Dorohedoro – Episode 9

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The night has fallen, and the festivities are about to begin! Out in the world of the sorcerers, we’re about to commence Blue Night, wherein sorcerers track down and team up with new potential partners – by force, if need be. And with En’s team standing as some of the toughest sorcerers in the business, they’re likely to be fending off would-be suitors all evening; that is, unless Caiman gets to them first.

The violent activities of Blue Night will presumably be this episode’s main attraction, but Dorohedoro has maintained a strong balance of episodic shenanigans and progress on its main narratives, so any number of secrets may also be revealed. At this point, we’ve actually resolved a decent number of the show’s original mysteries. We know that Risa is the man inside Caiman, that he worked for the cross-eyed gang, that he was betrayed by his superiors, and that Ebisu “got in his way,” which very nearly confirms that Ebisu is responsible for Caiman’s condition. We also know that Nikaido is a sorcerer who can control time, and that En is specifically looking for just such a sorcerer.

It feels like we just need a couple more tidbits of information from Risa, which in turn makes me think we’re due for a paradigm shift, as the narrative adjusts its scope beyond this handful of almost-solved mysteries. But every episode of Dorohedoro comes with a fresh set of unexpected delights, so rather than make unhelpful forecasts, I’d rather just see what the night has in store. Let’s dive back into Dorohedoro!

Episode 9

Gosh this show’s background designs are pretty. Even this momentary shot of the clock striking midnight contains so much detail, and so many contrasting fantastical flourishes. Both Hole and the world of the sorcerers are a wild mishmash of fantasy systems, emphasizing how there are many routes to magic, from Herbert West-style reanimations to fanciful runic rituals. And this clock exemplifies that: an hour hand like some kind of gothic spear, Greek symbols lining an inner sphere, a devil-tailed 666 imprinted in the center, and then a crescent moon barely visible, perfect for tabulating celestial alignments. No matter your style of witchery, Dorohedoro’s got you covered

I appreciate the intentional tackiness of this venue. The world of sorcerers’ gothic architecture doesn’t exactly benefit from being draped with festival lights, but to the people who live here, I’m sure it’s a fun change of pace

Caiman hunts Risu for maybe three seconds before being distracted

Shin’s being hunted by a syringe-happy sorcerer. This whole event just seems like a big hassle to folks like him and Noi, who are already happy with their partners. Though you don’t actually have to participate, which makes me assume they’re both duty-bound to appear as a show of strength, given they’re En’s cleaners. It wouldn’t do to have En’s enforcers demonstrate weakness by fleeing from Blue Night

En used to run a ramen chain called Flower Smoke. He is a complicated man

Shin and Noi met when Shin dined and dashed at En’s restaurant. Noi’s old costume is essentially a knight’s suit of armor, which suits her self-image perfectly. In spite of essentially being a mafia enforcer, Noi clearly sees herself as following a kind of knightly code

Noi claims “that’s my cousin’s restaurant.” Perhaps her opinion of En has changed over the years, as she has no problem with Shin calling him a bastard these days

She heals his rotten arms, and he clubs her with his trusty hammer

Shin is later hired as a cleaner, of course. En tells him that “my cousin is wearing a 150kg suit of armor for training in order to become a devil.” Based on this and Nikaido’s earlier encounter, it seems like the devils are the true big shots of the sorcerers’ world – but apparently you can actually become a devil yourself, through rigorous training

“She’s at the church, feeding the devil bat as part of her training.” Once again, one of Dorohedoro’s greatest strengths is its absolute surplus of whimsical fantasy flourishes like this. They’re the kind of idea you scribble down at three AM, after waking up from a particularly weird dream, and then immediately falling back asleep

And the devils really do seem to have unique power. I love how they’re consistently presented as warping the very world around them, dimming the lights and transporting people into a private, darker place

Younger Noi is pretty adorable

Her final task is to not use magic for a full year. Over that time, she actually starts to grow devil horns and a tail

Of course En sang his own ramen chain’s theme song

Yaku, the man currently hunting them during Blue Night, attacks the ramen shop with a companion. Shin protects Noi by sacrificing himself, prompting her to fail her test by healing him. This explains that note of tension between them; Shin still feels guilty for destroying Noi’s dream

En’s actually coming off very well in this flashback. He doesn’t blame Shin for anything, and actually takes steps to repair their friendship

Caiman gets picked up by Tanba and his other coworkers. He’s like an oversized puppy, bawling over getting punished and begging for forgiveness. I hate to put this evil upon you all, but when I was introducing this show to a friend, it took like six minutes for us to agree he has strong himbo energy

We’re also learning a great number of magics aren’t actually dangerous, like Fukuyama’s food-based magic. The denizens of Hole only run into the cruelest, most violent sorcerers, since they’re the ones invading Hole for practice; here in the sorcerers’ world, there are plenty of folks who wouldn’t hurt anyone

“Don’t spoil him!” Yeah, Caiman’s basically a friendly golden retriever to everyone he’s not actively fighting

Ah, it’s actually both of the sorcerers who attacked Flower Smoke. And they’ve captured Noi, as well

Oh my god, Tanba actually rushes to Caiman’s defense when these guys attack him. How is this show so overstuffed with such violent yet adorable characters!?

Fukuyama turns the sorcerer into a goddamn meat pie. Okay, forget what I said about that “not actually dangerous” thing, I don’t wanna be a goddamn pie

Dear lord, Risu’s journey is getting so ridiculous. So he arrives at Blue Night as a disembodied head attached to a smoke-powered robot body, but then ends up getting caught in a cloud of Noi’s smoke, meaning the rest of his human body is reconstructed downwards from his severed head. So now he’s naked, but presumably actually alive? Wild journey for our boy

It seems Fujita’s been stood up by whoever claimed they wanted to partner with him. It’s okay Fujita – given the way Blue Nights generally progress, it’s equally likely that your partner was just murdered before they could get to you!

Poor Ebisu. Resigned to eternally be chased by monsters in the background of expository conversations. It’s important to add some visual drama to lighten conversations like this, but it’s a hard full-time job

And then she immediately starts eating the human meat pie off the ground, two days after it was created. Ebisu, I really don’t know what we’re going to do with you

Though Noi and Shin were both defeated by their enemies, those enemies in turn were defeated by a local diner’s kitchen crew. There are no “power levels” in Dorohedoro – shit just happens, and the mightiest enemy can always fall to some quirk of circumstance

Aw, Fujita sent an application to himself, just to ensure he got one. As usual, Dorohedoro blends slice of life and brutally violent action in the most inexplicable ways; as Ebisu feasts on a meat pie made from human flesh, Fujita relates his insecurities about Magic Valentine’s Day

But the other application was Ebisu! What a heartwarming murder family we’ve created

En now knows that Nikaido is the time sorcerer, and also that she’s after Risu. Once again, his magic skirts the borderline of farce and body horror, as he regurgitates a mushroom and places it inside a Nikaido doll

And Done

How does Dorohedoro keep doing this? Once again, I feel like we’ve traveled a great distance, and yet our destination still seems just as distant as ever. I suppose one of the show’s tricks is that it keeps giving us new destinations, leading us on much like Caiman himself, as we’re distracted from our goal by some glimmering roadside attraction. This time, we were distracted by the story of Shin and Noi’s first meetings, which served as the centerpiece of a weirdly wholesome episode. In spite of its butchery, reanimation, and outright cannibalism, this was an episode about family, with even Caiman’s new employers demonstrating their fundamental charity. I have never met a more lovable group of murder-happy maniacs.

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