December 12, 2011
Q Hayashida – Viz – 2011 – 16+ volumes
I LOVE THIS SERIES. It kills me that we’re only getting two volumes a year. The story is so enigmatic and compelling that I could probably sit and read all 16 volumes in one sitting if given the chance. I’m sure the bizarre twists and turns the story takes would be very rewarding.
Once again, the story takes a variety of strange and completely unexpected turns here that only serve to flesh out the setting even more. The focus this volume is a kind of sorcerer’s ball that takes place every four years, where sorcerers choose partners to enter into contracts with. Everyone, from Shin and Noi to En’s pet dog Judas’s Ear, is eligible for partnership, and apparently a valid method of recruitment is knocking your intended out and forcing them. As part of En’s inner circle, and very powerful sorcerers as well, Shin and Noi are highly sought after partners, and both are fending off attacks by the end of the volume.
The better insight is, once again, into the strange social structures and customs in the sorcerer world. It’s just… completely bizarre. The whole Blue Night event is completely unlooked-for, and Hayashida goes all out with the details, creating many different types of events, styles of dress, and all sorts of other little things for the characters to do and get sidetracked with. They are never simply sitting and having a conversation. They are always doing something, usually an inconsequential and unrelated activity, while the exposition is happening. And these things are always wonderful, stuff that you wouldn’t mind seeing or getting a full explanation of (including the boring speeches and plays that seem to make up the formal aspects of Blue Night). I very much appreciate this level of detail.
Meanwhile, Caiman is still running around, doing what he can to keep a low profile, while trying to find Risu and discover who he used to me. En is also closing in on Nikaido, who may possess a type of powerful magic he would very much like to have control of. Neither En nor Caiman makes very much process, but the Nikaido situation may be front and center next time.
My absolute favorite part of this volume, however, was the story of how Shin and Noi met and became partners, which is told for absolutely no reason in the middle of Blue Night. I won’t spoil it, but it’s a wonderful story, and again, Hayashida’s level of detail is incredible. I’ve read a few comments that suggest her art is “sloppy,” but I strenuously disagree. She puts a lot of thought into the design of everything, and watching her reveal the reason behind something is always a little astonishing. This story, for instance, reveals why Noi wears tape on her mask. Except it doesn’t state this explicitly, nor can it really be called the “reason” behind the tape. The mask was simply designed with Noi’s past in mind, and we are only now finding that out. I only realized the reason for the design after I finished the volume and was looking at the cover. Hayashida doesn’t even bother to comment on it. It’s just not important. Yet one more reason to love Dorohedoro to pieces.
It’s probably worth mentioning that the messy, nonsensical, over-the-top violence is still present, if that’s your thing. It’s simply a part of the series, and I love that we can’t go one volume without someone being messily disemboweled at least twice. Johnson is also still around, for some reason, if you’re a fan of man-sized cockroaches that utter the phrase “shocking!” Which I am.