Dorohedoro is a well-received manga on the internet, written and illustrated by Q Hayashida, that has finally approached the anime spotlight. To look back, in 2009, publishing company Viz Media featured the digital manga of Dorohedoro. The first online English version was later released and the manga’s first graphic novel volume was published on March 16, 2010. In total, the series finished with 23 volumes by November of 2018. About two years after the manga’s conclusion, Dorohedoro has recently received an anime adaptation, which is produced as a Netflix original. This anime has been surrounded by hype among the media ever since its release. Does it live up to the praise? Fans of the manga will certainly enjoy this adaptation; however, to newcomers, Dorohedoro may come off as a little confusing.
Dorohedoro takes place in a magical world where two types of people exist: humans and sorcerers. Humans live in one dimension called the “Hole,” which is a broken-down post-apocalyptic environment. Sorcerers live in another dimension called the Sorcerer’s World. Often, there are conflicts between the dimensions as sorcerers use the “Hole” as a playground to test out their foul magic. The main character Caiman, a human whose head was morphed into that of a lizard by a sorcerer, goes on a manhunt to find the mysterious person responsible. As funny as it sounds, this is Dorohedoro’s level of comedy: it’s an anime that doesn’t take itself seriously.
The plot is the most important aspect of an anime’s success. If the story is confusing and unclear, it can be hard for one to grasp what’s happening. That is how I felt about Dorohedoro. The anime takes an interesting approach by throwing viewers straight into the life of Caiman but little to nothing in the world of humans and sorcerers is explained. This may have been done to immerse viewers by showing not telling; however, it backfires as I found myself questioning what was happening. Sometimes the story pacing feels like a roller coaster off its hinges: uncontrolled. The story, though intriguing, would be better off with more background.
During Caiman’s journey, his best friend Nikaidō accompanies him even though she has a major secret. The two are a joy to watch on-screen as they both kick ass while dropping hilarious jokes. Besides that, another flaw in Dorohedoro is the lack of suspense, usually generated by a gallery of villains—none of that is here. Despite the murderous sorcerers that get in the way of Caiman’s goal, they can’t be taken seriously because of their comedic nature. Due to the lack of a sense of danger, I never thought any of the characters were going to die. Then again, this may be the direction Dorohedoro takes due to its non-serious aspect.
The music in Dorohedoro is quite amazing. The weird opening theme song and catchy ending tracks are music to the ear. The songs are groovy to the point where I began to bop my head, unaware of the fact that I was dancing in my chair. Accompanying the music, the funny visuals of the characters dancing just makes the opening theme song and ending tracks memorable. All the tracks in Dorohedoro fit the theme of the anime, magical and nonsensical. If anything, through the music you could tell a lot of passion was put into it.
The English dub for the Netflix original is good, but not great. At certain points, the rough voice of Caiman sounds great in English, but this is short-lived due to parts where I found myself cringing at his voice acting. Even though Caiman’s English dub is subpar, the rest of the cast sounds solid. Like always, still stick to the Japanese dub; there is a lot more emotion in the Japanese voice actors’ lines.
The world of Dorohedoro is depicted with a great art style. The art style consists of colorful and at times violent art. This works well for the series as you jump back and forth from the dimensions of the rather gray “Hole” and the colorful Sorcerer’s World constantly. To manga fans, this may be off-putting as the dark and gritty artwork by Hayashida in the original graphic novel does not transfer over in the anime adaptation. The amount of violence and blood spurts in the show hint at the grittiness present in the manga. Now, the animation is a double-edged sword. The animation studio for Dorohedoro, MAPPA, who are well known for their hit series “Yuri on Ice,” combine 3D CGI with 2D animation. In some scenes, the mixture works nicely as you feel the punch or stab inflicted on characters. Oddly enough, in other scenes, the animation looks really slow and strangely awkward. Where the animation takes steps forward, it ultimately takes steps backwards.
By no means is Dorohedoro an anime to overlook. It has satisfying sequences of action, funny moments, and compelling art; however, due to the lack of storytelling and suspense throughout the anime adaptation, it falls short. The music and art style can be praised as amazing but are nothing to drool over. And the animation is a hit or miss depending on how the 3D CGI is implemented. If you want to embark in the world of Dorohedoro, you can check out the manga, but, if you are looking for a dark comedy anime to binge, this adaptation might not be for you.