Anime Reviews:

Ushiro & Tora


Little boy Ushiro discovers that his grandfather has a centuries old, man-eating demon in his cellar who is pinned to a rock with a magic spear Ushiro is coaxed by the monster's smart talking and lets the creature go free by pulling out the spear the monster cannot touch. Instead of being grateful by showing his thanks, the orange and black striped demon tries to eat young Ushiro. However, since Ushiro has the 'Spear of Beasts' he can keep the beast under control. Tora is the name Ushiro chooses for his new, strange companion who disappears when others are around, only to be seen by the young school boy. Before long, it seems that Tora's monster talents can be put to good use fighting off other evil spirits that seem never too far away from our small hero.

As the series develops, we get to meet Ushiro's closest friend, a girl named Asako. Between them they must fight off the attacks from an ever-changing array of bizarre creatures, and all the time Ushiro tries to keep Tora a secret. A sometimes uneven mix of explicit violence and slapstick comedy, Ushiro & Tora nevertheless contains some clever ideas. In one episode a demon released from a water wheel who "lives in things that turn" (based upon a popular Japanese legend) travels around as a shadow-like form in the spinning wheels of vehicles and in the rotor blades of a helicopter. Most of the comedy derives from two situations: Ushiro having to hide Tora from everybody, and Tora finding it difficult to drop his old habit of eating humans.

Across ten episodes the entertainment level varies and it's when the stories become too violent that it's least effective. The verbal exchanges between the two main protagonists provide plenty of laughs as the Japanese actors competently voice the two in familiar manic screaming style. It very quickly slips into the 'monster-of-the-week' formula so expect few surprises, but, once again it is thanks to good character development that the series keeps your interest peaked. 7/10

Rob Dyer

See also:

Ushiro & Tora CD (Comic Deformed) Theatre

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