First Look: Dororo

Alternative title(s): Durarara!!, Dorohedoro, Dororon Enma-kun
Manga Adaptation by MAPPA
Streaming on Amazon Prime

Premise

Various pieces of samurai Hyakkimaru’s body were sacrificed to demons when he was a newborn. He hunts them down to regain himself alongside the eponymous kid thief.

Iro’s verdict: Blood Will Tell

I already have a bit of experience with Dororo – chiefly with the 2004 PS2 video game adaptation – so I was the one out of the Glorio Crew most looking forward to this version. It’s nice to see that we still get high-effort Tezuka adaptations in 2019 (it’s always a hoot to see some of his cartoony designs alongside Regular Anime Folk), and MAPPA’s work with this first episode doesn’t disappoint. The bits of action we get are quite solid, and it’s a smart decision to reduce the number of demons to a mere 12 if they plan to wrap up the story in a single cour. With a strong first showing and some generally trustworthy names behind production, I’m looking forward to seeing how this turns out.

Gee’s verdict: Clean Cut

Dororo is probably one of Tezuka’s less iconic works, but that doesn’t imply anything about its quality. Having gone in with few expectations beyond Mappa’s general baseline competency, I was pleasantly surprised by Dororo’s period piece pulp action. It’s a highly economic first episode, immediately laying the groundwork for the story as wells as its primary movers and shakers. The plot is exactly the kind of half-edgy half wackiness you might expect from one of Tezuka’s less sanitized works. I’m already intrigued by the dynamic of the magically maimed Hyakkimaru and precocious kid thief Dororo. If nothing else, I’m never going to say no to a solid action saga about an odd couple traveling through the lands, beating the crap out of demons and bad guys. Thankfully, Dororo also boasts some of the strongest visual direction this season. The fights looks good, boasting both a surprising amount of detail and kinetic action. Dororo won’t blow you away, but it leaves such a strong first impression I think it’s worth everyone’s time.

Marlin’s verdict: Fully Armed

Dororo is unequivocally a sharply told and sharply directed story, and that’s all we could ever want of something from such a big name as Tezuka. We get one of the grungiest openings in a long time, as a man literally makes a deal with devils and his defenseless son pays the price. I love just how dedicated the show is to presenting the bleak, unfriendly world that Hyakkimaru is born into. The supernatural way he clings to life gives us the portent for his father’s deal being nothing but a monkey’s paw. Already, the animation is looking fantastic, with the first fight scene with Hyakkimaru saving Dororo a real visual treat as well as showing that he’s not just a fighter, but a thinker. We’ll have to see if his regained skin allows him to talk, or if that is still somewhere down the road. Thankfully, I don’t hate Dororo’s actor, but I think it would be much better if we start to see the interplay between the two. Still, after all is said and done Dororo has given us another ray of hope in this dreary season.

Artemis’ verdict: Tezuka Osamu Saves Anime

While familiar with many of Tezuka’s mainstream classics, I knew absolutely nothing about Dororo going into this; I’ve never read the original manga or watched any of the numerous adaptations created since, and had also long forgotten the premise since first reading about it on MAL a few months back. I think that only gave Dororo’s premiere an edge for me though – it felt a lot more immediate and impactful than it might have otherwise. Not that it needed it, because this is an excellent debut in its own right, and a likely major standout of the winter season as a whole.

Though I look forward to getting to know our main characters better – not just their origins, but who they are as people – it’s the story itself that immediately had me sitting up and paying close attention. Sure, I’m as tired of high school and isekai settings as much as the next person, as well as of shows populated by hordes of cutesy girls or take-your-pick bishies. However, even outside of this context (and somewhat ironically given that it was originally created in the late 60s), the story strikes me as being both original and genuinely exciting, to say nothing of also being potentially both gritty and heartfelt in all the right places. In fact, I’d say this is the perfect series to try out this season for all those anime fans who like to complain that nothing unique or innovative ever gets released anymore. No matter what manner of fan you are though, I can promise that this opening episode will be more than worth the time you put into it.

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