This anime wasn’t on my initial list when I was looking through LiveChart, however after I learned that the source material was over 50 years old and was made by the “Father of Manga” Osamu Tezuka, I decided to give it a watch. And I am glad that I did. For those who don’t know, Tezuka was the person who pioneered the traditional anime look/style, and was the creator of titles like Astro Boy, Black Jack, and of course Dororo. Now of course this adaptation of his work blends more of the modern anime style compared to the old cartoonish style but there are still references to his original work within the series.
This series is about a boy named Hyakkimaru, whose father sacrificed him to 12 demons (48 in the original manga) in order for power and prosperity for his land. As a result Hyakkimaru was born with no limbs, skin, eyes, tongue, and other organs, yet he still clutched to life. A midwife feeling sorry for the baby, but him on a boat on a near by river and sent him out, where he was discovered by a doctor who is able to make several prostheses for the boy. After a few years, Hyakkimaru sets out on a quest to slay all 12 demons to gain his body back. Along the way he meets the titular character, Dororo, a young thief girl who takes a liking to Hyakkimaru after he unknowingly saves her from one of his first demons.
The story of this series is really well paced, in my opinion, the first few episodes start off with a basic monster of the week premise, but then it does cut back to Hyakkimaru’s family as it shows how his actions are unknowingly effecting them. I also can see why they had to cut down on the demons. Firstly, most modern anime usually have 12-25 episodes per season, so they either had to cram more than one demon in each episode or cut down on them. Also, while seeing various demons and yokai from Japanese lore is always interesting, it would get old pretty fast to see our hero killing demons over and over again.
The story also doesn’t pull punches when it shows just how morally gray and extremely brutal war can be. It even asks the age old question, should one person be sacrificed for the prosperity and peace of many others.
The characters are also well written and most have a lot of depth to them. I was initially afraid that Dororo would be an annoying child character, but I quickly grew found of her with how she tries her hardest to find the demons that Hyakkimaru needs to slay for him to get another body part back. Even Hyakkimaru, who for a good portion of the series couldn’t speak or hear, still showed a lot of character within his actions. Even his family gets some character depth as each of them decided whose side they should be on in this conflict.
The animation was done by Studio MAPPA and Tezuka Productions, and it is phenomenal. The action scenes are of course masterly animated, but what made me notice the animation more was in the more quite, peaceful, or even sad scenes. The quality of animation helps those scenes have more impact.
Overall, I loved these series for having such a well paced and interesting story combined with entertaining action and characters, and I would recommend this anime to anyone, whether they are a newcomer or been watching anime for a few years. Although I will say it might not be for those that are squeamish at the sight of blood and slight gore.