Today I will be covering a fairly popular shonen anime released earlier this year, “Dororo” by Osamu Tezuka. Released between 1967-1968, the manga had already had an animated adaptation of 26 episodes as far back as 1969. Its animated remake this year has 24 episodes that aired from January to the end of June. It is an exciting series full of original ideas. Soon I will explain why many see “Dororo” as one of the best shonen of 2019. Review without spoilers.
The work revolves around a rōnin named Hyakkimaru and a young orphaned thief named Dororo, during the Sengoku period. The rōnin was born malformed, with no limbs and no facial features or internal organs. This was the result of the pact made by his father Kagemitsu Daigō, Daimyō of a ruined territory, with 48 demons. He sacrifices his firstborn to increase the wealth and prosperity of his kingdom. This allowed them to roam free and commit atrocities across the country.
After his mother Oku was forced to drift him on the river so as not to be killed by his father, the child was later found and raised by Jukai-sensei, a medicine man. He used healing medicine and alchemical methods to give the child prostheses made from the remains of children injured in war. The boy became almost invincible against any fatal blows due to the prosthetics and healing magic. Now Hyakkimaru travels the kingdom killing the demons he encounters in order to recover the body parts that have been stolen from him.
Review & Opinions
The history of Dororo, although not very complex, has several interesting points. Hyakkimaru is an atypical protagonist, initially apathetic and silent, due to his complete sensory isolation, which with the progressive regaining of the five senses, develops a complete and complex personality. The co-star Dororo, apparently a simple comic shoulder, soon proves to be the best characterized character of the work, becoming a guide for Hyakkimaru and fundamental for his emotional growth.
The plot, although very simple, has two really interesting features. The first is that unlike any other shonen, the protagonist is in fact weakened with each victory of him. His strength derives from the lack of internal organs and therefore from the monsters’ inability to carry out truly deadly or critical blows. With the progressive regaining of the various parts of the body, the protagonist loses this fundamental ability. The second interesting feature is the moral dilemma that arises during the continuation of the plot. The extermination of the demons gradually breaks the pact made by the father, bringing drought and famine back to the country. Is it right that he continues his crusade?
The setting is the classic “Sengoku period” with strong elements of Shinto folklore. Not very original, but it always retains a certain charm.
Problems of the series
The main problem of the series is its final part, which is a little too rough. There is some forcing here and there, deriving from the fact that the manga from which it is based does not have a real conclusion.
The animations are particularly accurate, fluid and clean. The action sequences are pleasant and spectacular. Two animation studios worked on this adaptation: MAPPA and Tezuka Productions, certainly doing a great job. Given the setting, even the soundtrack is inspired by the most ancient and traditional sounds of the rising sun, perfectly accompanying the work, but without any memorable tune.
“Dororo” is certainly one of the best titles of this 2019. Shonen apparently banal, has more than a few interesting ideas both in terms of plot and characters. The excellent writing accompanied by a good amount of well-crafted and enjoyable action scenes make Dororo an excellent title to recover. Recommended for all lovers of not exactly classic shonen.
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