Dororo - Why Questions of Morality EMPOWER Story
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Hello & Welcome – To Replay value In a season with my favorite rom-com manga
properly adapted, a well executed psychological thriller, the sequel season to ONE’s best
work & the conclusion to a Production IG Sports Anime, I have been incredibly spoiled this
Winter — but the cherry on top has got to be the fact that one of the best shows of
the season is continuing on into Spring, making Dororo the show to beat for every anime making
their debut in the coming weeks. Dororo is impressive on multiple levels, the
OP/ED combo convey the tonal gradiant this show achieves emotionally and I’m continuously
impressed by the deliberate pace of the story – one of the tangible benefits of having a
strong vision in adaptation. But where Dororo elevates beyond its impressive
technical laurels is in its characters, not only in the performances, but in the writing. The fact that Hyakkimaru is such an interesting
character when he has said all of 10 words as of the half point is an achievement in
and of itself, and the character Dororo is the important emotional core of the show – with
their partnership set to develop more over the second half which I could not be more
excited about. But the other side of the conflict, Hyakkimaru’s
family, I think is the most interesting and while we haven’t gotten all that much time
with them, their impression on the story is hard to avoid, because of how they frame the
core conflict at the center of Dororo – and why that moral quandary makes every character
so much more interesting. The concept of Utilitarianism is one that
you’re likely familiar with even if you only have a cursory interest in narrative
since so many stories base their moral conflict around it. Utilitarianism most simply means – to quote
Spock – that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few…or the one. If this sounds familiar, it should, Gen Urobuchi
seemingly cannot write a work without considering Utilitarian Ethics in some way, and it even
affects shows that you’d never expect like Gurren Lagann, Akatsuki no Yona, and Kakegurui. The best action is one that maximizes the
happiness (or utility) of the most people – which means that we’re making moral judgements
about actions based on their consequences. The opposite to this, moral judgements based
on actions regardless of their consequences is Deontological Ethics, the determination
for that morality being specific to the type of Deontology used. Of course, morality isn’t that simple – most
people will find themselves balancing action and consequence – as we can see in The Trolley
Problem. You’ve probably seen this in memes, specifically
the multi-track drifting variety, but it started off as a thought experiment in ethics. You see a runaway train heading towards 5
people tied up on the tracks. You stand by a lever that can swap the direction
to a side-track, but there’s 1 person tied up there. You can either do nothing and 5 people will
die, or you can pull the level and 1 person will die. What do you do? If you choose to take an action, you’re
likely making a utilitarian decision, saving the 5 over the 1. If you choose to do nothing, you’re likely
concluding that the action of killing someone is immoral, even if indirectly. There is the possibility that you could theoretically
run down the rabbit hole of whether that situation already implements an immoral choice because
doing nothing is still an action etc. etc. – but for the sake of simplicity, let’s
say that doing nothing is not an action. About 81% of people, when surveyed, say that
it’s okay to pull the lever. But the next variation adds another element. Now instead of a second track, there’s a
random person in front of you who you can push onto the track to stop the train. You can either do nothing and 5 people will
die, or you can push the person in front of you killing them, but saving the 5. What do you do? It’s fundamentally the same question, but
now we’re changing an indirect action into a direct one — and for approximately 42%,
that changes the things, with only 38% of respondents saying that it’s moral to push
that person. Other sources claim 90% of people feel it’s
immoral to push the person, but I can’t find the study that that claim originated
from so, even though it’s not as shocking as an 80% swing, a super majority to a minority
is a significant change. And it’s evidence that few people believe
with 100% certainty in consequences or actions being the only important element when debating morality, but some
balance between the two, and in intentionality – the reason for taking an action as well. And that balance and intention is the very
thing that Dororo explores, and is not only revealing for the kind of ethics the viewer
holds onto but also the reasoning behind them. So we’re going to go through each of the
characters and determine where they stand on the two moral quandaries at the center
of the show, and ask a few hypothetical questions to help illuminate our moral values. The very premise of Dororo is a moral question
– albeit the easier one of the two, where have the decision of Daigo to sacrifice his
son to demons which results in the land being prosperous. It’s important to note that I’m assuming
the deal is straight forward, Episode 12 kinda hints that the land might have been struggling
because of the unlocked demons and that perhaps after they’re all slain things will get
better, or that after a certain amount of time they would have reneged on their half
of the deal. I’m assuming that Hyakkimaru gets consumed
and the Demon’s keep the land bountiful until time immemorial or at least until Daigo passes. So with that being said, if we’re not concerned
with the action taken – the sacrifice – under a utilitarian lens we can state that Daigo’s
decision was moral, since the land doing well certainly benefits the many. But it’s unlikely that you feel that way,
I certainly don’t feel like Daigo’s decision was moral, but I wonder if that’s because
I object to the utilitarian aspect of sacrificing an unknowing participant or because of the
kind of person Daigo is. And what I mean by that is that Daigo is an
ethical egoist, a type of consequentialism – judgment based on outcomes over actions – where self-interest is what is attempting to be maximized instead of happiness. Daigo makes his deal with the demons explicitly
so that he can achieve his ambitions, it has nothing to do with the fact that his people
are starving and dying except for how that curtails his desires. He later rationalizes his actions and decisions
through the lens of State Consequentialism – stating that as ruler, his needs and wants
are the needs and wants of his people and therefore his self-interest is the interest
of the state – but we’ve already had a peek under the veil at that point and can recognize
how selfish Daigo is, even if the outcomes positively impacted the land. Most of the cast acknowledges Daigo’s actions
as immoral, Tahomaru and Oku both state that, it’s clear where the character Dororo stands,
although we don’t know for certain where Hyakkimaru comes down on the matter. Daigo is the only person who thinks his actions
were moral, but I’d imagine very few people would agree with him because of his intentions. That’s why the hypothetical I pose for this
first quandary is if Daigo had stated that his desire for his land to flourish was so
that his people would be healthy and safe, would that be moral? On top of that, if he offered to sacrifice
himself – not one of his belongings but his own personhood – would that be moral? I ask these hypotheticals because it’s clear
that in the decision not to engage in these, Daigo is deliberately being painted by the
show in a negative light. It would be very easy to make the character
more relatable or morally righteous, but he’s basically rotten down to the core because
his intentions are morally wrong – even if his outcomes are a boon for the many. So the second moral question, and the one
that’s a lot more debatable I think, is whether Hyakkimaru should be stopped from
hunting demons. Again if we apply a utilitarian lens, it’s
clear that he should be stopped. His lone suffering is nothing compared to
the thousands who will starve and die should the land return to ruin. Daigo, being vested only in his self-interest,
believes that firmly, wanting to go so far as to kill Hyakkimaru. On the other side, we have Oku – Hyakkimaru’s
mother – who believes that the actions taken in him losing his body were immoral, but is
unable to do anything, stating that she cannot save him and that no matter how wrong they
were, they can’t do anything but ask for his forgiveness. I interpret these statements as her saying
she will not break the agreement with the demons, but that she would not stop Hyakkimaru
from continuing to kill them. In this way she is little more than a despairing
beneficiary, a remorseful one certainly who seems to value actions and outcomes in equal
measure to a point of paralysis until Hyakkimaru returns to bring her own thought process to
the surface. If you interpret her statements as her willing
to let Hyakkimaru die, then that viewpoint is held by Tahomaru, who is a mix of his two
parents. He is agreement with his mother that the sacrifice
itself was immoral, but in agreement with his father that the matters of the state are
above the individual to a point where he is willing to kill Hyakkimaru. Even if the act of killing him is wrong, it
matters not compared to the people who will suffer if he lives. Tahomaru is a true State Consequentialist
here, his intentions are just, as opposed to his father who merely justifies his decisions
in that manner. Here’s why I think that this state of affairs
is more interesting – prior to this moment, Hyakkimaru had no knowledge that his actions
were negatively impacting people, in fact he was only helping people as far as he knew. Now that he knows, will his moral code call
for him to leave behind the quest to regain his body, or will he continue onward despite
the belief that it might bring despair? Is he willing to self-sacrifice though the
initial sacrifice was not willing or will he attempt to right this wrong despite the
consequences? The answer to these will hopefully come in
the show, though I have a feeling will be circumvented by the circumstances of the deal
not being entirely above board as I stated earlier. But the question still remains, should Hyakkimaru
be stopped from hunting the demons? If he decided to continue to hunt the demons,
would you say that is morally right? I’d bet dollars to donuts that the character
Dororo does. For Hyakkimaru, If we accept that the action
of slaying demons is right, and that the consequence of that action – the destruction of the land
– is wrong, does the matter come down to intention? Does it matter for you whether Hyakkimaru
continues to slay demons to protect the individuals still under siege by them, or whether he’s
doing it so that he and Dororo can make money? Does it change your opinion if he’s doing
it for the sake of justice – so that he can be whole again – or if he’s doing it simply
for the adrenaline thrill of putting one’s life on the line? If you value intentionality, you’ll likely
think that Daigo – who acts selfishly – is immoral, and that Tahomaru – who would perform
the same action as Daigo – would be morally justified in his killing, even if you disagree
with the decision itself. If you think that both are immoral, perhaps
intentionality does not matter to you, even if the expression of Hyakkimaru’s individual
desire to regain his body will actively harm the life and liberty of thousands of others. I’ll add this hypothetical just in case
you need another push to center in on your conclusion. If Hyakkimaru had initially chosen to be sacrificed
and then began to hunt down the demons to take his body back, would that be ok? I think moral quandaries are fascinating as
the basis for conflict because of how they not only tear up characters internally, but how it gives
multiple sides a solid foundation for believing their side is just. I felt a bit torn when I watched Hyakkimaru
and Tahomaru fight, as fate has a tendency to be cruel. Neither of these characters is morally wrong,
wanting to survive isn’t wrong, wanting to protect people isn’t wrong — and thus
we arrive at the inevitable conflict. You can’t have both, one will have to win
and one will have to lose. And hopefully Dororo won’t go in the direction
of making Tahomaru more like his father and give Hyakkimaru the out of the demons being
the source of the lands difficulties in the first place. Because a fight where both sides are equally
wrong and right, and the audience is forced to feel a pang of sadness for the loser is
one that is truly memorable. A moral quandary that both characters and
audience are forced to come to terms with. Let me know your thoughts on any of the questions
or moral quandaries in the comments, in particular whether you think Hyakkimaru is justified
in hunting the rest of the demons down! I also want to quickly acknowledge that ethics
and morals are really complex topics, philosophers have been arguing about them for milenia for
a reason and that I did my best in condensing and simplifying for the sake of what I thought
was an interesting discussion, but I know it probably wasn’t perfect. If you find this kind of thing interesting
I highly recommend some self-study, and I’ll drop some of the texts that I used in my research
down in the description. If there’s a desire for it, maybe we can
talk more about the use of ethics and morality in narrative in the future – but for now I’m
just looking forward to seeing how Dororo’s ethical dilemma evolves in the second half,
even as I acknowledge that the Party is Over.

Should check out "The ones that walked away from Omelas" kinda low-key similar in some ways. Awesome video

my favorite morality choices are those where all of the outcomes have terrible consequences and that even self-sacrifice brings with it some obviously bad consequences. not choosing shouldn't be an ideal option either and should come with some bad consequences

Daigo's actions are immoral IMO because the thriving of a state is a complex matter that could be achieved in a lot of different ways and not something instantaneous like the trolley problem (i.e if you don't act right now and then people die instantly), in case of Hyukkimaru i say his actions are moral since again he isn't causing any direct or immediate harm, while most of the demons are a direct cause of harm for many people, sure if the blessing from the demons is gone it will make people's lives harder but it's no Thanos snap, people won't die instantly, they are free (along with Daigo if he actually cared) to pursue other means of survival and either move to another land or find an alternate way to restore the land to its prosperous state, a way that doesn't involve human sacrifice.

I read the events of this story akin to a classic tragedy, akin to Greek and Shakespearean, with people deluding themselves in believing they can overcome destiny, macro-scale history, whatever you call it.

Tezuka's depiction of the Warring States has been that the 'default' of the time period is hellish. It's the reality of the time. Daigo's error is in his arrogant belief that he can rewrite the fabric of reality for the sake of his own ego, by sacrificing not only Hyakkimaru, but also the 'few people no one will miss' when the demons are let loose. He wants a shortcut to glory that he and several generations of people are simply not intended to have. The demons are the physical realisation of the fact that the prosperity the land has is inherently tainted and incorrect.

Hyakkimaru's quest to destroy the demons is karmic, in other words. It's the reality check to the illusion that Daigo and the whole land is tragically wanting to deny. This reading interprets it not as a matter of utilitarianism, but inevitability. Daigo thought he could outwit fate, but in that classic literary way, his human dimensions of thinking fails and will continue to fail to comprehend that the deal with the demons was a cosmically wrong and temporary action that already began to fail the moment Hyakkimaru was born.

Hyakkimaru didn't has the chance to choose before he was sacrificed does he wants to do it, so he has right to get back his body. The true moral version would be if Daigo would sacrifise himself so that his son could have a better place to rule. Thx bye

Don't go on if you haven't watched EP15 because this will be a spoiler
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One of your hypotheticals have been (uncertainly, because we will never know he might change) answered in ep15. In the episodes 14-15, Dororo and Hyakkimaru arrived in a burnt down temple where a giant baby ghoul and nun ghoul resides. Ahead was peaceful village ruled by a kind and hospital lord who accepted them into his home. They were told by the lord that the temple used to be a nunery that abused and enslaved children so one day the heavens got angry and stuck lighting on it and killed both nun and children. (skipping to the main action) After being attacked by a giant caterpillar monster and it's mother the two begin to investigate and find out that the lord actually fed the children to the ghouls(caterpillar and mother) to save the land from beasts and give them peace. Now, Dororo burned the storage room where the ghouls stayed so that they wont attack but it also burns the village. Now all the people will starve for the winter and have come against each other to survive to the point that they even kill the lord. After Hyakkimaru kills the mother ghoul they are greeted by the mass destruction of the lives in the village. Dororo asks him if what wrong did they do and reminds him about what his brother mentioned about the sake of the many. Which Hyakkimaru answers with, "Not my concern." In a utilitarian sense, his actions are immoral which Dororo dislikes so he separates from him. The motivation of Hyakkimaru have become, like his father's, immoral and selfish. He simply doesn't care who the casualties are. For him he only wants his body back and for justice to be served. Dororo on the other hand is starting to think otherwise. The next ep hasn't come out yet and I wonder how things will go. For now that is all. I really enjoy your video.

Does anyone see a lot of similarities with Berserk? Like how the main antagonist makes a deal with the demons to elevate himself by sacrificing the main protagonist. The sacrifice doesn't go as well as planned and the main protagonist escapes with injuries. The antagonist goes on enjoying the benefits of the deal and gaining a prosperous kingdom and respect of the people. While the main protagonist has to struggle through constantly fighting demons, living in poverty, and travel searching for cure and meeting unlikely friends. However, the main antagonist's current state and philosophy are so appealing to many people that the fandom is split whether or not Gatts should abandon his revenge on Griffith. Kind of how people are split whether or not Hyakkimaru should kill the demons preventing Daigo's domain from prospering.

I'm totally with Hyakkimaru on this. Sacrifice is a selfish act. The sacrifier(s) want to use someone(the sacrificed) to benefit themselves at the expense of the sacrificed person. The father and the villagers should work out their problems themselves instead of shifting the burden on poor Hyakkimaru, who ofcourse never agreed to this and didn't have any say in the matter. Hyakkimaru has a right to justice and it's the responsibility of the villagers and their lord to make a prosperous living for themselves. And all those demons he kills, to get his body back, eat people so they need to be stopped anyways. It's actually the father and Hakomaru who are obviously in the wrong here because they want to have a prosperous domain and not caring that those demons are merrily munching on people meanwhile.

I depressed, that you didn't mention Boogiepop in the beginning, it's hidden gem of the winter season.( Espessialy if you want some complicated moral or philosophical questions, because Boogiepop has tons of it)
Good video, btw, i like it anyway.

First video I watch from your channel and you got me instantly smashing the suscribe button, great video.

I’m still on the bench on whether killing the demons is right or wrong, but as the show progresses, I’m left wondering whether the demons were the initial cause of the land and people’s hardships in the first place. Yes, the land is lush and green once more, and there isn’t rampant plague, but that’s all the “protection” the demons are really giving. The demons themselves run rampant, killing innocents at will, demanding more human sacrifices than in the original agreement, and otherwise and causing hardships to the areas they’re located in. Instead of truly protecting the land in return for one child sacrifice, they’ve been using this “deal” as an excuse to run free and cause as much harm as they wish in exchange for lush crops and lack of disease alone, and are only keeping attacking armies and brigands at bay to a certain extent, and have been doing so since the initial deal was agreed on. It’s definitely an interesting question of morality, whether the demons should be allowed to continue this, or be killed.

I think the moral high ground are on the demons or gods in this world. They can control the physical matter in the world and either provide or take away from the people living there. I truly believed there's karma when it comes to how demons and gods work. There is a reason the fertility goddess kept Hyakkimaru alive. The gods want to see how Daigo genuinely treats his son for his sacrifice. If he did for the people and has good intentions, he would've raised Hyakkimaru and praised his son as a hero in the public eye's instead of killing him and brand him as a cursed enemy of the people. By doing the latter, his son retaliates it's simple human nature and gods love playing this game. I personally put myself as the suffering village people, as a woman I could picture how my kids can starve and have the same suffering as Dororo had when she was younger. I think Hyakkimaru should stop hunting for demons to get his body back because the fertility goddess gave him life and that's all anyone could be thankful for in that situation. What's the point of having everything and having nothing at all if the world is destroyed. I think he will choose to stop and Dororo is key to that.

well you forgot to mention that the demon will eat human as food even hyakimaru will not kill them they will kill always every day. so hyakimaru is a permanent solution

I think Hyakkimaru is right to recover his body, but I understand Tahomaru's intentions. I love this series. But mainly: it was awesome that you used a theme from Hyouka's soundtrack! I still have to catch up with your videos on the Kottenbu series, but I love them all so far! Thank you for all your content 🙂

Dude you… this vid is literary the type of dororo vid i wanted to see after the conflict between hyakimaru and tahomaru like you explored the whole topic soo well (Morality,decisions within the series) that even i cant comprehend how deep you went through this.

Am I the only one who very high expectations of dororo and ended up highly dissapointed how bad this shows direction and production went?

Just discovered your channel through YT recommendation. Really nice vids, analysis and explanation…..good job!!

I find myself feeling a lot like oku lol. I feel like Hyakkimaru is right to want to take his body back. He never had a say in that decision to give away his body in exchange for many people’s happiness. But also I wouldn’t want those people to start suffering because one person wanted to be happy. I suppose I’d just leave that decision up to the one that was wronged and the ones who wronged him.

If it was my body sacrificed to demons I would probably be angry and want my body back. I certainly wouldn’t care about the strangers who benefit from my unwilling sacrifice. Meanwhile if I was a citizen who lived in Daigos land I probably wouldn’t feel right about the lands prosperity if I knew the truth (more because I love children more than him being a suffering stranger idk how I’d feel if an adult had been sacrificed.) but I’d be too cowardly to do something. I probably wouldn’t resent Hyakkimaru for trying to take his body back until I was suffering too much for me to stand.

Hyakkimaru is only 16 right? I definitely don’t think I could feel right about my happiness being built on a child’s suffering. Adults have a the responsibility to protect children. Instead Daigo actively hurts a child for his own benefit. Tomoharu is a lot more difficult for me decide because he is also a child. I feel like with this whole issue Daigo has also been hurting Tomoharu. Oku I feel is definitely wrong but also a victim. She abandons her child and acts like she doesn’t have a choice but she does have a choice she’s just too afraid to do anything about it. Her refusal to make a choice forces her to side with her husband. Unfortunately I am also very cowardly so I would probably be oku even though I feel like she is wrong.

This is what I was thinking about this whole time I'm watching this show. Like I shouted in my room like crazy utilitarianism!!!!!!!!!!!

and i felt that Tahomaru is becoming Daigo 2.0 much like Sylvanas is turning into Garrosh 2.0 in WOW.
Hyakkimaru has every right to regain his body back no matter the consequence even if it means destroying a country, in the warring period nations rise and fall like everyday so even if the Daigo prospers one day all will be dust in another day.
As for Oku, it takes a strong-willed person to take a stance when you know both the good and the bad in one particular situation and the weak will be paralysed or outright choose to do nothing and curse fate. I personally will get paralyzed like Oku when that type of choice drops into my face.

Hyakkimaru is a rather good person, but he must be stopped. The king is a bad person, but the ritual is good even if unfair.

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