Monday, January 7, 2013

Rosy's scrawled manga recommendation: Dorohedoro by Hayashida Q

Hayashida Q

In a city so dismal it’s known only as “the Hole,” a clan of sorcerers have been plucking people off the streets to use as guinea pigs for atrocious “experiments” in the black arts. In a dark alley, Nikaido found Kaiman, a man with a reptile head and a bad case of amnesia. To undo the spell, they’re hunting and killing the sorcerers of the Hole, hoping that eventually they’ll kill the right one. But when En, the head sorcerer, gets word of a lizard–man slaughtering his people, he sends a crew of “cleaners” into the Hole, igniting a war between two worlds.

Alternative names



Manga reader sites (free)
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Rosy's scrawlings on Dorohedoro
I really can't recommend this one enough, especially to those who love dark fantasy stories. Dorohedoro can be held as an example of just why I became addicted to mangas. There's nothing overly predictable about the story and even less with the characterisations. The art is beautiful, and I do mean beautiful. There's also a dark grotesqueness to the story and illustrations that draw you in and keep you wondering just what is going to happen next. Just how bad can the situation get? On top of that, there's pretty much no-one you could claim to be a good guy or bad guy in amongst the mix of characters, given that you need one to define the other. Everyone is of a certain level of disgracefulness and everyone is brutal in their own fashion. Navigating the worlds of Dorohedoro is to take a trip far from our reality, yet to all too uncomfortably examine our own.
The story of Dorohedoro follows a man with a lizard head named Kaiman as he searches for his identity and the magic user who cast the spell that left him with a lizard head. He's accompanied by a friend named Nikaido, who has a few secrets of her own. Along the way they leave a trail of decapitated bodies, mostly killed in the Hole (a world for humans) and mostly magic users. Through this they attract the attention of a magic user group/family/gang led by a man named En, who can change things into mushrooms and cause mushrooms to grow anywhere, including inside people. En's family, in turn, have links to a devil (one among many) who happens to be the strongest natural born devil and who doesn't take kindly to his games being tampered with. Kaiman also attracts the attention of a group of weak to non-magic users stuck in the magic user world called Cross Eyes for the tattooed crosses they have around their eyes. They are missing their boss and are waiting for him to return. And if this wasn't shaping up to be complicated enough, a rebel devil wants to protect Nikaido, who happens to be a time magic user pretending to be human and who is wanted by En to be his partner, who in turn wants to use her magic to find out whether he killed the Cross Eyes boss years ago.
The mysteries and secrets in Dorohedoro keep leading the various characters into increasingly deadly situations, to the point where the comedy readily available in the first twelve or so chapters quickly dissipates into bloody horror where anyone can and does die and everyone has regrets. Kaiman too, becomes lost as he searches for his identity, only to find the answer increasingly complicated and unpalatable. Nikaido breaks all her promises to herself and begins to joyfully become something she doesn't want to be. Death isn't the end and resurrection is commonplace, although difficult. And to top off the the trails of blood and gore and death left behind by nearly every character there are quite a few references to some of the most horrific events in our own human history, including genocide and the building of a wall of heads.
But don't let the darkness of this story fool you. There is much to laugh at, mostly thanks to Ebisu. Ebisu is a girl who just has no luck. Her face is ripped off then repaired, her sanity leaves her then is partially repaired and she becomes a zombie then is repaired. She's also killed by an evil monster clone then resurrected. Then, to top it off, she gets a magic hairpin stuck in her brain which forces her to laugh and smile through everything. She's also a gangly little girl who wants big boobs, turns into a lizard monster or tiny lizard-like creature (depending on her level of magic) and she's generally insane.
Along with a story that takes you into different worlds and exposes you to magic users wearing all sorts of masks and costumes, devils with the complete horns, tails, wings and forked tongue getup the art reveals worlds that are crumbling and run down, each frequently visited by disasters. The art of Dorohedoro is stunning. There are full colour panels and black and white panels and all are produced with great care, focus on detail and originality. The art is scratching and dark, with even the colour panels being made up of browns, yellows and blacks. The texture is often the same as that produced with coloured charcoal, oil pastels and ink. And although I'm not always sure what medium is used the result is simply impressive.
I think I'll just say that Dorohedoro is a brilliant piece of work with equal focus given to all the most important aspects of a good story: the plot, the characters, the dialogue, the balance of light and dark and the illustrations. I could probably keep on raving but I'll leave it at this.

I'd recommend this manga to: those who love dark fantasy, stories of magic and devils, alternate worlds, bloody action and twisting mysteries. Also, I'd recommend this to anyone simply looking for an excellent story to read.

Notes on manga reader sites
The quality of manga readers can vary. The uploads are often done cheaply or as a serious hobby by a collective. Be aware that sometimes licence hasn't been given but the sites noted above, Manga Fox in particular, are extremely careful about adding and pulling mangas according to license agreements. So you shouldn't have to worry too much about the material being pirated. There are also translated works and non-translated. Amongst the translated works you will find that the quality of translation may vary according to the skills of the translators. Usually the works are perfectly readable anyway, with only a few added or dropped words or a word in the incorrect tense or with/out plurals. But sometimes the text becomes gobbledygook. In which case, either seek another version or give up and buy an official copy once a printed translation comes out. The other issue of note is you may need to expand the screen to read the text easily as sometimes the scans are minimised a little.
I find that if a page doesn't download properly or some other issue occurs (too slow or someone ordered the pages incorrectly etc.) with one reader then skipping across to another reader and picking up where I was is quite easy and rarely annoying.
Otherwise, enjoy and watch out you don't get too addicted you forget about the necessary things in life.

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