Dorohedoro, Vol. 4
By Q Hayashida
Viz, 176 pp.
The fourth volume of Dorohedoro the beautifully weird series from Q Hayashida sees Caiman and Nikaido continuing their search for the mage that made Caiman into the lizard man he is today. As per usual it gets a bit sidetracked by the general weirdness of the world they inhabit. This time around they find themselves recruited for a baseball game which ends up dominating a large portion of the volume.
The volume’s a bit of a mixed bag with a little bit of plot development and a fair amount of silliness. The silliness actually outweighs any forward momentum the plot makes. Hayashida also dedicates a fair amount of this volume to the antagonists, primarily Shinji and Ebisu and their attempt at rescuing one of Shinji’s old comrades. That in turn leads into the baseball game which is the centerpiece of this volume and chalk full of weird, off beat silliness. While some of the events of the volume are indeed funny and entertaining to read, not to mention that they’re probably laying down foundations for something further on, at the moment they just seem to kill any forward momentum the story develops. I’m not expecting everything to be wrapped up by now, but I just wish it didn’t feel so directionless at times.
While the story is a bit hit or miss with me Q Hayashida’s artwork is anything but. Every page of this manga is a visual treat. Her dense, detailed style lends everything an aged, gritty and run down look to it that I absolutely adore. The grimy buildings, the dirty streets, filthy hall ways and more do a great job at conveying the decaying state of the Hole’s society. What’s perhaps most interesting is the way the grim and oppressive atmosphere of the world doesn’t clash horribly with the odd ball visual humor that’s also present in the book. The baseball game, Fujita’s ridiculous mask and hat combo and more all fit in perfectly with the visual feel of the book but are clearly on the silly and goofy side of things rather than the grim and gritty side. It’s a bit of a testament to her skill as a story teller that she can insert such visual humor and goofiness as a giant cockroach wearing sneakers and a baseball uniform and and have it mesh so perfectly with the rest of the oddball and post apocalyptic looking urban sprawl that you don’t even bat an eye.
Despite my minor complaints I do still enjoy reading this, but a combination of the meandering story and the lengthy wait between volumes keeps it from becoming an absolutely must read for me. Still, in a manga scene that’s still dominated by Shonen Jump titles Dorohedoro is an undeniable breath of fresh air and a rather fun little read to boot.
Dorohedoro, Vol. 4 is available now from Viz.