One of many series by the prolific and much-loved Osamu Tezuka
is the tale of Hyakkimaru, a wandering swordsman who bears an odd burden: he was born without most of his body parts (including eyes, ears, a tongue, and limbs) thanks to his father striking a deal with forty-eight demons
. Abandoned and raised by a country doctor
, Hyakkimaru learned to use his sixth sense to compensate for his lacking the other five, but eventually discovered his condition made him a magnet for supernatural weirdness.
Equipped with a number of prosthetics made by his adopted father, along with a pair of quality blades, Hyakkimaru wanders Japan righting wrongs, helping the helpless, tracking down the demons that stole his parts, and brutally cutting down anyone foolish enough to mess with him
. Along the way, he picks up a hanger-on in the young, self-proclaimed master thief Dororo, who it turns out is the orphaned son of a notorious bandit king who was brought low by the shogunate.
Tezuka notoriously ended the manga before Hyakki had a chance to get most of his parts back, but there have since been a few anime adaptations, a Hack and Slash
videogame for the PlayStation 2
and Red Entertainment
(released in English as Blood Will Tell
, and hereafter referred to as such on this very wiki to avoid confusion with other adaptations) and a rather bizarre series of Live-Action Adaptation
movies that moves the setting from the Sengoku Era to a suspiciously similar post-apocalyptic future.
Not to be confused with one of the characters from Keroro Gunsou
Tropes featured in Dororo include:
- Adaptational Attractiveness: Dororo is a sexy teenage girl in the movies and the finale of Blood Will Tell instead of a ratty little orphan kid.
- Adaptational Badass: Dororo in the original manga and anime? Cocky little thief who can take a hit from a human adult, and give one right back, but is no match for the supernatural threats Hyakkimaru eats for breakfast. Dororo in Blood Will Tell? Can and will dish out 47 different flavors of hurt to any boss dumb enough to get within range of his mighty plum-sized fists (a slight exaggeration, but he is completely able to hack down a significant portion of their health bar on his own).
- After the End: The movies. Admittedly, changing the setting to the future the does make Hyakkimaru's artificial limbs somewhat more plausible.
- Applies just as well to the manga and anime, really. As a pacifist in the humanistic sense, Tezuka did his best to depict how hellish the "Warring States" period would realistically be... and wow does this trope ever apply.
- In short, it doesn't take much dressing up for the world of the original Dororo manga to look like a post-nuclear wasteland (to the point that you could probably fool a new reader into thinking that that was the case). At the end of the day, whether the weapons of choice are swords and spears or atomic bombs, war... war never changes.
- Anachronism Stew: Why are Sengoku-era swordsmen dropping pop culture references from Japan in The Sixties? Probably Rule of Funny.
- Badass: Hyakkimaru.
- We find out that Dororo's parents Hibukuro (played by Tezuka's Marukubi Boon) and O-jiya were a force to be reckoned with in their prime.
- Barefoot Poverty: Wouldn't be the Warring States era without it.
- Blood Will Tell has some characters wrap their feet with cloth.
- Blade Below the Shoulder: Hyakkimaru's prosthetic arms conceal a pair of katanas.
- Bratty Half-Pint: Dororo, who avoids becoming The Scrappy by A) actually being as good a thief as he thinks he is, and B) being lively and energetic in a setting where that's in genuine danger of dying out.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Usually played for comic relief, which was also a common gimmick in many of Tezuka's works.
- Cool Horse: Warlord Kisoji's horse, Midoro. Even before allowing herself to become possessed by a demon after Kisoji forcibly separated her from her foal, Midoro's ruthlessness and power alone allowed the warlord to win many battles.
- Cool Old Guy: Biwa-Houshi, a blind old dude so named because he's a priest with a biwa - a musical instrument.
- Crap Sack World: Tezuka had a distinctly unromanticized view of the Sengoku period, which he depicted in this and other Samurai stories as a war torn, famine and disease-ridden hellhole littered with the ruins of burned out villages and corpses of defeated soldiers and murdered civilians... and then he introduced 48 demons to it!
- Deal with the Devil: 48 demons, but they add up to the same.
- Deliberately Monochrome: It suits Tezuka's style and the setting so well that you'd be forgiven for not remembering that shows were being produced in color by 1969. The pilot animation was produced in color, but apparently the sponsor thought that there was too much blood, so the black-and-white was something of a compromise.
- The game starts this way, in what's almost certainly a Shout-Out.
- Everything's Even Worse With Sharks : A wily bandit and his men kidnap Dororo so they can use the map imprinted on his back to locate a treasure above a mountain in a small cape. They try to make the captured villagers row them to the cape, but they refuse to do so because an evil spirit disguised as a fish would always eat them before they got there, forcing the bandits to kill them. Then a suspicious man appears and volunteers to row them, and once they're in the middle of the sea, it's revealed the man has tricked them and half the bandit's men become food to his two pet sharks, Jiromaru and Saburomaru, who are actually possessed by demons.
- Evil-Detecting Dog: Mota-kou, the puppy that travels with Hyakkimaru and Dororo.
- Evil Weapon: In one chapter, Dororo and Hyakkimaru come across a stray samurai who has been driven to kill by his demonically-possessed sword 'Nihil' ("Resembling Leech", and it wouldn't be surprising if Tezuka intended for there to be a Bilingual Bonus). See, 'Nihil' (a.k.a. "Dragon Brood" in Blood Will Tell) talks to its owner, saying 'I need to drink blood, I need to drink blood', and it appears to work on anyone - even Dororo.
- Gotta Catch Them All: Hyakkumaru's mission. If the world gets a little better in the process, fine.
- HAD to Be Sharp: The only reason Dororo survived long enough to meet Hyakkimaru.
- Handicapped Badass: Hyakkimaru, for a certain definition of 'handicapped' - though his goal is to become less handicapped as time goes on.
- One could say he would do better with his handicap, as any major injury can be brushed off since most of his limbs are prosthetics (he once sustained an arrow injury to the back and lived because he hadn't regained it yet) and more that once he's used them to stash hidden weaponry (he did a Your Head A Splode on a nine-tailed fox by throwing his prosthetic nose, which was a bomb, into its mouth). In Blood Will Tell, he gains stats when he recovers his bodyparts, and while he does lose access to various advantages his prosthetics provide as he gains his actual bodyparts (specifically, his Arm Cannon and Leg Cannon and his moveset involving his double katana arms), he gains new abilities in return, such as dashing.
- Hoisted By Her Own Petard: Manami-Onba burned down the home of a nun who took care of orphans using a special oil before attempting to sully her reputation. She is burned to death by the same type of oil.
- Hot-Blooded: Dororo runs on this.
- I Thought It Meant: This show has nothing to do with a certain froglike alien keeping the earth's environment safe while his friends are trying to invade it.
- Kick the Dog: Surprisingly not the demons (despite taking Hyakkimaru's body parts and terrorizing medieval Japan), but the human warlord Kisoji in regards to his warhorse. When he finds the horse, Midoro, tending to her foal, he forcibly separates them, believing that a warhorse can't afford to be tender. He sells the colt to a nearby farmer so she won't be distracted and beats her whenever she mopes on the battlefield. Is it any surprise that she allows a demon to possess her dying body to get revenge on humanity?
- Large Ham: Dororo, with a fondness for Chewing the Scenery. See Bratty Half-Pint.
- Law of 100: Curiously enough, Blood Will Tell has this. While collecting 100 of the common items (Jyukai's Medicine) gives you a "1up" (the game calls it this), it's really just an extra life bar.
- Lighter and Softer: Blood Will Tell. In the original story, Hyakkimaru grows increasingly bitter, jaded and vicious as the story continues and he is continuously exposed to the horrors of the Fiends, war, and the ungratefulness of those he saves (the village he saves from the Fiend Yudai being a prime example), with heroism being pretty much an afterthought. In Blood Will Tell, he's played as being far more heroic and idealistic from the get-go, and never quite loses it all.
- Limb-Sensation Fascination: Hyakkimaru often goes through this when he gets one of his body parts back.
- Little Mister Badass: Originally just The Load to Hyakkimaru, Dororo eventually proves to be a resourceful and clever fighter on his own. In "The Two Sharks" chapter, oarsman Shiranui rows the bandit and his men (along with Dororo, whom they kidnapped to locate a treasure) in the middle of the water so they will become food to his two pet sharks. Dororo alone rallies up the bandit and his remaining men and chooses to dive into the water. Luring one of the sharks as bait, while jumping out of the water Dororo JUMPS ON TOP OF ITS HEAD AS THE BANDIT AND HIS MEN THRUST SWORDS INTO ITS STOMACH. Pure. bad. ass.
- And then there's Dororo in the game, where he is a sidekick fighter and is frankly quite effective, mostly due to his infinite amount of thrown rocks.
- Made of Iron: Dororo can take one hell of a beating, and then walk it off like a boss.
- Magnetic Medium: Hyakkimaru started on his journey because supernatural creatures were beginning to attack him at Doctor Jukai's home, and that's just not something you let happen to the guy who raised you. He seems to run across monsters as often as they find him, overall.
- Make Me Wanna Shout: Dororo can apparently cause enemies to pass out simply by yelling loud enough. He does this twice in volume 2 of the manga, calling it his "secret move".
- He also has this move in Blood Will Tell, but only when he's possessed by the sword 'Nihil' (a.k.a. "Dragon Brood") or is low on life.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: If Hyakkimaru had just broken 'Nihil' when they first met, rather than just paralyzing its owner Tanosuke and leaving him, they could've avoided a whole lotta tragedy.
- No Ending: Tezuka had to cut the original manga short, leaving the TV series, video game and other adaptations to come up with their own endings.
- Not So Stoic: Hyakkimaru gets really excited when he gets parts of his body back.
- Opposite-Sex Clone: Dororo in Blood Will Tell.
- Painting the Medium: Blood Will Tell changes the game's interface when you receive some of the sense organs. For instance, the game is in black and white until you get at least one eye, and the controller vibration function doesn't work until you get Hyakkimaru's pain receptor nerves.
- Palette Swap: Since Tezuka never got around to designing most of the 48 Majin, Blood Will Tell had numerous recolored or otherwise modified versions of existing ones to fill out their ranks.
- Parental Abandonment: Hyakkimaru's father put him in a little basket and let him drift off on a river current.
- Psychic Powers: Hyakkimaru uses these to compensate for his missing bits, using ESP to see and hear, talking telepathically and presumably using telekinesis to do things like move his food where it's supposed to go until he gets his esophagus back. In the original manga it's said to be something anybody can do with practice (though he clearly has an unusual aptitude for it), but Blood Will Tell wisely changes them to mystical powers he was given by the gods to fight the Majin with. Getting each part back increases your stats because it frees up more of his power to use for fighting instead of keeping himself alive.
- Psychic Link: He also has one of these with Dororo. This is a major plot point in the game.
- Raised as the Opposite Gender: Dororo is really a girl, but doesn't act like one because she's convinced that she's a boy (or at least in denial about it). Her parents raised her that way and didn't tell her otherwise.
- Red Herring: In Blood Will Tell, the opening narration states that the Majin created a human nemesis for Hyakkimaru using his missing parts. His estranged half-brother, who is missing an eye, shows up shortly after you get one of your own back. It's not him, though. It's Dororo. See below.
- Redemption Equals Death: After kidnapping Dororo, killing some captured villagers when they refused to row him and his men to the cape where the treasure was hidden, betraying Hyakkimaru by shooting an arrow into his back, and leaving the last of his men to die by being crushed beneath a fallen Buddha statue, the lead bandit, Itachi, redeems himself by protecting Dororo from another group of bandits atop the mountain cape and prays to him to find the money himself before plunging to his death.
- Sadistic Choice: In Blood Will Tell, Dororo was created by the Majin as a vessel for their leader, so that Hyakkimaru would have to choose between completing his quest and his best friend's life. Only upon parting ways until Dororo becomes an adult does he finally get to choose both.
- Shōnen: One of the very first in the genre, in fact.
- Single-Stroke Battle: There's one in episode 7 of the anime. Funny thing is, it's both a parody and subversion. It's a parody because Dororo comes running up to Hyakkimaru and asks him why he's still standing there 10 seconds after the fact, and a subversion because the actual 'stroke' wasn't with swords but their will (the other guy's still standing because he's unconscious and physically locked in place).
- Hyakkimaru and Taho-maru have a conventional one when they finally meet.
- Tagalong Kid: Dororo.
- The Chosen One: Not in the original manga, but in subsequent iterations of the story such as the video game, Hyakkimaru was said to be a messiah chosen by the gods and given supernatural powers to defeat the 48 Majin, which not only explains why the Majin chose to cut a deal with his father, but also how Hyakkimaru can survive with most of his organs missing.
- Unsettling Gender-Reveal: When Hyakkimaru regains his real eyes after vanquishing another demon, he realizes that the Dororo he has spent so long traveling with is actually a girl. His regards towards her change considerably.
- Unusual Weapon Mounting: Hyakkimaru's legs have water guns in their knees, which he uses to douse demons with holy water (he gets his left leg back from the first demon he tries it on). His nose is also an explosive, though luckily he grows a real nose after he uses it to blow a demon fox's head off.
- Villainous BSOD: Very rare in this story. A demon's underling takes in Dororo temporarily, with the intent of eventually sacrificing him to her master (the White-Faced Fudou), but finds that she's grown fond of him.
- Younger Than They Look: Hyakkimaru's supposed to be 14. Granted, he's had a rough life so far, so it's not too odd that he might look older, but this doesn't explain why Taho-maru looks as old as he does.