Dorohedoro – Episode 6

They’re currently still counting the votes that may herald the end of democracy in my country altogether, so you might say I’m feeling a little tension at the moment. In light of this, I’m going to do what I usually do at times like these: turn to one of my favorite ongoing projects, and bury myself in some productive work for a little while. Today that means Dorohedoro, where Nikaido is currently facing off against Noi in the guts of En’s estate.

Considering its bountiful worldbuilding flourishes and incidental genre digressions, you’d think Dorohedoro would be the kind of story to take its time with its central narrative, and simply luxuriate in its environment while dropping occasional hints about Caiman’s quest. Instead, in just five episodes, we’ve already discovered the identity of the man in Caiman’s throat, tracked down his gang, and twice faced off with En’s loyal enforcers. Dorohedoro is progressing with the pacing of a series that has nothing to lose, seemingly determined to resolve its initial conflict before it even finishes its first season.

This could either mean that we’ve yet to discover the actual magnitude of Caiman’s quest, or that his quest is merely a prelude to Dorohedoro’s true narrative, the story that’s kept it chugging along for two decades now. Given Hayashida’s confident writing so far, I’m not feeling apprehensive about that reveal – I’m simply excited to learn the truth, and discover precisely what kind of epic we’re dealing with here. Without further ado, let’s inch closer to that truth, and enjoy a fresh episode of Dorohedoro!

Episode 6

Is this an actual live-action closeup of a beer rising for the title drop? Love it

This show has such a wonderful reverence for food, which naturally compliments its focus on weird rituals and cycles of destruction. Bodies are temporary in Dorohedoro, constantly being dismantled and reconstituted, and our consumption of food embodies that cycle, as we destroy living creatures and consume them to sustain ourselves, with our own bodies in turn eventually being consumed and recycled. At the same time, our preparation of food can be seen as an act of worship – a ritual that brings us together, and adds meaning and joy to the consumption and destruction. It’s a natural point of thematic synchronicity, and one that also facilitates this story’s emphasis on slice of life camaraderie within its cast

Through cooking, we also express our individuality. You can see that Caiman is a bit less refined of a chef than Nikaido, but he clearly put great care into this spread for the two of them

Oof! Nikaido slices one of Noi’s eyes, and escapes as she’s yanking off her jumpsuit. I know Noi has dramatic regenerative powers, but it’s still hard to watch

The OP actually makes the thematic parallel between the consumption of food and consumption of bodies even more explicit, as Caiman is literally turned into a gyoza man and consumed on an assembly line

“Risu, whatever happens, don’t tell them about that man.” Presumably the man at the end of Caiman’s alley, who’s truly responsible for his condition. I suppose even if Nikaido finds Risu, we’re not necessarily much closer to finding the true mystery man

And Risu doesn’t know who killed him, but assumes his cross-eyed brethren here does. Perhaps they were engaging in their own ritualistic sacrifice of their members – we still don’t have any idea why Risu also exists in Caiman’s throat, after all

Nikaido reflects that it’s impossible to find a single person in this mansion, but fortunately the laws of narrative convenience ensure Risu is visible through the very next window she passes

More than any other convenience of narrative, perhaps the greatest assumption we as viewers have been taught to accept is that key characters will always, inevitably run into each other at a dramatically opportune moment. As a writer, the key takeaway from that fact is that you shouldn’t try to be too fancy; engineering convoluted scenarios to force characters to meet because it’s more “logical” that way only draws attention to the strings of the storytelling. In contrast, if you just have them bump into each other on the street, the audience will be perfectly willing to accept that, because we’ve been taught to accept it all our lives

I do very much like this shot of Nikaido leaping across the mansion conceptually, though as always, the contrast of hand-painted backgrounds and CG character movement is a tough one

Some nice pose-to-pose movements for her entrance into Risu’s room, though; staggered, pose-to-pose movement feels like a decent way to simulate the impact of traditional keyframes

Ooh, I love these cuts of mushrooms growing out of En’s blood on the floor. Well, that probably means negotiation is off the table

Gorgeous exterior shots as En’s fury erupts into a massive mushroom forest

And again, destruction and regrowth, as Risu’s fellow cross-eyed gang member is chopped into pieces and consumed by the fungus. The opening shots of the episode are thus given a new resonance, with the “mushroom pile” mentioned in the title now referring to both Caiman’s meal and this act of destruction. Bodies are variable, destruction and regrowth are eternal

Somehow Ebisu ends up getting the worst of this mushroom explosion, even though she wasn’t even in the previous scene. I very much appreciate her extremely unfortunate shtick

And we come full circle as Nikaido reaches Caiman, and asks him to literally cut the mushroom off her back

En is just so temperamental and incompetent that it’s hard to feel particularly mad at him. Even his own enforcers are giving him grief about his stupid tantrum

Ooh, I like how the doctor’s smoke is used as a match cut leading into this flashback. A neat way to mitigate the inherently staggered pacing of an episode composed out of multiple manga chapters

Shin’s father was a human, while his mother was a sorcerer. She was killed by Hole’s neighborhood anti-sorcerer watch, right after he was born

Even that shot combines food and death, with his mother’s blood spilling over the red apples

Ooh, they’re weaving in some nice traditionally animated cuts for Shin’s escape from the watch

It looks like they didn’t actually build a CG model for young Shin, which is great news for us, as it means all of these scenes get to benefit from traditionally animated cuts that result in a far more natural composite with the background art

Seeing his father killed by the watch was his awakening as a sorcerer, and the beginning of the end for the neighborhood watch itself

Jeeez this is some serious mutilation. Shin butchered both his arms, seeking the vein that would allow him to truly release his smoke. And of course, the professor is entirely nonplussed by this display of violence, and idly considers one of Shin’s dismembered fingers

I appreciate that Caiman is learning all this key information about Shin’s perspective. Everyone in this show is just so likable that I’m impatient for them to hurry up and get on the same side

“Listen, I understand how you feel, but you should probably stop killing people already.” What a halfhearted attempt to stop his killing spree. “Hey you, just, knock it off with all the murders, would ya?”

So Shin owes a major debt of gratitude to our doctor and professor

“Sorcerers are weak to the rain in Hole”

Nikaido notices a dark figure outside the window. We’re getting some spooky noir aesthetic cues for this segment, from its title drop, to its emphasis on rainy cityscapes, to the jazzy piano flourishes

Another neat perspective-shifting trick like that pan around the cross-eyed base last episode, this time using the relatively barren simplicity of Nikaido’s hospital room to facilitate a ninety-degree pan as Caiman orders a pizza. This example of that technique frankly isn’t all that beautiful, but I philosophically support this series’ attempts to make clever cinematographic use of its environments and CG objects

The doctors already know Nikaido is a sorcerer, but Caiman seems pretty resistant to accepting it, in a sort of casual, “of course she’s not a sorcerer” way

Nice composite work with the fog here, and strong use of the limited lighting; even obscured in darkness, the alleys of Hole are brimming with alluring, menacing details

Caiman runs into a giant cockroach man in the sewers

Apparently the cockroach man’s name is Johnson. Sure, why not

The man in the window is taking what he calls “black gemstones” from the sorcerers’ victims, in hopes of becoming a sorcerer himself

Of course even Johnson wears big goofy sneakers. Sneakers are like the one wardrobe constant across every element of this society

They’re clearly aiming for some pathos regarding this man’s hopeless quest to escape Hole, but this sequence just feels too short to build up much sense of tragedy – that said, the atmosphere of these city shots in the rain is phenomenal, and strikes precisely the sort of tone they’re attempting to convey through the narrative

Oh my god, this ED is delightful. They simulated a basic Wolfenstein-like starring En and his mushroom powers, fighting an array of single-frame cross eye enemies. How can a show be this stuffed with creativity and fun, so much so that it’s even bursting out of its credit sequences?

And Done

Well, so much for my predictions! As it turns out, Nikaido’s assault on En’s mansion turned out to be a total bust, and ultimately just resulted in an episode of slow recuperation and exposition, as we learned the origins of Shin’s anger, and drew Caiman closer to the truth about Nikaido. But while we learned less about Caiman’s nature than I expected, I was quite happy to learn so much about Shin, and particularly intrigued to learn he has such a meaningful connection with our accommodating science team. A variety of grudges and allegiances still separate them, but I’m holding out hope that Shin and Caiman could one day be friends!

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