Anime & Manga, Reviews

Dandadan: The Shonen Manga That’s Out of This World

Part bone-chilling horror and part eerie sci-fi, Dandadan is a shonen manga that has it all and more! Discover how this chaotic tale of two high school students with incredible powers will take you by surprise.

Dandadan by Yukinobu Tatsu
Image: Viz
By: Javier ReyesMay 31, 2024, 4:01 AM

Dandadan Vol. 1

Dandadan Vol 1 Cover

Writer: Yukinobu Tatsu

Artist: Yukinobu Tatsu

Publisher: VIZ

Release Date: October 10, 2022

Page Count: 208

Format: Manga

With its strange premise, lovable characters, and jaw-dropping art, Dandadan is shonen manga at its finest.

Prepare for a wild and exhilarating ride, shonen manga fans, as we delve into the strange world of Dandadan! This supernatural sensation, crafted by the brilliant mind of Yukinobu Tatsu, has taken the manga community by storm – and it's easy to see why. In this review, we'll explore the enthralling story, memorable characters, and exceptional art that make Dandadan an absolute must-read for people who love stories that are equally absurd and hilarious.

Okarun and Ayase meetImage: Viz

A Story That Embraces the Absurd

In a unique spin on the classic odd couple, Dandadan features two loveable protagonists who are on opposite sides of otaku culture. Okarun is your typical nerdy kid obsessed with aliens and the paranormal but thinks ghosts are a joke. Ayase, on the other hand, is a brazen girl who’s fascinated by ghosts and the occult but laughs at the idea of aliens. The two cross paths in school when Ayase notices Okarun being bullied. Being the firecracker that she is, Ayase stands up for Okarun and fends the bullies off. Okarun sees her kindness as a sign to finally talk to a girl who relates with him. Little does he know his assumption is far from the truth. It’s the clash in their interests that causes sparks to fly between the two.

Being the passionate high schoolers they are, the two agree on a bet to see whose fandom reigns supreme. Okarun must go on a ghost hunt in a supposedly haunted tunnel while Ayase explores a rumored alien landing zone. As fate would have it, the two kids come face-to-face with what don’t believe in! So, not only do ghosts exist, but aliens do too! But as you’d expect, these ghosts and aliens are out for human blood. This kicks off a wild adventure where the paranormal and supernatural worlds collide.

Turbo GrannyImage: Viz

As absurd as that premise sounds, mangaka Yukinobu Tatsu brilliantly melds elements of sci-fi, horror, comedy, and even a little romance into one exciting package. How scenes can seamlessly flip from spine-tingling horror to laugh-out-loud humor at a moment’s notice makes for a fun read throughout. While that sounds like too many balls being juggled at once, Tatsu crafts a world that feels dynamic and fresh through his incredible artwork. The yokai/ghosts in the manga look grotesque but still have a degree of humanity in their design. The aliens, however, look downright otherworldly, giving them an unsettling eeriness to their appearance. With its bold mix of both the supernatural and paranormal, Dandadan always finds ways to surprise you with strange occurrences and unique characters.

Speaking of characters, they are the heart of this manga. The dynamic that builds between Okarun and Ayase, from mere acquaintances to partners in their supernatural escapades, makes for a fun ride throughout the story. Then the cast only gets bigger as the series progresses, introducing a diverse group of odd-ball family members and strange schoolmates. It feels like something straight out of a classic RPG, where the party of characters grows with each new adventure. Every new character has quirks that make their development arcs engaging to follow. Even the portrayal of the ghosts' tragic backstories will leave you with the occasional kick in the gut.

Dandadan grannyImage: Viz

Breathtaking Artwork

Yukinobu Tatsu's artistry is nothing short of mesmerizing. Everything from the backgrounds to the characters’ facial expressions is drawn with incredible detail. The art of Dandadan shines its brightest whenever the manga greets you with one of its magnificent two-page spreads. These pages deliver bombastic moments that leap straight out of the page. Just look at the spread below and see for yourself. Seeing the level of detail put into each little piece of debris flying around makes adds more impact to these action-packed moments. It’s like watching beautiful chaos unfold and you can’t peel your eyes away from it.

Final Thoughts:

In a market saturated with supernatural stories and action-packed manga, Dandadan stands out as a unique mix of these beloved genres. With its cast of eccentric characters, enthralling story, and exceptional artwork, it's no wonder Dandadan has readers and other famed mangakas raving about it. The blend of horror, sci-fi, and comedy creates a truly unique atmosphere that’s captivating from its very first chapter. Dandadan will make you believe there’s more to shonen manga than meets the eye.

Craving for more manga to add to your reading list? Then check out my review of Yuji Kaku's Hell's Paradise!

Dandadan spreadImage: Viz
TAGGED: Dandadan, Reviews