BIASED REVIEW ALERT, If you love the show than great just ignore this because I wouldn't understand. But to those who plan to go into this anime completely blind like I did, this might be for you.
I have to say that this is sadly 100% without any doubt the absolute worst anime I've ever seen start-finish in my life.. I hate to even say that because I've come to love dozens of anime (I've seen over 100 now), and I've never expected to dislike this one so much. I don't even know why I continued to watch it, I guess it's because it's short and I started to skim thru by the time I was on episode 5 or 6. Overall I just feel like this anime wasn't for me. The high ratings this anime recieved makes no sense at all to me, so I'm more likely to suspect it's a strong difference in taste and not necessarly the fault of the anime.
Anyway you probably wouldn't agree with me if you're a fan, but here's what I didn't like about the anime.
1. The CGI - I hate when anime uses noticeable CGI. It's not entirely bad here but you see it often, and it honestly makes me enjoy an anime a lot less. With that said I completely don't care what their budget was, CGI seriously doesn't look right at all in anime where it's more in focus. If CGI is only used sparingly for small background details, and it isn't a center focus than that's perfect in my opinion. I would always prefer that much more if the team at all feels like they need to resort to it.
2. Dark Humor/Grotesque Violence - There is a lot of dark humor and grotesque violence here, that it was way too much for me to swallow. It was on the limit of being too gross and completely hard to watch for me. I get that it's kind of cool when anime can go this far, but this even tops Gantz (and I think that was the most violent one I've seen before this) though I actually rate that one much higher than Dorohedoro, because it has a way more interesting premise behind it. The characters are a lot more relatable too. Less people seem to agree with me on rating Gantz higher though judging by the difference in ratings these two have recieved.
3. Plain Unappealing Characters - I don't know just straight from the beginning and to the end, I've been trying to figure out who's on the good side, but I haven't. The characters just seem to act like completely non-sensible serial killers without any real goals or motives. Why are some of them even around if a chunk of them barely even do anything at all? Also why do all the characters look like they're from a crazy circus show, and also engage in body building within their spare time. I don't understand it at all. Do the characters not have any sort of humanity either? I realize that maybe that is actually the point, in that everyone has lost their humanity due to the post-apocalyptic world of humans vs sorcerers, and the theme of the show is to tell an extremely violent and crazy story in a dark but humorous manner.. But again not really for me I think.
I've searched online to see if maybe I was the only one who disliked Dorohedoro (seems that way), and noticed some people say that because there isn't technically any antagonist (all of them are crazy), that makes ALL the characters likeable. I'll admit this does sound like a unique idea on paper, but in practice this just made ALL the characters stand out so much less for me. I get that maybe they were trying to make this unique by being different, but it's so hard to relate to any of them. I can't relate to serial killers who seem to show no sense of morality (but again maybe that's not the purpose of this show). With that said I thought the characters would at least show some more compelling reasons, or purpose behind their actions. But instead they all just seem "there" for the sake of being there. Everything just seems so non-sensical, like the show is literally mostly just for shock factor. Kinda like the movie, "The Human Centipede." I also really didn't need an idea like "no antagonists" to like characters in an anime, because I actually think every hated character is redeemable. For example, in Gantz almost everyone talks about their hate for the main character Kei Kurono because he's an asshole. But he redeems himself in later episodes, and shows that he can still grow to be a better person. He makes some very questionable decisions (even towards the end of the anime) but still does his best. I believe that makes him a much stronger and respectable character for holding the values he does. Onto my next point though.
4. Overly Simple Plot - Again maybe this is the point of the show, but I was just NOT grabbed at all by the idea of a guy with a lizard head who has a weird naked man inside his mouth, and that he has a hobby of eating everyone's heads to figure out who that guy is. Why some other people are interested in the lizard guy too? Idk. I know it's basically a mystery story but then again, the whole premise was never really that interesting to me because the anime hardly seems to focus on important aspects, that we all want to know (at least to me). Instead it's just back and forth battles of "We need to kill them, or we need to escape, go here, go there, blah blah blah." At one point nearly a whole episode is even them PLAYING BASEBALL. What..? I don't know.. But the plot just wasn't very engaging at all for me, and I even had started to lose a lot of momentum waiting to see who this lizard guy (AND EVERYONE ELSE) is. You don't even really get to know by the end of it too because it ends on a (fill in the blank)!
So yeah overall, it surely wasn't the best experience I've had watching an anime. Sucks that I had to rate this one so low, because it seemed at least a little bit interesting, and I thought it would be worthwhile during later episodes. That wasn't the case for me though. To me I just kept getting the impression that the show is trying too hard to be "edgy" in every aspect, and I really don't like that. I guess maybe I'm just not the target audience. This show really isn't your usual anime though either. Ah well, everyones bound to not like something. At least I can say I've seen it. Sorry to any fans or those interested I've disappointed with this review, just wanted to share my own honest personal thoughts on it.
Edit (March 17th, 2021): A lot of you may be confused by my review and I may not have worded certain aspects correctly which is understandable, but the anime honestly really triggered me and I had my hopes up. I usually do not finish anime I don't like, but this one confused me enough to the point of wanting to finish it so that I could understand it's appeal. After seeing more than 100 anime at the time of this review, this is the first one I've ever seen where I've felt genuinely confused. The anime is just very all over the place in my opinion, in a way that wasn't making any sense to me. If anyone wants to get a better grasp of my thoughts, I found another review that I feel is more in-depth and "fair" than mine. My review wasn't intended to be a serious one. Just simply a way of expressing my initial thoughts after finishing it.
this show is an instant classic,it has a very unique world building and crazy characters.The line between good and evil gets burned since the first episode,all the characters are messed up but also very likeable.Another good thing is how well the mix between 2d and cgi is done which is rare.The anime is very violent and there's gore in every episode but it's also filled with comedy and mystery that keeps you hyped.(kinda like golden kamuy but fantasy focused)
Everything about this show is awesome and it's one of those shows that I'll be recommending to others. It's got excellent in-depth world-building, out of the ordinary characters that you'll love with some great backstories and there is plenty of unnecessary violence to support its dark humor.
The story is build up rather slow and I'd even say that it can be rather predictable at times but that's not what you watch this show for. You want to know more about the world these odd characters live in and you'll find yourself wanting to see how outrages these characters will react in the next episode.
Some people didn't like the character designs but in a world where the strongest survive it only makes sense.
Unique style, something new and yet familair is what this anime combines seemingly giving a new (modern) spin on the whole magic society trope.
Story - 9.5
The story is very well told where we know each characters motivation or maybe even funny outcome because of their interactions with other characters during the story. Even though it is consistently laid out the main protagonists misterious head loss stoly is suplemented with other characters side plots. Because of that the main story loses its track slightly as you start spending more time with other characters, but that does well to build overall world and give further "hooks" to watch the series and be more invested.
Animation - 8
I am not sure what style they were completely goin for or what was intended for anime. Being very colorful and combining traditional animation with CGI it does its good work to look neat and captivating overall. Otherwise some viewers might be reluctant to watch because of some panel "lazy" animation, but i feel that is justifyable for the overall anime quality picking up where animation might drop the ball.
Sound - 10
Sound is good. All that i can say. No weird quality or sounds during anime and the effort put into similar sounding sounds or picked out songs are really fitting the genre.
Characters - 9.5
Characters have their own specific motivation or clear goals which might be easily predictable and boring yet serve the all familiar anime trope of "this character does this and that character is for that scene etc.". Nonetheless the slow goal reveal and reasoning for why characters do one thing or the other works perfectly to pathe out the story.
Overall - 9.2
Without much deliberation i can reccomend this anime for a mistery, chaos, violence enjoying viewer who can also appreciate slow starting adventure and having to find out some correlation between events or characters themselves.
Choosing a series on a whim worked out nicely for once, unlike Risky Safety, Saiyuki, Gundam Seed, Nadia, Sakura Wars, Golgo 13, Gate…..damn I’m bad at picking shows.
Story - 8/10
The universe as we know it has changed. The world is now inhabited by sorcerers, human-esc creatures that have the ability to emit a black smoke that affects the world around them in different ways, such as the ability to heal, to alter time, or to change their surroundings into different things; such as lizards, mushrooms or a giant roach named Johnson. The humans we know still exist, but now live in another dimension known as “The Hole,” where they toil away every day in this new hellscape, always having to be mindful that any moment a group of sorcerers may appear to practice on them, or worse kill them.
One such human was a man who woke up with a lizard’s head and a lack of memories, and the only way to rectify his problem is to find the sorcerer who changed him, and kill them.
Helping our Lizardman out is a young woman named Nikaido, the person who found him and who later dubbed him Caiman, after a species of lizard that he resembles. Together they catch, interrogate and, almost always, kill sorcerers who enter The Hole, and so far they’re batting zero.
While catching and killing these sorcerers to restore Caiman is the main story of our show, they find a way to weave that plot line into a dozen episodes that make sure that repetitive task isn’t boring for the viewer. Running concurrent to Caiman searching for this sorcerer, is a story of a family of sorcerers also trying to track down Caiman, hoping to stop him before he takes out even more of their kind. Like the human storyline, this one also makes sure that the episodes don’t just devolve into a boring monster of the week type show.
The combination of both stories ended up being one of the best balances of story, action, horror, and humor I can think of in anime. The only real disappointing part of the story is it’s abrupt ending, not even giving a small amount of closure until the OVAs are released. Other than that I’d put this up there with some of legendary shows of the late nineties/ early aughts, especially when it comes to pure enjoyment in watching.
Animation - 6/10
How long have we had CG Animation Anime at this point? Twenty Years? In all that time they still haven’t found a way to make it look even close to the level of traditional animation.
With this series I’m glad we at least have some very interesting characters, though a few of the human faces resemble those of another CG trainwreck, Freedom. It’s actually a bit funny how almost exact the faces are, as if they pulled up the wireframe from that show and just imported it here. The main culprit is Nikaido, whose head looks more like that of a chubby baby than an adult of any sort. The Monster and Masked characters might not be totally original, but they look good and are actually crafted very well.
The show also has lots of amazing scenery. The detail and the coloring of the backgrounds and other stationary items was surprisingly excellent, I’d almost say it’s some of the best I’ve seen at really conveying the story of what’s going on.
Even though those two portions were great, the major issue with most CG based animation is the actual movement. Everything is still so clunky and jerky, with movements never looking natural, and at the worst of times, say when you get a closeup of Kaiman’s mouth, it resembles awful stop motion animation.
So despite my complaining, I do think we have taken steps forward in this style of animation, but it’s still so far behind where it should be, especially when they again try to integrate vehicles that all just look like they’re floating along.
Sound - 4/10
I wasn’t too impressed by the music, all of which are performed by the same group (K)NoW Name. The opening was okay, a sort of Japanese Pop-Thrash song, it matches the style and pace of the show pretty well. The show does go all out in their closing songs, having a new one almost every other episode. The first closing “Who Am I” is an odd Trance dance song that just didn’t fit, though for that type of music it was kind of catchy and sadly the best of the bunch. The next ending is “Night Surfing” which went even further in the pop direction, and ends up being a strange pick for this series. Song three is “D.D.D.D.” went back to sounding like the first song, but much worse. “Strange Meat Pie” is their fourth track and while not great, it reminds me if someone took one of Yuki Kajiura’s songs from .Hack//Sign but made it a more upbeat pop song. “Seconds Fly” is the next to last song, which follows the trend of being a dance house type song. The final episode ends with “404,” easily the worst song of all, as it sounds like garbage from the Black Eyed Peas.
The voice over work on the English dub was great and the actors did an excellent job of actually acting out their roles. It’s hard to pick a real standout in the show, because all the main and secondary characters were able to hit every mark they were supposed to. Heck when you’ve relegated Bryce Papenbrook to a somewhat secondary character you just know that you’ve got a strong lineup.
Along with he character voices, most of the background music was very good and the atmospheric sounds all hit their marks.
Characters - 9/10
While there weren’t huge and in-depth backstories for our characters, which partially plays into the storyline of our hero Caiman, they still managed to make each character unique, interesting and extremely likable.
Our aforementioned protagonist is Caiman, a human who had his head turned into that of a lizard, so he now searches for the sorcerer who cast the spell, so he can kill them and regain his normal form and his memories. Inside his mouth lives a manifestation of a former friend, who determines if the person he bites down on is or isn’t the one who he needs to kill, though finding the wrong sorcerer never stops him from killing them anyway. Despite being a large monstrous creature, he’s actually quite kind and childlike in his everyday life, often prancing around town (even when killing) eating gyoza or helping out at the local hospital.
Caiman’s partner and best friend is Nikaido, the owner of a restaurant he frequents, as well as a sorcerer in hiding. Despite having the rarest and most sought after power, Time Manipulation, she has decided to not use her powers and to live as much as a human as possible. She was the person who found Caiman when he was transformed and left for dead, and now wants to be the first person to see his real face when he turns back to a human.
The leader of one of the strongest groups of sorcerers is En, a man who rose to power by killing all the sorcerers who would use and abuse their fellow magic casters. He was originally taken to hell, after being found close to death, but his unique power, the ability to turn everything into Mushrooms, allowed him to survive and escape hell to seek vengeance. After exacting his revenge, and building a family of sorcerers that he saved, he turned his attention to other matters, such as a chain of Ramen shops and movie producing. Like everyone in the show, despite being seen as somewhat evil, he’s still rather likable and funny.
En’s two most trusted cleaners are Shin and Noi, sorcerers who are both powerful with their magic and their fists. They take care of any human or sorcerer that En needs dealt with, along with their own day to day slaughtering of people for fun. The two act almost like a couple, and they do care very much for each other, to the point Noi have up her chance at becoming a Devil all to save Shin from death. Despite these two having no issue killing many many people, they both still seem to be able to show some empathy, such as when they spared Caiman’s friends, as they had helped Shin in the past.
Rounding out our most notable characters are Ebisu and Fujita, two children who happen to be part of En’s family. Fujita is a rather lame young man, with weak powers and a bleak future, though that doesn’t stop him from trying to catch Caiman and exact revenge for his dead friend, even if he knows he’ll certainly fail at it. Partnered with him for most of the show is Ebisu, a girl whom he saved from Caiman’s mouth. In the process of ripping her from that pair of jaws, he kind of caused her face to be ripped off, and because of that trauma she now spends most of her time frolicking around like an imbecile. Of all the characters in the series Ebisu, with her moron personality, has to be the funniest. They use her to make odd little comments or to have her get into funny predicaments that will really bring a smile to your face.
Down in the hole there are a number of humans who interact with Caiman, and who work to build a really entertaining show. The first is Bauks, a doctor at the local hospital who works with Caiman on trying to help humans who have been mutated by sorcerers. Another staff member is Kasukabe, who prefers to use his medical skills to experiment on humans, sorcerers and any creature that may come his way. The third of our trio of friends is Johnson, a giant cockroach who not only helps our characters in many tough spots, but also adds some hilarious moments.
Pretty much every character in the series, from the ten or so main and secondary characters, to the group of smaller roles, is someone you’ll really enjoy. Some more development on each would have been nice, but really they had a winner with almost everyone we saw on screen.
Overall - 9/10
I honestly didn’t expect much from this series, as I just started watching it to break up another show I was in the middle of, and it popped up on my streaming queue. That random choice turned into one of the biggest surprises I’ve had in a very long time when it comes to anime.
The show managed to put together a very good story and surrounded it with characters, both those we’re supposed to believe are good and those evil, who were very entertaining and likable. Things could be a bit confusing at times, and the incomplete story was a bummer, but still they never seemed to disrespect the viewer with wasted episodes or pointless “gotcha” tricks to coverup bad writing.
What DoroHeDoro did best was being able to pull off what so many set out to do and fail at, effortless comedy. Not since FLCL has a show been able to have such a constant stream of hilarious moments, without either telegraphing them from a mile away, or just being unfunny jokes meant to target the lowest forms of humor. They were always able to either integrate them into the story or have them as a small hidden background moment that would surprise you with a laugh. Which isn’t to say they didn’t have a large number of somewhat random and zanny moments, but even then it was done in a way that never overshadowed the story or action currently occurring.
I would have given this show a perfect score here, despite the lackluster animation and slightly out there music, but unfortunatly it ends with a very incomplete story, which they expect you to wait for the OVAs to finish.