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):
We’re finally inching towards the end of Ushio and Tora’s journey as the show now hits its penultimate episode. After spending the last few weeks battling Hakumen, it’s all coming down to a one-on-one standoff between our heroes and the monster, and it’s one that’s chockful of just about every shonen trope you’d expect from that kind of set-up. Of course it’s hard to deny what works, and this episode certainly knows that, as it all helps to lay the groundwork for a strong finale.
As Hakumen continues to be pushed back. and everyone starts to overcome their fear, the beast begins to wonder where it all went wrong. He soon realizes that Ushio and Tora are the real problem here, and lures them into a one-on-one battle so he can finish them off himself. This proves to be a bit trickier than our heroes accounted for as Hakumen unleashes the full force of his powers, and ends up using the duo’s strengths against them. With the battle in his favor, Hakumen proclaims that the two of them are weak, and that whatever desire they have to help others is nothing more than a sense of self-satisfaction that’s there to make up for that weakness. Ushio doesn’t entirely disagree with that notion, but he feels that even if it’s just self-satisfaction on his part, he still can’t help but reach out to others. Hakumen vows that his darkness will drag everyone into the night, but if Hakumen’s the night then Ushio and Tora are fighting with the sun on their side, and the light they’ve spread over the course of their journey has touched the hearts of everyone they’ve encountered.
This light of hope continues to reach Ushio’s friends as they all continue fighting off Hakumen’s forces, and while Ushio tries to channel some of that hope himself, the Beast Spear’s curse begins to take effect. Tora tries to use the power of the Azafuse in order to save him, but they claim that Tora doesn’t need their power as he’s already far stronger than they are and it’s all thanks to meeting Ushio as journeying with helped Tora to discover something greater than his hatred of Hakumen. While the Azafuse have long since given into their hate, seeing Tora’s change inspires them to help the duo defeat Hakumen, and sacrifice themselves in order to weaken his powers. Now Hakumen’s finding himself on the defensive again as Ushio and Tora realize that for all of his posturing, he’s as afraid of the Beast Spear as any of the other yokai, and in fact envies both the spear, and Ushio himself for the strength he’s gained through inspiring others. It’s some effective irony, and a good note to close out on before heading into the finale.
Everything here is about as straightforward as you can get with these tropes, but that doesn’t make the delivery any less effective. The real climax of Ushio and Tora’s journey here isn’t in defeating Hakumen, it’s in realizing the importance of reaching out to others, and understanding that it’s a power that can’t be gained by giving into fear and rejection. Again it’s a really simple message, but it’s only when the execution is as strong as it is here that it manages to leave a lasting impression. Now that the show’s managed to deliver on it’s big statement, it’s onto the finale for next week, and if this episode is any indication, I have no doubts it’ll be a strong one.
Ushio and Tora’s battle against Hakumen reaches it’s climax, as the duo finds themselves locked in a one-on-one battle with the monster. While Hakumen’s powers initially prove to be more than the two of them can handle, it’s the strength displayed how much they’ve helped others, that gives them the opening they need to strike back. That strength proves to be the show’s biggest message here, and now that it’s managed to sell it, it’s finally time for everything to come to a close.
Streamed By: Crunchyroll, Hulu