By Q Hayashida. Released in Japan by Shogakukan, serialization ongoing in a Shogakukan magazine to be named later. Released in North America by Viz.
I pretty much had my jaw on the floor through this entire volume, though halfway through it changed from boggling at Nikaido to boggling at Kai and company. As always with Dorohedoro, there’s a lot going on and it’s pretty unforgiving to those who don’t remember previous volumes, but that doesn’t stop it from being a stunning read every time. In addition, we get another reminder that behind all these masks, many of the main characters are female. Gender reveals of Nikaido and Noi occupied Volume 1, but Hayashida still enjoys doing it, so we get two more here (though I think we already knew them and I had forgotten).
A couple of vlumes ago I had discussed Nikaido dealing wht her past and childhood, and how the misuse of her magic led to her best friend being erased from existence. This in turn led to her suppressing her own powers. So now that her power is needed, we have to have some shock therapy to speed things along. I could have done without the attempted rape dream sequence, to be honest, but it is a dream sequence, and ends up being more about Nikaido confronting her own fears and demons. Once that happens, not only is she gaining the abilities (and looks!) of a devil, but her power is now kind of scary. We see this as she returns to her own past, and this time manages to save her childhood friend and set time right (sort of). Nikaido’s abuse of time powers was a powerful message in the earlier books, but it’s now come full circle, and I was stunned.
Meanwhile, most of the second half of the volume deals with Kai’s rampage against sorcerers, who he and his gang have been slowly killing off. Dokuga and company are feeling a bit uncomfortable with this, but “the boss” is still “the boss”. Natsumi has disappeared, though, and just isn’t answering her calls. There’s an air of something about to snap here, and it all comes to a head in Tanba’s restaurant (also providing a good excuse to put him on the cover), with a huge fight that ends with Kai getting his face literally cut off by Kirion… not that this stops him, as several more heads (apparently devil tumors?) arise from the wreckage, and now Kai seems to be Aikawa. The whole Kai/Ai/Caiman/Aikawa thing the series has been playing with is about as close to getting confirmed as possible here.
The remains of En’s merry band don’t get as much to do here, though they do send Fujita off on a reconnaissance mission to find En’s devil tumor. No one is more surprised at this than Fujita himself, but Sho informs him that he is “the one who loves En’s family the most’, which is really sweet. Oh, and in case you were wondering about Ebisu, she provides the best moments of humor, with her puppet conversations, and also a brief moment of heartwarming, as she wishes Fujita good luck after he’s left (because God forbid he should hear her or something).
When Dorohedoro finishes, it’s going to be one of those series that’s amazing to marathon in one whole sitting. Till then, we are grateful for getting these volumes at four-month intervals, and the next one can’t come fast enough.