Well, this was a surprise. I mean, I was hoping I’d like Dororo. It’s not everyday you see a new anime based on a manga by the God of Manga himself, Osamu Tezuka. Surely, such a hook would amount to something promising. Still, I’d say this not only met my optimism, it even surpassed them a bit. Suddenly, Winter 2019 is looking a little bit brighter now.
The opening scene alone grabbed my attention. This episode begins with a feudal lord desperate to keep his land and livelihood in good health and so, he forms a pact with a group of demons to secure such prosperity. The catch, however, is that his newly born son gets stripped of all his organs, leaving him as a husk of a human, and so the Lord orders for his child to be executed. The midwife however shows mercy and decides to leave the baby on a nearby boat, thus allowing him to live. It’s a strange beginning, no doubt, but one that feels so alluring and has me curious as to what the follow-up has to offer.
For a while, I thought this cursed infant is the titular Dororo but from my understanding, this character will soon go by the name Hyakkimaru (Hiroki Suzuki). As it turns out, Dororo (Rio Suzuki) is introduced in a 16 year time skip as this little boy who makes his living as a con artist and a thief. As random as this introduction may initially sound, I did think Dororo makes a pretty amusing first impression with how he weasels his way out when some angry cliente chase after him. One scene that really stood out to me was his interaction with a stray puppy. At first, he refuses to give the puppy any food due to his belief that people must learn to survive on their own. However, when the people chasing him show up and threaten to kill the puppy, he surrenders, showing that his heart is still in the right place despite his presumably rough upbringing.
Eventually, Hyakkimaru does show up again, albeit much older and now adorned with several prosthetic body parts. One thing I really admire about this episode is it doesn’t directly give you the gist of this character, just a sufficient amount of information to infer from. Given an earlier scene featuring a doctor (Akio Outsuka) who specializes in prostheses, it’s safe to assume that this man’s expertise is how Hyakkimaru is able to look more human. The monster of the week fight at the climax of the episode is a bit sudden but given what we know of Hyakkimaru’s birth, it seemed likely that he is fighting it to regain his original body. And sure enough, his real face gets restored after he defeats and kills the monster.
The fight itself is awesome, by the way. MAPPA’s animation is fluid and the revelation that Hyakkimaru’s forearms are also containers that hide swords attached to his upper arms screams cool.
The whole demon hunting plot alone makes for a solid hook but what intrigues me a bit more is how Dororo and Hyakkimaru interact with each other. There’s potential there, given that one is a crafty youth, the other is a stoic wanderer, and both aren’t exactly part of society’s status quo. Furthermore, it appears that Hyakkimaru is currently unable to talk (having possibly lost his vocal chords during his father’s pact), thus necessitating Dororo’s presence as someone who can do the talking for him and keep the viewer engaged. As hooked as I am with this show, I’d say the next episode is the real test in how Dororo‘s narrative core will fare.
Hooked is still hooked though and I really did have a good time with this anime. I don’t really see any reason to drop this show at the moment so for now, it can stay in the watch list. Now to just avoid spoilers for a 50 year old manga…
OP: “Kaen” by Ziyoou-vachi
What a stylish intro. Also, that Engrish is pretty darn passionate.
ED: “Sayonara Gokko” by amazarashi
Thanks for reading!
Dororo is officially available on Amazon.
For all of my Winter 2019 First Impressions, check out this archive page!
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