Dorohedoro, Vol. 16

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

One thing that Dorohedoro is lacking in is traditional romantic love. Very few of the characters do anything in this title because they’re in love with someone else. As a result, you get to think more about their motivations and why they’re going to such lengths, be it Noi’s kohai adoration of Shin, Fujita and Ebisu’s awkward teasing, or everyone’s respect and allegiance to En, even now that he’s dead. And then there’s Nikaido, who certainly seems to be going above and beyond for Caiman, using her “you can only use this a few times” magic in order to go back in time to try to figure out what’s going on with him. Why is Nikaido going to such lengths? As we see here, those lengths may be having side-effects as well – will Nikaido become a full-fledged devil?

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This does lead to the funniest part of the book, though, where Nikaido uses her newfound devil powers to become MASTER GYOZA CHEF. Dorohedoro’s sense of humor has always been a bit skewed and violent, but it’s also been based heavily around gyoza, and it’s the same here. Sadly, it doesn’t last long, as Nikaido wakes from her massive food preparation unable to even remember what she was doing. (We also get a lot of fanservice from her this volume, as turning devil means a lot of exposed skin). But again, Nikaido’s motivation for Caiman seems to be based on their true friendship, rather than any romantic feelings.

The same goes for Fujita, who gets the bulk of the drama in the second half of this book. His non-presence has been a joke throughout the series, and now he’s using it in order to find out how to revive En. But he’s also young and impetuous – it’s just he’s been with people like Shin and Noi, so comparatively he’s looked meek. When he discovers the one behind En’s death, he cannot resist trying to get revenge. He’s pretty awesome about it as well, even if it does mean losing an arm and possibly dying – that’s the danger of cliffhangers. You can tell that it’s serious business as we see him without his mask – unlike Shin, Noi or Ebisu, he’s had his mask on almost the entire series. Oddly, he looks a lot like many other male characters. (Drawing different faces is not Hayashida’s strong suit.)

Meanwhile, of course, there’s the main plot, which as always is the most diffuse part of the book. What’s going on with the various factions fighting for power? Will we get to see En resurrected? Will Risu be able to control his desire to kill caiman? Is Caiman even good or evil anymore? I want to find out the answers to these things, but don’t really mind that it’s taking a while. In a series that’s all about the mood, the fact that the plot meanders is by no means an impediment. Dorohedoro remains a fascinating manga.

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