Length: 12 x 24 minute episodes
Genre: Supernatural, mystery, action, sci-fi
Year of release: 2020
High-concept anime are in no rarity, but Dorohedoro is one that takes its giant synopsis and really goes to town. This broken down, almost sci-fi world is a beauty to behold – and while, yes, much of that is due to some phenomenal background design, but much of it is from thinking it through.
There’s a bit of a multi-universe theory at the heart of everything. Caiman and Nikaido live in ‘Hole’, a beaten down, impoverished city that is regularly visited by Sorcerers who come to forcibly metamorphosise the inhabitants. The leading duo don’t like this, and due to Caiman’s history being transformed into a lizard-headed man and his newfound magical immunity, they team up to kick ass and track down who made Caiman the way he is today.
Fundamentally, Dorohedoro is a very cool anime; it’s an anime that sticks out like a sore thumb amongst the lineup of slice-of-life shows and isekais and romcoms. It harkens back to the ’90s, when out-there was completely divorced from the current world. Fans of shows like Cowboy Bepop or Outlaw Star will feel right out at home with these downtrodden worlds and mindful concepts, and the impressively CG-rendered martial-arts combat style that Nikaido uses that clashes so readily with Caiman’s blunt knife skills also feels like a bone well thrown. The violence quota is particularly inspired, with enough blood to make Devilman and its clones quake while having a darkly comical twist to give a sense of levity. It’s an odd sort of fun, watching Caiman and Nikaido two hang-out, bicker and slaughter malevolent magicians, and very enjoyable at times.
However, the pacing of this single episode feels a bit whack. There are many, many perspective changes between Caiman in Hole and a Sorcerer he let escape planning vengeance in the other world, and it breaks up the flow. Near the end of the episode, I’m not even sure who we began watching in some random slaughter, as none of the characters had previously been introduced. This is the major hole in Doroehedoro’s otherwise impressive first episode. Let’s hope it continues to think things through and continue that sardonic perspective on its ultraviolence, and I think it will absolutely find a niche to succeed in.