Dorohedoro (ドロヘドロ?) is a fantasy manga series currently running in Shogakukan's Ikki magazine. Dorohedoro is written by Q Hayashida, who is known for her work as the author of the manga, Maken X. In 2009 Viz Media licensed, and began serializing Dorohedoro on their online manga website, SigIKKI.
The plot of the manga centers around Caiman, who does not remember who he was before he was transfigured by a Magic user. This transformation left him with a reptile's head, and a desire to find out the truth about who he really is. Accompanied by Nikaido, his female companion, he tracks down Magic Users in The Hole and unceremoniously chomps down on their head, hoping to find out who it was that put him in this state. One by one, they witness this "second man" inside the head of Caiman, and after pulling them back out of his mouth he asks them all a question...
"What did the guy inside my head say?"
There are two separate worlds in Dorohedoro, the Hole, where people who cannot use magic live, and the world of magic users. Magic users are individuals who offer gifts to the devil in hope of receiving a unique mask in return. Magic users frequently wear these masks, only removing them for instances of food consumption, possible identification purposes, or simply leisure. Magic users can produce "smoke" which is the source of their powers. There are several different types of smoke such as transformation, healing and resurrection. It is known that there are magic users who can alter time but that gift is very rare and often thought to be a myth. Usually one magic user can only use one type of smoke (for example : a user with healing ability can't do transformations, or a user with lizard transformation abilities can't do mushroom transformations). However, smoke can be sold and bought. In bottled or spray form it can be used by other individuals, magic users or not. Magic can be amplified by consuming black powder but this act is looked down upon in the society and regarded as shameful. Frequent use of this black powder turns a magic user's smoke potent for indefinite amount of time. Remains of black powder can be found in the user's smoke.
Magic users often frequent the Hole for experimenting with their powers or "fun". Their victims are usually left incapacitated or on the verge of death. The residue left by magic users in their world falls down in the Hole as rain. This rain reduces the powers of magic users.
Those who cannot use magic, seek refuge or wish to hide their abilities dwell in the Hole. These people live their everyday lives, sometimes at the mercy of visiting Magic users who make a plaything of their world—and them.
The World of Dorohedoro seems to be set in a post-apocalyptic world which is split in to two major factions.
The Magic User World
Magic Users are those who can produce black smoke, which in turn can perform magical feats expanding past the capacity of normal human beings. These people all wear masks, made for them by the devil. They live in one world, but frequent The Hole for testing of their powers and in some cases, simple fun. The way of transport through worlds is done by summoning doors to take the user from place to place. Other methods of transportation shown have been in flying carpets, and other enchanted objects. Anything Abnormal seems accepted here, and even death does not seem to warrant much arrest.
The Hole is where those who are without magic reside, often the plaything of visiting magic users. Almost considered a dump, many areas are condemned if not nearing so. However, despite the odds there are some surviving businesses, a large one of which being the hospital for those who have been the victims of magic.
Caiman is the lead character of the manga. He appears to have been the victim of a transformation, memories of which he is convinced have a man having laid the spell on him. Other than that, he has no recollection of his previous life. He sports the head of a large reptile, with no other alternates in limbs or body. (He's quite human right down to the head.) His head sports various spikes that jar out when he is surprised or stressed, and there are cross-shaped marks over each of his eyes. It appears that despite having his head chopped off, he can regenerate it in a matter of time.
Caiman's present companion, and a woman who owns the Hungry Bug, a family restaurant in The Hole. She found Caiman after his initial transformation, and has befriended and aided him ever since. They, together, hunt down magic users who enter The Hole, and try to locate the one who inflicted the transformation on Caiman. As it progresses, it is revealed that Nikaido is also a magic user, and has some ties in the Magic Users' World. It is later revealed her power has control of time.
En is shown to be the Corporate boss of a business that apparently sells automated brooms, and likely other objects. He's shown to be a man who has a large expansive group of lackeys, and is currently Noi and Shin's boss. He wears a mask that holds over his mouth similar to a surgeon's mask, and his smoke can turn people and objects in to mushrooms. He is also quite fond of mushrooms, so much so that he themes every product he sells after them, and tends to only eat mushrooms.
Shin & Noi
Shin and Noi are a power team that are shown to be working hits for En, a powerful leader of a corporation in The Magic Users' realm. Shin and Noi are commonly shown competing with one another while on a job, placing bets on who can kill more people, or a person faster. Noi refers to Shin often as "Sempai", a reflection of her position in the corporation (that of one who has come after Shin). Noi is apparently a cousin of En's.
Shin's mask is shaped like a human heart, although he usually wears it backwards with the front of it facing backwards and two eye holes cut out of the back. Without a mask he is blond with blue eyes, and wears glasses. He is usually in a suit with an un-tucked white shirt and sneakers. His tool of choice is a hammer, as well as his magic smoke that allows him to dismember and dissect people without them physically dying. Shin was shown to be androgynous in his youth, a half-bred magic user who purposely cut off his arms to try and find the veins of smoke within his arms.
Noi's mask is very detailed, although dark blue and apparently vinyl-like. The face is somewhat similar to the one on Shin's, although more form fitted with a zipper. She is taller and stockier than Shin, and it surprises Fujita that she's female the first time he sees her without her mask. Noi's hair in the Bonus Chapter of 17 is pale white-blond like, and her eyes appear red—suggesting she might be an albino. Her hair is mid length, and she has several piercings on her ears. Her smoke heals almost any injury short of actual death. The closest person to her is Shin, as demonstrated in her revival from reptile form.
Fujita is a magic user residing in the Magic user’s domain, working for a company headed by En: a powerful magic user. Fujita isn’t a very good magic user at all, himself—the only times he manages to produce any magical smoke at all are times when he or someone he cares about are in a bit of a bind. For example, when in the Hole (the domain of non-users,) he and a friend of his are stopped by Caiman, a nonuser who is mysteriously unaffected by magic due to his mutations. His friend is killed by Caiman, and in a scurry to get away with his own life he uses his smoke to open a door between the realms—something that takes a fair bit of skill to do, as remarked by several characters later on.
Wanting to avenge his comrade, Fujita sets out to return to Hole heavily armed but is stopped by a messenger of En, who passes on the message that he’s been assigned to find the user who transformed Caiman into a saurian. A bit of research reveals a reptilian transformation specialist—Ebisu. Fujita recalls passing her while in the Hole with his friend—and so, goes to find her before Caiman can kill her, too. Fujita’s timing is just right, and so he manages to save Ebisu just as she’s stuck in the jaws of Caiman, her fingers broken clean off after she attempts to use her smoke on him. Unfortunately, her life comes at the price of her sanity and her face—En assigns one of the higher-ups, Noi, to heal Ebisu’s face and fingers. Although physically in one piece once again, Ebisu is still traumatized by the incident, her personality reverted back to that of a small child and memory obliterated.
Noi and Shin are sent to exterminate Caiman—Fujita tagging along partially because he wants revenge, partially to watch after Ebisu, of whose memory everyone is waiting on to return.
Fujita covers his eyes during horror movies. His magic has yet to be defined, although he fired his smoke like bullets on one occasion.
Ebisu is a young and sullen looking woman who first appears in chapter three, donning a skull shaped mask. She is walking through the Hole, unable to summon a door back to the Magic Users' world due to the barrier between worlds currently in effect. She runs in to Caiman and Nikaido, who advance on her in their common fashion. Caiman cuts off Ebisu's fingers to prevent her from using magic, and bites down on her head after removing her mask. Before he can withdraw to ask her his "question", a frantic Fujita appears from a door behind her and forcefully pulls her out of his clamped down jaws, in to the door. This sudden and jerky movement causes trauma to her face and head, but they both get to safety.
After this incident, Ebisu is shown to be haunted by nightmares - and has become somewhat insane. At En's residence, she is restrained until Noi can properly heal and restore her fingers and face. Past that point, it is evident her head trauma caused some (supposedly temporary,) brain damage as seen in her suddenly eccentric behavior. She is commonly seen with Fujita in the manga panels, possibly leading to believe that they are 'partners' now.
Records state she is skilled in Reptile transformation. However between panels it shows her having attacked someone with a surplus of power after being fed Black Powder by someone who appeared to have met her before. It is revealed she was a black smoke user, and had heard the words said to her from the man inside Caiman's head. Some of her memories return, and it is not yet certain if her magic was what changed Caiman's head in to a lizard head, however it is very suspicious.
English language release
Viz Media released the first graphic novel volume of Dorohedoro on 16 March 2010.
- Dorohedoro (manga) at Anime News Network's Encyclopediait:Dorohedoro - Caccia allo Stregoneru:Dorohedoro