Hole—a dark, decrepit, and disorderly district where the strong prey on the weak and death is an ordinary occurrence—is all but befitting of the name given to it. A realm separated from law and ethics, it is a testing ground to the magic users who dominate it. As a race occupying the highest rungs of their society, the magic users think of the denizens of Hole as no more than insects. Murdered, mutilated, and made experiments without a second thought, the powerless Hole dwellers litter the halls of Hole's hospital on a daily basis.
Possessing free access to and from the cesspool, and with little challenge to their authority, the magic users appear indomitable to most—aside for a few. Kaiman, more reptile than man, is one such individual. He hunts them on a heedless quest for answers with only a trusted pair of bayonets and his immunity to magic. Cursed by his appearance and tormented by nightmares, magic users are his only clue to restoring his life to normal. With his biggest obstacle being his stomach, his female companion Nikaidou, who runs the restaurant Hungry Bug, is his greatest ally.
Set in a gritty world of hellish design, Dorohedoro manages a healthy blend of comedy and lightheartedness with death and carnage. Taking plenty of twists and turns while following the lives of Hole's residents, it weaves a unique world of unearthly origin and dreary appearance not for the squeamish or easily disturbed.
Since I started reading Dorohedoro manga about 10 years ago it always been my all-time favorite and of course I was hyped for anime adaptation when I heard about it. Also I was scared at the same time for MAPPA with overusing of 3D CGI to completely destroy the muddy but highly-detailed art and all the greatness of the original that Hayashida Q invested 18 years of work to create. For me this manga is just one of a kind, without a single cliche and there never was or will be anything resembling it. As manga have high concentration of gore, dismemberment, black humor and
even some high quality ecchi ;) I also wondered if the show will be ruined not by 3D CGI alone but by censorship too. The point I'm making is that my worries was almost (coz I didn't get confirmation for ecchi :D ) completely dispelled after watching a few episodes and the enjoyment was 10/10 for me as old Dorohedoro fan. I already like how it starts with exact same moment as in manga and following it without deviation. At first pacing seemed to me a little too fast, but there's not a single crucial scene missing as well as not a single of this important scenes was ruined by 3D CGI or censorship, some are much more gory in the manga though, but anime already surprised me with its own gore level as I initially expected shadows, black bars, rows of light etc everywhere. And there's so much material to adapt that I guess pacing is not a problem, the more events from manga will be in each episode - the better.
Speaking about art - it's not so bad and annoying like in certain anime even when they're overusing 3D CGI, but when they're not using it - art is really decent, especially the Hole's scenery - it's as good as in original. Opening was fire! Favorite part of it is Nikaido deliriously chopping meat on the table, it's like...so symbolic for Dorohedoro or something. Personally I don't feel first ending at all, but ending 2 "Night Surfing" became my most favorite ending theme of all time. Overall I put OST of this anime adaptation in its strong points. I love how they made instead of preview after ending the same funny "what did we learn?" as in the end of each volume of manga, looking forward to it in each episodes. Caiman's voice (first recognized it as Okuyasu voice from JoJo4) is somehow totally like I expected it to be, it suits him perfectly, but I didn't think Nikaido's will have voice like this, it's not that I don't like it, but I still need some time to get used to it in next episodes. Characters? They are the best. Easily strongest side of this series. They're so badass and funny and non-cliche and absolutely outstanding I can't stop loving them all, same feeling I'm experiencing only with One Piece. There's complex amnesia plot (to put it mildly, avoiding spoilers) and many unexpected twists lying ahead in this show, and though I know every part of it already - it's full color and animated now and I know it will be great all the way to the end, wherever the anime adaptation is stopping!
I'm kinda fanboy of the title so don't take my words as justice, this title is not for everyone liking at all. Better watch first episode or read first 4 chapters of manga that was adapted in it and see if you like it or not. If you already disliked it after that - you won't enjoy Dorohedoro in the future as it will be even more dark, confusing and full of gore. Though at the same time Dorohedoro never will be truly depressing /or give you a strong psychological pressure, dark antiutopia as it is - it's mostly positive and funny, specifically because of this I think Hayashida Q is a genius.
That's all I have to say for now, except NIKAIDO IS BEST GIRL
Dorohedoro, based on the manga penned by Q Hayashida, for years has constantly been hailed as an example of “a manga that could never be adapted into an anime” in numerous lists/articles and threads online. Her sketchy, densely detailed art style has been compared to manga like Tsutomu Nihei’s Blame! and while less refined than works like Kentaro Miura’s Berserk, falls into a similar category of manga so detailed, some feel it would be impossible to accurately portray frame for frame in animation. Interestingly, both of these properties have received anime adaptations, In Berserks case multiple. Disregarding the Berserk 1997 anime series, both Berserk and
Blame’s more recent anime outings were made possible through the use of CGI character models...to varying degrees of success. So why am I going into this long winded break down of two completely different anime in a Dorohedoro review? Well, I think it’s obvious what everyone’s “hot takes” and opinions on this series are inevitably going to bring up the CGI models for the main characters, so I might as well get it out of the way at the top and bring up some cases for you to think about and compare.
There will be people who will go on and on about their disdain for CGI use in anime and that if a show uses it, it’s automatically terrible, makes their eyes bleed and is sending the industry backwards. So, a quick question and answer
1. Would I have preferred if the main character models were 2D? Yes certainly, of course.
2. How do the CGI models stack up to other series using them? Above average. I’d only really put them below something like and Orange production like Beastars or Houseki no Kuni as far as the actual models are concerned. Those series work better however due to how all the characters and some environments are rendered. As far as a work blending both the CGI and 2D character models and environments, Dorohedoro does a commendable (if janky at times) job.
3. Last question...Am I happy to get to enjoy an adaptation of the manga that has this level of passion and dedication to the direction, music, sound and art outside the CGI models? ABSOLUTELY! I understand the hate and vitriol aimed at works using CGI, but It’s annoying and disheartening to see so many people completely shut down at the sight of it and make no attempt to judge a work on its other merits. Besides that, I’m just honestly thankful to be able to see a manga I truly love come to life in an actually well executed and competent adaptation and have others be able to learn about and enjoy it.
So, now that THAT’s out of the way (at least for now) let’s get into what makes this series special in its story and characters, and what has stood out as far as the production is concerned.
What this story presents is very unique (especially compared to the majority of anime being produced currently) and isn’t something I think most anime viewers are used to seeing. This is achieved through a bizarre yet strangely straight forward set-up, set in a very detailed and intriguing world constantly doling out more information. The basic premise is this, ‘A man has had his head turned into a lizard head by a magic user, he wants to find out who did it with the help of his friend.’ Bizarre enough as it stands but how does this man and his friend hope to solve their conundrum? Well, after detaining a potential culprit, he bites down on their head. They then enter a sort of parallel world where they meet another man inside of his head who tells them “you’re not the one”. Once our protagonist asks what they said, if the answer is “you’re not the one.” They precede to mercilessly kill them, usually by slashing them to pieces. This is the opening scene of the show, and perfectly encapsulates what Dorohedoro is all about, both in the types of scenarios and violence to be encountered and also the very carefree attitude at which characters in this series meet these situations.
This is Dorohedoro’s tone, and it’s one of its greatest strength. While many anime series that use this level of violence and gore would simply come off as edgy and shocking for the sake of it, the creativity in the violence the author paints and the lackadaisical attitude most characters take to it pushes Dorohedoro into a sort of campy and fun dark comedy, while also remaining genuinely disturbing. If I could describe Dorohedoro in two words, it would probably be joyfully sinister. The characters constantly joke around and banter with each other, they love talking about eating food (mainly gyoza for Kaiman, our protagonist) and drinking beer, this applies even more so for the “antagonists” of the series. On the flip side they also love slashing people to bits, bashing heads in and murdering others in very graphic and morbid ways, but this also applies to our protagonists! It makes for some very interesting characters that you still root for and enjoy, because it isn’t that they’re “evil people” necessarily. It’s that everyone in this brutal and metal-as-hell world (well two worlds actually) just lives by the status quo which happens to completely revolve around the authors love and celebration of all things horror.
For a little bit more of an elaboration on the “two worlds” comment and general trajectory of the story, Dorohedoro is mainly concerned with two major groups of characters that resides in said worlds. The world of Hole is a “shit hole” comprised of unfortunate citizens who’ve drawn the short straw in life. It’s a kind of urban/industrial post-apocalyptic setting, filled with an endless number of ruined buildings and factories. Here, people are constantly struggling to get by and also to survive attacks from denizens of the other world...the World of Magic Users. The World of Magic Users is where people who have the ability to produce magical black smoke live. This world is considerably more vibrant and the magic users tend to have it quite a bit better off. This smoke power they use can have any number of interesting effects and properties but many of them transform the target into something. Magic users can also produce doors with their magic that lead to Hole and many of them use these doors to experiment on and torment the citizens of Hole. The first of two groups the bulk of our story revolves around are the previously mentioned Kaiman (who had his head turned into a lizard by a magic user) his best friend Nikaido and a rag tag group of Hole dwellers. They are hunting magic users to find the one who changed Kaiman’s head and quickly find themselves caught up in the business of the second group, the most powerful magic user En and his family of hitmen. From then on, all sorts of chaos and shenanigans ensue. While the story can certainly move at a fast clip at times I also love its ability to slow down and meander at others, building up and showing us various aspects of Hole and The Magic Users World as well as taking time to show us more intimate moments with both sets of characters. This balance of both forward momentum and relaxed character development and world building is something I think many people find a very endearing aspect of the show.
When talking about how it would be near impossible to adapt the extremely detailed art style of Q Hayashida, that might have been true if we were talking about your average anime production and staff. This is where Shinji Kimura comes in as Art Director and we all gasp and say, “Well ... I guess it would be unadaptable WITHOUT someone like him”. There is so much gorgeous background art in this series it could make your head spin, and Kimura san is definitely who we have to thank and who has really put his heart into this project. If you are unaware of who he is, he drew background art for Akira, My Neighbor Totoro, Angel’s Egg, Blood Blockade Battlefront, Tekkonkinkreet and many, many others. He’s one of the best background artist/at directors in the business and has now blessed us by working on Dorohedoro and allowing the shows artistic merits as a whole to totally outweigh the questionable CGI main character models. You may also be wondering why I keep specifying “main character models” and that’s because there is still also a ton of 2D character art and animation throughout the series. In addition Yuichiro Hayashi’s directing does a great job of adapting the original work and many of its more surreal moments that I assumed would be difficult to pull off. His shot composition, use of 3D space and even first person perspective shots give the show a very lively feel and show he’s really not half-assing it.
While the choice of CGI models for the main characters is certainly mystifying and a knock against the show I certainly can’t ignore (I mean, I went into pretty great detail off the top of the review) allow me to elaborate a bit further here. Firstly, coming off my extreme praise of the background and 2D art, they certainly clash with them (sometimes more so than others) but they put in a commendable effort to draw over them and try to blend them into the environment. Kaiman in particular is a bit problematic for me, as the sameness in colour of his lizard face definitely makes him look less rugged and gritty than the manga and a little too smooth. I also feel as though his scale colour choice is a bit off. On the flip side other shots look surprisingly well good and really stand out as examples of CGI models that have then been coloured over and almost tricked me into thinking I was watching 2D animation. A particular scene of Noi removing her outfit/mask really stood out as some great CG work. They obviously use these CGI models for the action scene which can be a bit of a mixed bag. Kaiman’s and Nikaido’s detaining of Ebisu and Kaiman’s short encounter with Shin, for example, seem especially fluid and the camera work is quite good. On the other hand, while passable, scenes like Nikaido’s fight with Noi seem more janky and the use of slow-mo used to convey a “dynamic feeling” not easily conveyable compared to 2D animation sometimes works against it. While the CGI models are definitely the weakest aspect of the series, I can’t help but emphasize again how the passion and quality of all other aspects of the production more than make up for the use of CGI as far as it being an enjoyable and pleasant experience for the eyes.
While we’re still early in the story and the characters haven’t necessarily had to perform a large breadth of acting quite yet, they’ve all done a commendable job thus far. Wataru Takagi has lovable dopy/whiny Kaiman great and relative newcomer Reina Konda has done well realizing the lovable Nikaido. Some other stand outs are the boisterous Noi, performed by Yu Kobayashi and the always hilarious and ridiculous Ebisu performed by Miyu Tomita. From reading the manga I think Kaiman and Ebisu were two characters that people were going to be watching if they got right and I believe they nailed both. Besides them, En is his stern and powerful self, Shin is wild and intimidating. It will take further story progression and events to see how well these actors perform more serious and emotionally charged scenes, but only time will tell. For now they’ve all been performing their characters to great effect.
Finally I’ll briefly touch on the music which is....what do you know.... also great! The manga of Dorohedoro actually had a companion OST commissioned by Hayashida, featuring various artists from six different countries. It’s very dark, industrial and grungy, and the perfect fit for Dorohedoro. The TV animes soundtrack doesn’t use these tracks, but many of them certainly sound inspired down to Drum and Bass tracks similar in style to VOODOOMs track from the manga OST. Likewise, a song extremely reminiscentof Candie Hank’s Zombie Slushie plays during an action sequence in En’s manor. The horrifying track that plays when entering Kaiman’s mouth and confronting the man inside with terrifying screeches and squeals was a particular stand out. The lighter tracks that play during the more comedic moments with En and the family perfectly encapsulate the goofy carefree vibe of the room. On top of the OST, the opening and multiple ending tracks are all great, and the accompanying animation for the OP of Nikaido cooking gyoza as opposed to your usual anime opening of character shots and story scenes is very refreshing. It shows the staff knows how to convey the unique vibe of the series as well as how important gyoza are to our main duo! They even manage to squeeze in a little anime original Jonson backstory which is a cute and welcome touch.
All in all, Dorohedoro is about as enjoyable an adaptation anyone could have asked for. When the anime project was initially reveal, I think almost all fans tightened up with a fear of what was to come. When the early PVs were showcased revealing the CGI models for the main characters, many were disappointed, but at the same time, most expected as much. For those being attentive to the PVs however, they likely noticed the beautiful art and 2D animation and were then holding their breath in hope that the project didn’t drop the ball. I think with the shows release, all but the most cynical fans and 2D-animation-only purists were pleasantly surprised with the product we ended up receiving. Hayashida’s world is so unique in its rich lore, character and setting and the staff involved have given the tender loving care to take this “unadaptable manga series” and given a *GASP* commendable and well realized adaptation. Now, if you’re a fan, let’s try to support this series the best we can and get more seasons!! I wish there was a decimal point system for this reviews, as I feel I would land around an 8.5 for now. 9 seems too high, while an 8 seems very low. I think I’ll leave it at an 9 for now but might improve my score as the series progresses.
Wow, this anime really surprised me by being so fucking good. I feel like that MAPPA has improved their CGI skills. They manage to blend the CG very well to 2d animation. There are many things I like about this anime. For example the unique abilities of the sorcerers, character designs, backgrounds, OST and of course the characters
Story is very simple. We follow Caiman who was a normal human but due to some sorcerers power his head turned into a lizards head. Now he hunts down sorcerers to find out the man who made him into the creature he is.
He usually works with a female named Nikaido. We also follow the villains doing stuff like killing people, eating and just doing random shit.
Characters. They are amazing. Caiman is very tall and immune to magic. He is very funny and likes to eat Gyoza. He always chomps sorcerers heads to find out if he is the one who changed him. Nikaido is Caimans best friend and later turned out to be a sorcerer but keeps this a secret from Caiman. She owns a restaurant. Shin is a villain who wears a heart looking mask. He doesn't use making on weak people, instead he uses a hammer. Noi is Shins partner. She is very strong and she can heal people. Ebisu is a comic relief character at this point. Something bad always happens to her like transforms into a zombie, gets her face bitten off etc. Fujita is another comic relief character. He is mostly seen with Ebisu. His chemistry with Ebisu is beyond great. En is the villains leader. He has and obsession with mushrooms and he only eats mushrooms. He is related to Noi.
This show has probably one of the best villain groups. Shin, Noi, Ebisu, Fujita and En are super hilarious together. Almost the entire 4th episode was just following them around and it never got boring. The chemistry between them is great. Who cares about the main characters if you can have these guys.
When you get an anime adapting a critically claimed manga with fantastic art, your first thought is usually
GAAAAAAHHhhHHhHHhhH NOT AGAIN
Luckily for us, the adaptation of Dorohedoro, a manga I unfortunately have not read, seems to be a pretty decent adaptation.
Dorohedoro is known for its wacky and nonsensical plot. And this certainly lives up to that. If I were to tell someone I was enjoying this show, and explained the plot.... they would probably think I was a bit weird. At least, weirder than normal. Let me explain it to you. A half crocodile man bits down on the heads of wizards so the
man living in his throat can determine if they are the one who transformed his head into a crocodile. Although, I can’t give the plot anything lower than an 8. It may be strange, but it manages to be entertaining and interesting.
Now. This is what I and many other people were worried about. However, I am happy to report that the CG is surprisingly decent. The background art is detailed and stunning, and the CG animation is watchable. Some shots look cheap, most of them due to the look of Caimans head. However, there are plenty of good looking scenes that balance out the bad, so definitely an 8/10.
Definitely one of my favorite parts of the show. The OP is one of my favorites this year, and ED 1 has another fantastic song. ED 2 is more fun, not too weird but not normal either. Overall, the music and sound design in the show is really good.
Easily the best part of the show. All the characters are fantastic, fun and likable. This is one of the few shows that doesn’t really have villains, just morally gray characters that care about each other and have fun personalities. Only anime can make something like this work. A wacky story driven by a colorful cast of rich characters.
This is shaping up to be my favorite show of the season! I didn’t think I would like this as much as I do.
Give it a shot! It most certainly is not for everyone, but those who do stick with it will be rewarded with fun characters and eccentric plot.