Cover of the first volume of Dorohedoro.
|Genre||Adventure, Action, Science fantasy, Horror|
|Written by||Q Hayashida|
|English publisher||Viz Media|
|Original run||1999 – ongoing|
Dorohedoro (ドロヘドロ) is a fantasy manga series running in Shogakukan's Ikki magazine. Dorohedoro is written by Q Hayashida, who is known for her work as the author of Maken X Another. In 2009 Viz Media licensed, and began serializing Dorohedoro on their online manga website, SigIKKI.
The plot of the manga centers around Kaiman, who does not remember who he was before he was transfigured by a "Magic User". This transformation left him with a reptile's head, and a desire to find out the truth about who he really is. Accompanied by Nikaido, his female companion, he tracks down Magic Users in the Hole and unceremoniously chomps down on their head, hoping to find out who it was that put him in this state. One by one, they witness this "second man" inside the head of Kaiman, and after pulling them back out of his mouth he asks them all the same question...
"What did the guy inside my mouth say?"
There are two separate worlds in Dorohedoro, the Hole, where people who cannot use magic live, and the world of magic users. Magic users are individuals who offer gifts to the devil in hope of receiving a unique mask in return. Magic users frequently wear these masks, only removing them for instances of food consumption, possible identification purposes, or simply leisure. Magic users can produce "smoke" which is the source of their powers. There are several different types of smoke such as transformation, healing and resurrection. It is known that there are magic users who can alter time but that gift is very rare and often thought to be a myth. Usually one magic user can only use one type of smoke (for example : a user with healing ability cannot do transformations, or a user with lizard transformation abilities cannot do mushroom transformations). However, smoke can be sold and bought. In bottled or spray form it can be used by other individuals, magic users or not. Magic can be amplified by consuming black powder but this act is looked down upon in the society and regarded as shameful. Frequent use of this black powder turns a magic user's smoke potent for indefinite amount of time. Remains of black powder can be found in the user's smoke.
Magic users often frequent the Hole for experimenting with their powers or "fun". Their victims are usually left incapacitated or on the verge of death. The residue left by magic users in their world falls down in the Hole as rain. This rain reduces the powers of magic users.
Those who cannot use magic, seek refuge or wish to hide their abilities dwell in the Hole. These people live their everyday lives, sometimes at the mercy of visiting Magic users who make a plaything of their world—and them.
The World of Dorohedoro seems to be set in a post-apocalyptic world which is split in to two major factions.
The Magic User World
Magic Users are those who can produce black smoke, which in turn can perform magical feats expanding past the capacity of normal human beings. These people all wear masks, made for them by the devil. They live in one world, but frequent The Hole for testing of their powers and in some cases, simple fun. The way of transport through worlds is done by summoning doors to take the user from place to place. Other methods of transportation shown have been in flying carpets, and other enchanted objects. A caste system exists there where users with high-level magic are exacted special rights and quality of life. Magic users with low-level magic are often treated with contempt by superior users and live in poverty. At the very top of the system are devils who seem to enforce what little amounts to the law.
The Hole is where those who are without magic reside, often the plaything of visiting magic users. Almost considered a dump, many areas are condemned if not nearing so. However, despite the odds there are some surviving businesses, a large one of which being the hospital for those who have been the victims of magic.
Kaiman is the lead character of the manga. He appears to have been the victim of a transformation, memories of which he is convinced have a man having laid the spell on him. Other than that, he has no recollection of his previous life. He sports the head of a large reptile, with no other alternates in limbs or body. (He's quite human right down to the head.) His head sports various spikes that jar out when he is surprised or stressed, and there are cross-shaped marks over each of his eyes. It appears that despite having his head chopped off, he can regenerate it in a matter of time. It is eventually shown that Kaiman is actually a character called Aikawa, only previously shown in Risu's flashbacks. Not only this, but that he is part of a conglomerate entity, along with the leader of the Cross-Eyes and several unknown people.
It is strongly hinted that Kaiman/Aikawa was actually the mysterious leader of the Cross-Eyes and is later confirmed in Volume 13. The Cross-Eyes leader was originally a human named Ai from Hole, whom Professor Kasukabe attempted to turn into a Magic User at his behest. Ai then encountered Dokuga and his buddies, and formed the Cross-Eyes with them. He then began hunting Elite Magic Users along with Dokuga and his friends. This provoked En, who sent Noi and Shin to deal with the Cross-Eyes. However, they were easily overpowered by Ai and were nearly killed. They were saved by En's appearance, and promptly retreated. En faced the Cross-Eyes leader, and wanting to end it quickly by playing it safe, he released an enormous quantity of Smoke, obliterating the entire city of Kasmet. However, while barely conscious due to the collapse of the ground, he saw the silhouette of a headless figure walking away. He is haunted by this incident till the current time and went so far as forcing Nikaido to be his partner, just so he could use her powers to confirm whether The Leader really perished or not.
It is unknown exactly how the surgery Professor Kasukabe worked, but it seems to have changed Ai significantly. He is not explicitly shown using Smoke when he fought Shin and Noi or En, but all three of them felt an eerie sense of disquiet when facing him. They feel it again when they encounter him six years later and recognise it. Ai seems to be extremely powerful, being a master of the knife and possessing extreme speed. He easily kills En in Volume 12, decapitating him. He later removes the Devil Tumor from En's head and surprisingly uses En's Magic against Shin and Noi, severely injuring them. The Magic, as noted by Shou, seemed much more potent than En's as even an Elite regenerative Magic User like Noi required a month to regain consciousness.
It is shown that Aikawa/Kaiman are actually a split personality of Ai.
Kaiman's present companion, and a woman who owns the Hungry Bug, a family restaurant in The Hole. She found Kaiman after his initial transformation, and has befriended and aided him ever since. They, together, hunt down magic users who enter The Hole, and try to locate the one who inflicted the transformation on Kaiman. As it progresses, it is revealed that Nikaido is also a magic user, and has some ties in the Magic Users' World. It is later revealed her magic involves the control of time. When she trains with the ex-devil, Asu, she discovers that her magic can only be used a limited number of times before eventually becoming completely unusable.
En is shown to be the Corporate boss of a business that sells mushroom based products, ranging from food, weaponry, psychedelics and housing. He's shown to be a man who has a large expansive group of lackeys, and is Noi and Shin's boss. He wears a mask that holds over his mouth similar to a surgeon's mask, and his smoke can turn people and objects in to mushrooms. He is also quite fond of mushrooms, so much so that he themes every product he sells after them, and tends to only eat mushrooms.
From the moment he was born En was surrounded by mushrooms, to which he today thinks he transformed his parents into mushrooms, and survived on eating them until a man entered his house and sold him off to a group who extracted and sold smoke from magic users. He escaped when he was nine, where he was found by a devil who dumped him into hell. En only survived the journey into hell, as he was so full of hate that he couldn't risk dying before extracting revenge. In hell he survived, by creating mushrooms to feed upon, some time after his devil Chidaruma found him and gave him the name 'En' then sent him back to the surface. A year and a half later he extracted his revenge against the workers in the factory who stole the magic of others, he destroyed the factory and made all the victims inside his friends. It was from there his criminal empire began to grow.
Shin & Noi
Shin and Noi are enforcers for En, a powerful leader of a corporation in The Magic Users' realm. As partners, Shin and Noi are commonly shown competing with one another while on a job, placing bets on who can kill more people, or a person faster. Noi refers to Shin often as "Senpai", a reflection of her position in the corporation (that of one who has come after Shin).
Shin is one of the most powerful fighters in the manga and works as a cleaner in En's organization as Noi's partner. He fights with a hammer as a weapon and uses magic smoke which chops up victims into slices without killing them. Shin's mask is shaped like a human heart, although he usually wears it backwards with the front of it facing backwards and two eye holes cut out of the back. Without a mask he is blond with blue eyes, and wears glasses. He is usually in a suit with an un-tucked white shirt and sneakers.
Noi is a powerful cleaner for En's organization and also En's younger cousin. Although female, she is heavily muscled and towering in height. Noi's hair in the Bonus Chapter of 17 is pale white-blond like, and her eyes appear red—suggesting she might be an albino. Her hair is mid length, and she has several piercings on her ears. Her smoke heals almost any injury short of actual death. She is very affectionate to Shin, sometimes to his exasperation. Noi's mask is very detailed, although dark blue and apparently vinyl-like.
Fujita is a magic user residing in the Magic user's domain, working for a company headed by En: a powerful magic user. Fujita isn't a very good magic user at all. Wanting to avenge his comrade, Fujita sets out to return to Hole heavily armed but is stopped by a messenger of En, who passes on the message that he's been assigned to find the user who transformed Kaiman into a saurian. A bit of research reveals a reptilian transformation specialist—Ebisu. Fujita recalls passing her while in the Hole with his friend—and so, goes to find her before Kaiman can kill her, too. Fujita's timing is just right, and so he manages to save Ebisu just as she's stuck in the jaws of Kaiman, her fingers cut clean off after she attempts to use her smoke on him. Unfortunately, her life comes at the price of her sanity and her face—En assigns one of the higher-ups, Noi, to heal Ebisu's face and fingers. Although physically in one piece once again, Ebisu is still traumatized by the incident, her personality reverted to that of a small child and memory obliterated.
Noi and Shin are sent to exterminate Kaiman—Fujita tagging along partially because he wants revenge, partially to watch after Ebisu, of whose memory everyone is waiting on to return.
Fujita wears a trapper hat and a Tengu mask, and is known to cover his eyes during horror movies. His magic has yet to be defined, although he fired his smoke like bullets on one occasion.
Ebisu is a young and sullen looking woman who first appears in chapter three, donning a skull shaped mask. She is walking through the Hole, unable to summon a door back to the Magic Users' world due to the barrier between worlds in effect. She runs in to Kaiman and Nikaido, who advance on her in their common fashion. Kaiman cuts off Ebisu's fingers to prevent her from using magic, and bites down on her head after removing her mask. Before he can withdraw to ask her his "question", a frantic Fujita appears from a door behind her and forcefully pulls her out of his clamped down jaws, in to the door. This sudden and jerky movement causes trauma to her face and head, but they both get to safety.
After this incident, Ebisu is shown to be haunted by nightmares - and has become somewhat insane. At En's residence, she is restrained until Noi can properly heal and restore her fingers and face. Past that point, it is evident her head trauma caused some (supposedly temporary,) brain damage as seen in her suddenly eccentric behavior. She is commonly seen with Fujita in the manga panels.
Records state she is skilled in Reptile transformation. However between panels it shows her having attacked someone with a surplus of power after being fed Black Powder by someone who appeared to have met her before. It is revealed she was a black smoke user, and had heard the words said to her from the man inside Kaiman's head. Some of her memories return when she herself transforms into a large dinosaur-like lizard, proving that the consumption of black powder from a young age has caused an increase in power. It is eventually revealed that she was the one who hexed Kaiman when she is temporarily killed and the spell is lifted from Kaiman. It is revealed later that this is due to a bottle of her smoke that she had sold, and not a direct curse.
English language release
Viz Media released the first graphic novel volume of Dorohedoro on 16 March 2010. It was translated by the localization company AltJapan, who has continued to translate all subsequent releases. 
- "Dorohedoro". SigIKKI. Retrieved November 19, 2010.
- Moore, Debi (March 9, 2010). "Viz Launching New Series Dorohedoro". DreadCentral.com. Retrieved November 19, 2010.
- AltJapan "American publishers turn to AltJapan for tough-to-localize content". AltJapan.com. Retrieved March 14, 2013.