TMNT – “Osoroshi no Tabi” Review
The Usagi Yojimbo train kept rolling this week, this time with an adventure featuring trickster Tanuki, a giant spider monster, and a dangerous dream sequence that showed how much of a threat Jei really is. “Osoroshi no Tabi” proved to be a solid follow up to the great “Yojimbo,” giving us further exploration of the world and its denizens. It also featured the growing friendship between Usagi and Leo, a tradition found in every Yojimbo/TMNT crossover.
“Osoroshi no Tabi” was very fantasy driven and it was to the episodes benefit. The show runners have done such a good job of mixing up the show, and the Yojimbo tale is just
another good example of this. It honestly felt like an RPG encounter. We found our heroes traveling from land to land, through forests and mountains, all to bring Kintaro to his
orders temple. The episode brought the now trademark combination of silly humor, character development, and dark encounters in spades. Honestly, despite the random release schedule, it’s impressive that the show runners continuously put out episodes of such solid quality. The animation is gorgeous, and “Osoroshi no Tabi” gave us more beautiful landscapes and interesting character design. I was consistently blown away by what appeared to be hand painted backgrounds in and out of the yokai forest. There was also one moment, where the Turtles, Usagi, and Kintaro are walking into the lair of Joroguma (the spider yokai), where the light and shadows were so good, it almost looked like a live action recording. I’m really going to miss this series when it’s over.
The “attack” of the Tanuki was a silly way to start off the episode, but a good palate cleanser after Leo and Usagi’s initial disagreement. As shape shifting tricksters, it was fun to see the critters bouncing around, mimicking Mikey and Raph, and generally teasing our heroes. When Leo, Donnie, Usagi, and Kintaro came to a clearing and saw Mikey and Raph on spits about to be roasted, the whole scene had a real Star Wars Ewoks vibe to it. It’s kind of a trope, but it was amusing to see the Turtles get frustrated and summarily get their butts kicked by the Tanuki. Once Raph and Mikey were freed, Usagi showed them they have to make an offering. He gave a carrot, which led to a good Bugs Bunny reference by Raph. Mikey, meanwhile offered a slice of pizza…which he was somehow storing in his belt. Weird.
It’s a good thing they made the offerings though, because it was the Tanuki who saved the lot when they were captured by the previously mentioned Joroguma. The spider was very Lord of the Rings-y. Very fun and scary. Luring Usagi in using the image of his friend Akemi, it was Leo who sprung the trap, shouting “I’ll save you!” Ugh. Even as a huge Leo fan I groaned at that exclamation. Nonetheless, the Turtles and Usagi were well outmatched by Joroguma. When all seemed lost, the Tanuki came in for the save, distracting Joroguma and freeing everyone. They even referenced Super Mario by pulling capes out and curling them over their backs to form their parachutes. Nice touch.
Moving on to the end of the episode, our heroes made camp, just outside the Yoroguma cave exit. While everybody else went to sleep, Leo and Usagi chatted, with Leo apologizing for his behavior throughout the episode. The conversation was a nice nod to the relationship Leo and Usagi have in every TMNT iteration. Leo sees a kindred spirit through their code of honor.
Leo would take the first night watch shift, but it wouldn’t be long before he passed out, under the spell of Jei. In his dream, Leo and his brother encountered Jei, who systematically killed each of his brothers. Burning with rage, Leo went after Jei, only to be bested. Just as Jei was going to deal the finishing blow, Leo was woken up by his brothers. They all had the same dream. Jei was torturing them all. The fight scene in the dream reminded me of the final rooftop battle from the 90s TMNT movie, and that’s always nice.
Overall, “Osoroshi no Tabi” was a solid episode. It showed us more of the world, had a mix of humorous and weighty battles, and had some nice character moments. Having Leo in full “super hero” mode is a little frustrating, but not enough to take away from the overall quality of the episode. Once again, it’s nice to see the Usagi/Leo friendship grow, and I hope we get more of that next episode.
Honestly, it feels like the arc could have 2 more episodes in it. I’m pretty sure this tale is only getting three episodes, but the full 4 episode arc treatment would be really welcome. The world continues to be so vibrant and interesting, and it’s been some of the best landscape work we’ve seen in the series. It’s so easy to want more from this. More time for the Turtles and Usagi to know each other. More context and information so the audience can learn more about Jei. It’d even be nice to see Kintaro mature from this adventure. It’s been such a nice change of pace from what the show usually offers.