Ushio Aotsuki is a stubborn middle school student and son of an eccentric temple priest who goes about life without care for his father's claims regarding otherworldly monsters known as youkai. However, as he is tending to the temple while his father is away on work, his chores lead him to a shocking discovery: in the basement he finds a menacing youkai impaled by the fabled Beast Spear.
The beast in question is Tora, infamous for his destructive power, who tries to coerce Ushio into releasing him from his five hundred year seal. Ushio puts no trust in his words and refuses to set him free. But when a sudden youkai outbreak puts his friends and home in danger, he is left with no choice but to rely on Tora, his only insurance being the ancient spear if he gets out of hand.
Ushio and Tora's meeting is only the beginning of the unlikely duo's journey into the depths of the spiritual realm. With the legendary Beast Spear in his hands, Ushio will find out just how real and threatening the world of the supernatural can be.
Tons of adjectives can be used to describe a show like Ushio to Tora. Fierce, powerful, and mystical are just a few of them. But for one, Ushio to Tora is a series that most people probably didn’t think would get a revamp again in the modern ages. After all, the series did get an official OVA series that debuted over a decade ago. A television adaptation would obviously expand on what originally started - a world where youkai exists and a young man realizing what destiny has in stored for him.
Based on the manga of the same name, Ushio to Tora (also known as
Ushio and Tora) is essentially a supernatural battle shounen. It also has a sort of old school feeling attached to it that translates into a modern fantasy story. We meet Ushio and Tora in the very first episode. And taking at a first glance, Ushio can be described easily as a typical young boy with a hot-blooded attitude full of energy but also kind at heart. Tora on the other hand is anything but ordinary. He is literally a demon with beast features and a menacing face. The show establishes the idea that Tora (named by Ushio) wants to eat humans including Ushio’s friends. The downside of his plan is that Ushio has control of the Beast Spear, a powerful object that he fears. With no way to accomplish his goal, Tora begins a rather unusual relationship with the young boy.
I have to admit, Ushio to Tora is pretty straightforward as a series in the shounen department. The first few episodes easily sends the message that Ushio’s life can no longer be the same as youkai, demons, and spirits invades his space. Whenever this happens, he is thrown into a life-or-death situation and it’s up to him to stop it and at times, his unlikely partner Tora. Maybe I should requote that and say more of “dependent”. Tora seems always reluctant to lend a hand because the irony is that he wants to devour Ushio himself. Get the picture now? This puts them on an oddball fence as Ushio himself is also in danger everyday being so close to Tora. Nonetheless, the story progresses and we see their bizarre relationship transform into more of loyalty, attachment, and even respect. This idea can really pique viewers’ interests because it shows how a man can get along with a beast. It’s also interesting to see the two learn from one another despite having almost nothing in common. Furthermore, Tora begins to display human behavior throughout the show which is something that can be quite fascinating to explore.
Despite being the core characters of the series, there are also other characters gets that gets involved in the story. Ushio’s friends, Asako and Mayako, are prime examples of what friends really should be. Although their personalities are different, they display courage, trust, and is always willing to lend a hand to their friends when needed. There’s also some subtle romance that can easily be realized from the beginning with them and Ushio. And likewise, the show doesn’t forget to establish their position and role including background stories. These are important to show their connections to the supernatural occurrences that happen throughout the series. While this isn’t a big surprise, it does give more prestige to their role in the story as opposed to them being just an outsider. Of course, the series introduces even more characters with supernatural origins that gets directly involved with the bizarre events. They are diversely introduced ranging from skilled exorcists, Kamaitachi, and spirits. What’s also interesting is how they all grow to accept their roles because of Ushio’s actions. As Ushio learns more about his past, we see how he uses his own ways to help them and in return, they return the favor. Not all of them are like this though as each character in the show has their own motives and reasonings.
Now, the show will take small bits of patience to get used to. Anyone coming into the series completely fresh will question about the structure of the story. The first half of the series has an episodic nature with even bits of slice of life. Each of those episodes introduces the Big Bad while we see how Ushio and Tora solve these problems. Of course, the characters in these episodes have an overall connection to the series’ main premise. What can upset viewers is the pacing as it can quickly become repetitive. Luckily, there are two factors that can spark more interest. First, each of those standalone episodes has some sort of message that also involves interpersonal conflicts. Some of these can be easily relatable such as an overprotective parent, revenge, or self-doubt. In retrospect, the show has a clear way of its purpose each episode. Later on, we see that there’s a central antagonist for the story and we even learn the true visage of the Beast Spear.
Even as a series with a darker premise, it still finds time for comedy. Most of this comes from the character interactions in particular Ushio and Tora. Just seeing them bicker shows how much they are alike and different the same time that turns into comically scenarios. Tora’s lack of common sense such as how a TV works is also quite amusing. In general, the comedy comes from the behavior of the characters rather than the events that occur. As a show that can easily balance between lighthearted comedy and its darker storytelling, it can be quite appreciated.
MAPPA is the official studio for the adaptation and from my experience, the series is exactly how it should be. The art style retains the familiarly from the manga although character designs looks slightly more generic. Nonetheless, the violence is still there and crafted with clear precision. Tora’s wild nature is also accurately made to show what he is capable of. On most parts, the modern setting is depicted well alongside spiritual objects and the prominent Beast Spear. In addition, the action has a smooth choreography and connects with the fighting movements. The most fascinating thing about the artwork is the monster designs. Every supernatural being discovered in the show gives off a bizarre sense of feeling and they are designed to look dangerous. As a testimony of their appearance, we can also see what they capable of that matches with their features. Finally, as I have mentioned before, the show has an old school like feeling that can easily be felt.
On most parts, the soundtrack works well for the show. There are occasional ill-timed choreography with its soundtrack but most of is met with expectations. From the thrilling action to the charismatic OP and ED theme songs, each episode delivers its soundtrack as it should. The character voice mannerism are impressive for most of the non-human creatures in particular Tora and the central antagonist that we meet later. The sinister vibe for any monsters in the series can be recognized by their voice mannerism. On the other hand, Ushio is less distinctive alongside the human character cast. It’s not bad but hardly something to write home about.
Ushio to Tora really is a supernatural battle shounen to take home at heart. The manga has over 300+ chapters and this adaptation covers two parts (2 cour of 26 episodes with an additional 13 episodes to air in Spring 2016). With that being said, there’s a good amount of faith to trust despite some early pacing issues. What we have here is more than just about a boy and a beast co-existing in the same world. It’s more about how they adapt and learn from one another. Through it storytelling with convincing technical features and clever ideas, Ushio to Tora is a unique gem for a revival. Ushio’s adventures takes him to places that he’ll never forget and hopefully, this show will be a part of your memories as well.
I was inclined to write this review because every other review for this show before they started being removed had less than 12 episodes seen, which means it was still in the "monster of the week" formula and it still had the potential to become something interesting.
Disclaimer i dropped this show at the end of the first cour (12 episodes) because while it tried to start to have a plot it was still episodic. I should have dropped it for good because the plot that started to appear is nothing special or even creative, the episodic stories about different monsters are far more interesting than
the main story.
i will give a rundown for the topics:
Story: It started episodic, which is fine but it took to long to start with the bigger story, more than half this show (13 eps) are of monster that we will never see again. But now for the actual story, should i say its "generic", i dont really wanna use that word but you are not getting here anything new or creative, the villain also doesnt have any motivation besides being evil. The villain is also super all powerful and nothing can defeat it except for our special snowflake protagonist with his super secret powerful weapon.
Nothing fascinating about it, it has been done a million times already and much better than it is done here
Art and Animation: Really well done and it has a nice 80's/90's feel to it, looks really good. Still nothing super impressive about it like from other shows but it looks nice and it is consistently good
Sound: this is the one i have no clue what to give it, i liked the op but i didnt really feel any impact from the soundtrack in itself. I dont really remember anything from the OST, and it didnt really feel impactful during the show but it didnt feel out of place either. So i guess the score of average not good but not bad perfectly describes the sound for Ushio to Tora
Characters: At first i loved them, i still love Tora he is the high point of the show but he isnt enough, the side characters are all uninteresting and the biggest problem of the show has become Ushio.
Ok spoilers in this paragraph so i can explain why. The reason i say this is because he hasn't developed one bit, he is still the same exact person he was at the start, his "strategy" to fight any and all youkai is full frontal attack, which not surprisingly always fails. So the show becomes super repetitive because of this, Ushio has to save everyone as is typical of every shounen Mc but the only way he goes about defeating youkai is running at them and trying to poke em with a spear, over and over again. The youkai eventually wins over Ushio and then Tora comes in and saves his ass. EVERY SINGLE TIME. And to someone who as almost died 7+ times during the show you would expect Ushio to develop a bit and start thinking of other ways to go about it, unfortunately he doesnt so it feels like you are in a loop with different youkai to beat in each episode. Even when the story starts to develop he just stays the same.
Villain is just boring, its the same thing we have come to expect from these shows. Pure dark, no motivation for actually doing what he does except for the fact that it is evil. I would talk more about why the villain sucks but it would go into spoiler territory, so ill leave it at its boring.
Tora is the best thing about this show without a doubt, he is entertaining to watch he develops through the show and hes actually interesting. He does have a problem with his power level tho, its all over the place.
Every other character doesn't matter, no really they don't. They aren't even particularly interesting and when one actually is interesting at the start he just becomes a boring one after a few episodes, only there to help Ushio and Tora.
Enjoyement: It is clear that i am not enjoying this show, i dropped it once and then caught up to it again, but it was hard to do so because of how uninteresting this show was. If i wasnt watching it while it was airing i wouldnt have given it a second thought (dropping it). This show is something i watch in the evening so that i can focus on other things, because it destroys my desire to watch anime for the rest of the day. Even watching this show sped up like 1.5x the normal speed doesnt help (at least for me), it is a great show to put yourself to sleep with.
I dont know if i should mention that i almost always fall asleep on the second half of the episodes. Because some people will say that the reason i find it uninteresting is because i did sleep through it. Its not like the story is hard to follow, in fact its pretty basic. I did eventually watch the parts i slept through to see if i had missed anything important. This show has the highest score for making me fall asleep which in itself is actually a pretty big deal.
+ Art style and animation
+ 80's feel
- Ushio and side characters
- Repetitive monster of the week show
- The actual plot latter on
- Character development
This show might work for some people, especially people who havent seen many shounens of this type. It does have some pretty fun first episodes, which made me stick to it. The second half of the show is just boring. I now know the reason why they kept the episodic gig for so long, because the actual plot is uninteresting compared to it.
Ok so after finishing the last 3 episodes i have to say that, the animation of this show + artstyle works really well for it, unfortunately it still has the problems i listed before (it also seemed the relationship of our mains regressed on the last episodes, and again Tora got an amazing random power for no reason at all). I stand by my word, this show should be skipped because it doesnt do anything special.
Adaptions of older manga works are always a pleasant change to the current ones, as these often have a slightly different execution or narrative to the more modern adaptations: besides, the art style can be an interesting aspect to it as well. In the case of Ushio to Tora, it was a disappointment: although it started with a generic, yet interesting premise, its execution was bad and repetitive , and the characters were uninteresting, as well as underdeveloped. In addition, it was amassed with all shōnen clichés together, the art style being the positive aspect of the anime.
The story of Ushio to Tora is generic,
centered around Ushio, a teenager whose father plagues him with an ancient story of an ancestor impaling a demon with a legendary Beast Spear. Naturally, the protagonist refuses to believe such nonsense, but to his surprise he encounters the very same impaled demon, releasing the spirits surrounding it; Ushio's friends being targeted by these, he is left with no other option then to retrieve the legendary spear, and with that, the demon itself. What will the consequences be for the young boy? Was it really worth it?
The premise is interesting, making the viewer question what the consequences are for releasing the demon. This is done initially through events of episodic nature, introducing Ushio's life and his surroundings, whilst presenting the hardships dealing with the demon that goes by the name of Tora. There are some comedic elements present as well, which in some cases are amusing, yet was overall rather uninteresting and repetitive. It is also dedicated to introducing the various characters, as well slowly showing audiences with the different types of monsters in the world, essentially making it a "villain of the week" type of show. Nevertheless, these are interesting, which seemingly hints at the bigger events to come linked with both the spear and the demon; which it does, yet this is where all the issues with the anime begin.
First of all, when actual story developments takes place, this is not innovative, and is badly done: it is very generic, and often done better in other anime/manga with similar content, being the progression as well as the pacing inconsistent. This often caused by the characters themselves, but this will be discussed later on. Another issue are the action scenes in the anime: these are throughout the whole story basically the same and tensionless, with Ushio always rushing in head straight and loosing, consequently being saved by someone else. The power levels are very inconsistent as well, characters being stronger or weaker whenever the plot demands it or is convenient for story progression.
The story itself could have worked out well, if it wasn't for the characters: these were basically the main issue with Ushio to Tora, as the story relied heavily on them. The cast of character presented are not huge, yet sufficient for the story: these were in addition varied, ranging from diverse demons, humans, and organizations. The problem was that most of these were uninteresting, generic and one-dimensional, the majority having no convincing motives for their actions, besides of changing in their actions and motives whenever it was convenient for the plot. The fact that characters didn't undergo any development or fleshing out wasn't of any aid either. These issues were very clear when actual story development took place, the episodic ones had actually some interesting characters as well as motives.
Other problem is the main character Ushio; he is the typical shonen protagonist, dumb, and values life and friendship above everything. He tries to solve his problems with shouting and rushes into fights without any thought. He hardly develops throughout the series, and fleshing out is nearly nihil as well: as a character he was hardly likeable at all, at some points even becoming annoying. However, what kept the anime somewhat interesting was Tora, who underwent character development as well as some fleshing out, as opposed to Ushio, albeit not huge either; in fact, I personally would have liked to know more about the demon's past. Tora could be described as one of the biggest Tsundere character in anime, yet with its own personality and motives. These were however rather lackluster as well, and the change in character was a bit too drastic for my likes, which however was a bit unavoidable given the nature of the anime.
The main villain of the story was certainly of interest, yet its motives were lackluster. The background information provided for these were alluring, which could be said for the different demons as well. In fact, I found myself much more interested in the demons and their backgrounds, as well as their motives, which couldn't be said about the humans. The organization to ward against demons was of interest, yet was never really expanded on, which was a drawback personally.
~Animation and sound~
One thing that can be said about Ushio to Tora is that the art style is alluring and very detailed in some cases, especially for the various demon designs - that certainly took quite some work to implement. These were often very interesting, menacing, their design intriguing the viewer for its story. As for the humans, these were somewhat varied but distinguishable, and different of current anime, which was a welcoming change. The backgrounds were well done, being detailed and befitting of the atmosphere it was trying to portray. As for the animation quality, this was well done, with fluid motions; it didn't really shine because the fights were too repetitive.
The soundtrack use in the anime was passable as a whole with some well implemented compositions, yet as a whole forgettable, which could be said about the openings and endings as well. It must be said that the opening theme was suitable for the anime. The voice actor performed their roles well, yet in some cases, because of the one-dimensional characters such as Ushio, could get a bit annoying.
Despite all the problems Ushio to Tora had, I personally enjoyed a bit, especially the beginning of the anime: what however was very disappointing was the remainder of it, being badly written, with uninteresting and generic characters with no real motives. I personally enjoyed the different demons presented, as well as the art style of the anime. It was recently announced that the 2nd season of the series was greenlit, which I sincerely hope will be much better than this one. I really can't recommend Ushio to Tora, unless viewers don't mind the generic characters and story, or have the intention of watching the 2nd season.
Depending on who you are, this show might tickle your fancy. Or it might be that stale TV dinner you've eaten alone in your bedroom at night for the third time this week. For me at least, it accomplished tickling my feet and making me giggle like a schoolgirl only to have an odd desire to kill something with a spear.
Straight to the point, this show is a good action series with some insane moments. There's always that hair-raising transformation Ushio goes through and occasional demon-like smile that makes the show what it is. Just some good ol action. If you're willing to give
it a couple of episodes, i'd say this show won't betray you.
The downsides to this show is that it can be a bit repetitive. It kind of recycles similar moments in the show so some encounters seem like deja vu. That and the overly moral nature of the main character can come off as a bit forced and turn you off depending on who you are. This show will just come down to a personal enjoyment factor.
For me, I enjoyed it a lot. It is a hell of a lot better than most recent anime, but it's definitely not an epic everyone will talk about. Just a little above average. For a more fair rating, i'd give it a 7/10. But, because i'm biased for my love of this show, i'll give it an 8/10.
The spring season is coming and you don't want to be left behind before it's even become. Now is the best time to get all caught up on the anime that have sequels airing next season so you can join in on the hype.