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Anime / Dororo (2019)

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Dororo is a 2019 animated retelling of Osamu Tezuka's manga of the same name. It follows the basic premise of the original manga, but also takes some liberties in terms of atmosphere, narrative flow and additional side characters. The anime was produced by MAPPA and Tezuka Productions, and airing between January and June 2019, with a total of 24 episodes. See here and here for its respective teaser and trailer.

A stage play adaptation written and directed by Daisuke Nishida premiered on March 2, 2019.


The 2019 anime of Dororo provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Attractiveness: With the new artstyle, most characters get much more realistic and appealing designs.
  • Adaptational Early Appearance: Biwamaru and Tahomaru are introduced right off the bat in the first episode, signifying their upgrades to secondary and primary protagonists respectively.
  • Adaptational Mundanity: All the demons and ghouls remain, but the anime chooses to excise the manga's comedic anachronisms and some of Hyakkimaru's more out-there sci-fi abilities, choosing instead play out as a more grounded historical Low Fantasy.
  • Adaptational Villainy: In this version, the soldiers have no qualms executing civilians near Banmon, where they at least had the decency to question their boss's orders in the manga before carrying out the duty.
  • Adaptation Deviation:
    • In the original manga, Kagemitsu Daigo sacrifices his unborn child's body parts for political power in a deal with the demons. The 2019 anime has him wish for the prosperity of his land and name the price "anything he can have" instead.
    • The 2019 anime makes Tahomaru's right eye normal instead of always shut.
    • The 2019 anime gives Hyakkimaru a tiny bag with the crest of the Daigo family on it.
  • Adaptation Distillation: Rather than forty-eight demons, Hyakkimaru only has to fight twelve. Entire arcs of the manga find themselves condensed to their most essential elements so they can fit in.
  • Adaptation Expansion: At the expense of cutting out less important parts, the anime greatly expands and details every aspect that does make it in. We see much more development and backstory for Jukai and Mio, and many anime-only characters who also get plenty of focus and development, like Hyogo and Mutsu.
  • Adaptation Inspiration: While the premise, setting, and characters are the same, the events, details, tone, and visual presentation are very different.
  • Adapted Out: Characters such as Oyone (replaced with Okowa) are cut out of the story entirely.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: "The Story of the Mercilessness" features what appears to be a Catholic nun offering her prayers to the Buddha rather than the Christian God. This isn't a failure in research, however. When Christianity was first introduced to Japan, Jesuits mistakenly assumed that many Buddhist terms were direct equivalents of Christian ones and used them as such. One of these terms was hotoke, which is the term the nun in the anime uses for "Buddha" (or for God, rather).
  • Art-Shifted Sequel: This anime doesn't particularly follow Tezuka's style, instead using a more realistic look courtesy of Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee's Hiroyuki Asada.
  • Battle Amongst the Flames: In "The Story of the Demons", Tahomaru battles Hyakkimaru in the family castle and it lights on fire as they fight, transforming into a fiery blaze within minutes.
  • Blatant Lies: Everyone in Daigo's land thinks he defeated the demons instead of making a deal with them. When they find out the truth, they begin calling Hyakkimaru the demon who wants to ruin their lands instead.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Hyakkimaru defeats the possessed Tahomaru by breaking his morale instead of killing him. This causes Tahomaru to pull out the extra eyes the final demon gave him according to their pact. Hyakkimaru then defeats the demon and breaks the pact for good. Jukai and Nui guide Hyakkimaru to safety and watch over Tahomaru as the burning castle falls around them. A few days later, Hyakkimaru encounters Daigo within the Hall of Hell, intent on making another pact with the demons. Hyakkimaru spares his father's life and leaves him with a replica of the headless statue that Nui prayed to, now with a head attached to it, symbolising a new start. Hyakkimaru decides to venture out alone into Japan, leaving Dororo behind to retrieve her parent's fortune and rebuild Daigo's land. The very last shot of her running toward him, all grown up, indicates they'll meet again in the future.
  • Bookends: Everyone who contributed to Hyakkimaru's journey all were present for the end of it, each in their own respective roles. Nui, who gave birth to him, and Jukai, who became his Parental Substitute and taught him to survive, both die together. Daigo, who began the series in the demon chamber, finally gets his justice in the very same room. Years later, Dororo and Hyakkimaru are thought to have met at a bridge to start another journey through life together.
  • Breather Episode:
    • "The Story of Banmon, Part 2" ends with Hyakkimaru going berserk due to Mio's death. This is followed by "The Story of the Jorogumo Silk Spider", an episode about an Interspecies Romance where no one dies and Hyakkimaru laughs his first laugh.
    • "The Story of the Amanojaku" is about Dororo and Hyakkimaru visiting a village where everyone speaks the opposite of what they think due to a prankster demon. It does have its serious moments, but scenes like Hyakkimaru accidentally agreeing to get married to the blacksmith's daughter and comedically clinging to a pillar while being dragged to the wedding add some much-needed levity before the dark and bloody final act.
  • Bring Me My Brown Pants: The samurai who survived Hyakkimaru's Roaring Rampage of Revenge soils himself when the two see each other again.
  • Broken Pedestal: Jukai once had a young boy named Kaname as his apprentice, but after he found out about Jukai's involvement in the war, he no longer looked up to the doctor as he used to and threw away the prosthetic Jukai gave.
  • Central Theme: The core of this anime is about which is more just and important: individual rights or societal wellbeing? It also takes the time to showcase the dire consequences people, whether as a individual or as a whole, suffer when one is too prioritized over the other.
  • Cooldown Hug:
    • Dororo does this to Hyakkimaru in "The Story of the Moriko Song, Part 2" after Hyakkimaru slaughters the soldiers who killed Mio. And again in "The Story of Banmon, Part 2", when they cross paths with the lone survivor.
    • Yet again in "The Story of the Nue", when Hyakkimaru flies into a rage after not regaining his real arms.
  • Crapsack World: Like the original manga, the series has a very unromantic, bleak interpretation of the Muromachi and Warring States periods. War ravages the land as samurai engage in petty power grabs, innocent people are caught in the crossfire, starvation and disease are common, and demons roam the land manipulating and murdering everyone.
  • Darker and Edgier: The bleak tone, graphic violence and visual style of the 2019 anime is comparable to works such as the Rurouni Kenshin OVA Tsuiokuhen. note  Despite some calm moments between the carnage and character designs closely resembling Tezuka's, this is one of the darkest adaptations of any of his manga.
  • Discard and Draw: The demon that Hyakkimaru fights in "The Story of the Moriko Song, Part 1" does this as per the rules of the pact. Hyakkimaru was able to get his voice back but the demon was able to get Hyakkimaru's right foot. In "The Story of the Moriko Song, Part 2" after Hyakkimaru kills the demon for good, he also gets his foot back.
  • Evolving Credits: The ending sequence of the second half is presumably in Hyakkimaru's perspective, with the last image, a taller and slightly older looking Dororo, blurry but distinguishable. As of "The Story of the Amanojaku", that final still image is completely visible.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • "The Story of Saru" has Dororo and Saru's plan to defeat Nokosaregumo involve disguising Dororo as the next sacrificial bride. As we learn much later, Dororo is a girl.
    • Nui's attempt to shoulder Hyakkimaru's burden and failing at appeasing the demons. When Mutsu attempts to fulfill a pact with herself as the sacrifice, it is revealed by Asura that only after the completion of the original pact between Daigo and the demons can the still imprisoned Asura initiate a new one, and that no other person except Hyakkimaru can serve as said sacrifice.
    • Sabame and Maimai-onba meeting their end and their village destroying itself upon Maimai's death ends up reflecting the conclusion Nui comes to concerning the pact. Peace gotten by sacrifice will inevitably be lost if the ones who did it can't protect it.
    • The second opening shows Tahomaru after Sabame and Shiranui, humans are that willingly working with demons. In the final arc, Tahomaru acts as Asura's proxy for a chance to kill Hyakkimaru.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: One of the midwives present at Hyakkimaru's birth utterly snapped at the sight of the "demon child" to the point where she, in the present day, gained a reputation as the local madwoman singing nightmarish lullabies to a bloodied rock wrapped up akin of a baby.
  • Grey-and-Grey Morality: Often played straight, but also played with and even subverted.
    • While it can be argued that Hibukuro and his men were fighting for the freedom of the common man by killing samurai, their actions were no different than that of the other side. Hibukuro created more enemies in the process, including a vengeful samurai who recognized him, eventually causing his own death through karma.
    • Heavily downplayed with Daigo's deal with the demons. However horrendous it turned out, it has ultimately let his territory and people prosper, while Hyakkimaru's quest to regain his parts from the demons, however justified, will eventually send the land back into its ravaged, suffering state. Ultimately, though, this is simply Daigo's karma coming back to bite him - a man who gains power and prestige by secretly letting demons roam his land would lose it, sooner or later. The fact that many of the demons were terrorizing people outside of Daigo's kingdom also adds more justification for Hyakkimaru going after them. By the story’s end more and more characters find themselves agreeing that Daigo’s deal caused just as many problems as it fixed.
    • Despite the terrible things happening to Hyakkimaru and even though both his mother and brother believe he did not deserve such a fate, however, both agree he must shoulder the burden because the people need the prosperity to live. In the case of his mother she attempts to shoulder the burden and offer part of her life so he doesn't bear it alone, while Tahomaru has decided he must kill Hyakkimaru before the people's suffering gets worse, and truly has the peoples interest at heart. Dororo likewise felt conflicted when the boy they befriended was only able to reunite with his mother due to the demons protecting Daigo's land, and without them both would likely have met a worse fate.
    • The morality of the situation is expanded upon later as Tahomaru and Hyakkimaru's battle escalate as Nui, Biwa, several townsfolk, and Dororo witness their battle. Nui realizes that if they couldn't earn the prosperity with hard work, then losing it was natural, and Dororo notes that for all the smallfolks complaints about the Samurai, they're the only ones with the will to act and try to do something about the situation that might screw over or benefit the apathetic villagers. Biwa-Hoshi muses how humans are caught in a balance of extremes and can lose themselves if they fall down one path too far by becoming apathetic or power hungry, which is shown by the conflict of Tahomaru vs Hyakkimaru, while Daigo who kickstarted it all heads off to protect the land from invaders with his own hands.
      • In "Dororo and Hyakkimaru", Daigo has a Heel Realization upon figuring out that Hyakkimaru was destined to end his kingdom's era of poverty and forming a pact with the demons ruined that.
    • Sabame's own deal is similar to the one between Daigo and the demons, but Sabame does it to protect his land. He even believes the demons in his domain need to be under his protection, which leads him to marry Maimai-onba in the process.
    • While this is usually Subverted with the demons who made the pact, a few are portrayed much more sympathetically like the moth demon who is trying to feed her young, the shark demon trying to avenge his brother, and the nine tails which chose to protect Daigo's land personally. Other non-pact demons range between pranksters, evil, and a spider who feeds on men but doesn't try to kill them to survive.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Itachi. He is initially a friend of Dororo’s father, but later betrays him. When he returns he is still a heel, but then becomes a face, then he goes back to being a heel, then he dies as a face when he protects Dororo.
  • Irony: In giving his sons over to the demons, Daigo unwittingly doomed his country in exchange for temporary prosperity not because Hyakimaru would inevitably take his body back and break the pact, but because Hyakimaru would have been a great leader and brought true prosperity to the kingdom had he been raised like Tahoumaru was. Daigo's pact with the demons amounted to giving up a long future of prosperity in exchange for ending a time of hardship that his kingdom was destined to overcome.
  • Karmic Thief: The bandits led by Hibukuro in "The Story of the Mercilessness" are a rare anime example of the noble thief archetype since they attack and kill samurai, whom they believe are the reasons for the suffering of their countrymen. Things get complicated when right-hand man Itachi betrays Hibukuro and his wife Ojiya by joining forces with the samurai, justifying his actions by explaining that he'd rather be on the winning side and that Hibukuro should embrace the new era of the samurai. He even gives a younger Dororo some advice to leave behind their old ways and become a better person.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: The series reveals Dororo's true sex a bit earlier than it normally would, as a nun casually tells Hyakkimaru the fact in "The Story of the Mercilessness" rather than Hyakkimaru finding out himself.
  • Lighter and Softer: Despite having a more realistic artstyle there are many cases where the show tones down the violence and bleakness compared to the orginal anime. Multiple characters including Kagemitsu Daigo, Tahomaru, and Midoro are given Adaptational Heroism. In the first episode of the 1969 show the sludge monster is shown melting a man's face while Hyakkimaru slaughters several men who get in his way. Their adaptation of the Battle of the Banmon spares Sukeroku and his family, when the kid was shot with an arrow on screen in the original anime.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Daigo has this reaction in "Dororo and Hyakkimaru" when he realizes that Hyakimaru was destined to be a great leader, and that in selling him to the demons he gave away his kingdom's future prosperity.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The opening recreates some of the cut scenes from the manga and the original anime adaptation, complete with Tezuka-styled Art Shift.
    • Dororo meets a dog that looks suspiciously Tezuka-like in "The Story of Daigo", calling back to the dog he and Hyakkimaru traveled with in the 1969 anime named Nota.
    • While the rest of the characters are drawn rather realistically, their feet are usually done in a very simple fashion, with only the big toe looking separate from the rest. This is how Tezuka himself drew feet, most of the time.
    • Despite the much more understandable and less abrupt reasons, the ending of the anime has Hyakkimaru leave Dororo behind just like in the original manga.
  • The Needs of the Many: While Daigo's deal was horrible, it's a fact that his land has prospered as a result of the deal which leads to a recurring question if it's right for Hyakkimaru to suffer for the good of Daigo's people. Various characters wonder what's the right thing to do with Dororo flip flapping the most. By "The Story of the Demons" Nui realizes the sacrifice isn't worth it because their happiness wasn't the result of their own hard work and thus if something should threaten it, they can't protect it.
  • Off-Model: "The Story of the Scene from Hell" has built a reputation for its odd quality. If the strange art direction of the episode seems familiar, you'd be right in believing it was directed by Osamu Kobayashi (who also directed episodes 5, 6 and 12, and the first ending, which all had fewer overall animation issues). He's infamous to this day for directing episode 4 of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann and it shows. The highlight of the episode is Hyakkimaru following Sabame up a hill in the woods and it seems like he's teleporting while running. In a more general sense, the episodes switching between Tezuka Pro and MAPPA can invoke this as well, as the latter has overall better quality than the former.
  • Oh, Crap!: Daigo gives off a horrified facial expression when one of his spies reports that his first child was cast off into the river and a 'man with prosthetic limbs' was spotted in the land.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: Rather than straight-up power, Daigo in this version sells his son to demons to bring stability to his fiefdom and keep the constant famine and warfare plaguing the rest of Japan from touching it - or at least so he justifies it to himself (when he makes the deal he says it's simply because he can't suffer being the forgotten lord of a struggling region). Every time Hyakkimaru slays one of the demons in question, a bit of that protection disappears, which leads to later episodes being full of people saying Hyakkimaru deserves no life and should be dead for the sake of the region.
  • Screw Destiny: A dark example, in that Daigo's Deal with the Devil resulted in prosperity, but at the cost of the leader destined to bring his land prosperity for many more years.
  • Sequel Hook: In the closing moments of the anime's final episode, the narrator states that the Warring States era is about to begin. Hyakkimaru, with his body fully restored and guilt-ridden by all the humans he killed, decides to travel Japan and forge his own destiny, leaving Dororo to use her family's treasure to restore Daigo's kingdom. Just before the credits, we see a teenage Dororo running toward Hyakkimaru as he turns and smiles at her, implying that they've reunited in the near future.
  • Seinen: Unlike its original counterpart, the darker storyline places it squarely into this demographic.
  • Ship Tease: LOADS. Hyakkimaru gets three love interests across the series: Mio, Okowa and Dororo herself.
    • Hyakkimaru falls for Mio the very moment he hears her gentle voice. It's his first and perhaps purest love, as he instinctively yearns and reaches for her presence around him. When Hyakkimaru learns of Mio's daily habits, he goes out to greet her at the temple steps where she shelters him with Dororo. They then ask her to sing for them.
    • When Mio expresses her desire to go live away from war cultivating rice, Hyakkimaru becomes determined to help make her dream come true. When she is scared her soul became stained by her job, he gently holds her face, which he sees surrounded by a heavenly glow.
    • Mio's name is the first thing Hyakkimaru ever says, and her loss changes his demeanor for the reminder of the series.
    • On a story building level, after "The Story of the Mercilessness" it appears as if the writers have gently divided the anime into two parts: The part where Mio acts as the primary female character for the story and the part where Dororo does, distributing ample shipping along the way.
    • There are plenty of scenes towards the middle where Dororo is more conscious of Hyakkimaru as a man, getting embarrassed when they're too close or when his usual touchiness is unwelcome.
    • Dororo has a map on her back: a map which flares to life whenever her skin is sufficiently warm, meant to be found by someone she can truly trust. When Biwamaru learns of it, he congratulates the protagonists, relieved that they now have 'more options' in life.
    • The Forehead Rub in "The Story of the Cape of Impermanence".
    • Dororo regularly helps Hyakkimaru take care of himself in his newfound body and surrounding society, often acting like a nagging wife/mother to him and or on his behalf. They journey, struggle and bond closely together for months - Then, Okowa appears, and through a series of misunderstandings gets engaged to Hyakkimaru in a single day. This causes Dororo to become indignant, as she had grown comfortable and used to being the one to 'handle' him.
      • Okowa with Hyakkimaru, while he's under the curse. They make a series of highly amusing plans to marry and travel together, with her enthusiastically deciding to help as his dedicated wife. She teaches Hyakkimaru manners, chastises him and brings him gifts. After the misunderstanding is cleared up, she takes it in stride and they spend some more time on friendly terms, satisfied with each other's happiness.
    • By the last arc of the anime Hyakkimaru is visibly more affectionate to Dororo and begins to prioritize her well being above most things. While parts of this new dynamic start holding him down he also provides for her to the best of his ability and bonds with her out of his own incentive.
    • The first thing Hyakkimaru says when he's finally able to see Dororo is that she's very beautiful, making her blush.
      • His definition of 'beautiful' is something that makes you feel good just by gazing at it.
    • After agonizing over his inability to help Dororo due to the constraints of his prosthetics, Hyakkimaru casually helps and holds her with his real arms.
    • In the end, it's implied that after Hyakkimaru regains his humanity and learns responsibility, he will come back to Dororo's side to stay.
    • The developers put in plenty of symbolism to imply that Hyakkimaru and Dororo will get married one day in openings, endings, and promotional material. One OP scene has them walk past the Meoto Iwa formation, also known as the "Married Couple" stones. The rocks at a glance also have Dororo and Hyakkimaru's height gap. In the ED, the two of them form butterflies with their hands—another symbol of marriage and of finding one's soulmate— while in the June 2019 copy of Animage, they're featured in a poster equipped with flowers. Dororo in particular wears a bright red Camellia in her hair, the flower of perfect love.
  • Spanner in the Works:
    • The last demon in the deal was supposed to take Hyakkimaru's head, which would have killed him. Nui believes that the goddess she prays to gave up her own head to save Hyakkimaru's head, which allowed him to survive.
    • Tahomaru becomes this for Asura when he ceases fighting with Hyakkimaru and then forcibly returns his brother's eyes.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Sukeroku, his family, and Tahomaru all survive the Story of Banmon. However, the latter merely survives right up till the final battle.
  • Suddenly Speaking: Hyakkimaru lacks a voice until the end of "The Story of the Moriko Song, Part 1". Unfortunately, him regaining it isn't pleasant to see. Hyakkimaru is writhing and screaming in pain because the demon he fights bites off his real leg.
  • Suicidal Sadistic Choice: The samurai Tanosuke refused his lord's order to kill a man, and was told to either kill him or suicide.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • Hyakkimaru's missing body parts really show in this adaptation. Not only is he now incapable of speech, his prosthetics give him an eerie doll-like appearance that he's not able to shake until he got his face back. Without psychic powers that the original had, he is more or less incapable of communicating properly with other people and even those who travel with him like Dororo and Biwa-Hoshi have trouble understanding him. Even after obtaining the body parts required for communication, he still struggles to get the point across due to his inexperience with them.
    • And when he finally does get his hearing and voice back, he still can't speak, as he hadn't gone through language acquisition as a child.
    • Getting human parts does make Hyakkimaru more susceptible to human follies, i.e. his very fleshy foot can be taken off just as easily as he got it.
    • Also, taking back human parts he never had before means he has to take time to get used to them, which leaves him incredibly vulnerable. For example, after getting back ears and sense of hearing, he has to wrap cloth around his ears for some time in order to block out all sort of sounds he is not familiar with, which ended up affecting his performance in battle against the demon bird and requiring Biwa-Hoshi to lend a helping hand.
    • The more Hyakkimaru and Dororo journey and suffer together, the closer they become. However, that causes them to become crippled by the idea of separation and by the end makes Dororo into Hyakkimaru's Morality Chain. They get better.
    • In "The Story of Banmon, Part 2", Tahomaru makes an impassioned speech to Hyakkimaru about protecting his home and charges into battle against him, then gets quickly beaten down and has his face scarred as despite his training, Tahomaru was very sheltered and has little real combat experience while Hyakkimaru has been fighting and killing demons since childhood. Even in future fights between the two, Tahomaru only gains the upper hand when he has others backing him up.
  • Third Eye: In "The Story of Nui", there's a creepy sequence where Tahomaru acquires Hyakkimaru's eyes alongside his own remaining one. The eye takes up the place of the additional scar that Hyakkimaru gave him in the previous episode.
  • Walk the Earth: With his body whole and a trail of bloodshed and suffering behind him, Hyakkimaru exiles himself into the Japanese heartland, as a means of atoning for his sins and forging his own path.
  • War Is Hell: When it comes to the horrors of war, the 2019 anime has an advantage over the manga and 1969 anime with its gorier violence and more realistic motivations for its characters. This is more evident when the manga constantly shifts between slapstick comedy and bloody violence, all rendered in Tezuka's trademark cartoon art style.
  • Wham Shot: "The Story of Nui", which has Tahomaru revealed to have both of Hyakkimaru's eyes in addition to his remaining eye, while Hyogo and Mutsu each have one of Hyakkimaru's arms.
  • Whole Episode Flashback:
    • "The Story of Jukai" is devoted to showing the audience how Hyakkimaru got his prosthetics and his childhood development, along with explaining Jukai's involvement in his life.
    • "The Story of the Mercilessness" tells us about Dororo's parents and how they died.
  • Where It All Began: Invoked example by Tahomaru, he intentionally brings Hyakkimaru to the family castle for their final fight to both take advantage of the fact that Hyakkimaru, who just got his arms back, is still adjusting to his new range and to kill him in the castle he was born in.
  • Whole Plot Reference: The anime adds an overarching Myth Arc heavily based on the short story "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas", with Hyakkimaru taking place of the forsaken child.


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