Dororo Episode 4

Dororo Episode 4

The story of the cursed sword

This week’s episode of Dororo continued with the theme of using black and white (and red for blood) during flashbacks. I’m sure this was also done during the first two episodes, but the third episode is when I really noticed it due to how much of it was a flashback.

However, the flashback this time around doesn’t really follow a person, but instead follows a cursed sword called Nihiru. It just so happens that an unlucky man by the name of Tanosuke is the one Nihiru chooses to be its “master.” However, the sword is really the master of the relationship.

Cursed swords are a popular trope you’ll find in many shounen/action series, and they’re one that I’m completely okay with. I think part of the reason I’m fine with cursed swords is because they can be done in so many different ways.

Yes, all cursed swords give their users extraordinary power or skill, but they each take something different in return. In Dororo, Nihiru goes the more classic route and requires blood sacrifice in return for its power, but other examples would be Samehada from Naruto and Sandai Kitetsu from One Piece.

For reference, Samehada feeds on chakra and so either requires to be used against enemies (much like a bloodthirsty sword) or must simply be held by someone who has an immense amount of chakra of their own, like Kisame or Killer B. Sandai Kitetsu’s curse seems to deal with depriving it’s owner of their sense of direction.

I would have liked to see how Nihiru gained its curse after being used to commit atrocities over generations, but instead we simply got the story of how it came to belong to Tanosuke, which is fine too.

During a war, Tanosuke’s lord ordered him to execute some of his own men, to which Tanosuke refused. The lord then tossed him the cursed sword and told him to take his own life with it instead. However, upon unsheathing Nihiru, Tanosuke was overcome by its lust for blood and used it to execute everyone in the camp.

It’s unclear why exactly Tanosuke was chosen by Nihiru and not the lord or anyone else who had handled it earlier. Even when Dororo obtains Nihiru later on, the sword compels him to take it back to its owner, Tanosuke.

The Peddler

This week we were also introduced to the potential best girl of the series, not that there’s really been any competition for this title, though. The only two other female characters I can even think of are Hyakkimaru’s mother and the chieftain of that one village who turned out to be a demon in disguise.

Unfortunately, those two have names, Nuinokata and Bandai respectively, while this new girl doesn’t. So, I’ll simply be referring to her as the peddler from here on out. But why is the peddler the new best girl? She’s cute; that’s about it. Other than that she doesn’t have much going on.

Originally from a wealthy family the peddler lost her house, her land, and her money after her brother failed to return from the war he left for five years prior. Who was this brother? None other than Tanosuke, the one who wields the cursed sword Nihiru.

But, while the peddler might have a cute face, she doesn’t really seem to have the best personality. Yes, she wants her brother to come home, but she admits that she doesn’t care that he seems to be a completely different person now. What this tells me is that she simply wants him to come home with her so that she can reclaim their family’s wealth and land.

Further, she clearly knew that Tanosuke was the one who killed all the other peddlers on the road, and yet she still wanted him to come back to her. It’s probably better for her that he was killed in the end, because otherwise the sword would have made its way back to him and compelled him to kill her.

Dororo and Nihiru

And now let’s talk a bit about our titular character, Dororo. After Hyakkimaru’s initial fight against Tanosuke, his left leg and the cursed sword were thrown from a cliff. Dororo then goes to retrieve Hyakkimaru’s leg and finds that the sword is still embedded in it.

However, upon removing Nihiru from Hyakkimaru’s prosthetic leg, Dororo finds his body being controlled by it. But, instead of forcing Dororo to cut down anyone in sight, Nihiru is directing him towards Tanosuke so it can be reunited with him.

Dororo and the cursed sword Nihiru from the anime series Dororo
Dororo and the Cursed Sword Nihiru

But, before Dororo and Nihiru can make it to Tanosuke, they’re stopped by Hyakkimaru. Just as he could see when Tanosuke was holding Nihiru, all Hyakkimaru knows is that there’s a cursed sword being held by a human. Yes, he can probably see that this is a smaller human than before, but he doesn’t necessarily know that it’s Dororo.

At first it appears that Hyakkimaru is attempting to kill Dororo, but once he succeeds in knocking Nihiru out of Dororo’s hands, Dororo realizes that Hyakkimaru was simply trying to save him. Now, that’s good theoretically, but if we actually look at Hyakkimaru’s attacks we find that this wasn’t really the case.

Some of Hyakkimaru’s attacks towards Dororo were clearly meant to severely injure or kill the boy, not knock the sword out of his hands. For example, at one point he attempts to cut off Dororo’s legs, and Dororo just barely manages to dive over the blade. I don’t see how targeting Dororo’s legs would knock the sword out of his hands.

But, what do you think? Did it seem like Hyakkimaru was actually trying to kill Dororo at this point? I’m not saying he knew it was Dororo who was holding Nihiru, but to me it still seemed like he was going for the kill despite knowing that only the sword housed a demon, and not the one wielding it.

Conclusion

At the end of the episode, Hyakkimaru kills Tanosuke, and with his death the cursed sword Nihiru’s blade snaps, signifying that the demon had been defeated as well. We can also see that the blade has once again become rusty, which is another sign that it’s no longer cursed.

Hyakkimaru then has his ears returned to him, and for the first time he can hear the world around him. The first two sounds he hears are the rain coming down and the peddler crying over Tanosuke’s body, which could be read as symbolism for the state of the world in which Hyakkimaru lives.

As with the previous episodes, I enjoyed this one, though I did feel it was a bit on the weak side. I’m interested in finding out if you felt the same way, so let me know your thoughts on Dororo episode 4 in the comments.

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My review of the next episode is available here.

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