Friday, July 3, 2009

Dororo, vol. 2

The story: In this volume, our intrepid heroes travel through a village with a connection to Hyakkimaru's past. The town, separated in two because of war, is also the home to his family. After meeting them, Hyakkimaru finds himself despairing and without the will to live. Thankfully, a kind old monk whom Hyakkimaru had met previously happens by and tells him to find happiness somehow. Meanwhile, Dororo is enchanted by a woman who reminds him of his mother and falls into a demon-set trap. Will Hyakkimaru be able to save him?

Reaction: Watching Hyakkimaru find out the truth about his family is heart-breaking, as is Dororo's relationship with the woman who has an uncanny resemblance to his mother. But, this is a manga full of emotionally tough moments. Following along with Hyakkimaru and Dororo separate adventures helped me better understand them individually. While they're both very different in personality, they have so much more in common than they know and become brothers of sorts.

Deep thoughts: The second volume of Dororo really calls into question the meaning of family. At the time of its printing, "family" was the traditional nuclear family -- a mother, father, children, etc. Nowadays, family can be any group of people who love and care for one another and has taken different forms, especially with remarriages and non-traditional family structures. And that's exactly what Dororo and Hyakkimaru create with one another, a family of sorts, where they care for each other and come to the aid and rescue of the other. It's a very sweet thing as told by Osamu Tezuka.

Artwork: Of course, nothing has changed regarding the art -- it is still in Tezuka's distinctive, cartoonish style. Again, I marveled at Tezuka's ability to illustrate a story such as this, without drowning out the seriousness. In some ways, it's almost easier to deal with all the hard moments in Hyakkimaru's and Dororo's lives because of Tezuka's illustrations. The child-friendly quality makes some moments more bearable than if they had been drawn in a more modern and realistic way.

The verdict: Required reading. Of course, my opinion hasn't changed from the last volume. This is still an amazing story that has everything one could want from it, except for the "happy ending," which should come in the third, and final, volume. Here's to hoping Hyakkimaru becomes whole, both in body and family! Dororo is available in the U.S. from Vertical.

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