It’s nice to get adaptations of something older than the last decade. We need to be reminded of how older manga used to be like. With that said, we must also remember that every adaptation needs to tweak things around in order to work at points where the manga wouldn’t translate well onto screen. This adaptation of Dororo didn’t care about that and ended in the exact same way the manga from the 60s did: Incomplete. Because it got canceled. You will be disappointed.
The destination is not very good, but what about the journey? Well, part of the 60s formula is the very loose plot that is more interested in telling tragic stories than having plot continuity. Although Hyakkimaru retains the body parts he gets from killing demons as the episodes go by, and that has a faint sense of progression of him becoming more and more human as the episodes pile up, almost all secondary characters he encounters in his travels do not reappear. That causes the dramatic effect to evaporate as soon as the next episode starts.
That aside, the plot is loose enough to make over half the episodes completely skippable. There are stuff happening in them which always have to do with the cruelty of human nature, but since the message is the same in all the episodes and nothing actually progresses in them, you can easily see them as standalone missions or even fillers. This is detrimental to those who are not into semi-episodic tragedies, since they make it hard to care as the episodes go by. It’s no secret that the interest in the anime was dwindling after its very positive initial reception, exactly because the plot progression was very slow and there was no point in caring about the secondary characters of any episode.
Furthermore, none of the characters is that complex or interesting to keep the average viewer watching for more than a couple of episodes. Even the major ones are fairly straightforward and repeat themselves too often to the point of saturation within an hour. It works better when you have hundreds of characters ala Black Clover, since despite being one-note their sheer volume prevents the viewer from getting bored quickly. The cast of Dororo are not numbered in the hundreds. They are several dozens, but most of them appear for only a couple of episodes before dying or leaving forever. It will be taxing to see Hyakkimaru being constantly emotionless and Dororo being constantly sassy and obnoxiously positive.
With that said, this anime would make a great two hour samurai drama. The highlights are great and powerful, and it’s the really long downtime between them that makes it hard to keep focused. As a whole it’s not a bad series, but its loose plot, the mediocre ending, and the one-note secondary characters prevent it from being great.