A quick introduction to Dororo

Osamu Tezuka’s legendary manga, Dororo received a new adaptation this year. Tezuka is the author who propelled manga and anime into the Japanese consciousness with storytelling classics like Astro Boy, Black Jack, Buddha, Phoenix etc. 

Mr. Tezuka was both the artist and the entrepreneur as not only did he bring new unique storytelling ideas to the medium during his time, he also set up his own animation studio, Mushi Pro which constantly churned out new animated series based on his manga, akin to a factory clothing line. Therefore, it’s no surprise that entire generations were inspired by his dedication to the craft.

Manga (1967)

Dororo was written and drawn by Tezuka in 1967. I had the chance to actually own the English licensed Omnibus Dororo manga. The gist of the story goes like this:

Dororo revolves around a rōnin named Hyakkimaru and young orphan thief named Dororo during the Sengoku period. The un-named child was born malformed, limbless and without facial features or internal organs. This was the result of his birth father daimyō Daigō Kagemitsu forging a pact with 48 sealed demons so that he might rule the world. In return, he promised the demons could each obtain a piece of his unborn child’s body. This enabled them to roam free and commit atrocities along the countryside.

Hyakkimaru facing left, and Dororo facing right

Anime (1969)

For the anime adaptation, Mushi Pro tried to rectify the misleading title by calling the series Dororo to Hyakkimaru (Meaning Dororo and Hyakkimaru). Released in 1969, the series comprised of 26 episodes, all in black and white glory.

While dying of stomach cancer, Tezuka uttered these last words “I’m begging you, let me work!” to the nurse, who was too eager to take his drawing materials away. It was in 1989, that he sadly passed away at the age of 60. It is a shame because he never got to see the game and movie that followed.

Video Game (2004)

Blood will Tell was released in 2004 by Sega for the PS2. It retells the adventure of Hyakkimaru and Dororo. Rarely did manga based games in that era receive official English localisation. Yet, Dororo did. They must have thought it had potential to in the Western market, and they were right. The game reception wasn’t amazing, but it was good enough to justify its English release.

Live Action (2007)

In 2007, a movie adaptation came to pass. For the record, I didn’t watch this movie so I can’t comment much on it, but from the reviews I read on IMDB, it seemed that the fans like it. One nice tidbit of information I found about this movie was that someone was working on his own live-action Hollywood version of Dororo. The article is also from 2012, so I assume the project didn’t move forward.

Crossover (2012)

In 2012, Go Nagai decided to write a manga about Dororo crossing over with his own Dororon Enma-kun series, and the result was quite something. The manga isn’t translated. I do however have the scans. After having flipped through the pages, all I can say is that it’s a very naughty take on the franchise. This is not surprising considering we’re talking about Dororon Enma-kun and Go Nagai after all.

Tezuka’s son, Makoto Tezuka and Go Nagai taking a picture for the occasion. Does he even know the contents of it?

Reboot (2019)

Here are the trailers for the reboot.

Anime studio MAPPA is in charge of the animation. They were previously responsible for bringing Weekly Shonen Sunday classic Ushio and Tora back to life. Other animation credits include the Garo anime franchise, Rage of Bahamut, Kagegurui, Yuri on Ice, and Banana Fish, just to name a few. The staff list can be found here.

*Updated article for the actual release of the new Dororo anime