- Genre: Comedy, Action, Sci-Fi, Urban Fantasy
- Episodes: 12
- Studio: MAPPA
Ok, you know what this show is too crazy for anything fancy. I’m just going to spell it out like I’m a toddler. There’s this guy named Caiman and he has a lizard head except it’s because someone practised magic n him and he doesn’t know who. He’s also lost his memories. So he’s looking for that someone with the help of his friend Nikaido who is a lady who runs a diner. They are both really good at physical fighting. Also, they live in a world where humans live in a slum-like place called the hole while people called sorcerers (who don’t call themselves human) live in another place and can do magic. They practice that magic on humans. Also, Caiman has a guy in his mouth that can tell if he finds the sorcerer he’s looking for. For obvious reasons relations between humans and sorcerers aren’t that great. Everyone is super violent and people get killed in very bloody ways literally all the time. Also like my title suggests, the show is kinda cute…
I wanted to watch Dorohedoro as soon as it was announced but I don’t know why. I had no clue what it was about. I actually had no clue what it was about until I finished that first episode and even then… The reason it took me this long to get to it is that for some reason Netflix doesn’t like to release their anime in Canada at the same time as they do in other countries. I’m not sure why. I think it’s probably some new mean form of bullying. I’m still going to keep Netflix. I have Netflix Stockholm…
So far all the anime that I have seen backed by Netflix (as opposed to merely distributed) have been very impressive productions. I am assuming that the Netflix budget is a smidge more generous than the average run of the mill anime production can afford but I’m really only basing that on the results.
Dorohedoro is no different. The art style is striking. Personally, I loved it. It manages to capture a certain nostalgic feel while remaining completely modern. To be far it might just be because the visuals reminded me of Akira. The over detailed…everything… (characters are accessorized and dressed up, backgrounds are littered, the style itself is heavy on line art) contributes to both the claustrophobia of the images and the magic of it. It’s a show that is often gruesome to watch yet oddly beautiful. Or at least it was to me.
The voice acting is stellar. One of the best casts I have heard in a while. I wouldn’t be able to single out anyone, they just worked so well as an ensemble and just about every single character had at least some chemistry with pretty much everyone else and a lot with whomever they spent the most time onscreen with. Kudos for the casting director on this one. Great job.
The camera work is kind of understated which is not a bad thing. Like I said, Dorohedoro is a show that can get very visually busy, both because of the crowded art style and the frequent fast-paced action. If the camera started doing some crazy panning or weird angle shots it would have become very easy to lose sight of what was happening and could have hampered our enjoyment of those rich set pieces.
The one and only production hiccup I noted – and it is extremely minor, is that certain cuts can be a little rushed making scene transitions feel jagged. At first, I thought this was on purpose as it fits in so well with the mood of the series, but it was occasionally on scenes that were supposed to either calm us down or lull us into a false scene of security so it would be counterproductive editing if it was indeed on purpose. a show has to be really well done for me to notice something as minor and precise as the pace of edits on specific scenes. That’s only because everything worked so well on this one. And I have to say, it was a joy to take in the production.
Storywise..;. it’s sort of a crazy tale so I’m going to skip on discussing the actual narrative. I can say that I really enjoyed it and that season 1 leaves us with a lot, if not mostly unanswered questions. We really need a season 2 on this one. I know the manga is completed and I could turn to it if I really want to know what happens next but I’m hopeful that Netflix will renew it and like I said, I loved the acting. I want to discover the story alongside these characters as they have been embodied. If push comes to shove though, I will simply buy the entire collection without hesitation. I really liked this narrative.
For the review though let me say this. If you are thinking of watching Dorohedoro with your young children or cousins or something, maybe don’t do that. It is very violent and full of gore as well as occasional nudity but no sexuality. The entire world of the series is meant to be unabashedly gruesome and uncomfortable. But the characters and even events are portrayed in such a way that it’s occasionally kind of sweet. No really. I awwed at this show while people’s brains were still dripping out of their skulls. Admittedly I might have a few issues but I don’t think I’m alone here. It’s a series I would call cheerfully grim.
Dorohedoro doesn’t take itself too seriously. It presents occasionally very sad events by focusing on the action and greater implications of the situation rather than the personal drama and it doesn’t corner its characters.
Make no mistake, Dorohedoro might be a plot-driven story with an amazingly complex universe (one that manages to make itself clear with almost no exposition – amazing!) but the narrative strength of the series lies in the characters. These characters manage to eschew archetypes and completely avoid being just one thing. There are no good guys in the series. The protagonists are as cruel, violent, selfish and careless towards life as the antagonists. Everyone has good points and bad. And getting to know these people is fascinating.
So much so that I can’t really pick a favourite character. I have decided to pick three that may illustrate just how subversive the series can be.
Tanba is a sorcerer we meet in the latter half of the series. Technically he would be an antagonist kinda but he isn’t. He’s large a little brash and his design is intimidating. He doesn’t all much for sentimentality and doesn’t have any tragic backstory or heartwarming family tale. He’s just a guy who runs a restaurant. And he is possibly the most morally upright character in the entire show. He doesn’t get a big moment, he doesn’t save the day and in retrospect, his implication in the series is rather minor. But he is the closest thing to a Jiminy Cricket the show has, yet they never really make that obvious and as such the narrative can’t use him as a voice of reason. He ends up being a muddled mentor archetype for Caiman who neither wants nor needs a mentor and learns nothing from him.
Tanba is the most classical of my picks though. We then have the fantastic Kusakabe. An old man in the body of a young one and a medical doctor. He is good friends with the main protagonists and the most cheerful and welcoming character in the entire series. Everyone likes him for good reason. He’s also a straight-up mad scientist that has no issue with experimenting on live people to satisfy his curiosity. And that’s his entire deal. He is not moved by kindness or duty but entirely out of selfish curiosity. Objectively, he is the character that shows the least loyalty or compassion to others, even counting the antagonists, openly admitting that he only cares about his experiments. He serves as the heart of the series. And it works, I love him even though he could dissect me in my sleep.
But the weirdest character for me was Fujita. This guy is a main character and one of the most important in the series. He even serves as a point of view character fairly frequently. He is technically the first antagonist we meet but he’s so pathetic that it’s difficult to count him as such. He’s too powerless to be an obstacle for our heroes and too inconsequential to have any sort of impact on the events of the show. And the series really drives home what a feeble loser he is making him the but of most jokes and the weakest member of every team. Except for the narrative also uses him, the pathetic loser archetype that should be comic relief, as the voice of reason. It is never said or even really implied in the show but Fujita is often the most clearheaded, reasonable and even smartest in the room. This is why he works as a POV character as well. They even gave him one of the cutest character designs that would normally fit a shonen main character. It’s a crazy mix. But it works. Just like Dorohedoro itself.
Then again maybe my favourite character is actually Noi… cause she’s really hot… or Shin… cause he’s also hot… And they are pretty cute together!
Am I the only one who thought that young Shin looked like Edward Elric? Oh Dorohedoro FMA crossover! Who’s with me???
What this anime taught me: Reptiles only have left brains (or do they?)
Beer is made of hops, hops are plants, therefore beer is salad
- Every time Magic doesn’t work – take a sip
- Every time we see a broken fan – take a sip
- Every time anyone lets out smoke – breath in
- Every time we see the alley – duh duh dum!
- Every time Nikaido cooks – get a snack
- Every time Caiman needs to regrow…something – take a sip
- Every time Ebisu harasses Fujita – awwww
- Every time there’s a magic door – take a sip
- Every time we see Ebisu’s face – take a sip
- Every time you spot the MaPPA logo in-universe – you get a point!
- Every time we see Fujita’s hair – take a sip and be impressed
- Every time Caiman and Nikaido are just friends – awww again
- Shocking! – take a sip
You know the drill, tons of pics on Pinterest…