Dorohedoro’s Devils Prove With Great Power Comes Great… Boredom?

Religion can be one of the most complicated aspects of fantasy worldbuilding. Q Hayashida's brilliantly bizarre seinen action-horror manga Dorohedoro approaches religion by making its world's "gods" all devils. These devils are terrifyingly designed, yet they're actually the least threatening species in a world chock full of psychopaths and creeps. For all their immense power, Dorohedoro's devils are simply bored, lonely weirdos.

In Dorohedoro, devils are worshipped by sorcerers. These sorcerers are not your typical Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings-style wizards. They're crime families, drug cartels and street punks who all produce black smoke with extraordinary effects. Each sorcerer wears their own unique mask that they feel naked without wearing. These masks connect them with the devils.

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Most sorcerers seek to become devils, and this done through the rigorous and difficult Devil Exam. If they pass the tests and trails put forward, they'll obtain godhood (or devilhood, to be more precise). Noi almost finished the process, and Asu succeeded. Yet, when given ultimate power and freedom, how do the devils use it? Mostly just for laughs.

Devils are depicted as very bored and scrounging for entertainment through pranks. This is especially true for the most powerful devil, Chidaruma. In one of the many side stories from the manga, Chidaruma swaps the bodies of Noi and Ebisu only to create some chaos for the En Family. His prank leads to some wacky shenanigans for En and his cohorts, but what's really being said here is that Chidaruma is starving for entertainment.

Another of the side stories shows Ebisu and Fujita channel surfing when Fujita gets a new TV that broadcasts the TV shows that devils produce. The chapter is formatted like a 4-Koma gag comic, but with the weird morbid tone inherent to the devils. One channel has Chidaruma feed his new pizza obsession by creating a pizza flying carpet and homunculus made of pizza. Then on the fan club channel where the devils answer questions sent in by sorcerers, they receive a question asking why they chose to become devils. Without missing a beat, everyone in the room answers exactly the same: "death."

The devils are powerful creatures, but Hayashida rarely portrays them as creatures to be feared. After all, they were all originally sorcerers, and they still long for human connections. This is clearly illustrated with the devil Haru, who essentially kidnaps her former husband Kasukabe and takes him back to the devil world. They had been separated for several years since Haru became a devil, so what's implied here is that despite the power and freedom at her disposal, Haru isn't content with being alone and wants her husband back in her life.

Haru isn't the only example of a devil missing human connection. Another devil, GuraGura, has lived a double life for the last couple of years. Whenever he's bored, GuraGura disguises himself as a dog and plays the part of Shin's pet canine of the very same name. Noi actually used GuraGura and his sense of smell to track down Shin when he went missing during Blue Night.

The last thing you'd expect of a deity is to lower themselves the status of a pet for fun, but that just proves how bored the devils become with the freedom that comes with their power. Maybe GuraGura finds joy in having someone else make his decisions for him, or maybe having an excuse to sleep and play all day by being a dog makes sense to him. It all fits perfectly with the unsettling but goofy tone of Dorohedoro.

Devils play an integral role in the sorcerer world for rituals, customs and services, yet despite their religious significance, we mostly see them as pathetic, even feeling sorry for them. That feeling of pity makes them stand out amongst a very likable cast of characters. It's a distinctive take on religious worldbuilding. Meanwhile, Q Hayashida's latest manga, Dai Dark, is furthering her explorations of how powerful beings choose to spend their days with zero consequences.

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