Dororo Episode 7

Dororo Episode 7

The story of the Jorogumo silk spider

Let’s start off today’s Dororo episode review with a bit of etymology, because I quite liked doing that last week. Today’s word is Jorōgumo (じょろうぐも), which is a kind of monster in Japanese folklore that can shapeshift between a spider and a human woman.

Because the word Jorōgumo already implies that it’s a spider monster of some sort, it seems to me that adding “silk spider” after it in the title may be a bit unnecessary. However, this may simply be an addition to the English title, and perhaps the Japanese title is simply, “The story of the Jorogumo.”

So, what exactly does this spider monster do in Dororo? It captures unsuspecting travelers in its web and then sucks out their life force to feed. However, what’s interesting about this particular monster is that it doesn’t actually kill its victims.

Instead, as we learn later on, by simply draining their life forces and then releasing them, this monster is able to have a sustainable food source. It’s also important to note that while their life force is being drained, the victims appear to be stuck in a good dream.

This is significant because if they knew they were attacked by a giant, spider monster, they would surely tell others, and the monster would be hunted down.

At the beginning of this episode, Dororo and Hyakkimaru comes across this monster while it’s feeding on a traveler. But, despite Hyakkimaru severely injuring it, the monster escapes and eventually makes its way into the nearby village when a passerby finds a woman (the monster) collapsed on the side of the road.

Kidnapper

Upon arriving in the village, Dororo and Hyakkimaru learn that a mysterious kidnapper has been making villagers disappear every night. To Dororo, this sounds like it could be the work of the spider monster, and since there’s a reward for the kidnapper’s capture, a good way to make money.

However, after staking out the village entrance for multiple nights in a row, the pair haven’t noticed any sign of the spider monster despite more reports of kidnappings. So, is the monster really the one behind these disappearances?

Dororo and Hyakkimaru from the anime series Dororo
Dororo and Hyakkimaru

As it turns out, no. The kidnapper is none other than the man, Yajiro, who took in the monster in her human form. And, he’s not even really a kidnapper. It would be more apt to refer to him as a human smuggler who helps people escape the circumstances of their village.

This village is actually a mining village owned by a lord who works the villagers like slaves. Because of this, it’s not surprising that many villagers wish to flee and start new lives elsewhere. In fact, we even get a glimpse of how the other villagers view this supposed kidnapper.

They essentially see him as a Robin Hood-like person who protects the weak from their lord. And, not only do the villagers know there isn’t really a kidnapper, but so too do the guards who work for the lord and post the rewards for his capture in the village center.

Everyone around understands that these people are escaping, not being kidnapped, but the rewards continue to be posted for two reasons:

  • Maybe someone will be swayed into snitching on the “kidnapper.”
  • By labeling them as a “kidnapper,” the local government is refusing to admit that anyone would want to escape.

It’s important not to underestimate how important this second reason is. Controlling how your subjects think is an extremely powerful tool, and spreading misinformation is an effective way to do this. Even when everyone knows the “official” stance is a lie, the fact that the ruling party has an official stance on a matter is enough to keep most people in line.

Escape

So, as previously mentioned, the smuggler has brought the monster into his village and home unknowingly because she disguised herself as a human woman. And, although she originally planned to suck out his life force to sustain herself, she was struck by how he saw all life as equal, even humans and cockroaches.

Just as she doesn’t kill humans when she feeds off them, this man doesn’t kill creatures which would normally be seen as lower than him as well. Now, I get that this is supposed to be their connection to each other, but as I’ll get to in the next section, it doesn’t really hold up under scrutiny.

Yajiro then names the woman Ohagi after she says she doesn’t have a name, and Ohagi resigns herself to not feeding on humans while living in the village. But, she doesn’t actually get sustenance from human food despite thinking it tastes good, which means she only weakens as the days pass.

Eventually Yajiro decides to help Ohagi escape from the village so that she can seek medical attention in another town (this one doesn’t have a doctor). It’s during this escape that the pair run into Dororo and Hyakkimaru, who then try to defeat the monster, still thinking that she’s behind the kidnappings.

Ohagi and Yajiro from the anime series Dororo
Ohagi and Yajiro

This is also when we learn that not only was the reward for catching the kidnapper a trap to get someone from the village to snitch, but the reward was never going to be paid out anyway. It’s likely that whoever snitched on Yajiro would be sentenced along with him as a co-conspirator.

Finally, in order to protect herself, and Yajiro, from the village guards and Hyakkimaru, Ohagi reveals her true nature and form. But, despite learning that she really is a monster, Yajiro still believes that Ohagi thinks life is precious just like he does.

The “Good” Ghoul

So, now it’s time to take a look at the discrepancies in this week’s episode. Let’s start with the one that basically invalidates the entire plot of the episode, the fact that Ohagi and Yajiro don’t share the same values when it comes to all life being equal.

Exhibit A: Yajiro spares the life of a cockroach while Ohagi kills a fly.

This may seem trivial, but it’s a key distinction between the two. In both cases the insects were attracted to Ohagi’s bowl of rice (or similar food), and yet each insect meets a very different fate. If Ohagi really thought all life was equal and precious, she wouldn’t have killed the fly.

Exhibit B: Ohagi only leaves humans alive because it’s more convenient for her.

Humans are her food source, and killing them outright would mean decreasing her potential supply of meals. She basically treats humans like domesticated animals, not like equals. If the killing of the fly didn’t invalidate her claim that all life is equally precious, this certainly does.

But, while Ohagi may not have really grown out of seeing humans or other life forms as beneath her, she has gained an amount of respect for them, or at least for Yajiro specifically. In the end, the pair are able to escape from the village after Hyakkimaru stands down.

Interestingly, although she’s a ghoul (not a demon), we see that the color of her soul shifts at the end from red to yellow. My assumption is that this signifies a change in her heart and shows that she’s not a threat any longer, despite not being of this world.

Also, the fact that she’s considered a ghoul and not a demon is important because if she were a demon, Hyakkimaru would have had to kill her to regain a part of himself.

Conclusion

So what did you think of this week’s episode of Dororo? I enjoyed it, but I don’t think it was as good as the previous episode. I’d rather have mini arcs that build up to the main conclusion than these standalone episodes which don’t even have a real effect on the plot.

If you enjoyed this review or found it helpful, then click the like button ❤ down below. Also, give me a follow over on Twitter @DoubleSama so you don’t miss out on any upcoming posts or potential schedule changes. You can even tweet at me and I’ll probably respond.

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My review of the next episode is available here.

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