November 17, 2015
Q Hayashida – Viz – 2014 – 20+ volumes
Hmm… this crossed the line from “tantalizing hints” to “telling story without explaining things,” so it got a little confusing. Not that I don’t like it, but I am happy I have a few more volumes to read after this, because it would be annoying if this is where I stopped for several months.
So… Aikawa… just goes back to school. And Risu is there. There’s something weird between them, and it has something to do with Risu’s magic, and what happened to him, and why he’s still alive. Aikawa… is he Caiman? Is Caiman both of them? Does Caiman have something to do with Risu’s magic? With Aikawa’s magic? With both of them? And what about the boss of the Cross-Eyes? They’re just… going to wizard school.
Things… I don’t want to say get explained, but… I guess make a little more sense at the end of the volume when we find out one of the characters can switch heads. I love that this was within the realm of possibility for this series.
Actually… I re-read the volume just now, and the Risu/Aikawa/Boss Cross-Eyes connection makes a little more sense, given the revelation at the end? Not much, and I would still like it to be explained, but I can see more sense now. Depending on what the head-switching is about.
We also get a couple hints about Haze. He’s an adult in someone’s… dream/fantasy/vision/something, and his wife turns him older at one point. But this is also not explained. I love his wife, though. She’s on the cover this time, as well as in the extra evil in the back. She is delightful.
The Cross-Eyes are overrunning En’s mansion, and we also find out one of them is a very powerful wizard, which is awesome. Everyone’s magic is personal in this series, so each sorcerer does something outlandish, and it’s always fun to see someone new. En’s family is regrouping, recovering, trying to find stray members, Judas’s Ear is on the lamb with Chota, and Judas’s Ear is ardently sought after for obvious reasons.
Elsewhere, Nikaido is getting Devil Training to learn to control her magic. She and Aikawa meet up at the end, and it is most heartbreaking.
The extra evil is fantastic, as always.
I’m hoping that the most mystifying bits of story are out of the way now, and more will be explained. Then again, I was hoping that would happen when Risu “died” in volume 10, but we still… don’t quite have an adequate explanation for that? Unless his magic was explained earlier in the series and I forgot, but a previous explanation for strange behavior in Dorohedoro seems unlikely.
This is still the best series I’m reading right now. I’m shortly going to run out of volumes, then I’ll have to wait until December for 17 (note: I wrote this in September, it’s just about out now). I keep hoping we won’t catch up to the Japanese version until it ends in Japan, especially since volumes only come out once a year in Japan. I thought it was going to end soon, but I haven’t heard about that in awhile.
November 8, 2015
Q Hayashida – Viz – 2012 – 20+ volumes
Uh… wow. It’s hard to talk about this volume, because… a lot happens. Basically, everything goes wrong after the death of one of the main characters last volume. Everyone’s trying to pick up the pieces. More characters are mutilated and killed.
And a new one is introduced. I… don’t know what’s going on with that person. I’m pretty sure I’m not missing out on anything, it’s just supposed to be horribly confusing.
Elsewhere, Nikaido and Asu begin to discuss her magic. We get a couple short flashbacks into her childhood, and we learn why she never, ever uses her magic. We also learn that her magic is the coolest thing in the series (and there are a lot of cool things going on here), and I am excited to see where this goes.
Also, I could not remember what Shin’s magic was, and it was driving me crazy. We get to see it again here, as well as his serious mask. Only semi-related, one of my favorite things in this volume is a scene where Noi comes to talk to him bring a box labeled Chicken “Nuggets.” What exactly a “nugget” was never really crossed my mind before that.
I miss Caiman. A lot. I want him to come back very badly.
Also, I’m blazing through the rest of what I have of this series. Can’t wait.
October 4, 2015
Q Hayashida – Viz – 2013 – 20+ volumes
Every volume of this series is sublime. The story is getting more complicated without explaining much, but at the same time, the weirdness of this series has always attracted me, so I can’t complain.
This volume starts off with some pure nightmare fuel when a “shadow” descends into Ritsu, and Ritsu begins to sprout fingers through his palms, another mouth inside his, a second pair of eyes, et cetera. The resulting mess calls itself “Curse” and messes up the remainder of the Cross Eyes gang.
Elsewhere, Aso wakes up in the forest with what he believes is the human body of Caiman (sans lizard head). The “shadow” is implied to be linked to Caiman, though the shadow is clearly a destructive force and doesn’t seem to possess his will or personality. Neither does his new human-headed form, who would like to be called Aikawa. Except he has dreams about being Caiman, and killing Nikaido, et cetera. His face is partially obscured in the dream, but is clearly the same at the end. But he might just be faking that Aikawa is his name, and that he doesn’t remember anything?
There’s a showdown with En. It’s not clear if the “shadow”/Ritsu has merged with Caiman/Aikawa’s body, or if En’s opponent is actually Caiman/Aikawa. But the character fighting En is pretty badass and ruthless, and seems a lot like Caiman. En is worried because it was only an accident that he won in their last duel. En should worry. This fight doesn’t last long.
Another plot thread is that Fujita is trying to bring Ebisu back to life with Judas’s Ear. En reveals that Judas’s Ear can’t be compelled to use his magic, so there’s several comical scenes of Fujita dragging around Ebisu’s dead, mangled body and trying to get Judas’s Ear to revive her. Which is how this series rolls.
And there’s a Cross-Eyes subplot where Dokuja breaks in and kills everyone in a gang that deals in healing smoke so he can bring the smoke back to the injured Cross-Eyes.
The extra evil is more about devils playing pranks. This will never get old.
I don’t have a whole lot else to say, other than that this is still one of the most unusual, unique manga series out there. The art is fantastic, and the story is so far-out and strange that it’s hard to put it down. In fact, it’s better to read volumes back to back precisely because the stories are so weird, and have so much going on. Volume 16 comes out on Monday, and I think I’m going to be caught up by then. (edit: I am comically far behind on posting reviews).
August 23, 2015
Q Hayashida – Viz – 2013 – 19+ volumes
One of my favorites! I lost this volume, which is how I got so far behind. I was happy it turned up during a re-sort recently. However, it’s been so long since I read it that I can’t recall what is merely mysterious and what has already been explained. A re-read is in order, and it will be a pleasure. Hayashida’s art is so detailed, I’m sure there’s a thousand things I missed the first time through. Actually, she tells a pretty detailed story as well, so that doesn’t hurt either.
For instance, I’m almost positive full-grown Kasukabe is a novelty. What I can’t remember is whether or not we know why he reversed-aged (maybe it had something to do with his wife?). In Dorohedoro, this may not have been explained. It also may never be explained. It’s not important, and mysteries like that make it very charming.
I’m a bit confused about the main thread of the story, which is why I want to re-read it. I know there have been some subtle hints dropped about Caiman and his connection to the Cross-Eyes gang, which are all completely lost on me now. The end of the volume drops a huge bombshell, so maybe I can just pick it up from there, but something tells me I need to go back and re-read. I think he’s heavily implied to be someone else, but I need to make sure it is who I think it is.
Elsewhere, En is still being a bad guy. He comes to pick up Nikaido, and he and Caiman fight. It was somehow less satisfying than I imagined, but it led to said bombshell above, so I can’t be too mad.
Ebisu!!! I was a little sad at the beginning of the volume to see she’d gotten her memories back, and was abusing Fujita with her full faculties. But then. I’m not sure if that’s for real or not, but man. It’s pretty cold-blooded if it is.
I still LOVE the artwork. There are a thousand small things you’ll miss, if you don’t look hard enough at each panel. My favorite here was the En heart tattoo on the bird-mask man’s bicep. I’d just never seen it before. And the sorcerer masks still get me every time. I love looking at them. Then there’s the heartbreaking detail in Ebisu’s scene towards the end of the volume. There’s just so much here.
The Extra Evil in the back cracked me up, but then again it always does. This one was about Chidaruma being a big ol’ eccentric asshole. I loved it.
July 14, 2013
Q Hayashida – Viz – 2012 – 18+ volumes
It’s been awhile! No better way to get back into the groove than with one of my favorites. And there are few series I love as much as Dorohedoro.
The plot advances, in its own meandering way. Caiman and Nikaido dig deeper into a wizard school, where Caiman regains some of his memories, much to his horror. Elsewhere, Shin and Noi are teamed up with Dr. Kasukabe to find out about the leader of the Cross Eyes and do a little grave robbing. Also, members of the Cross Eyes try to get out of paying their rent, and try to get out of a murder rap in the most bizarre way possible. They do battle with a diet bug.
There’s not a whole lot of action, or answers, here. We learn things in the indirect way this series has of getting around to the main point. For instance, Chota picks up Nikaido’s diary and reads aloud, and we learn a little bit about her childhood, her magic, and her relationship to one of the devils. Elsewhere, we learn a lot about the devils when… ah, we see some punishment doled out. By an enormous, armless, inarticulate birdman with knives on his back. There’s a lot of gruesome stuff in this series, but that birdman was true nightmare fuel.
The story also feels like it’s on the brink of changing direction. As I said, there’s a lot of exposition here that has to lead to something big, but the other interesting thing that happens is that Caiman is slowly growing less stable the more he gets his memories back. At one point, Nikaido and Caiman have what the narration refers to as their “last conversation.” With at least nine volumes ahead of us, I find that hard to believe, but it’ll be a lot of fun to see the implications.
I’ve already said quite a bit about this series. The art’s still really great, with a lot of detail, all the usual weirdness is present and accounted for, and its strange storytelling style still hasn’t gotten old. I wish it came out more frequently, and I do hope it’s been doing well.
This was a review copy provided by Viz.
February 14, 2013
Q Hayashida – Viz – 2012 – 17+ volumes
You may think I’m going against the Valentine’s Day theme of my posts today, but it just wouldn’t be right if I didn’t feature heartbreaking in the literal sense of the word. Or maybe it’s because Shin’s mask is a heart, and he loves to break bones and organs. The important thing is that I will use any excuse whatsoever to talk about Dorohedoro.
This was another fine volume, though a lot of time was spent fighting rather than advancing the story. There are a few different threads here. In one, Kasukabe fights with Shin and Noi at the Cross Eye hideout. Shin and Noi are both given a pretty hard time by the Cross Eyes, and one even mutates in order to stop them. We also find out a little bit about Kasukabe’s wife, who is inherently awesome in the present.
Elsewhere, En serves a dinner of mushrooms that taste like steak, but cause the person consuming them to enter a dream world that includes anyone dining with them on the mushrooms. There’s a narrative purpose to this, but like anything else in Dorohedoro, it keeps going in bizarre directions that serve to entertain and… maybe reinforce some character traits? All I know is that Fujita is awesome at taking advantage of the dream world to get what he wants. Eventually all the characters go their separate ways and have their own dreams, all of which end in bizarre personal nightmares.
We’re also following Caiman and Nikaido, who find a Cross Eyes base and try to infiltrate the organization. They gain an ally while doing this, and Caiman is on the cusp of remembering something important at the end of the volume, but other than moving around some, not much happens with these two. Well, I guess Caiman changes out of his tutu, which I don’t even remember him wearing, so there’s that.
Finally, there’s the other faction of Cross Eyes. Risu has been held by them, and while they reorganize after the loss of the shack that Shin and Noi destroyed, we also find out that Risu is no friend of theirs, and Risu begins a flashback that contains a character called Aikawa, who… may be a Cross Eyes, but more importantly, he wears the same mask as Caiman and seems to have the same personality. So that’s a lot of fun, and a definite push forward for the plot. Maybe. If those are actually the same person, and don’t just kind of look like the same person, like Caiman and Risu.
And the art is still fantastic, but I’ve raved about that before. Basically, it’s still very violent (wherever Shin and Noi appear, messy deaths follow), still very funny, and still the most absolutely eccentric series I’ve ever read. I cannot get enough of this, and still wish it came out faster.
Happy Valentine’s Day.
September 9, 2012
Q Hayashida – Viz – 2012 – 18 volumes
This is literally one of my top favorites right now. Of all of them. I know I say that a lot, but it’s absolutely true for Dorohedoro. Q Hayashida builds a magnificent world, and the story is so silly and absurd, mixed with over-the-top violence that I can’t help but like it. But it’s still a massive story with a lot going on, and it’s unfolding slowly and is really pacing itself well. Plus, I’m growing fond of the characters, and she’s got amazing art as well. It’s what I’m looking for every time I pick up a comic.
This volume starts on a strange note, when Caiman infiltrates En’s mansion with his meat bun-selling sorcerer friends. His intention is to rescue Nikaido, but the story is sidetracked for a minute when the mean bun chef is engaged in a meat bun sell-off with an old rival for the privilege of selling meat buns to En. Strange magic is involved. It has absolutely nothing to do with the story, but is one of those wonderful kind of tangents I could read forever that Q Hayashida is so good at. It only helps to give the sorcerers character.
But Caiman does find Nikaido, and ultimately the two are helped by a devil, something else that could use an adequate explanation, but likely won’t get one anytime soon. They re-affirm their friendship, something that needs to be done after Caiman finds out Nikaido is a sorcerer. There are flashbacks to when they first met, and the whole thing is sweet and rather touching, something I didn’t realize Dorohedoro was capable of.
Meanwhile, Professor Kasukabe and company are being treated like guests of honor by Shin and Noi, something completely out of character for those two. That this is happening is still blowing my mind, even after the explanation. Everyone seems to take it at face value though. Professor Kasukabe escapes briefly to find his wife (something else that’s tossed off and not explained, Kasukabe looks like a small boy, but apparently isn’t), and is hoping she can find Caiman and Nikaido. This ends with Kasukabe and his terrifying cockroach monster Johnson stuck in a cabin in the middle of a woods with some deranged cross-eye gang members, Shin and Noi laying dead outside. It was messy. It may or may not have involved brain spigots.
I read it, and I still don’t know what’s going on. I don’t think Shin and Noi are really dead, though. It’s not really a cliffhanger, because I’m sure nobody reading this thought Shin and Noi were really dead. All the same, I desperately want to know what’s going on. Again, this is only one small chunk of a much larger story, and I’m going to have to wait for December for more. Tragedy.
One other absurd detail I liked: Professor Kasukabe keeps the cross-eye gang members back by siccing Johnson on them. They counter eventually with… wait for it… bug spray. Johnson runs away screaming “Shocking! Shocking!” over and over again.
I love that Johnson can exist, and be himself, with no explanation given. That is one of the absolute best things about Dorohedoro.