- Titles: ushitora, Ushio and Tora
- Genre: Fantasy, action, Yokai, Supernatural, Shonen, Comedy, drama
- Episodes: 39 (26 + 13)
- Studio: MAPPA, Studio VOLN
Ushio always thought his dad was a bit nuts or at least, a bit of a drag. Always going on about some old legend. Granted, the old guy is the head of a temple so it makes sense that he’s full of stories about the olden days when monsters roamed the earth and heroes armed with magical spears saved everyone. But no one believes that stuff nowadays. And it has nothing to do with Ushio. He’s just an average high school boy who’s going to become a great artist someday. He really is! You’ll see! So there’s no reason for Ushio to care about the beast spear or the ancient evil it’s keeping restrained. Now is there? That is until he releases that said evil by accident. Ushio’s life is about to get a lot more exciting.
I’m wracking my brain to remember how Ushio & Tora got on my to-read list, to begin with. I think the manga was recommended to me by some algorithm that managed to pick up on my love of Yokai and I just went from there. I have to admit, I might not have picked up Ushio and Tora on my own. And that would have been a shame.
The first season of Ushio and Tora aired in 2015. It’s not exactly new but it’s not classic anime either. Yet I thought it was much older than that. Not because the production is bad in any way. There is one flashback episode towards the end of the series that is mostly still shots but otherwise, it’s a fairly solid production. Lost of action with little loss in quality. But there is something about the designs and choice of colour.
And I think that’s on purpose. In a lot of ways, most ways, Ushio & Tora is a Classic action shonen and I think the p^roduction purposefully played into the classic aspect. That’s sort of smart. If there’s one thing that animation suffers from when compared to live-action, is that the visuals can get really dated rather quickly. Because Ushio & Tora have sort of classic designs with contemporary production values, the show gets this almost ageless look. It’s difficult to pinpoint what era of anime it belongs to. And I really liked that.
I will be referring to Ushio & Tora as a single series. AniList has it as two seasons (26 + 13) episodes, but I saw it as a single 39 episode series and there really isn’t an obvious break from one to the next. If anything it could be a split season or something.
The beginning of the series, and really all of it except the last arc, is quite funny. I would call it an action-shonen comedy. Ushio and Tora make for a great odd couple and despite the occasionally violent events, everything is fairly light and fun. And I think this may have impacted the voice actors who sound like they are having a ball with this. I always love hearing that in a cast!
Story & Characters
For a while, I wanted to write my summary as if it was Natsume but I thought I might be wearing that joke thin. Nevertheless, Ushio & Tora is a story about a boy who can see Yokai, has a history of it in his family and has lost his mother at a young age. His life is fairly normal until he meets this huge beast Yokai that kind of looks like a big cat and decides to follow him around threatening to eat him all the time but deep down cares for the boy. See… it’s Natsume! Only it’s really not.
Like I mentioned about, Ushio & Tora is pretty much a classic action shonen. There is a whole lot of fighting going on and new more powerful baddies around every corner. What isn’t taken up by the action is the slow development of both Ushio and Tora’s characters. By the way, Tora is the big cat Yokai. And a lot of slapstick humour. In time, an underlying plot thread starts to take on more importance leading to a much more tragic and for lack of a better word: epic, last arc.
I can’t really say that it’s a particularly special action shonen. I personally enjoy the Yokai angle but it’s not like the series is spending that much time explaining the lore of the creatures we see. I mean they could just as easily been replaced by aliens, mutants or spawns of the Dark Kingdom and it really wouldn’t have made much of a difference.
But the thing is, I like action shonen. I always have. It’s a genre that can get a bit grating and it certainly isn’t considered as intellectual as others, but I find it generally amusing and once in a while, there’s nothing else that I would rather watch. It’s comfortable and reminds me of Saturday morning cartoons in the best way.
And Ushio & Tora is a good action shonen. The dynamic between the two main characters is both endearing and just a ton of fun. The slapstick humour and briskly paced monster of the week format made the early episodes fly by. By the time the show decided to get a bit heavier, I was already properly invested. There are a few sad moments in Ushio & Tora, not many but still, and I cared. I really did. This is way more than I can say about a few series that I’ve watched lately.
I think Ushio & Tora flew under the radar for a lot of people. I really don’t see it mentioned much. I think some people may be missing out. Especially if you happen to enjoy classic shonen and figured this would be some new-fangled series that’s not for you. There’s a lot of fun to be had with it. And for me, it felt like a pleasant homecoming.
You might like this anime if:
You like classic shonen. You enjoy Yokai. You like odd-couple dynamics littered with murder threats!
My favourite character:
I liked a lot of them but I can’t help it, it’s Tora. Give me a huge mouthy Cat-like thing and I love it every time.
an Easy Tiger!
- Every time Tora wants to eat Ushio – get a snack
- Every time Ushio and Asako bicker – take a sip
- Every time Ushio’s hair falls off – gasp!
- Every time Tora is really into technology – take a sip
- Every time Ushio’s father recounts a legend – take a sip
- Every time Tora actually saves a human – awwwww
- Every time Ushio and his dad scuffle – take a sip
- Every time Ushio carries someone on his back – take a sip
- if it’s not Tora – take another
- Every time someone calls Tora Nagatobimaru – take a sip
- Every time anyone mentions the beast spear – take a breath or someting – it happems all the time
- Every time we see/hear the mirror yokai – take a sip
- Every time Tora gets love from anyone – awwww again
- Every time we see Ushio’s mom – take a sip
- Every time Ushio mentions being an artist – take a sip
I save all my screencaps on my Pinterest and you can find more there if you are interested. But I still like to show you a few in the post. If you’re like me, screencaps are something that really helps you decide to watch an anime or not.