By Q Hayashida. Released in Japan by Shogakukan, serialization ongoing in the magazine Ikki. Released in North America by Viz.
It’s worth noting, in case people have somehow forgotten it amongst all the gyoza and goofiness, that this series is incredibly terrifying at times. Everyone’s pasts are brutal and horrific, and it’s made almost all of them into morally ambiguous killers. The corpses that litter Dorohedoro are almost uncountable. And one of our good guys has a flashback in this volume showing that he collected these corpses and experimented on them. Meanwhile, Ebisu is learning the hard way that you can’t go home again.
Actually, the Ebisu plotline was probably my favorite part of this volume, if only for the 80 shades of wrong it contained. For one, the entire plotline with her parents is just nightmarish. Their daughter disappears, they are distraught, broken… so they pay a sorcerer to bring her back. And he… is a man with a paint tube mask, something that sounds much funnier than it is given that’s also how he recreates Ebisu. Only it isn’t Ebisu, to the point where her own parents fled their home. And now Ebisu returns to find herself under attack by her own doppelganger. Of all the disturbing art and violence that we get in this volume (yes, even the final scene), Ebisu having her head slashed open is the one that will stick with me. Just… urgh.
Meanwhile, we continue to get flashbacks to the guy that I think is Caiman’s past. His name is Ai, and he’s a sullen teen, all right. He also goes and gets himself killed fairly fast, or so we think. As it turns out, when Shin and Noi dig up the grave, there is a distinct lack of Ai there. It has to be said that Dorohedoro is a very dense manga, and its hints, when they arrive, are not necessarily very revealing. Caiman’s past in particular is difficult as we’re given the fakeout of his being connected to Risu, which turned out to be not quite true (but also yes, it is totally true).
And finally, En wakes up again, and boy is he pissed off. It’s worth noting just how overpowered En is in comparison to everyone else in this manga. He arrives and just completely owns everyone, even Caiman, who is immune to magic… which really doesn’t help when mushrooms are erupting from all of your internal organs. Now En has Nikaido again, and Caiman appears to be dead. He’s appeared to be dead before, but this time he has his own head (maybe) back, and the lizard head is a thing of the past. Maybe.
Leaving aside the batter-fried shrimp sorcerer at the end of the book, this was a fun, if a bit confusing, volume of Dorohedoro. Yes, explanations are thin on the ground, but the story never suffers from the lack of them. I suspect that the story is going to switch back to the cross-eyed gang for a bit given that cliffhanger (and we also get a really sweet/disturbing scene of the cross-eyes reminiscing about their completely insane leader, who I think is also Ai? Caiman? Whatever…). Wherever the story goes, though, I’m right there with it.