By Q Hayashida. Released in Japan by Shogakukan, serialization ongoing in the magazine Hibana. Released in North America by Viz. Translated by AltJapan Co., Ltd. (Hiroko Yoda + Matt Alt).
I’ve missed Caiman. Yes, there’s a question as to who the real Caiman actually is, but I don’t care, I’ve missed THIS Caiman, the big goofy guy with the lizard head. Nikaido clearly has as well, even though she’s a lot more wary about his appearance than I am, even losing her perpetual happy face for a bit as she tries to work out what happened. Admittedly, what happened it not exactly clear to the reader either: it’s very fitting that when she explains to Caiman everything that’s happened to him for the past year, and asks if he understood, his response is an immediate “No”. I feel you, Caiman. We’ve all been there.
After the last volume, I was hoping for a bit less blood and guys, and to a certain extent that’s true, as we exchange it for a lot of scenes of people walking around trying to figure things out or avoid figuring other things out. In addition to Nikaido and Caiman, we have Dr. Kasukabe and Haru, who are trying to outthink our main devil leader and failing rather badly; the decapitated remains of En’s gang, who are having trouble doing much of anything at all, though ironically they may achieve more than the rest of the cast here; and Ebisu and her amnesiac slave, who are just trying to get En’s body back to the rest but are unfortunate enough to be the latest ones to run into Zombie Shin. Hope that goes better for them than it did the last group.
The big fight here is between Haru and Nikaido/Caiman, and it goes very badly very fast. So badly that Dr. Kasukabe is actually killed, and when I saw that I knew what was coming next. Sure enough, after Haru went berserk and annihilated Caiman (who must be getting tired of having his head killed in so many ways… melted this time), Nikaido breaks out her sorcerer’s magic and reverses time so she can stop the fight. This is always a dangerous narrative thing to do. Fans seem to have no issues with resurrecting people from a head in a jar, or a literal hell with devils, or all sorts of other kinds of magic, but time travel to rewrite the past still seems somewhat taboo. Still, we’ve seen Nikaido use it before, and I’m sure we will again, as she has two chances let.
This definitely now has the feel of a storyline that’s building to an ending, though it’s not quite over yet in Japan. I am hoping that the En half of Dorohedoro’s cast herd stops being a pile of body parts and gets to do something soon, and it would be nice to see Shin snap out of whatever zombie funk he’s in. And I’m not sure I want Nikaido being a devil either. With most stories you yearn for the characters to grow and change as the story comes to an end, but I have to admit, I just want my goofy gyoza lovers and violence-happy sorcerers back, please.
By the way, best joke of the volume has to be Caiman getting disgusted by a severed hand on the Store Knife, not realizing that it’s his OWN hand from the aborted future. A joke you can only pull off with Nikaido around.