"WHAT DID THE GUY INSIDE MY HEAD SAY?!"

Dorohedoro is a manga that defies classification. It's about a giant man-crocodile named Caiman who moonlights as an nurse in a ward for victims of magical experimentation and spends the rest of his time hunting down Sorcerors so he can force them to talk to the man in his throat who might be a key to his missing memories. Caiman's best friend is Nikaido, a woman with a bleak history and extraordinary talents who makes a living as the restaurateur of a small bistro called "The Hungry Bug". The two of them live in The Hole, a ghetto for people who either don't have any magical talents or are trying to hide them.

The Sorcerors in Dorohedoro are not the nice robed and hatted type. In fact, The Hole is generally considered to be a test ground by many Sorcerors, since the residents of The Hole usually can't fight back. Sorcerous powers range from the mundane like psychic bullets and healing all the way to the bizarre: being able to turn anyone and anything into mushrooms, dismemberment that doesn't cause death, and homunculus creation from common cooking ingredients. Many Sorcerors consort with demons and devils, who have their own society within the Sorceror world.

As you can guess, all of this adds up to a supremely interesting series. When not focused on Caiman's attempts to find the man who turned him into a crocodile, the story focuses on two Sorceror hitmen named Shin (who wears a nice suit and a mask shaped like a realistic human heart) and Noi (a six-foot tall albino Amazon who wears a mask that is something like Chatterer's face in Hellraiser). The two of them spend most of their time either looking for Caiman to take revenge for the Sorcerors he's killed or the man who made Caiman what he is. In between both of those main storylines, there's little surreal vignettes about things like competing in a rigged boxing tournament, trying to make some money off of a foodcart that only sells mushroom dishes, the yearly zombie uprising in The Hole, and the process by which The Devil Himself makes new masks for all of the Sorcerors.

The visual style is rather unconventional, occupying a strange place between Francis Bacon's (the artist, not the philosopher) rough drafts and Tsutomu Nihei's work on BLAME! and Biomega. There's lots of sketchy lines and intricate details on top of extra-stark backgrounds. This is a comic that really works in black and white; the few special color chapters don't have nearly the same pop that the normal chapters do.

Dorohedoro is written and illustrated by Q Hayashida, who formerly worked on a strange manga called Maken X about a malicious sword that could hijack the mind of whoever wielded it. Fourteen volumes have been released in Japan, but only two in the US; it was licensed in March of 2010 by Viz Media. It's worth noting that the quality of the English volumes is a bit higher than the average; the whole book is an inch or two taller and wider and has a glossy, fullcolor cover. If you're looking for something with a unique premise instead of the same old battle mangas or another book about pretty vampires, Dorohedoro is well worth your money.

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