Review: Dorohedoro Episode 1

Since I’m not too familiar with the original manga of ‘Dorohedoro’, I was rather ambivalent when it was first announced. The hype around it brought in a feeling of awe as it did indeed show a lot potential, however, at the same time, it was also quite concerning. Now that the anime is here, my review will solely be from the perspective of an anime viewer and I won’t be drawing any comparisons from its source.

With that said,  the premiere of ‘Dorohedoro’ is the perfect table settler as it slowly makes you delve into a bleak world of gratuitous violence, unflinchingly horrifying world-building, and deranged characters. From a story standpoint, the episode comes off as a slow-burn and takes its time to just give you brief info-dump on the characters and their nature. However, its bleak atmosphere and “Akira-styled” animation perfectly encapsulate the essence of its gritty themes.

Dorohedoro Episode 1 Recap

The opening scene of the episode introduces Caiman and Nikaidou, who work together against two of the evil sorcerers of the city. While their intentions, at this point, seem unclear, this is the first time when we get a glimpse of the insides of Caiman’s mouth. He devours the sorcerer’s face in his reptilian mouth and then pulls him back outside after a few seconds. He then asks him about is the man inside him said something to him. The sorcerer replies with a shivery voice and tells him that the man said that “he’s not the one.” Realizing that the sorcerer’s purpose for him is fulfilled, Caiman mercilessly slashes him with his sword. But before he can target the other sorcerer, he just narrowly manages to escape through one of his tricks.

In the scenes that follow, Caiman and Nikaidou are further fleshed out and it turns out that the two of them are just friends. Caiman suffers from amnesia and is desperately seeking the mage who cursed with his reptile-like face. Meanwhile, Nikaidou is just his partner in crime who helps him look for other sorcerers and fight them. She also helps him deal with his never-ending hunger for food and lets him stay with her. Parallelly, the antagonists of the series are introduced. These villains are, of course, the sorcerers who ruthlessly experiment their magic on the innocent people of “The Hole.” Since Caiman is the only living creature who is immune to their magic and is also now killing them one by one, they start seeing him as a major threat.

In the last few moments of the first episode, Ebisu is introduced. She is another androgynous sorcerer who walks around with a skull-shaped mask over her head. When Caiman and Nikaidou spot her for the first time, they follow their usual procedure and cut out her fingers to prevent her from performing any magic. Caiman then shoves her face inside his mouth so that the man inside him can ask her the question. But before he can pull her out and ask her all about it, another sorcerer named Fujita summons a door right behind her and pulls her in. She safely reaches to the other side but her face goes through some serious trauma.

Dorohedoro Episode 1 Review

The premise of ‘Dorohedoro’  is as outlandish as its name and what further adds to its appeal is the desert-dry humor of its protagonist. Considering all that it offers in the first episode, I’m pretty sure that most viewers will return to it for more. However, after watching a fair bit of gory anime shows in the past, I’ve learned that when it comes to shows which are heavy on violence, the bloodshed is nothing but a hook that wears off after an episode or two, unless the show has something more to offer. Even with ‘Dorohedoro’, the opening scene, which gives you a small glimpse of what lies ahead, serves only as an initial pop that you get accustomed to after a while. Later on in the episode, it’s the two main characters who truly make it a worthwhile episode.

Speaking of the characters, there isn’t anything exceptional about Nikaidou and several similarities can be drawn between her personality and that of other well-known secondary protagonists. But when it comes to Caiman, he is unlike anyone out there. He is a monstrous creature who does not qualify to be called human. He ruthlessly kills his enemies and has no memories of what it was like to be a human. However, at the same time, he still seems to have some humanity left in him. He fears that he’ll never be able normal again and also deeply cares for Nikaidou.

To put it simply, he is quite charming but one cannot ignore all that darkness that lurks in him. At this point, he, too, is not well aware of all the things he is capable of doing and that’s probably the reason why he carves to be normal again. Even when it comes to the other side characters, they are all morally shallow like the two leads, but likable nonetheless.

Overall, the first episode of ‘Dorohedoro’ is oddly satisfying and while its storyline hasn’t revealed its true potential yet, its crisp animation and enticing apocalypse cyberpunk-styled sceneries are enough to make you stick around for more. Even the other technical aspects such as the soundtracks are moody and industrial which perfectly fit in with its themes. Episode one has me all stoked for this anime, but as impressive as it may seem right now, I would still want to wait for more to form a final opinion on it.