People have always had a fascination with the unexplained. We're a curious bunch, and when we see something we don't understand, we theorize how it came to be. And when we run out of ideas, we sometimes toy with one of two possibilities: spirits or aliens. While they're two completely different things—one is life from other worlds, the other from outside of life as we know it—they both seem to circle in the same general pool of skepticism. But what if it turned out both ideas were real?
Dandadan, the new release from Yukinobu Tatsu, has a lot of fun playing in both of those pools. It follows Momo Ayase, a headstrong girl who has just kicked her jerk of a boyfriend to the curb. Riding the subsequent wave of anger and disappointment, she ends up intervening when a geeky boy gets bullied by his classmates. Afterwards, the boy insists Momo came to him to discuss extraterrestrial topics, like how Barack Obama's already been to Mars and that the U.S. Space Force is gearing up to defend Earth from an alien invasion. Momo shrugs it off, saying aliens are nonsense. She's more concerned about spirits—her grandmother's a medium, and she herself claims to have witnessed an exorcism. Both parties think that the other is delusional, so they dare each other to investigate their claims.
Momo ends up at an abandoned hospital that's a supposed hotspot for UFOs, while the boy is sent down a supposed haunted tunnel. It's after that when they discover they're both right. The boy runs into a foulmouthed spirit known as Turbo Granny, and Momo ends up abducted by aliens hoping to propagate their species through other means than cloning. From here, chaos ensues—Turbo Granny possesses the boy and grants him great speed and power at the cost of an important… part of him. He's able to intervene with Momo's kidnapping, and the aliens' psychokinetic powers end up unleashing Momo's own mental prowess, which she uses to help the boy keep Granny in check. After dealing with the aliens, the two teens realize they're stuck together for the time being, so Momo and the boy—who she dubs "Okarun," because the boy's real name is incredibly upsetting to her—team up to figure out how to get rid of Okarun's granny problem.
Dandadan is a wild, frenetic ride through the worlds of the spiritual and paranormal. Tatsu, who previously assisted Tatsuki Fujimoto on Chainsaw Man and Fire Punch, puts that action experience to good use, sending the two protagonists into intense situations. I'm still a bit shocked this title is under the Shonen Jump imprint, though—while nothing needed to be censored visually, adult themes, including assault, come up throughout the opening chapter, so those sensitive to such topics may want to skip this one. But if you give this book a chance, the two leads will win you over. Momo's strong but knows she can always be better, unafraid to ask for help from her own granny to keep the evil spirit in check. And Okarun is a nice guy, one who struggles with feelings of inadequacy, which mostly come out in the full-on depression he exudes when Momo helps him reach the optimal balance of power between himself and Turbo Granny.
Tatsu's talent really shines in the art of this book. His technique brings warmth and vulnerability to the lead characters, but his attention to detail comes out best in the inventive designs for the threats Momo and Okarun face from within and without. The aliens look wonderfully weird, at first playing with uncanny valley cringe like the monsters from Attack on Titan before morphing into something stranger. The spirits, meanwhile, have a classic feel to them, being more traditionally unsettling. And Tatsu really shows off in his renderings of Okarun and his various states of Turbo Granny possession. Whether he's a contorted mess, a monster caught between forms, or, in the ideal balance, a lithe, menacing, many-toothed predator, Okarun and Turbo Granny steal the show visually.
With Dandadan, Yukinobu Tatsu makes an impressive stateside debut. The first volume's plot is perfectly paced, balancing action and levity to keep you reading, then rewarding you with some phenomenal visuals. Its embracing of different genres opens up a wide range of possibilities as to what the heroes will face next, and give Tatsu a playground of design threads to work with. While the plot encourages it in general, don't be skeptical about reading Dandadan—it's a blast of a read that'll be a welcome addition to your collection.
Dandadan Manga Volume 1
A nerd must fight powerful spirits and aliens all vying for the secret power of his "family jewel," so who better to fight alongside him than his high school crush and a spirit granny?!
Momo Ayase strikes up an unusual friendship with her school's UFO fanatic, whom she nicknames "Okarun" because he has a name that is not to be said aloud. While Momo believes in spirits, she thinks aliens are nothing but nonsense. Her new friend, however, thinks quite the opposite.
To settle matters, the two set out to prove each other wrong - Momo to a UFO hotspot and Okarun to a haunted tunnel! What unfolds next is a beautiful story of young love... and oddly horny aliens and spirits?Add to CartLearn More