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Dororo (どろろ?) is a Japanese manga series from the critically acclaimed manga creator Osamu Tezuka in the late 1960s. The anime television series (1969) based on the manga consists of 26 half-hour episodes. It was made into a live-action film in 2007.
Tezuka's childhood memory of his friends pronouncing dorobou (どろぼう lit. thief?) as dororo, inspired the title of this work. In the live action movie series, the name is explained to be a southern term for Hyakkimaru, meaning "Little Monster."
The anime series bears the distinction of being the first entry in what is now known as the "World Masterpiece Theater" series.
"Dororo" is a thriller Manga, which revolves around a rounin during the Sengoku period. He was born malformed, limbless and without facial features or internal organs. This was the result of his birth father daimyo Daigo Kagemitsu forging a pact with 48 sealed demons so that he might rule the world. In return, he promised the demons could each obtain a piece of his unborn child's body. This enabled them to roam free and commit atrocities along the countryside.
After his mother was forced to set him adrift on the river, lest he be killed by his father, the infant was subsequently found and raised by Dr. Honma, a medicine man who used healing magic and alchemical methods to give the child prostheses crafted from the remains of children who had died in the war. The boy became nearly invincible against any mortal blow as a result of the protheses and healing magic. Grafted into his left arm was a very special blade that a travelling storyteller presented to Dr. Honma, believing it was fated to be within his possession given that ever since the boy had been discovered, the doctor had been visited by goblins. As revealed in a short tale about the blade's origin, the blade had been forged out of vengeance to kill goblins as well as other supernatural entities.
After the doctor was forced to send him on his way because he was attracting demons, the young man learned from a ghostly voice of the curse that had be set upon him at birth and that by killing the demons responsible he could reclaim the stolen pieces of his body and thus regain his humanity. Across his travels, he earned the name "Hyakkimaru" (百鬼丸?) among other names for his inhuman nature. On one such hunt of a demon, Hyakkimaru came across a young orphan thief named Dororo who thereafter travels by his side through the war-torn countryside.
|Character Name||Seiyū (TV Anime)||Seiyū (VG)||Dub Actor (VG)||Actor (Live Film)|
|Hyakkimaru (百鬼丸)||Nachi Nozawa||Tomokazu Sugita||Chris Murphy||Satoshi Tsumabuki|
|Dororo (どろろ)||Minori Matsushima||Ikue Ohtani||Bret Walter||Kou Shibasaki|
|Daigo Kagemitsu (醍醐景光)||Gorō Naya||Akio Ōtsuka||Kevin Blackton||Kiichi Nakai|
|Tahōmaru (多宝丸)||Shūsei Nakamura||Takeshi Kusao||Kevin Miller||Eita|
|Jukai (寿海)||N/A||Kiyoshi Kobayashi||Adam Harrington||Yoshio Harada|
|Biwa-hōshi (琵琶法師)||Junpei Takiguchi||Katsuo Nakamura|
|Mio (みお)||Reiko Mutō||Yuki Makishima||Evelyn Huynh||
Unlike the manga, this version has a conclusive ending.
Developer Sega made a Dororo-based video game for the PlayStation 2 console in 2004. It was released in the USA and Europe under the title Blood Will Tell. The game's artwork was done by renowned manga artist Hiroaki Samura. In light of other survival horror games being released the same year, such as Doom 3, Resident Evil 4, and Onimusha 3, Dororo never had a chance of getting noticed by critics and casual gamers, and was thus not very successful for the company. [It's also currently out of print, and only available via used-game retailers.] In fact, Dororo only had an average of 69% at Game Rankings, but it developed a cult following with more seasoned gamers.
As an interesting side note, Dororo is most often construed as a man, or young boy, often being called as such, but, in the final chapter, you see that he is in fact a she, after Hyakkimaru makes a comment one chapter before about how she will grow into a fine young woman. She does, when she is seen five years later.
Dororo has been made into a live-action film starring Kou Shibasaki and Satoshi Tsumabuki. It was filmed in New Zealand and is currently available on DVD in Japan, the United States and the United Kingdom. Universal Pictures picked up the US rights, while MVM Films have the UK rights. The film's storyline has some major differences from that of the manga, most notably Dororo being a young woman, as envisioned in the video game, assuming the identity of a man. In spite of others seeing through her brash and often violent exterior, Dororo rarely concedes to her true emotions and refuses to be a "proper" woman. Hyakkimaru is also younger than his namesake in the manga, and less bitter about his circumstances, as well.
When her father was killed by Daigo when he attempted to call the warlord out, a girl and her mother escaped into the wilderness. At her mother's dying request, in order to carry on her father's insurmountable vendatta against Daigo, the girl takes on a man's identity and grows up without a permanent home or any friends. As a result, she become a thief to make a living. Throughout her life, she'd denied any name, citing that the best thieves never revealed their names as doing so meant they could be hunted and arrested. Only after travelling with Hyakkimaru did she decide to take on the name "Dororo", as that name had been one of many that Hyakkimaru had acquired during his previous travels. Although Hyakkimaru explained it as meaning "Little Monster," she felt that it suited her better while Hyakkimaru suited him.
Throughout the film, Hyakkimaru regains parts of his body by seeking out and killing the 48 demons, to which his unborn body had unrightly sold. Among the demons Hyakkimaru encounters are a Jorōgumo, the moth demoness Maimai´Onba (まいまいおんば?) who abducted abandoned children in order to feed her Hanyō offspring, a cherry blossom tree monster and a lizard monster. After killing a Daitengu and regaining his right arm, Hyakkimaru learns that his curse was his birth father's doing and this man was in fact Daigo. Killing a pair of dog demons who tormented him about this revelation, Hyakkimaru gains his real eyes and is later confronted at daybreak by Tahōmaru, the man he learned to be his younger brother. Expressing jealous rage towards Hyakkimaru due to their mother's feelings for him, Tahōmaru's resulting anger brings about a confrontation in which he is accidentally killed by Hyakkimaru. By then, Daigo arrives and cuts down his wife while she, despite her own despair over Tahōmaru's death, tries to persuade Daigo to spare Hyakkimaru's life, now their only living son. Though he came close to killing his father, Hyakkimaru refused and spared his father while telling him to strive for and create the utopia that Tahōmaru had once envisioned. However, with the promise of reviving Tahōmaru from the dead, Daigo sold his body to one of the demons with whom he made the original pact. Dororo tried to convince Daigo not to do it, telling him that the demon would use his body to rule the land and cause greater despair and suffering among the people. Daigo accepted the proposal nonetheless, but was able to muster enough control to hold the monster at bay for Hyakkimaru to kill him. Once dead, Hyakkimaru regained his heart, yet complained that the pain in his chest did not subside afterward, an indication that he was feeling remorse for the first time in his life. Though later offered the throne, Hyakkimaru declines and entrusts his brother with it as he and Dororo continue their quest to kill the remaining 24 demons.