Dorohedoro, Vol. 17

By Q Hayashida. Released in Japan by Shogakukan, serialization ongoing in the magazine Hibana. Released in North America by Viz.

Despite all its violence and loving depictions of chopped-up corpses, Dorohedoro has always had a loose relationship with actually killing characters off, given that there are several deus ex machinas in this universe able to resurrect someone from the dead given enough time and materials. No one really doubts En is eventually going to be back, for example, and even though Fujita lay at death’s door and lost an arm in the last volume, he’s fully healed early on here. This is why when we do see genuine death it has an impact, even if there’s something in the back of our heads saying “are they reeeeeaaallly dead?”.


Natsuki’s death in Vol. 13 was such a death, and it gets confirmed here in the worst way, as Ton, the one most dedicated to finding her true fate, ends up sharing it. This is actually sort of sweet and touching in a horrible way, as Ton comes across her body, now strangely mute, but can’t escape where he thinks they are. There’s even a ‘going into the light’ cliche to show off that yes, they are indeed dead. The same can’t be said for the rest of the cross-eyes, though, as even though the majority of them are horrible butchered by their boss, who they’ve finally decided is not worthy of following, we could still see them come back, as we were able to save the corpses’ heads. It’s that kind of series.

Meanwhile, En’s party is also discussing death. Sure, they have Noi, and Judas’ Ear, but there’s still some kinds of lethal blows that you just can’t fix. Luckily, there’s an operation that makes a person virtually unkillable, even if they get their brains blown out. Admittedly, the operation is almost always lethal, but that’s why you do it on someone like Noi, who already has amazing resurrection powers. I love that Noi hates this, and regards it as a safety measure because she’s too weak – something Ebisu is quick to point out is basically correct. When you have the ability to heal anyone from certain death, you get coddled a bit, whereas Noi just wants to keep punching people till their bodies are piles of goo.

And then there’s Nikaido, whose motives are becoming more and more questionable as she gains more and more of her devil powers – her usually expressive eyes get narrowed to pinpricks, and the gyoza she made in a devil-induced flurry last time seem to be dangerously addictive. It’s a bit difficult to talk about morality in a series like Dorohedoro, where even the nice and sweet people happily go around butchering passersby. But you get the sense that something here is off, that Nikaido is heading down a dangerous road. This is not helped by the absence of Caiman – Risu just does not have the same ability to restrain her weirder impulses. In the meantime, we’ve now gathered the entire cast at the department store setting, and Fujita has managed to find En’s tumor, so I suspect the next volume may contain even more gore than this one, if that is strictly possible. Assuming you can get past the gore, highly recommended as always.

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