Dorohedoro volume 1

Story and art by Q Hayashida

Published by Viz Signature IKKI

Released March 16, 2010

There exists two worlds, “the hole” that hosts punks, thieves, outcasts, and seemingly ordinary people, and the world beyond the doors where the sorcerers live.  Every so often, a sorcerer will enter the door to experiment on non-magic users, leaving their victims on the brink of death.  Dorohedoro is the story of the battle between the sorcerers and the man who cuts them down in order to track down the one who left him with a reptilian head.

The first volume starts off with said reptilian man chomping down on a sorcerer’s head.  Within, the sorcerer finds a human head that exclaims “he’s not the one.”  The guy with the reptilian head them rips his body apart.  The sorcerer’s partner, a man wearing a mask with an elongated nose, gets away.  Over the next few chapters, we find out that that the guy with the reptilian head is named Caiman (who also wears a gas mask by day–the dude on the cover), and he’s been busting sorcerer head to find out who messed with his. He has a friend named Nikaido, a busty woman who owns a family restaurant named “The Bug.”  Nikaido was the first one to find Caiman after his accident and subsequent amnesia and together they hunt down magic users.

Things get weird(er) in the second half of this volume where we get to see the magic user’s world.  Fujita, the sorcerer with the long-nose mask, has passed along info on the death of his partner and Caiman to his higher-up En.  He is then ordered to find the sorcerer who gave Caiman his head.  En then calls for a dinner party with his sorcerer pals.  Here we see that all the sorcerers wear somewhat grotesque, but definitely odd, masks (in the bonus chapter, we see the masks hand-picked by Satan himself).  En assigns his two best underlings to hunt down Caiman and Nikaido.

The artwork is dark and grimy, which makes for a great post-apocalyptic setting that should please fans of Battle Angel Alita and other cyberpunk manga.  There’s a bit of dark humor (mushrooms) to be found in this volume and a good amount of violence.  The detail in Caiman’s reptilian head is impressive and it’s nice to see how he shreds sorcerer-scum limb from limb.  The masks of the sorcerers are also highly detailed.  The most creative so far being Shin’s whose mask resembles a beating heart.  Viz did a nice job with the translation and included the original color pages and translation notes in the back of the book.

So far, Dorohedoro has me scratching my head.  I enjoyed it from an artistic perspective, but not a whole lot is making sense at this point.  I’ll continue with the next volume for the unique character designs and my love of post-apocalyptic anything.  For those unsure about this manga, you can always sample a few sample at SigIkki.

Grade: C+

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