Dororo

Dororo

Dororo anime series cover art
Dororo

Overview

Dororo (どろろ) was originally a manga by Osamu Tezuka which released 1967. It then went on to receive an anime adaptation in 1969. 50 years have passed, and once again this timeless series has received an anime.

I won’t be discussing the differences between this 2019 adaptation and the 1969 adaptation simply because I haven’t seen the older one. However, there are a few differences between this new adaptation and the original manga, but the main one is the length.

The series follows a young man named Hyakkimaru, and his sidekick, Dororo, as they travel around Japan hunting down demons which stole Hyakkimaru’s body parts at birth. In the manga there were 48 demons, but in the 20191 anime there were only 12.

I would have liked to see all 48 demons and which body parts of Hyakkimaru’s they each had, but at the same time I recognize why the anime was limited to 12. Episode constraints are a real thing, and the series probably would have gotten fairly repetitive if it included all 48 demons.

Hyakkimaru from the anime series Dororo
Hyakkimaru

As for how Hyakkimaru fights these demons, his body is nearly all prosthetic and there are blades hidden within his limbs. Also, since he doesn’t even have eyes, he sees the world via its spiritual energy instead. With this he can determine whether people or objects are good or evil.

But while fighting demons is what forces our two heroes to progress through the story, that’s not really what the story is about. It’s a tale of both revenge and not losing your way as you seek that vengeance. Over the course of the 24 episodes we see the various characters, including the main duo, change in response to situations and their surroundings.

This is where I think the Dororo series shines. Often in anime we’re introduced to one-trick characters who may receive some sort of character development, but are ultimately unchanged at their core. For example, Naruto has a number of major events which help develop the titular character, but his core ideals never really change.

And since the characters in Dororo are constantly changing and evolving, their actions are rarely black or white from a moral perspective. We always know exactly why a character acts or feels the way they do, so even when it may seem bad on the surface, the thoughts behind their actions are justified.

Characters

Despite the series being named after Dororo, I think the best character to start with is Hyakkimaru simply because it’s his revenge story. He was born as the first child to the lord and lady of a failing land. However, his father, Daigo, had made a pact with demons to give up his firstborn child so that his lands could be saved.

In some ways this sacrifice was noble because it saved all the people who were living on the land. But, Daigo also wished for military might with which to defeat his enemies, a mostly personal cause.

However, the key factor in this tale is that Hyakkimaru’s body parts were sacrificed against his own will. He was saved from death by the Goddess of Protection his mother prayed to, but he lost everything else, his body and his family.

From Hyakkimaru’s perspective, he’s simply trying to reclaim what belongs to him. But from the perspective of his enemies, he’s stealing the good fortune which has been bestowed upon the people of Daigo’s land. So who’s right and who’s wrong?

Dororo is the one character who doesn’t change all that much due to the fact that they’re still a pure, innocent child. However, while Dororo is generally unchanged by the events going on in the world, that doesn’t mean Dororo doesn’t feel the effects.

Dororo’s was born to a pair of brigands who fought against the samurai class on behalf of the people. Unfortunately, both of them ended up dying, leaving Dororo all alone. And this is where Hyakkimaru comes in. He rescued Dororo and was stuck with them ever since.

But just because Dororo doesn’t really change throughout the series doesn’t make them a bad character. For the most part we see the events of the anime play out from Dororo’s perspective. Due to this it would be a bit odd if any major character changes occurred.

Tahoumaru, Hyogo, and Mutsu from the anime series Dororo
Tahoumaru, Hyogo, and Mutsu

To keep this review from becoming too long, the final character I’ll discuss is Tahoumaru, the younger brother of Hyakkimaru. Tahoumaru was born after Daigo’s lands were already thriving, meaning he grew up in relative peace and comfort unlike his brother who was tossed aside.

Because of this difference in the situations in which they grew up, Tahoumaru and Hyakkimaru obviously see the world in different ways. However, what I like the most about their dynamic is that while they often oppose each other, neither one of them is inherently in the wrong.

In fact, I actually prefer Tahoumaru over Hyakkimaru, or anyone else in the series for that matter. He’s an extremely well written character, and thanks to the fact that we see him interact with so many different kinds of other characters we really get a sense of who he is and what he stands for.

Conclusion

Overall I think Dororo is a 7/10. I enjoyed the beginning, the middle dragged a bit, and the end was amazing. If you enjoyed the other older manga series which recently received new anime adaptations, like Devilman: Crybaby and Megalo Box, I highly recommend Dororo.

These series are all unique, but there’s just something about how their stories were told that’s similar. Something missing from a lot of modern day series. That’s not to say old series are superior, but they are different, so if you like that, you’ll like Dororo.

As for the OPs/EDs, there were two of each. I preferred the second OP over the first one, but the first ED over the second. That said, the other OP and ED were still pretty good, so I have nothing to complain about on that front.

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