Adding yet another stacked series to their 2020 line up. Netflix added a winter dark fantasy series that would take four key factors, and play them out in near perfection. Worldbuilding, Character development, humor, and extremely dark undertones. Masterfully intertwining elements of humans, supernatural prejudice, and a class system that keeps those without the touch of magic, away from the ones who can. Helmed by director Hayashi, Yuuichirou and animated by studio MAPPA join me as I look deeper into Dorohedoro.
One of the first take away from this show is without a doubt the animation, it is not, well, great. 3D animation as a whole is usually a turn-off, at best studios can make it just fine enough for me to ignore as was done with this show. But in some extremely rare cases, it becomes part of the show’s appeal, like what Orange was able to do with Beastars. But even with the at some points off animation style, where MAPPA really steps up is the action scenes. Fast, graphic, and brutal anytime there is action on the screen (especially if it’s Nikaidou) every moment is a pure banger.
I guess I should take a step back and talk about the overall premises of the series.
Dorohedoro follows lizard headed Caiman. A stocky knife-wielder who lost his memory after running into the sorcerer that cursed him with the reptilian appearance he has. Partnered with a restaurant owner and overall cheerful Nikaidou, the two make an agreement. With the only lead they have being a mysterious man in Caiman’s mouth they decide to hunt down the sorcerer who did this, using the man to identify them. This plot point actually adds an interesting level of humor in an overall dark and graphic show. Caiman’s off the cuff just sticking random mages in his mouth is equally whimsical and confusing to even the people he is doing it to, as most of them stand in bewilderment of what just happened as Caiman eagerly ask them what the man in his mouth said.
It is events like that, plus quirky interactions and just the world in general that adds a heavy layer of humor to this series that I was not expecting. At one moment I will find myself giggling only to see half of some guy’s head getting kicked off seconds later. It has this cadence that adds a level of mystery, a show that can go from funny, to serious, to interesting or straight to gore at any second. It shows a really impressive knowledge of not only storytelling but cinemaphotography as the series plays out.
The world of Dorohedoro and how the characters interact within it is a feat in and of itself. Being just one season 12 episode I felt by the end I had some sort of emotional attachment to all the mains (there are like 7) even the ones who are supposed to be the antagonist of the story. Well, time flashbacks that show not only why these characters are doing what they are doing but a good chunk of world back plot to make all of their decisions that much more understanding. Magic users and non-magic users. Those with no magic that live in Hole, a place with no law and order, a place where magic users are free to do what they please, a playground separate from their daily livings. However, that does not protect them from violence from the humans that live there, a deep-seated vengeance that has cost many lives on both sides of the spectrum.
We as viewers get to see this dynamic play out as each main has their own experiences that shaped them into who they are. And as stated to do this well of a job in the span of 12 episodes is a feat. But even with scenes after scene bringing character, it equally brings the same amount of world-building. Among the magic users are devils, the lawless Hole is the opposite of what exists in the realm above, there is an interactive structure of laws, religion, and status. Added with capitalist elements both the depth Dorohedoro sets are massive and it just piles more and more on as one could get into different magic types, power structure, and the idea of hell.
Overall Dorohedoro is a fucking ride. A cluster of comedy action and gore that I must say is not for the faint at heart. I wouldn’t put this series near Devilman is an aspect of just how graphic it can be but there were times I felt the vibe. There are some truly hard to watch moments and the series knows how to push the weight of those. I would say it is more on the lines of Future Dairies in the gore department. So if it’s something that can be stomached, It is definitely something that should be enjoyed.
As always thanks for the read!