Ushio & Tora Episode #01 Anime Review

Ushio & Tora Episode #01 Anime Review Are you GAR enough for this show?!

What They Say:
Long ago, a ferocious monster terrorized the land, until a samurai, wielding the legendary “Beast Spear”, sealed him away. 500 years later, a middle school student named Ushio Aotsuki accidently uncovers the monster in a hidden cellar under his family’s temple. The unsealed monster and the spear attract many other supernatural creatures to the temple and Ushio is forced to release the monster in order to defeat them. Ushio names the monster “Tora” and unwillingly work together to battle other spirits and demons.

The Review:
Content (warning as portions of this review may contain spoilers):
So Ushio & Tora is an interesting little beast. It’s a big 90′s shonen property in Japan that’s sold millions of copies and yet, similar to Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, somehow never got an anime adaption beyond OVA’s. Also very similar to Jojo’s before its anime went big, almost no one on western shores has ever heard of the darn thing. Well a couple of decades later, it’s finally gotten an anime adaption courtesy of MAPPA along with a new studio called Volin (and oddly enough with nothing to seemingly justify the sudden resurrection like an anniversary or live action movies), and it’s shaping to be a pretty grand production.

The basic premise is pretty straightforward 90′s shonen plot: A boy named Ushio who lives at a shrine that carries a legend about a demon sealing spear, one day finds a secret basement in the storage room that leads to the spear and the demon being sealed by it. The demon wants Ushio to free him so he can eat Ushio and destroy the world, but Ushio, of course, isn’t having any of that. However when the demon’s demonic aura leaks out from their encounter and starts attracting human-eating demons, Ushio has no choice but to free the demon in exchange for his help. When the demon’s freed though, he decides to just eat Ushio anyway, but the joke’s on him since thanks to Ushio grabbing the spear, he’s been infused with its power to slay demons and now the demon has no choice but to help Ushio slay the other demons he’s released or risk being destroyed by him.

So I came into this show completely blind, and even though I was expecting this show to be a pretty good throwback, I was blown away by how incredibly 90′s it is. Everything from the show’s visual aesthetic to the humor screams it, and it even has some classic 90′s slapstick moments like Ushio and his dad getting into a straight up brawl at the beginning of the episode over Ushio giving him some grief about the legend. While that would sort of make the show feel dated in a sense, it’s incredibly fun in execution and feels pretty nostalgic even though I’ve never actually read the manga before. It also helps that Ushio and Tora have a really fun kind of bash brothers chemistry so far, begrudgingly helping each other while looking to stab the other in the back when the opportunity arises, though I imagine that’ll change as this goes along.

Though in addition to being super 90′s shonen it’s also looks like it’ll feature super 90′s shonen levels of GAR and testosterone, with the opening alone packing so much of it, it makes stuff like Fist of the North Star and Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure look like helpless children in comparison, and it’s definitely worth taking a look at the first episode for if nothing else. Well, that and the visuals because it also packs some pretty great looking action choreography, and it’s quite the treat. With Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure’s anime adaption gone for the time being, this looks like it’ll be a more than worthy replacement for those looking for a classic shonen fix, and it’s certainly off to a good start. Go check this out

In Summary:
Ushio & Tora comes out of the gate running, as it dishes out a really solid first episode. The throwbacks to classic 90′s shonen tropes are a lot of fun, and the production looks pretty spectacular visually. If you’re looking for a good little action romp, this show may seriously be up your alley.

Grade: A

Streamed By: Crunchyroll, Hulu