felt it very likely that Hyakkiamaru and Dororo would separate in the end, at least for a while (though not before he told her she was pretty). It was indeed Biwamaru’s path (what an interesting revelation, that he was once a samurai) that Hyakki chose, and to walk that path Hyakkimaru had to do so alone for a while, to come to terms with what he’d seen and with who and what he was. And Dororo’s path – to use her fortune in a way that ultimately would have made her parents very happy – really didn’t hold a place for Hyakkimaru. The story makes it very clear that those path will one day emerge, even as it leaves it to our imagination what shared course they might follow afterwards.
All in all, that was a very satisfying conclusion and a far better one than I feared might be in the offing. Dororo has seen a great many iterations, each one of them taking a different view on how the story should conclude – a function, I think, of Tezuka proving so little clarity on the issue himself. As much as I struggled with the anime’s assessment of Hyakkimaru – perhaps reflective of an especially Japanese interpretation of the character and his arc – in the final analysis it did both he and the story justice. It was really the love of two people – Jukai and Dororo – that redeemed Hyakkimaru in the end. Jukai was the reason he was alive and understood the nature of love, and even as he was collecting the physical parts that would make him human, Dororo was teaching him how to be human. Without that, the limbs and organs would have been a hollow shell.