Dorothea Book 2

I hadn’t tried any of CMX’s Mature line (slightly larger than usual manga size, higher price, more graphic content) because I thought they wouldn’t be for me. Dorothea was thus a pleasant surprise, because it didn’t have any particularly disturbing material, and it was an enjoyable read.

Dorothea Book 2 cover
Dorothea Book 2
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I’m not actually sure why this title is marked Mature. There’s some violence in one scene, as you’d expect in a war story with swordfights, but it’s not wallowed in or there for prurient purposes. And the only sex-related content is the badly drawn cleavage of a camp follower in a low-cut gown.

Dorothea is a teenager who’s gone to war to protect her home village, a fairly common motivation in fantasy manga. What makes this unusual is the time period and its ramifications. In 15th century Germany, where political disputes are couched in terms of belief and heresy, she’s considered a witch because she’s an albino. Her red eyes, white skin and hair also make for striking visuals on pages that have plenty of shadows.

She’s being taught to fight as a unit with the other men in her group, but their distrust prevents her from being accepted. Religion provides an excuse for her supposed comrades to tease and shun her. Some call her a witch because she’s a better fighter than they, and it covers their hatred of her after she punctured their egos.

Clear, easy storytelling shows how Dorothea tries to live up to her heritage. She’s confronted with more complex moral issues than she’s used to in the face of battle. Her fellow soldiers may not be the kind of people she wants to associate with, as they loot the defeated. It’s easier not to think about the horrors of war, but she can’t help it.

It’s a shame that this is rated Mature, since teenagers will relate to the feeling of trying to contribute while not fitting in as well as the small-scale personal interactions that make up the story. Plus, anyone will find the questions of appropriate behavior in war timely. I’m probably dating myself, but overall, it reminds me of Ladyhawke in feel and tone.

(A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the publisher.)

7 Comments

  1. “I’m not actually sure why this title is marked Mature.”

    Maybe they just weren’t sure how it would turn out, since this is IIRC the first non-hentai series of that author… ;)

    Or they know something about the further volumes (4 were probably already done when it was licensed, now there are 6).

    http://www.kadokawa.co.jp/comic/bk_detail.php?pcd=200707000421

  2. True, there might be something later on that’s a concern – or in book one for all I know. :)

  3. […] and vol. 2 of Dororo and pens short takes on a stack of other manga. Johanna Draper Carlson reviews vol. 2 of Dorothea and recommends all of Yotsuba&! at Comics Worth Reading. New reviews are up at Comics Village: […]

  4. I’m not familiar with the series, but she is a popular ero-mangaka, so there is a possibility that there’ll be something down the line to justify a mature rating.

  5. Err, what Sebastian said. I didn’t see the comments. 9_9;

  6. I’m guessing it got the mature ratings for a) the burning of live women at the stake, b) the depictions of various forms of torture, and c) a few nudie shots (sometimes combined with the depictions of torture) near the end. None of it seemed tasteless to me, though — it was all very in keeping with the setting and storyline, and there was no sex.

    Definitely a series worth reading! There was a lot of attention paid to the society and beliefs of the time, and little details like a prototype of sunscreen being considered “witch’s ointment” really made it for me. The only thing that seemed really anachronistic was Dorothea’s “combat” outfit, ugh. Chainmail miniskirts do not a good defense make.

  7. ETA: Well, no sex that was depicted by anything more than a cut away scene. ;)

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