How Dororo revisits historic Japan

How Dororo revisits historic Japan

“Dororo” is a manga series created by Osamu Tezuka all the way back in 1967, and is a prime example of vintage manga being adapted into an anime series. Anyone watching Dororo would immediately shift to a place way before our time, the 15th century Japan. The anime captures the essence of the olden times and in this article, we will look at how Dororo revisits historic Japan in the most authentic way.

Historical setting

How Dororo revisits historic Japan
Landscape in the Sengoku Period (Courtesy of Tezuka Productions, MAPPA)

The story takes place in feudal Japan, during the Sengoku period also known as the Warring States period, regarded as a turbulent era in Japanese history that witnessed constant military conflict and political instability.

Instead of being ruled by a single ruler, Japan was divided into numerous feudal domains, each controlled by powerful warlords who constantly fought among themselves for territorial expansion, resources, and political dominance. Dororo depicts the atmosphere, landscapes, religion, and architecture of that time, capturing feudal Japan’s setting in great detail.

Historical References

How Dororo revisits historic Japan
Peasants under the regional warlords  (Courtesy of Tezuka Productions, MAPPA)

The anime constantly addresses the poor state of the political regime of its time. Ashikaga shogunate, the hereditary military dictatorship of Japan, was a major political authority during the Sengoku period and Dororo reflects the weakened central authority and the rise of regional warlords who challenged the shogunate’s control.

The stronger feudal lords, daimyo ruled over larger territories and maintained samurai warriors as their loyal retainers. The character of Oda Nobunaga, a prominent daimyo of that era, is mentioned in the series.

There are also some references to the Ikko-Ikki Movement comprising a group of warrior monks and peasants who rebelled against the samurai class during the Sengoku period which further explains the widespread social unrest and religious conflicts of the time.

Cultural References

How Dororo revisits historic Japan
Craving of a Buddhist statue (Courtesy of Tezuka Productions, MAPPA)

It introduces the rich and immersive cultural history of Japan by incorporating religious heritage into the storytelling. The character of Dororo is depicted as a little thief who wears a red Buddhist robe, which signifies her association with the religion.

Throughout the series, we see Buddhist temples, rituals, and beliefs depicted, as well as Shintoism which is regarded as the indigenous religion of Japan. The plot’s crux of supernatural creatures and spirits, such as demons, also finds its home in Shinto folklore.

Warrior life

How Dororo revisits historic Japan
Samurais (Courtesy of Tezuka Productions, MAPPA)

The series explores the lives of samurai and ronin in society. Samurai were the warrior class in feudal Japan, serving under daimyos and adhering to s a strict code of honor called Bushido. The presence of samurais is seen in the characters of Tahomaru and his retainers who are such as loyal, and disciplined in their principles.

On the other hand, ronin refers to a samurai who is without a master or lord. Our main protagonist, Hyakkimaru is a ronin, which allows him to roam freely without the obligations of serving a lord. We see intense sequences of dueling between enemy warriors which shows the swordsmanship skill and technique of the warriors.


How Dororo revisits historic Japan
Dororo and Hyakkimaru (Courtesy of Tezuka Productions, MAPPA)

With scenes that are sure to tug at your heart, “Dororo” captures the hardships and struggles faced by individuals during the Sengoku period and draws inspiration from the historical context of feudal Japan, capturing the essence of that era.

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