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Dorohedoro Vol. #09 Manga Review

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Dorohedoro Volume 9
Dorohedoro Volume 9
Did the man become a monster to escape the monster inside?

Creative Staff
Story/Art: Q Hayashida
Translation/Adaptation: AltJapan Co., Ltd. (Hiroko Yoda & Matt Alt)

What They Say
Nikaido and Natsuki comfort Caiman after he is forced to confront some dark truths about his origins. Meanwhile, Professor Kasukabe goes grave digging with Shin and Noi in an attempt to unravel the mysteries surrounding a strange wax doll they have encountered. As Dokuga’s gang of Cross-Eyes desperately try to cover their involvement in a murder, Asu finds himself in serious trouble with his fellow Devils. Hold on tight for the next installment of Dorohedoro!

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
The summary doesn’t lie, there are a ton of developments in this volume of Dorohedoro. Much of what happened in the previous volume has left the various groups of characters scattered while chasing the thinest of leads about the Cross-eyes. Finally, without much warning, events pick up in rapid succession after a string of dead ends.

Caiman’s been searching for himself since the series began. It’s been the driving force of the series, even if it’s sometimes forgotten due to the more insane goings on of the everyday events. Amusingly, the truth about who Caiman is was actually revealed in volume eight. Caiman remembers that he was friends with Risu, and in the last volume we saw Risu wondering what happened to his friend Aikawa. While this should be a happy revelation, Caiman’s memories are a bloody, incoherent mess. He might even have been the one who killed Risu, but why and for what reason is anyone’s guess. Now I can’t help but wonder if Caiman’s strange state of being is self inflicted, somehow.

The graphic flashback Caiman suffers leaves him injured mentally and physically, and he spends much of the rest of the volume in a subdued state. Even a visit to a hot spring doesn’t lift his spirits very far. His behavior has Nikaido seriously concerned for her friend, and there’s a couple of touching scenes between the two which were sorely needed after they almost killed each other a few volumes back.

If the events going on with Caiman weren’t dark enough, Asu’s traitorous behavior results in the most stunningly graphic scene of the entire volume. It works as another factoid about the world of the sorcerers while creating an amazingly horrific nightmare vision. It also has serious consequences for both Nikaido and Chota, as the gig is finally up on the ‘ol switcheroo Asu pulled. Along the way Chota acts as a expositional device in revealing some of Nikaido’s past from a diary she was keeping, but stops just short of providing anymore answers about her magic powers.

The weakest part of this volume is the goings on of the Professor’s group. They finally return to the Hole in pursuit of the real identity of the leader of the Cross-eyes. The problem there is that the wax figure man appears to be the spitting image of a dead guy who the Professor met once. As usual, Kasukabe is keeping the others in the dark about just how much he knew beforehand, and it makes it look like plot-holes are about to swallow the story when it’s really just him being unnecessarily shifty. Kasukabe is the most unreliable of narrators.

The extra evil for this volume is a delightful masquerade ball. Except in a world where people wear masks all the time you can imagine that their definition differs from the one we’re familiar with. (I always forget how normal En looks with his mask off.) It’s an excuse for more cute Noi and Shin antics, which are a welcome break from some of the heavier stuff that happened in this volume.

In Summary
While Dorohedoro has had it’s share of cliffhanger endings, the final words of the story proper in this volume are downright ominous. Caiman’s violent breakthrough in his search for the truth about himself might not lead to the happy ending he was hoping for. Not to mention the toll it might take on his growing relationship with Nikaido. At this point I could almost state that this series is the most unconventional romantic comedy of all time, and I’m still loving every minute of it.

Content Grade: A –
Art Grade: A –
Packaging Grade: B
Text/Translation Grade: A

Age Rating: 17+
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: April 16th, 2013
MSRP: $12.99