As per the standard in shonen series, as well as any series that isn’t trying to make you leave with an overall feeling of dread and depression, a hero’s darkest moment always comes before their brightest. With Ushio having fallen in battle and the Beast Spear shattering into a whole bunch of tiny, sparkly pieces, things were not looking up for the forces of good. However, because of magic, emotions and all that fun stuff that makes the good guys good, Ushio and the spear that could, would and did persist through the ages are ready to take another swing at the horrifying amalgamation of evil that is currently razing Japan to the ground. Which is good…because of the whole razing Japan to the ground thing, that should really be stopped.
Catching the tail end of Kirio’s tale of the Beast Spear, we are made aware that Mayuko, Mama Ushio, Jie Mei and that split in half mirror guy are up to speed with Tora’s past, saving Ushio a whole lot of time in the explanation department. Bolstered by this knowledge, the pillar-in-the-middle-of-the-ocean crew set about creating a kick ass barrier that will seal Hakumen no Mono once again, because that is a totally solid plan that won’t backfire for at least another 800 years or so. Take that future people, fox-bird-horse is gonna be your problem. Regardless of this, Ushio is raring and ready to go and kick some Hakumen butt with the help of that Stone Eater armour that he left lying around in that submarine he stole…which is totally a thing that happened. Never forget that. As for how he is going to stand up to Hakumen, we do not know and a large part of me thinks Ushio doesn’t either, but who cares about that? We’ve had our climb from the depths of darkness, we have our hero who will now fight with love for all instead of hatred for one, it’s pretty much a shonen sealed deal at this point. Though I would certainly feel better if the Beast Spear was around…
Oh wait, the Beast Spear is totally around. Remember how it shattered, well now those little bitty fragments are zip zooming all over Japan curing one of the most intentionally evil cases of amnesia that has ever been. With allies in shelters across the currently on fire country of Japan, the sudden collective recollection of the one called Ushio is as well received by characters in universe as it was by me. I mean finally, right? As much as I enjoyed how the series handled everybody forgetting about their champion with the long hair and angry eyes, it was oh so satisfying to see those mind jacking servants of Hakumen get a Beast Shard right through them. With their memories returned, which is especially nice for Asako, those who Ushio has helped in one way or another throughout his journey spread word of his strength and courage to the panicking civilians. With hope slowly returning to Japan via the few who refuse to let it die, Hakumen is left slightly nettled and vows to destroy everything…moreso than it was before. Sure it sounds a little silly, but I kind of enjoy how Hakumen shows moments of pettiness and frustration, so far it has been our only witnessable crack in its armour, since lord knows its nigh on impossible to hurt physically. It also conveys how the Beast Spear may actually do some serious damage to the creature, when wielded properly of course. No hatred for protagonists, only love and friendship. Though I will admit that the situation is looking a little more positive than it was when Ushio went beast mode all by his lonesome, I still don’t blame the guy, but this latest attempt carries a much stronger scent of victory.
By far the strongest portion of this episode was the rallying call to battle. With their memories returned, the yokai of the East and West realise that they have been kind of dumb in their attempts to punch evil in the face with a really big fist and make haste to Ushio. Combined with the words of Asako, Yuu, visions of Ushio’s friends and a timely interjection by a professional wrestler (who’s claims of being on the plane Ushio save are totally true, I checked, dude’s legitimately in episode 8, props for continuity), the series really captures the idea that Japan has united against this impossible threat. Not just the humans, or the yokai of the East and West, or even the Beast Spear and its wielder; everybody. In one of those moments that only occurs when a tremendous peril faces a country, everything now stands poised to fight Hakumen no Mono in their own way. Which is subtly awesome. Rather than cramming everyone on the front lines, the allies of good are somewhat scattered at the moment. As spunky as Asako is, she is far from standing a chance against anything Hakumen can dish out, so having her spark hope in an evacuation shelter is a nice application of her knowledge and courage. At this point Ushio still thinks she’s dead, so that places her even further from directly aiding combat. Sure he’ll probably bump into her during the climactic battle, or hear her voice call to him at a pivotal moment, but right now everyone is doing what they can, not necessarily what they wish they could. Except for the Beast spear, that thing can do whatever it wants apparently.
So with an army of yokai in tow, recently inspired by a “you guys are all my friends speech”, Ushio is dashing straight into the final conflict. The Beast Spear is on the move in fractured form and Tora lies dangling from Hakumen’s mouth…which is not good. In addition to really reminding everyone how powerful Hakumen is, with Tora losing so spectacularly, this particular snack is just icing on the we hate Hakumen cake. If for some reason the annihilation of Japan wasn’t enough to enrage you, this will certainly make things personal. Of course Hakumen doesn’t hold personal grudges that well, considering it just figured out that Tora is the one who birthed it, presenting an obvious lack in omniscience. But that is for another time my friends. As this episode was most assuredly to set the stage for the final battle, it reminded us of the path our hero has walked to reach this point. With an impact that has nver been forgotten, even by those with the slightest connection to him, Ushio has changed the hearts of man and monster alike. Hell, he may have even changed the Beast Spear itself. After all, what weapon forged and shaped in hatred would seek out Ushio’s friends and heal them? None that I can think of. But, a weapon that has learned that hatred can only carry you so far, well, there’s a weapon that might fight for its allies instead of its own blood soaked agenda. It’s just a shame that it took so long for it to learn that lesson…
Ushio and Tora can be found, doing what they do, over on Crunchyroll