Strap yourself in, this is one wild trip.
And a trip Dorehedoro most certainly is. Whether it’s one you can stomach or not largely depends on your tolerance for horror and the kind of violence that had me at least squirming uncomfortably, mixed with an aggressively dark sense of humour that had me simultaneously laughing and shaking my head in disbelief. Needless to say, the characters that inhabit this twisted world are as weird and frankly terrifying as they come – not necessarily because of their looks (though that’s certainly part of it for some of them), but for the nonchalance with which they brush off the bloody goings-on as just as a regular part of their everyday lives, no matter who was transformed into a grotesque half-human/half-insect that day or who got their face literally ripped off. Oh well, that’s that, time to head back to the diner and cook up some gyoza.
I can’t say much else about the story of Dorohedoro – it’s a lot to take in, and just one of those things you need to see for yourself to judge – but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the visuals, because once again, they’re something alright. On the one hand, the mix of CG and hand-drawn animation is awkward as hell. On the other hand, maybe that’s the point, to render an already intensely unsettling environment even more magnificently creepy? And if nothing else, my god is the backdrop ever a beautifully horrifying one. I haven’t seen a setting drawn with this amount of loving detail in a long time; a chaotic maze of gritty, run-down streets and buildings that look at once both vaguely futuristic yet trapped in time. I was about to say that whoever was in charge of drawing this urban hellscape was clearly influenced by the rush of late 80s/early 90s dystopian cyberpunk anime, and then I saw the art director was Kimura Shinji (Akira, Kekkai Sensen) and it all made total sense.
Look, you’ll either love it or you’ll hate it, and either way you’ll probably be left feeling a bit nauseous by the end, but Dorohedoro is absolutely worth a look regardless. Don’t skip it.