Ushio thinks his father's tale of an ancient ancestor impaling a demon on a temple altar stone with the legendary Beast Spear is nuts, but when he finds the monster in his own basement, Ushio has to take another look at the family legend! Fortunately, Ushio knows it's best to let sleeping dogs lie and leave captured demons where they are. Unfortunately, the release of the monster's evil energies begins to beckon other demons to Ushio's hometown! To save his friends and family from the invading spirits, Ushio is forced to release Tora from his captivity. But will the cure prove to be worse than the curse? Will Ushio end his life a Tora-snack? Or will the Beast Spear keep Tora in line long enough to save the city?
A little while ago, Mappa announced that one of their future projects would be an adaptation of an old classic manga and sometime around February, they revealed that the manga they'd be adapting would be Ushio to Tora - a title I've never heard of prior to the announcement, but quick research showed that it was long-running shonen series about a boy and his animal guardian. I also discovered that it was adapted into a series of OVAs in the early 90s and figured I might as well sample those for myself before I dive into the remake considering the little research I did indicated
that it'd be to Mappa what Hunter x Hunter is to Madhouse, and we all know by now how I feel about Hunter x Hunter. Couldn't find the original Japanese version, but the dub was tolerable enough - unlike the original Hunter x Hunter's, which is so bad that I think people willingly drilled their ears after hearing it. So what'd I think of it? Well let's get into what the series is about first.
Long story short, Ushio to Tora is basically Natsume's Book of Friends as a shonen action series. It's got the relationship between a normal kid who can kick demon ass and a talking cat who threatens the kid just as much as he saves him from danger just like Natsume, but instead of wanting to heal demon's hearts (although there's some of that in this series) they're out to prevent 'em from eating people's heads off. And of course, Ushio doesn't have Natsume's personality at all, acting more like every kid shonen hero out there from the bull-headed determination to his obliviousness to girls - not helped by the fact that his two childhood friends belong to the opposite sex, one of whom is a tsundere and that's pretty much all you need to know and the other is basically that friend you talk to a lot and that can cause misunderstandings if you overdose on said discussions. But not having Natsume's personality is a good thing in this show's case, because I can't see Natsume surviving Tora's antics, let alone the demons that aren't willing to compromise at all when it comes to snacking on human flesh.
The basic hook of the series is that after accidentally discovering the giant tiger in his basement, Ushio unleashes some kind of spell that attracts all sorts of demons to his area and in order to fight them, he must use a magic spear that turns him into an instant fighter and makes his hair grow long for some reason. However, since the spear was the only thing keeping Tora sealed, and since Tora is also a demon who feasts on humans, he has to keep the tiger in line and Tora isn't exactly a nice guy to begin with. I don't think I'm spoiling anything here when I say that the main appeal of the show is their relationship and how it grows from really grudging allies to slight less grudging allies, and I'm definitely not spoiling anything when I say that other than that, there's nothing really all that special about these ten episodes that you couldn't get from something like YuYu Hakusho or Inuyasha aside from the fact that there are some mass casualties in the real world.
Ushio to Tora, to put it lightly, is a big product of its time and unless you're a huge fan of the shonen action genre or have nostalgia for the 90s, there's not really much to get excited for here. Now since there's only ten episodes, the series only covers the smaller arcs that make up the beginning of the manga without getting into anything real meaty; but even by those standards, the arcs themselves aren't exactly the most engaging things, mostly consisting of basic monster-of-the-week stuff that introduces one or two new plot elements into the mix, but not much more than that. The last one sort of gets interesting due to its environmental agenda, but the fact that you need to resort to that lame method of instilling importance into your story doesn't really speak well of the entire product. Seriously, was environmentalism as big in manga as it was for American films/cartoons back in the late 80s/early 90s? Was everyone just trying to copy Miyazaki during that period?
The humor is also pretty dated, being as basic shonen as it gets, with a mix of "I don't really love him" humor from the tsundere childhood friend. Just about the only jokes that amused me was when Tora was interacting with humanity and getting screwed for it, and it wasn't exactly comedy that would make the Brits smirk. In fact, that pretty much describes Tora in general. Like I said, he's the only real interesting character and his relationship with Ushio is the only big draw the show has amongst all the other tepid cliches. But even that positive point is hampered by the fact that he's not exactly Hobbes or even Nyanko-sensei in terms of personality. It's really hard to describe his appeal in words beyond the basics I've already outlined, so all I can say is he's similar to Hades from Disney's version of Hercules in that he's the one lone bright spot due to how amusing he is, but not enough to really carry the entire product.
Not that I'm saying the product isn't fun, because it is. Kinda. Well, it's passable at the very least. But passable ain't good enough for me I'm afraid, and it doesn't help that unless it's really well-executed, the kind of product that Ushio to Tora is will never be able to really grab me. I'll still be watching the remake because...well have you seen the rest of the Summer anime? It's got to be better than 90% of them. And at the end of the day, I'm still really interested in seeing what Mappa does with the project. But unless they add something real meaty to the original material, it'll probably just be something I watch once and forget over time. Assuming it doesn't go longer than my patience will allow me to keep it on, that is. How many cours is that remake anyways? The original manga is over 33 volumes and given Mappa's high hopes for the project, I'm afraid it'll go on for a long LONG time.
An Anime Classic, and must watch, Ushio and Tora is one of those good to see old-school animes. After watching a continuum of new Girl Meets Boy, and Gothic over tone anime I decided to do some looking up for something different. Luckly I stumbled on a game that recently came out for the PSP called Shonen Sunday Vs Shonen Magazine which featured many famous Anime and Manga Icons (I.E. Inuyasha, Negi, Ikki, etc), Ushio was one of the selectable characters. I was really interested in the character to begin with and decided to look up everything about it.
The series started out as a 33
vol. manga that was featured in Shonen Jump Sunday, which eventually won the Shogakukan Manga Award in 1992. The manga quickly became a 10 episode seires which was a shortened version of the Manga but depicting many of Ushio's and Tora's main battles.
The story is pretty solid and resembles many themes to Animes based on Japanese mythology. The main character Ushio was forced to release a demon that was imprisoned underneath his family shrine, which was imprisoned by the Beast Spear for 500 year, in order to protect his friends from demons that were running amok in his hometown. After that the Demon, which he calls Tora (due to his tiger like appearence), begins to haunt him and says that he'll eat him when he drops his guard. At that point Ushio keeps the Beast Spear with him at all times to protect others from Demons.
Character wise, they are pretty generic. There is the typical Tomboyish girl childhood friend and timid girl classmate that hang around Ushio most of the time. Tora is big talker, thinking highly of himself all the time until the spear is pointed at him. Ushio develops a strong bond with Tora which is typical, and that's basically it. The entourage of villains in this series isn't strong, mostly random mythical monsters out for revenge or reeking havoc, but that's okay.
If you're looking for high class animation with CG and all that stuff, you ain't finding it here. This is early 90's work so you get what you see. A few cut and paste scenes and not much detail on the character expressions. But that is what is great about old school anime, if it weren't these kinds of animes you really wouldn't have high budget stuff like Soul Eater, Code Geass, and Inuyasha.
In the long run, it is worth watching and keeps you asking for more. The action series will get you addicted and might want you to start reading the manga, I know I will. Take my word for it, if you are such a Shonen fan or you just like animes with Mythological overtones this is your stuff.
PS; Sunday Vs Magazine is a bad fighting game but so addictive!!! Check it out anyways.
My heart really goes out to classic anime featuring ghosts and demons, it really does. Ushio to tora when i first saw it kinda looked kinda dumb to me based on Toras design but when i actually took the time to watch the first episode i was surprised how much i enjoyed the series. This anime is mostly a goof spirit fighting anime that was pretty common at the time when it was made but it felt more original as it did not go for really overdone tropes.
The story is pretty straightforward it doesn't get very deep or complicated, its very episodic and is mostly
about your enjoyment instead of anything deep. That being said i found pretty much every episode enjoyable and had a good time with the series as a whole. I like the character interactions and the different situations they got put in where they would have to develope more of a love hate partnership. I do wonder if it woulda held up past 10 episodes though or if i would have grown bored eventually.
As far as characters the only two worth mentioning are ushio and tora obviously. Ushio a fun character cause is really quite strict and simple, he doesn't trust tora but he has to rely on him to protect everyone in town from demons and vengeful spirits. On the other side of that tora is a petty and rotten beast who often remarks about how he wants to kill or devour people. The characters really mix like oil and water for the most part but as the show progresses they start to work together in more of a dysfunctional partnership instead of two people at each others throats.
As far as Art goes the show had some pretty good monster designs and had a lot more detail than i see in most modern anime. Aside from the highschool kids everything looked pretty unique. The backgrounds and scenery were also detailed and really conveyed the atmosphere of certain scenes. The Audio was not incredible but it was good for the most part and the voice acting was both comical and serious at times which is a good. I find it particularly rare that a voice actor has the ability or versatility to convey comedy and seriousness and make it feel convincing enough.
I enjoyed this short series a lot and i think most people would get some enjoyment of it especially if they liked old spirit hunter animes.
How does one adapt 33 volumes of manga into 10 OVA's? You can't. Especially something from the post-yokai boom.
Ushio and Tora is one of those series that is so shonen it's amazing. I personally found it to be quite bland, Ushio finds a beast in his basement, Tora helps him against his will to fight beasts, blah, blah, blah, but it was so from back in the day that I liked it. It reminded me of Inuyasha. Or, the other way around. There is no plot line in this anime. It's just a series of "yokai of the week" episodes, but that's what
I expected. I love how they added some hints of Gegege no Kitaro in this anime by expanding on what the story behind each yokai is. Personally, I was disappointed it was only 10 OVA's. You WILL want more. You sadly won't.
The art work gets a grade A because it's mostly hand drawn. Even though some of the cells jump up and about that is not a problem. There's just something about it. There are problems though. Tora looks plain crude at times and being from the 1990's there's no excuse. It's impossible to capture Mr. Fujita's dirty scenes in anime and while it sounds bad it isn't. Mr. Fujita has a certain style that appears almost brush stroke like. However this doesn't show.
Both dub tracks are amazing. The gags are extremely funny especially when Tora is confused about something. There's just something about Tora's voice that makes it sound hilarious. Asako sounds terrible in both dubs though. She just sounds forced. "I HATE YOU USHIO!" is so terribly done I found Megazone 23 III (Inside joke) to be better dubbed. I really can't tell you anything about the BGM. I just wasn't paying attention.
The characters are pretty funny. From the yokai to the humans everyone is well done, except for well, Asako. She's poorly done as a character and is really only around to be in love with Ushio (which isn't really covered in the 10 OVA's at all) and get caught in yokai stomachs. All the characters are pretty funny, especially gags involving Tora and the modern world. As for seriousness there is a pretty serious tone of friendship amongs Ushio and Tora. Thing is it just wasn't shown properly.
Like any culture, Japan has an extensive collection of legendary and mythical monsters. Some are helpful, some are harmful, and others are downright strange. Let's talk about some monsters from that third category, as well as the mark they've made on Japanese entertainment.