Anime Taste Testing: Dororo


Or, Tezuka Osamu returns to save anime from beyond the grave.

While I’m at least familiar with many of Tezuka Osamu’s mainstream classics, I admit to having known absolutely nothing about Dororo going into this particular version of the story; I’ve never read the original manga or watched any of the numerous adaptations created since, and couldn’t even remember the basic premise of the show, having long since forgotten what I’d read on MAL back when I first looked it up. Personally though, I think that often serves me quite well when approaching a new anime – the less I know, the more immediacy and therefore emotional impact a series is often able to make. Of course, this makes already bad shows seem that much more terrible, but on the flip side, titles like Dororo really have a chance to stand out from the crowd.

Honestly, it’s been a while, maybe a couple of years, since a first episode has felt like it’s gone by so quick – which isn’t necessarily to say that Dororo is the best anime I’ve seen since then, but it was certainly a highly engaging debut. This is at least in part because, despite knowing essentially nothing about one of the (presumably only two) main protagonists in terms of actual character by the end of that episode, the premise itself is immediately intriguing. It’s not just that it’s an anime with a non-high school or isekai setting, or one that’s not populated by a cast of cutesy girls or take-your-pick bishies. It’s that in its own right (and somewhat ironically given that it was originally created in the late 60s), the story strikes me as being both original and genuinely exciting, to say nothing of also being potentially both gritty and heartfelt in all the right places. Again, while I do see the irony of this statement, I’d say this is the perfect series to try out this season for all those anime fans who like to complain that nothing unique or innovative ever gets released anymore.

Visually, Dororo is also quite an interesting beast. Tezuka’s character designs are always very distinctive, and I find his child characters in particular to be instantly recognizable. It’d be impossible for me to watch Dororo’s OP and not think of Tezuka pretty damn fast. Obviously though, the general art style here has seen a major upgrade, so it’s an odd but arresting mix of super retro and more modern-day sensibilities, all wrapped up in a classic Sengoku-era period setting.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but basically, you should really watch this show guys. I can promise you that it’s unlike any other title being released this season, and that it’ll be more than worth the time you put into it. In fact, it may well end up being the best series to air this winter.

16 thoughts on “Anime Taste Testing: Dororo

  1. I absolutely did not know this was getting an anime and I nearly died when I found out. It’s honestly probably going to be one of my favorites this season (then again, I’m biased since I love anything and everything Tezuka does). I’m glad that I’m not the only one whose excited about it!

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    • I was excited when I saw that a Tezuka Osamu title was being given a new anime adaptation, but tried to go into the premiere with few real expectations. I was definitely very impressed though, and from what I can tell, so are a great many other anime viewers, both Tezuka fans and non-fans alike. 🙂

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  2. That’s a good write-up about the first episode. I know very little about Dororo besides that it was first made in the 60s, had a live-action remake a few years ago, and it was one of his darker works. I do want to check out this remake. It certainly looks different from most of his other works like Astro Boy, Kimba the White Lion, or Black Jack.

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    • Yes, this is a very different beast to many of Tezuka’s works like Astro Boy or Kimba. Black Jack was actually pretty dark imo, but Dororo probably takes it to a whole new level there. Either way, I’m definitely very impressed by what I’ve seen so far and am eager to see more.

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      • Very much so. Don’t get me wrong, I like Astro Boy, Black Jack, and Kimba. Those series have their dark moments, but Dororo certainly comes off as more hardcore in that aspect. Looks like they’re respecting Tezuka’s work so far. What are your favorite Tezuka anime/manga properties?

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        • Black Jack has been my favourite Tezuka work for a long time, but depending on how this adaptation goes, Dororo just might end up replacing that as my number 1 pick. Not that I’ve read or seen adaptations of all of Tezuka’s works, mind you – not even close.

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          • Black Jack is a good choice. There were some great storylines in that series. We’ll see how Dororo goes.

            I’m in the same boat. I’ve read some of his manga like Captain Ken, Brave Dan, and Clockwork Apple to name a few. As far as his animated works are concerned, I’m the most familiar with Kimba and his experimental short films even though I didn’t watch them until just a few years ago and I reviewed them.

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  3. I’ve read the manga; the anime’s made some changes.

    – The manga had 48 demons. The anime’s 12 demons is likely for plot streamlining purposes.
    24 episodes have just been confirmed for the anime, so it’s likely there’ll be downtime episodes in between for character development etc.

    – Hyakkimaru’s prosthetics are more obvious looking, esp the pallid colour. The manga (and movie) prosthetics were indistinguishable from normal limbs at a glance.

    I understand previous adaptations had to make their own endings, since the manga ended abruptly at 15 chapters, and Tezuka never revisited Dororo to make later instalments. I wonder if the anime will also do its own end too.

    I recall for the 2007 live action, Dororo was played by actress Shibasaki Kou (the character was more of a tomboy woman in that one). Is she particularly famous in Japan?

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    • I can’t really make a judgement call on whether these changes are for the best or not, but I have to assume MAPPA knows what they’re doing – in general, I find them a trustworthy studio with good directorial sense.

      I wouldn’t necessarily call Shibasaki popular in Japan in the very mainstream sense. I certainly wouldn’t expect everyone to know who she was, especially younger folk, but I’d hazard a guess that she probably has decent name recognition among people in their 30s and 40s (or just among Battle Royale fans).

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  4. I’m not that familiar with Tezuka. I did grow up with Kimba, and I may or may not have seen some Astro Boy, but that’s pretty much where firsthand experience with his material ends (I may have seen shows I didn’t know were based on his material). I recognise Black Jack as a character but have never seen anything.

    This was a really good first episode: creepy, not needlessly graphic, but also not holding back. Body language is good, too. Great energy from start to finish, even in its quieter scenes. One of the better premiers so far.

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    • Oh yes, definitely agreed, a very strong first episode for Dororo. Of all the winter season premieres I’ve seen so far, it’s made the biggest positive impression on me.

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      • So far, Mob Psycho 100 has it beat for me.

        Aside: after a few visits to your site, I get thick black lines all across the screen and the only way to get rid of them is to clear the associated cookies and restart the browser. I’m going to activate private surving when coming here from my home machine as it’s more convenient. It’s not a big deal on my end, but I thought I’d let you know just in case.

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        • I never watched the first season of Mob Pyscho, but I’m happy to take other people’s word for it that it’s a great show. I did try it out back when it first end, but it’s just not my thing.

          Huh, okay. I’ve taken a look at my site on two different computers as well as on my cellphone and haven’t noticed any problems at all, so not sure what’s going on there.

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          • Neither am I. I’m sure it’s my machine, since I tend to have other problems with WordPress blogs every now and then I can’t reproduce on any other computer. But this particular problem is unique to your blog, which I don’t understand at all. As I said, it’s not much of a problem, and if you have no problem with it on your side all is well. 🙂

            @Mob Psycho 100: I didn’t know how fond I was of the show until I saw the opening premier of season 2. It’s hard for me to believe that it’s the same author as One Punch Man which was fun for one episode, and remained moderate fun with the introduction of a new character, and then came with diminishing returns until it started to be annoying. It’s almost the exact opposite with MP100, where I grew fonder with every passing episode.

            Really, really happy with Dororo, though. Looking forward to next episode.

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  5. Pingback: Anime Blog Posts That Caught My Eye This Week (January 11, 2019) | Lesley's Anime and Manga Corner

  6. Pingback: Anime Winter 2019 – Week 1 Roundup! - I drink and watch anime

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