Ushio and Tora
Type: OVA (10 Episodes)
Genre: Action/Comedy
Version: Region 1 DVD
Reviewed: 10/31/05


Ushio and Tora is a story about a boy and his monster. Sounds a bit cliché? Well…yeah it does. A lot of people will be shouting “Inuyasha!” after the first five minutes. But from there it goes a different direction than most things I’ve seen. While the story is simplistic, the characters are endearing. In a lot of ways, they are also unique, despite the stereotypical outer appearances.

We start off during your typical day at Ushio’s house. Battling martial arts style with his father over the “boring” story of the demon the shrine is guarding pinned to a rock long ago by his ancestor. Apparently Ushio was not amused with being made to sit and listen to his old man’s crap. Unfortunately for him, though, his old man basically beats the crap out of him–lovingly of course. Ushio is knocked out and his father leaves on vacation after posting a sign on his son’s head that reads “To my stupid son: air out the old books in storage.” Ushio, being the good son he is, does this and discovers a trap door leading beneath the shrine where he finds (surprise!) a 500 year old monster pinned to a rock. This monster is somewhat inept at coaxing the young Ushio to let him go, however, because when asked what he’d do if freed he repeatedly answers, “Well, first I’d eat you….” Needless to say, the conversation ends with Ushio doing the smart thing and getting the heck out of there.

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Haha! You can’t see me.

I can see you in the back of the class raising your hand like you want to touch the clouds. You know the answer, don’t you? Yes, other monsters appear and the monster, now named Tora, has to be released to fight them. Thankfully when Ushio pulls out the Beast Spear which pins Tora down, it transforms him into Super Ushio or something, and he basically can beat Tora good. So that foils any thoughts the beast may have had about rebelling. From here we enter the dreaded monster of the day formula, but for once I didn’t notice so much. The character development in this show just took such an interesting angle that if left me wanting more at the end. Tora never comes off as being totally a good guy. Even at the end it seems like he’s making an exception to his anti-human rule with Ushio. And it’s not even until late in the series that Tora stops trying to take Ushio out every chance he gets. It’s this dynamic which really made the show interesting to watch, though it did add in a bit of monotony with Tora always chasing after Ushio yelling “I’ll eat you this time!” In addition, Tora’s past and true identity are only hinted at during the show and we are left to speculate what the heck is up with him (though the manga, which wasn’t released here, probably illuminates these questions).

Screen Shot

Though only released on DVD in 2003 here in the US, this anime has been around since 1993. Thus, the animation is a little on the dated side. That being said, for the time the animation is pretty good, especially where the monsters are concerned. I always have had a soft spot for the older style character designs. That part, though, really comes down to a matter of taste. The many monsters in the show and Tora are probably the highlights of the show’s visuals.

Musically, the show had some pretty awesome opening and ending credit music, though it wasn’t anything too spectacular. The music in the show itself is forgettable. The voice acting for both versions seemed up to task, though I have a fondness for the English interpretation of Tora. The Japanese made him sound too old, in my opinion. He lacked some of the cool factor.

Overall, I’d say that Ushio and Tora is worth your time to watch. It may not be the most original piece of work out there, but it definitely has more heart than a lot of anime I’ve been seeing lately. You should be able to find it pretty cheap too, so what is there to lose?

-Orie House