Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Dorohedoro Volume 2

By Q Hayashida. Released in Japan by Shogakukan, serialization ongoing in the magazine Ikki. Released in North America by Viz.

I was pleasantly surprised at the first volume of Dorohedoro, and was expecting a lot from Volume 2. And it did not disappoint, giving me more of what I wanted - humor, gore, mystery, and the occasional sweet moment.

The humor comes in shades both light and dark, as despite living in a dystopian crapsack world, both our two heroes and our two 'villains' are determined not to let it get them down. I feel bad for poor Ebisu, who clearly is meant to be the character that we laugh at whenever bad things happen to her. She's healed up only to be killed by zombies, then resurrected, traumatized, and almost eaten again, then forced to carry a severed head in her knapsack. It sounds horrific, but is hilarious. And I can't spoil the funniest gag of the volume, which involves a man with a turkey mask who can make duplicates... that just happen to come out looking like dinner. See for yourself.

There's also plenty of violence and gore. Caiman and Nikaido square off against Shin and Noi early on, in their first major confrontation, and it's a bloodbath. If you aren't fond of limbs flying off and blood spattering everywhere, this is not the manga for you. The last chapter, which features a crooked boxer, is notable for being the LEAST violent. I mean, boxing? Pff. Not nearly as dangerous as crushing zombies.

Most of what's going on is still a mystery, but we do get a few more tidbits, mostly dealing with Caiman. His ability to grow back any body part, even a SEVERED HEAD, seems a bit overdone, but he knows this, and is clearly a little weirded out by it himself. Meanwhile, it appears we may have actually seen what his human face looked like, at least, only to find that things are far more complex than we expected. As for the revelation about Nikaido, it doesn't come as too much of a surprise to me, but it will be interesting to see how everyone reacts when it comes out.

Caiman and Nikaido, of course, are absolutely adorable together. True, there's no romantic overtones, and he'd be the first to say he's only in it for the gyoza, but the two have lots of sweet moments, and Nikaido's worries about her past are given more depth because of this. Likewise, Shin is a grumpy old cuss, but he and Noi also clearly have a deep friendship, even when they aren't 'at work'. Nikaido and Noi are both very cheerful young women, which is good, as it gives Q Hayashida an excuse to draw big smiles, something that she's very good at. (And yes, I totally ship Shin/Noi. I doubt anything will happen, though.)

Much like the first volume, this isn't so much something you read as something you take in. It's a sensory experience, and some of the senses you're activating may not be to your taste. But Dorohedoro is highly enjoyable for me, and I can't wait for Volume 3. Readers who liked Appleseed or Battle Angel Alita will enjoy this a great deal, I think.

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