“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.” – MAL Synopsis
Dorohedoro is in contention for my anime of the year currently. In a year with a new season of Re: Zero airing and some other amazing shows dropping, this gem has always been on my radar but I kind of just let it slide for a while. So who would’ve thought this would turn into one of my favorites after watching it on a whim one random night. I love everything about this show. It’s so unique while also harkening back to the old gory style of 80s anime. MAPPA is back at it again with another top-tier anime!
Story-wise it’s pretty cut and dry on the surface. Humans live in the grimy Hole where they are constantly harassed by sorcerers who live in the Sorcerer’s World and come down to practice their magic on the people of the Hole. Intro our two main characters (Nikaido and Caiman) who are searching for the sorcerer who turned Caiman’s head into a lizard and made him lose his memory. Well turns out everybody and their mom is looking at this sorcerer too for one reason or another. This premise and the world work so well together. This story is in the firm “show don’t tell” category of storytelling. Nothing is really explained, there are no expo dumps. We just follow our cast character’s and we learn what they learn while also seeing how this world operates just by seeing how the people who live in this society react to everything around them. It’s refreshing to learn about such a unique world by just being immersed in it by the characters and environments. Literally, the first scene of the show is our two mains nonchalantly brutalizing some sorcerers in what seems to be some grungy back alley. The very next scene (after the amazing intro) is them walking around the Hole looking at the people who have been practiced on by sorcerers. My only downside to this show story-wise is the ending. This show pulls a Gangsta (rip to that show) and just ends like any other episode. I was shocked when it ended and the next episode on Netflix was the collection of OVAs. Now, this isn’t the worst thing ever, cause from what I’ve read up on we should be expecting a second season sometime early next year. But if for some reason we don’t get a season 2, the last episode will leave a sour taste in my mouth.
Caiman and Nikaido are just great as a duo. Their chemistry is off the charts, it’s crazy how much they compliment each other personality-wise. Nikaido is an amazing cook who can also kick a lot of ass. Her back story is sort of a side arc that comes to light in the latter half of the series and it’s pretty interesting. Personality-wise she’s really sweet and nice but can get serious. Meanwhile, her other half Caiman is pretty brash and knuckle-headed a lot of the time. Caiman is hilarious though and his struggle to find his true self and also return his head to normal is strangely relatable. The amnesia trope is pretty played out a lot of times cause it’s been around for ages. But the world that they live in plus the way Caiman goes about trying to figure out this mystery (He literally bites people’s heads and then asks them what the man in his mouths said lmfao) is just great. It really just works.
This show has a wide cast of interesting side characters and villains. I appreciate how it takes the time to show the villains of the show and by doing so show the Sorcerer’s World and how it works. They dedicate almost the same amount of time to both sides of the coin, which in the end makes you care about all the characters involved. Every character in this show is just fun and charismatic in their own way (I mean one of the side characters is a giant roach.).
Once again MAPPA doesn’t disappoint in the animation department. This show has a mix of 2D, and CGI animation. The 2d models look great all the time and the 2d animated scenes are always well animated. There are a lot of times where the show will switch to the CGI models of characters, which may turn people off, but they honestly look really good. For all the CGI animation I’ve seen in anime (AoT, Knights of Sidonia, Berserk movies, Ajin, etc.) these might be the most consistently good-looking well-animated models. Using CGI models allows them to do some cool rotating camera movement scenes where the camera spins around two characters fighting or spins to show more scenery. It’s super cool and well done. The backgrounds of the show are well animated and do a phenomenal job at portraying the vibe that the show is trying to give off. As a quick last note on the animation side. On top of the cool camera scenes, there are also some really interesting perspective scenes.
Last but not least, the music. It’s great. The intro slaps and every outro we get is outstanding. I couldn’t tell you what the reasoning is, but I think there were about 3-4 different outros during this whole season (which keep in mind is only 13 episodes). All of which is great and had me not wanting to skip them.
Hopefully, this review showed how much I really love this show, but if not I’ll say it now. I love this show. The story, characters, animation, and music are all amazing. My only gripe with this show is how it ended so abruptly and barring that it doesn’t get a second season, that ending is all-time bad (once again looking at you, Gangsta). For a show that I heard a little bit about earlier in the year and that I decided to watch on Netflix on a whim. It blew me away and is only slightly behind Re: Zero Season 2 as my anime of the year.
Dorohedoro – 9/10