Dororo is a dark fantasy, an adventurous tale with supernatural elements and dealing with the characters’ emotional journey of discovery. From its very few episodes, I noticed an old school feeling that blends with modern quality productions. The original series had a much simpler animation style with cartoony character designs and black and white quality. MAPPA and Tezuka Productions decided to take their style to bring these characters to modern standards. Immediately, I felt as if the show had a credible outline for its artwork. We have two main characters – Hyakkimaru and Dororo, travelling together during the Sengoku period. Hyakkimaru is the limbless ronin due to his birth circumstances, while Dororo is the thief who joins as his partner during their journey. The two forges a unique bond despite their contrasting differences. And throughout their journey, they face many obstacles ranging from powerful demons, saving people and overcoming their struggles.
At the heart of the show, Dororo is known for its moody and dark tones. There’s the theme of revenge born from the beginning. The episodic structure is a typical style of storytelling for this show. However, Dororo’s intriguing content comes from character development. This is especially true for Hyakkimaru as he develops human characteristics, feelings and becoming more of himself. Being accompanied by Dororo, they begin to understand each other more and more with each progressing episode. At some point, we even see Hyakkimaru laughing, which is something he’d probably never expected from himself. Dororo is also a character that injects a dose of playful energy into the show. Let’s face it, Dororo is a kid but sometimes shows the mature personality of an adult. As a show about survival in a dark and grim world, the duo relies on each other every step of the way. In the latter half of the show, Hyakkimaru’s mentality contains both a human and a demon. His desire to protect Dororo may also be his greatest weakness as he is forced to rely on his demonic side. It makes the overall show very thrilling as viewers will anticipate the consequences of his actions.
In Dororo, notice how almost every character our duo encounter faces some challenges in their lives. Whether it’s about personal relationships or survival, this anime clarifies that it’s not an easy world to be in. There’s carnage with gory content as the show establishes itself as a dark fantasy. The monsters are characterized by a fusion between classic and modern designs while taking ideas from folklore.
Nonetheless, I don’t see Dororo as a complicated storyteller. The episodic nature and dark fantasy elements bring together a classic adventure. It holds itself together as a visual masterpiece with its aesthetics. Mainly, I find some episodes with black and white colouring to fit perfectly. What also amazes me is how Dororo doesn’t make battles feel pointless. There’s action to follow, behaviours to observe, and how each fight progresses change for characters. Hell, such a show with all this despair even has its happy moments. The show’s humour comes off naturally, thanks to Dororo’s personality. It doesn’t play out forcefully with questionable dialogues and character interactions. Instead, the character chemistry between our two main leads is what does the talking. The more you watch this anime, the more you’ll feel attached to our duo. It’s not a question of how but the way they develop together in their journey.
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