Cover of the first volume of Dorohedoro.
|Genre||Adventure, dark fantasy, science fiction|
|Written by||Q Hayashida|
Monthly Shōnen Sunday
|Original run||2000 – 2018|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Yuichiro Hayashi|
|Written by||Hiroshi Seko|
|Original network||Tokyo MX|
|Original run||January 12, 2020 – scheduled|
Dorohedoro (ドロヘドロ) is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Q Hayashida. It tells the story of the amnesiac reptilian-headed Caiman working together with his friend Nikaido to recover his memories and survive in a strange and violent world.
The series was formerly serialized in Shogakukan's seinen magazine Monthly Ikki since 2000, but after its cessation in 2014 the series was moved to Hibana in 2015. However, after the cessation of Hibana in August 2017, the series was transferred to Monthly Shōnen Sunday magazine in November 2017 and finished in September 2018.
The series has been licensed for English-language release by Viz Media in 2009 and began distributing the manga digitally when it launched SigIKKI, the former online English version of Ikki magazine.
Dorohedoro story takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting, split in two separate dimensions; the Hole, a dismal cityscape where humans reside; and the Sorcerers' world, home of sorcerers. Despite appearing similar, humans and sorcerers are two distinct species, the former evolving naturally, while the latter was created by a primordial devil named Chidaruma. Sorcerers are capable of entering the Hole by summoning magical doors.
Sorcerers have specialized organs in their body allowing them to produce "smoke", which is the source of their unique magical powers. Some sorcerers have incredibly weak powers while others may be capable of far greater feats such as resurrecting the dead or controlling time; these powers are incredibly rare and highly prized. The amount of smoke a sorcerer is capable of producing (thus how effective their magic may be) also factors into a sorcerer’s abilities, and many sorcerers work to improve their smoke output through surgery, or more commonly, the illicit use of black powder, which is distributed by a gang of low-level sorcerers called the Cross-Eyes. Smoke can also be bought and sold. The hierarchy of the sorcerers' world is structured around these differences in ability: powerful sorcerers, such as “The En Family”, enjoy a life of luxury; while weak sorcerers, who produce such low amounts of smoke they may be unable to use magic at all, live in destitution. Powerful sorcerers may undergo a metamorphosis into a 'devil' — an immortal being with incredible power, following a rigorous training regime. Devils are deeply respected by sorcerer-kind and also manage the affairs of a third realm, Hell, where they work with Chidaruma to torture the souls of dead sorcerers.
Sorcerers regularly visit the Hole in order to practice their magic on human victims, leading to huge numbers of disfigured survivors. Hospitals have been set up to deal with the ever-growing numbers of magic victims, but humans can do little to repel sorcerers. To make matters worse, the residual magic smoke in the air mixes with the Hole’s toxic rain, causing the dead to periodically rise from the grave and attack the living. The residents of the Hole call this annual event “Night of the Living Dead” and work with local priests to kill zombies for prizes.
The plot centers on a man named Caiman and his search for his real identity, after a transformation by a sorcerer, left him with a reptile's head and no memory of his former life. Along with his female friend Nikaido, he violently assaults sorcerers in the Hole, with the aim of taking their heads into his mouth, where a strange face will appear and confirm whether the sorcerer he has bitten onto was the one responsible for his transformation or not. Somehow, Caiman is immune to magical effects and as a result is extremely dangerous to sorcerers.
The news of a lizard-headed magician-killer immune to magic attracts the attention of En, a powerful sorcerer and head of a syndicate known as “The En Family”, who sends his cleaners to kill Caiman. En himself is currently attempting to scrub out a gang of low-level sorcerers known as the cross-eyes, after an encounter with their legendary boss almost cost him his life years ago.
As the residents of the Hole, the En family and the cross-eye gang, along with many others, collide with one-another, the mystery of Caiman’s identity begins to unravel, reigniting ancient grudges and threatening to forever change both the Hole and the sorcerers' world.
Residents of the Hole
- Caiman (カイマン)
- Voiced by: Wataru Takagi
- The protagonist of the series. Caiman is a victim of a magic attack that has left him with the head of a reptile and no memory of his original identity. He works with his friend Nikaido to hunt down sorcerers who enter the Hole, hoping to find the one who cast the spell on him and kill him to nullify it. By biting down on the heads of sorcerers, a mysterious presence that live in his mouth communicates with the bewildered sorcerer, stating whether or not they are "the one". Caiman then spits them out and asks the sorcerer to repeat the information to him. This is his only lead to finding his original identity. Caiman's immunity to magic and formidable knife skills make him incredibly skilled at battling sorcerers. He also has the ability to regenerate his head, allowing him to survive lethal attack such as decapitation. When not fighting, Caiman loves eating gyoza and frequently sends Nikaido's restaurant, The Hungry Bug, teetering towards financial ruin due to his reluctance to pay his tabs. While his imposing figure frightens some, he is generally well-liked in the Hole. At the beginning of the series, he works part time at a hospital for the treatment of magic victims.
- Caiman's original identity is a complicated affair. He was born a human in the Hole named Ai Coleman, who dreamed of becoming a sorcerer. Working with professor Kasukabe, Ai underwent an experimental procedure to transform himself into a sorcerer, utilising the body parts of eight slaughtered sorcerers. While acquiring a sorcerer body, Ai plunged into the Hole's central, toxic lake of refuse, where he made contact with an entity formed from the residual magic soaked into Hole's mud and the souls of countless humans slaughtered by sorcerers. This entity, known as "Hole" entered his body acting as a secondary consciousness that would periodically take over. Following the conclusion of the experiment, Ai was found dead in the corrosive waters of the Hole and was subsequently buried. However, due to the presence of Hole within him, he was revived by the polluted rainwater and escaped into the sorcerer's world. While living as a sorcerer, Ai bounced between two distinct personalities; Aikawa, a carefree student and Kai, the murderous boss of 'the cross-eye gang', who began to orchestrate Hole's ancient revenge plot by slaughtering Sorcerers and collecting their devil tumours (the source of each sorcerer's unique power). Ultimately, Caiman came into being when Kai murdered Aikawa's best friend, Risu, triggering his unique "curse' magic and sending Kai fleeing back into the Hole. Risu's vengeful ghost decapitated him. However, due to the original 8 sorcerer corpses used in the experiment, he now had 9 heads which functioned as 9 lives. As the second head began to emerge, Kai's headless corpse smashed a bottle of reptile-transformation smoke he had been given for protection. these multiple magic effects smashed together, trapping risu's curse within Kai's body (the source of the man in his mouth), transforming his head into a lizards and severely damaging his memories.
- Nikaidō (二階堂 Nikaidō)
- Voiced by: Reina Kondō
- Caiman's best friend, and owner of the Hungry Bug, a gyoza restaurant in the Hole. She found Caiman after his initial transformation and helps him hunt down sorcerers in the hopes of returning his memories and face. She is secretly a sorcerer herself, and the only known sorcerer capable of time manipulation. Unwilling to use her magic due to an incident in her youth she fled to the Hole at a young age and has resided there ever since. Despite this, she has powerful contacts in the sorcerer's world, namely a devil named Asu who was once a childhood friend. Nikaido is an incredibly skilled fighter in spite of not using magic, typically utilising powerful kicks and acrobatics to disable foes.
- Professor Kasukabe (春日部博士 Kasukabe hakase)
- Voiced by: Mitsuhiro Ichiki
- A mad scientist obsessed with sorcerers who has studied them intently for decades. He is approached by Caiman and Nikaido to use his artificial door to the sorcerer's world. Although in his 60s, he looks incredibly young due to magic cast on him by his estranged, sorcerer wife, Haru, who has since become a devil. His real name is Haze. He is frequently seen with his sidekick, Johnson. Kasukabe is one of the only characters who remembers Ai Coleman and played a pivotal role in Caiman's history.
- Johnson (ジョンソン Jonson)
- A giant cockroach living in the sewers of the Hole mutated by the residual smoke in the Hole's polluted water. Johnson originally belonged to another resident of the Hole who was hunting down magic victims but is later adopted by Professor Kasukabe and rarely leaves his side from then-on. Kasukabe is able to control Johnson using specialised frequencies and can even make him talk, though he is only capable of saying "shocking".
The En Family
- En (煙)
- Voiced by: Kenyu Horiuchi
- 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 into 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 Sorcerers. 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 exacting 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 exacted 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 (心) & Noi (能井)
- Voiced by: Yoshimasa Hosoya (Shin)
- Voiced by: Yū Kobayashi (Noi)
- Shin and Noi are En's enforcers. 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.
- Shin is one of the most powerful fighters. He fights with a hammer as a weapon and uses magic smoke that slices up victims 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 untucked white shirt and sneakers.
- Noi is a powerful cleaner for En's organization and is also En's younger cousin. She is heavily muscled and towering in height. Noi's hair is pale white-blond like, and her eyes appear red—suggesting she might be 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 (藤田)
- Voiced by: Kengo Takanashi
- Fujita is a low-level who works for a company headed by En.
- His partner is killed by Caiman, who was immune to magic, he is assigned to find the sorcerer who transformed Caiman into a saurian. A bit of research reveals a reptilian transformation specialist—Ebisu. Fujita recalls passing her while in the Hole, and so he manages to locate and save her just as she's stuck in the jaws of Caiman. The incident leaves Ebisu traumatized, and Fujita watches after her while waiting for her memory 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 (恵比寿)
- Voiced by: Miyu Tomita
- Ebisu is a young and sullen-looking woman who wears a skull-shaped mask. While in the Hole, she runs into Caiman and Nikaido, who cut 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, into the door. 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 brain damage as seen in her suddenly eccentric behavior. She is commonly seen with Fujita.
- 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 Caiman'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 Caiman when she is temporarily killed and the spell is lifted from Caiman. It is revealed later that this is due to a bottle of her smoke that she had sold, and not a direct curse.
Dorohedoro was serialized in Shogakukan's Monthly Ikki since 2000, but the magazine ceased publication in 2014 and was moved to Hibana in 2015. However, after the cessation of Hibana in August 2017, the series was moved to Shogakukan's Monthly Shōnen Sunday magazine on November 11, 2017. The manga finished in September 2018 with its 167th chapter. Shogakukan has compiled the individual chapters into 23 tankōbon volumes as of November 2018.
Viz Media began distributing the manga digitally in 2009 when it launched SigIKKI site, the former online English version of Monthly Ikki, and the first graphic novel volume of Dorohedoro was released on March 16, 2010. It was translated by the localization company AltJapan Co., Ltd., who has continued to translate all subsequent releases.
An anime television series adaptation of Dorohedoro was announced in the December 2018 issue of Shogakukan's Monthly Shōnen Sunday magazine released on November 12, 2018. The series is produced by MAPPA and directed by Yuichiro Hayashi, with Hiroshi Seko in charge of series composition, Tomohiro Kishi designing the characters, and (K)NoW_NAME composing the music. It will premiere on January 12, 2020 on Tokyo MX.
Reviews have praised Hayashida's writing and her bold artwork with her "in-your-face action and punkish scratchiness."  David Brothers praised Hayashida's Dorohedoro for her ability to find the beauty in the grotesque and compared the drawing to the likes of Simon Bisley, Tsutomu Nihei, and Katsuhiro Otomo. Brothers continues, "It's gritty, but it looks great. Flipping through the book just to gaze at the art is almost as rewarding as actually reading it." On the other hand, Carlo Santos from Anime News Network has criticized the series, saying that the story "never develops a sense of flow" and that Q Hayashida "cannot draw the human body at all".
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