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Manga / Dororo

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One of many series by the prolific and much-loved Osamu Tezuka, Dororo 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 child 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 by Sega 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 Live-Action Adaptation movie that moves the setting from the Sengoku Era to a suspiciously similar post-apocalyptic future. The 1969 anime adaptation was licensed by Discotek Media for a Region 1 DVD release.

In late 2018, the story was remade by Satoshi Shiki (of Rune Soldier Louie and X Blade fame) as The Legend of Dororo and Hyakkimaru. An anime retelling by MAPPA and Tezuka Productions premiered on Prime Video in January 2019, just 3 months shy of the 1969 anime's 50th anniversary. See here and here for its respective teaser and trailer. A stage play followed suit the same year, based off of the aforementioned anime.


Not to be confused with one of the characters from Sgt. Frog.

Tropes featured in Dororo include:

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    Tropes for the Manga, 1969 Anime, and Live-Action Movie 
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Dororo is a sexy teenage girl in the movies, the crossover with Dororon Enma-kun, and the finale of Blood Will Tell instead of a ratty little orphan kid.
  • After the End: The movies. Admittedly, changing the setting to the future 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.
  • Ambiguous Gender Identity:
    • The end of the manga reveals that Dororo is a girl raised as a boy. Dororo seems to genuinely identify as a boy, but seemingly more out of ignorance rather than anything else.
    • The 2007 film adaptation is even more ambiguous despite Dororo's sex being much more apparent. He seems to reject the idea of being a girl, though whether it's a practical rejection of the cultural baggage assigned to the gender or whether it's an issue of identification is not explored.
  • Anachronism Stew: Why are Sengoku-era swordsmen dropping pop culture references from Japan in The '60s? Probably Rule of Funny.
    • In Blood Will Tell, Hyakkimaru has a machine gun in his right arm.
  • Barefoot Poverty: Wouldn't be the Warring States era without it.
    • Blood Will Tell has some characters wrap their feet with cloth.
  • Berserker Tears: Hyakkimaru does not take the death of Mio and the orphans he lived with well. He weeps as he kills the rogue samurai who murdered them.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Usually played for comic relief, which was also a common gimmick in many of Tezuka's works.
    • Done by Dororo in Blood Will Tell to introduce Dororo Mode when it's unlocked.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Crapsack 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!
  • Cry Cute: Dororo cries in his sleep while calling for his parents, cluing Hyakkimaru in that Dororo has had a rough life just like him.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Expy: In the crossover, Dororo to Enma-kun, teenage Dororo looks like a genderbent version of Kamui from Shirato Sampei's Kamui Den.
  • 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.
  • Heel–Face Turn: In the movie's climax, Tahomaru fights Hyakkimaru out of jealously over their mother's affection, but once he witnesses the horror of their father Kagetmitsu becoming a demon to bring him back to life, he lets go of all negative feelings and accepts Hyakkimaru as his older brother, willing to watch over his rightful place until he comes back from his journey.
  • Hoist 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.
  • Honor Before Reason: Dororo's samurai-hating father not only rejects a food offering from them, he attacks them and gets himself killed.
  • 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? But not before trampling Kisoji for his mistreatment of her.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Manly Tears: Hyakkimaru has plenty to cry about.
  • 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.
  • Parental Abandonment: Hyakkimaru's father put him in a little basket and let him drift off on a river current.
  • 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.
  • Shōnen (Demographic): One of the very first in the genre, in fact.
  • Shoo the Dog: Near the end of the story, Hyakkimaru tries to sever ties with Dororo so he can continue on his journey and keep the kid out of danger. Dororo has none of it, and insists on being by his side, but ultimately the two part ways.
  • 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 Tahomaru have a conventional one when they finally meet.
  • Threatening Shark: 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Tahomaru looks as old as he does.

    Tropes for Blood Will Tell
  • 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).
  • Adaptational Heroism: Blood Will Tell has a minor case with Hyakkimaru's father. In the game, Hyakkimaru is a foretold "child of light" who would bring an end to the reign of fiends. To prevent this, demons seduce his father with promises of power if he would sacrifice his son. After Hyakkimaru is born with much of his body missing, his father has a change of heart and flees with him. In the manga, the father makes a deal with the demons at his own initiative to gain power, and is thrilled to see Hyakkimaru's mangled body after he is born, as that means the contract is fulfilled. There is also nothing about Hyakkimaru being a foretold chosen one in the manga.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Comes with limited sound, too. When you begin the game, everything is monochrome and soundless, to represent Hyakkimaru's missing body parts. You will get these things in their full intended glory once you retrieve parts of him.
  • Law of 100: 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: 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.
  • Market-Based Title: Simply known as Dororo in its home country, the game received a much longer and darker title when localized in Europe as Blood Will Tell: Osamu Tezuka's Dororo.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Tropes for The Legend of Dororo and Hyakkimaru 

    Tropes for the 2019 anime
  • Adaptation Distillation: Rather than 48 demons, Hyakkimaru only has to fight 12.
  • Adaptation Expansion: We see a lot more of Jukai's backstory.
  • Adaptation Inspiration: While the premise, setting, and characters are the same, the events, details, tone, and visual presentation are very different.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Hyakkimaru, while not bad-looking to begin with, is a Bishōnen. Tahomaru is one as well when compared to his original manga counterpart.
  • Adaptational Early Appearance: Biwa-hoshi and Tahomaru are introduced right off the bat in the first episode.
  • 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 Nice Guy:
    • Daigo doesn't deliberately sacrifice his son for the deal; he merely says he'll give the demons anything, resulting in them targeting the newest addition to his family. His reasoning is also toned down, instead being an eleventh-hour method of bolstering power to stave off his land's decline.
    • Dororo himself's lightened up a bit, even staying with Hyakkimaru out of curiosity rather than trying to take his sword. Also, he is far more level-headed and worldly than his original manga-self with most of Bratty Half-Pint tendencies removed.
    • Although we don't see much of Tahomaru in the original manga, he's shown ordering the execution of civilians and wants to kill Hyakkimaru just for annoying him. In the anime, the execution is omitted, Tahomaru is shown to care deeply for the wellbeing of his people, and he only decides to kill Hyakkimaru after learning that doing so would ensure the continued survival and prosperity of his land.
  • Adaptational Villainy: In this version, the soldiers have no qualms killing Mio and her kids, where they at least had the decency to question their boss's orders in the manga before carrying out the duty.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: Episode 9 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 Letter Bee's Hiroyuki Asada.
  • Blatant Lies: Everyone in Daigo's land thinks he defeated the demons instead of making a deal with them.
  • Bloodier and Gorier/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.
  • Breather Episode: After Mio's death and Hyakkimaru's Roaring Rampage of Revenge, we're treated to an episode about a human and a monster falling in love, where no one dies and Hyakkimaru laughs his first laugh.
  • 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.
  • Cooldown Hug: Dororo does this to Hyakkimaru in Episode 6 after Hyakkimaru slaughters the soldiers who killed Mio. And again in Episode 12, when they cross paths with the lone survivor.
  • Discard and Draw: The demon that Hyakkimaru fights in episode 5 does this. Hyakkimaru was able to get his voice back but the demon was able to get Hyakkimaru's right foot. In episode 6 after Hyakkimaru kills the demon for good, he also gets his foot back.
  • 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: 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.
    • Daigo's deal with the demons, however horrendous, 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.
  • Karmic Thief: The bandits led by Hibukuro in episode 9 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 this time around reveals Dororo being female a bit earlier than it normally would, as a nun casually tells Hyakkimaru the fact in episode 9 rather than Hyakkimaru finding out himself.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The opening recreates some of the cut scenes from the manga, complete with Tezuka-styled Art Shift.
    • Dororo meets a dog that looks suspiciously Tezuka-like in episode 1, calling back to the dog he and Hyakkimaru traveled within the 1969 anime.
    • 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.
  • 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. And every time Hyakkimaru slays one of the demons in question, a bit of that protection disappears.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • 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.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Sukeroku, his family, and Tahomaru all survive the Story of Banmon.
  • Suddenly Voiced: Hyakkimaru lacks a voice until the end of episode 5. Unfortunately, it is not a pleasant scene. Hyakkimaru is writhing and screaming in pain because the demon he fought bit off his real foot.
  • 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.
  • Whole Episode Flashback:
    • Episode 3 is devoted to showing the audience how Hyakkimaru got his prosthetics and his childhood development, along with explaining Jukai's involvement in his life.
    • Episode 9 tells us about Dororo's parents and how they died.
  • 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.