Dorohedoro, Vol. 13

By Q Hayashida. Released in Japan by Shogakukan, serialization ongoing in a Shogakukan magazine to be named later. Released in North America by Viz.

Most of the recent volumes of Dorohedoro have consisted of a lot of what readers are looking for with the series (gore, comedy, the odd gyoza mention) along with small dabs of plot and one big thing that everyone will remember after they finish the book. Last time it was Nikaido’s flashback, which was showing us how traumatized she was as a child and the circumstances that led to her use (and misuse) of her time magic. And I’m pretty sure that after Volume 13, everyone will be discussing what happens in the final moments with Kai and Natsuki. But let’s try to mention a few other things first.

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Given the traumatic nature of what happens at the end of this volume, I knew we would have some humor in here somewhere, and a lot of it comes from seeing genderbent Nikaido, who has to disguise herself using magic to enter En’s mansion, now taken over by the Cross-Eyes. In her male body, she’s still her regular self, and is I believe what anime fans describe as a “keet”. This leads to more fun when she runs into Kai/Caiman, who is still having memory issues and has difficulty dealing with Nikaido being so informal. Particularly when the spell wears off and she transforms back into her buff, stacked, naked body in front of him. (This is a strong volume for fans of Dorohedoro’s fanservice – Nikaido fights as a man bare-chested for a while, and we also see Noi naked after her recovery.

Yes, Noi and Shin have been rescued from being mushroom’d at the end of the last volume. The fact that there’s yet another mysterious En family member with tremendous powers is played for laughs here – this man is able to become invisible, but does too good a job, so people forget he’s there after a while. She’s able to use smoke to heal Shin (via a full-on kiss, which I think startles Shin more than anything else) and they’re back in action. Actually, a great deal of this volume is the En family regrouping, and trying to resurrect their leader. Hasn’t happened yet, though.

And now let’s talk Natsuki. She’s been one of the most optimistic, hopeful and fun characters in the last few volumes, more of a mascot than a real threat. That changes here when a crisis shows off her repressed magic, which has almost godlike defensive capabilities. She’s delighted, but the rest of the cross-eyes are terrified – they know what Kai does to people with strong magic, and immediately plot to get her away from him. But in the end this is *not* particularly an optimistic, hopeful manga, and Natsuki is not one of the main characters. And thus, right before she leaves she runs into Kai, and gets brutally torn apart, in one of the goriest bits of the entire volume. And unlike En, I’m pretty sure she won’t be coming back. Kai is scary. I miss Caiman.

I expect the fallout from this will take up a chunk of Vol. 14, along with Nikaido’s continued practice of her magic and the search for En’s devil-shaped tumor. In the meantime, another fun yet brutal volume of Dorohedoro, which even in its most confusing moments still manages to be exhilarating through sheer verve.

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