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.
Not to be confused with one of the characters from Sgt. Frog.
Adaptations:Anime and Manga
- A television pilot released on January 12, 1968, by Mushi Productions.
- An animated television series in 1969. It was renamed Dororo and Hyakkimaru halfway and licensed by Discotek Media for a Region 1 DVD release.
- Dororo Bon, a manga series by Daisuke Dōke and serialized on Young Champion in 2007.
- Search and Destroy, a manga series by Atsushi Kaneko and serialized on TezuComi since October 5, 2018.
- The Legend of Dororo and Hyakkimaru, a manga series by Satoshi Shiki and serialized on Monthly Champion Red since October 19, 2018.
- A 2019 anime retelling by MAPPA and Tezuka Productions. It premiered on Prime Video just three months before the 1969 anime's 50th anniversary.
Films — Live-Action
- A Live-Action Adaptation film released on January 27, 2007. It moves the setting from the Sengoku Era to a suspiciously similar post-apocalyptic future.
- A one-volume novel by Masaki Tsuji, published on October 3, 1969.
- A Gamebook by Jinzō Toriumi and Yoshitake Suzuki, published in 1988.
- A three-volume novel by Jinzō Toriumi, published from July 12 to November 15, 2001.
- A two-volume novelization of the 2007 film by Masa Nakamura, published on December 1, 2006.
- New Jōruri: Hyakkimaru, a stage play first released on June 16, 2004.
- A 2019 stage play written and directed by Daisuke Nishida and based on the 2019 anime.
- A computer game released on January 10, 1989, by Quasar Soft.
- A Hack and Slash video game for the PlayStation 2, released on September 9, 2004, by Sega and Red Entertainment. It was released in English as Blood Will Tell and hereafter referred to as such on this very wiki to avoid confusion with other adaptations.
Dororo provides examples of:
- Abandon the Disabled: Kagemitsu Daigo abandons Hyakkimaru at birth because of his deal with demons to exchange parts of the child's body for power. He would've been dead too if Jukai didn't find him, take him in, and create prosthetic body parts for him. The story takes place in feudal Japan, so Hyakkimaru is very fortunate he ends up in Jukai's care.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: Dororo is a sexy teen 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: 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.
- All Trolls Are Different: One of the friendlier youkai is called a troll, at least in the English version. Here it's a green-skinned humanoid with a swollen head that points the way to buried treasure.
- 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.
- Anachronism Stew: Why are Sengoku-era swordsmen dropping pop culture references from Japan in The '60s? Probably Rule of Funny.
- Barefoot Poverty: Wouldn't be the Warring States era without it.
- 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.
- 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: In order to gain power for himself, Daigo Kagemitsu offers his soon-to-be-born son to the 48 demons that inhabit the Hall of Hell.
- Deliberately Monochrome: It suits Tezuka's style and the setting so well that you'd be forgiven for not remembering that animated 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.
- 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.
- Hoist by His 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 Miss 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.
- 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.
- Nue: Demons killed by Hyakkimaru in the past merge into a giant nue. Hyakkimaru kills it in the final chapter.
- 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 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: The first encounter with Tanosuke and the sword Nihil. Funny thing is, it's both a parody and subversion. After a build up, the two fighters are frozen in place for almost twelve hours.It's a parody because Dororo comes running up to Hyakkimaru and asks him why he's still standing there, 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.
- 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: Kagemitsu Daigo is a great deal more sympathetic 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 in a dream where his mind would be more susceptible to influence. Upon waking up, he's utterly horrified at what he's done, and when the demons claim Hyakkimaru's body parts, he immediately spirits his son away for his safety. In the manga, Daigo 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. It's revealed that afterward, his father became a vessel for the demons to spread their influence, while the manga has no such implications.
- Anachronism Stew: Hyakkimaru's arm is outfitted with a machine gun.
- 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.
- Gotta Kill Them All: Actually doing so and getting all of Hyakkimaru body parts(besides his arm) via Side Quest before the last chapter leads to the "true ending."
- Law of 100: While collecting 100 of the common items (Jyukai's Medicine) gives you a "1 Up" (the game calls it this), it's really just an extra life bar.
- Lighter and Softer: In the original manga, 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.
- Little Miss Badass: Dororo is a sidekick fighter and is frankly quite effective, mostly due to his infinite amount of thrown rocks.
- 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: Demons constructed Dororo, a girl, using one of the male Hyakkimaru's stolen body parts.
- 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: 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.
- Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: The demons attempted to keep the prophesied child of light from becoming a threat by taking away his limbs and organs. They didn't expect him to live long enough to try and take them back.
- Side Quest: Some of the 48 fiends are completely optional bosses you have to search the game area to find and fight. You can get through the game without defeating all of them, though it is useful to do so, as each recovered body part improves Hyakkimaru's combat abilities.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: Hyakkimaru tries very hard not to kill regular humans; using the back of his blade to do so. Unlike many depictions, this seriously restricts what moves he can use in such fights.
- After the End: Moving the setting to a dystopian future does make Hyakkimaru's artificial limbs somewhat more plausible.
- Ambiguous Gender Identity: Dororo seems to reject the idea of being a girl, though the film doesn't explore whether it's an issue of identification or a practical rejection of the cultural baggage assigned to the gender.
- HeelFace Turn: In the 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.
- Art-Shifted Sequel: Similarly to the 2019 anime adaptation, the main characters are drawn in a different and more modern style, although some of the side characters such as the villagers are drawn in the Tezuka style. Hyakkimaru is a little bit older just like in the original manga and original anime adaptation. Dororo looks closer to being in her preteens. And Tahomaru also looks quite a bit older as well.
- Darker and Edgier: The new manga re-telling is on the same levels of darker themes as the 2019 anime adaptation. The characters are drawn with a more modern design and the action scenes are drawn in an intense and gritty artstyle.