I wasn’t sure what I was after when I decided to try out Dorohedoro
I noticed an anime with a cool opening that seemed to be trippy, had a different style to it’s animation and would be fun watch.
I looked into it and found out it was about sorcery and would have butt kicking and lots of dark edgy stuff. So I decided give it a go.
I wanted to have my mind blown just so I could give it an awesome rating and recommend it.
So when I started I was expecting SO much.
Boy, was I let down…
To start off I’ll point out that it has an odd animation style and if you’re not used to visuals that aren’t fluid and sharp then this wont be for you.
The manga looks edgy but the anime…see for yourself.
That unusual visual aside, the blood and guts from the fighting gives the anime that missing edge but then again the fighting doesn’t take up as much of the twenty minute runtime for each episode.
You’ll see enough of it but I’m not sure you’ll love it if you’ve seen better. So yeah, on to the review.
Dorohedoro puts you smack in the middle of a battle in it’s Opening moments between three of the main characters; our two protagonists Kaiman the Lizard man and his partner Nikaido, going against Fujita a low ranked sorcerer and his partner.
Fujita’s partner Matsumura has his head swallowed by Kaiman (yeah, you saw and I’ll get to that). He’s in Kaiman’s mouth, alive but scared, and in the background you can hear Fujita screaming his name as Nikaido holds him back and pummels him a bit.
This scene had me hyped up… And the extra hype came, pun intended, after Matsumura screams! “There’s someone else in his mouth.”
Suddenly you’re seeing Matsumura staring at another head in Kaiman’s giant head. This other person pops out from Kaiman’s throat, takes a look at Matsumura and says…”You’re not the one.” Kaiman then, pulls him out of his mouth, asks him what the head in his mouth says and when Matsunura tells him, he apologizes then….I’ll leave the rest for you because that’s where the excitement ended.
In hindsight the anime has too many issues in my opinion, something I doubt the manga has to deal with. One of them being that it has a lot to unpackage and is trying to do so in such a short space of time; about 8 episodes at the time of my writing. If I were to give a synopsis to sum up all the no action stuff it would go like this;
We find out that the world is divided into two dimensions; “The Hole” where humans reside and the Sorcerer’s world where of course sorcerers call home.
Humans and Sorcerer’s are distinctly different species, with the sorcerer’s having been created by the devil Chidaruma (I dunno who he is yet, I don’t even remember hearing his name till I googled).
The sorcerers have special veins in their body which produces a Black Smoke that is the source of their abilities. The amount of smoke sorcerer’s produce determines the potency of their power.
Humans, who don’t have any abilities are experimented on by the sorcerers, most of whom don’t care much for humans and just want to test and improve their powers.
That’s not all and I’d rather you see the rest for yourself so I don’t bore you with details.
If you feel as if I’ve broken things up haphazardly to fill you in on important stuff, well that’s Dorohedoro’s plot and world building. It’s fragmented in a way that doesn’t do it any favours.
Another problem is that the main plot just stalls a lot. Now Kaiman is a man with amnesia who’s been turned into a lizard man by a sorcerer with transformation powers. An added trait is that he seems to be the only person impervious to magic.
The plot centers around Kaiman and Nikaido doing what they can to find his true identity as they go after sorcerers, in order to kill their target and break the transformation spell on Kaiman.
And we follow them sort of doing exactly this. I say sort of because SOMETIMES THEY ARENT DOING THAT. Sometimes everything takes a back seat to either do some world building or just be funny after a period of very dark stuff.
This show’s main problem lies in it’s terrible pacing. You’re made to expect lots of fights and fast pace after episode one. It has a sense of urgency at that point and draws you in. Then they back and take a break FOR NIKAIDO TO COOK FOR KAIMAN.
And then they just do nothing serious for a while. And this happens enough times to annoy you; they face a serious threat, like when they are attacked by two of our main villains, Shin and Noi. They almost battle to the death to close the episode and then when the next episode comes that’s it. Later on, NIKAIDO IS COOKING FOR KAIMAN. AGAIN.
An episode starts, and they’re doing something important, they get caught up in something serious and then… everything resets. Whatever it is they’re doing ends and that’s it.
The pacing picks up before a fight, then they fight and then everything is reset. Nothing has changed. No one has developed and everything goes back to the way they were at the beginning. It’s infuriating. Dorohedoro doesn’t come off as a show that’s episodic but it closes each episode as if what happens previously is a throwaway moment just so we can start fresh.
Every episode starts and finishes and starts all over, and it isn’t a problem that it’s episodic. The problem is that it barely does so without being interesting. It has a slow methodical pace, suddenly spikes up for a fight then leaves you hanging when it’s done.
And then there’s the awful characterization.
The dynamic between Nikaido and Kaiman isn’t well established. It seems like there’s an element of guilt behind Nikaido’s fondness for her lizard friend while Kaiman has a third grade understanding of their friendship and probably has a crush on her. We don’t get to see their origin or how they bond and become partners but it’s made mention off in an episode.
Now, it’s barely been ten episodes and already they’re teasing a break up because of a secret Nikaido is hiding. How are we supposed to feel sympathetic when we don’t feel anything for them or understand them that well?
And then we have our baddies.
From right to left Shin, En, Noi and Fujita, all of whom are supposedly evil sorcerers, just seem to…mess around.They’re barely what I’d call villains. They just seem to be regular people until they are not.
They joke, they fool around, they’re clumsy, they get embarrassed and they like their favorite foods of pets or things…and then in an instant they’re baddies when they need to be serious. I think they’re the way they are so that the show can be edgy at times and fun other times but it doesn’t work here.
Too much time is spent trying to make the villains sympathetic and likable, that you’d probably be forgiven for thinking they were the good guys. You’d probably also think you were rooting for the wrong team the way Kaiman and Nikaido seem shady most of the time.
Everyone is very light-hearted and chill when they aren’t trying to kill each other or get to a certain point. And because everyone wears masks they don’t actually know who they are which is a good thing but … Oh well.
But the main issue is that their characters don’t do well to endear themselves to anyone.
You won’t know much about them but because you see them eating, joking, having awkward conversations and interacting in their own environment and talking about their pasts in a long flashback suddenly, we’re supposed to end up liking them? No. A bit of character development, a background and stakes would do. But not this.
And there’s also an element of classism. The sorcerers are in the upper realm and live lavishly. The humans below them live in a slummish area, which befits their state of being. And nothing’s done with it … Jeez
To sum this up, The show barely has anything to it other than the blood and guts. Its only been a couple of episodes but it’s left such a bad taste in my mouth already I wouldn’t know if I could give it a second chance after a few more episodes.
I am making this review having not read the manga mind you, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the plot and characterization is handled way better in that medium.
Basically dorohedoro is one of those titles that tries to balance heavy themes like depression, suffering and death with a little bit of humor and silliness. It also tries to endear you to characters by making them horrible goofballs with saddest backstories you could think of.
I love that kinda stuff but this, watching this, this is a demonstration of doing it so badly I wouldn’t blame you if you can’t get into it at all. I know it’ll be hard for me.
Laabu and Piisu, people.✌️😊
Someone looking to live through the experience of words.