By Q Hayashida. Released in Japan by Shogakukan, serialization ongoing in a Shogakukan magazine to be named later. Released in North America by Viz.
Readers of this manga will know already that it can be very, very violent and blood-filled. It’s not all buff babes and gyoza, there’s a good deal of death and dismemberment – the main reason it’s rated M, in fact. But even for Dorohedoro, Vol. 15 really pushes the envelope of what its readers can take, offering up some truly disturbing and grotesque imagery. And it’s actually rather fitting, as the main character sees his various personas fractured beyond belief… oh yes, and we find out that the main character has been a lot more characters than we may have previously believed.
This is not really news for anyone who has been following the plot of the last few volumes closely (and if you are one of those people, I commend you – I love this series, but half the time I can’t remember what’s going on), but this volume spells it out: Caiman = Aikawa = Kai = Ai. Of course, we as the reader know this, but the cast are still somewhat in the dark. The cross-eyes wonder why their boss doesn’t have the distinctive markings. Risu needs to know more about the details of his curse. And En’s group don’t really care about Ai, as they’re still trying to find a way to resurrect En, who is busy attempting to incite rebellion in Hell (and failing), thus showing us that he really is dead. But as we’ve seen in Dorohedoro, death rarely means much. (Unless you’re Natsuki. Sorry, Natsuki.)
Dorohedoro is so addictive in part due to its imagery, and there are some excellent examples here. It rains in the Hole, which is pretty much unheard of – and bad news for most sorcerers, who find it nearly crippling to them. Nikaido may now be able to use her magic to change time and other deus ex machina things, but it comes at a cost – her magic is now literally rendered as a giant gun with only 5 shots, and she’s already used one of them – four left and then she has no more magic ever. Oh yes, and she’s still dealing with the whole ‘devil horns’ thing. And as for Ai, fusing with a giant mutated monster covered with severed heads seems all too appropriate given what’s been happening with him.
This far into the series, I’m not sure there’s much to offer the new reader, but there’s also not much to make old readers drop it, either. What we’ve gotten before is what we get now. There’s some amusing humor scattered throughout. There’s some nudity and fanservice once in a while (for a certain definition of fanservice). Sometimes we get both together, as when a recovered Ebisu realizes she’s naked among a group of her close friends and completely freaks out. But most of all, Dorohedoro has finally started to answer most of the mysteries it’s been posing, and we’re eager to see what’s going to happen next. Will En be resurrected? Will Nikaido manage to save Caiman? Is there even a Caiman to be saved? Provided you can accept the fact that this volume is twice as disgusting as a normal Dorohedoro volume (is there such a thing?), you’ll enjoy pondering these questions as well.