to check it out.
Streamed By: Crunchyroll, Hulu