Title: Dandadan Vol. 1
Author: Yukinobu Tatsu
Release Date: Ocotber 11, 2022
Publisher: VIZ Media
Manga titles can offer outlandish concepts that feel unique and mesmerizing. It’s impossible not to be overwhelmed by the sheer variety of possibilities manga series explore, even when we consider only well-known topics. Dandadan Vol. 1 is one such title, offering a crazy story that any fan of whacky shounen titles should give a try.
Everything starts when protagonist Momo Ayase breaks up with her boyfriend as he didn’t live up to her ideal of a specific old actor. She walks around school dejected, finds a young boy being bullied, and decides to step up. It was just a whim, but it ends up as the start of their friendship, or maybe I should say rivalry, as they bond over their opposing views on supernatural phenomena.
The young boy is an alien fanatic without friends, but Momo doesn’t believe extraterrestrial beings exist. Meanwhile, she has always lived with her medium grandma and believes spirits exist, something the boy finds ludicrous. As such, they decide to make a bet so they can prove who is right.
The boy, nicknamed Occult-kun, goes to a haunted area while the girl looks for aliens in a building. Despite their claims, both are scared of what they may find in this “test of courage.” But, once there, they find something they could never expect and the crazy antics of the story’s beginnings.
Dandadan Vol. 1 is a battle shounen where occult things exist, and these creatures are weirdly interested in people’s reproductory organs. This choice could have been inappropriate and meant only for titillating fanservice for the audience, but Dandadan manages to sell the idea the world is just that crazy.
Our naive kids see themselves thrown into a wild world they are unfamiliar with, facing challenges that boggle their minds. Dealing with these situations forces them out of their comfort zones, and it’s nice to see how quickly these life-threatening situations make them tight.
Their rapport is outstanding, and every panel feels strikingly expressive due to the characters’ body language. Not only does the humor always hit the mark, but it’s easy to visualize the movement and weight of the action bits. The scenes are beautifully connected, making the story and its world feel fully realized. When it comes to the plot, Dandadan feels like the kind of story that the author had an absurd amount of freedom to write.
Dandadan Vol. 1 is a dynamic volume that builds an interesting world and a compelling relationship between its leading duo. The plot may have a few conveniences here and there, and some of the weird plot choices may displease some readers, but nothing feels disjointed from the sense of fun it’s working with.
Dandadan Vol. 1 proves itself an essential battle shounen series in but a few chapters. Blending expertly timed comedy, vibrant action, and a compelling plot due to its world and character building, it’s the kind of manga that never stops entertaining. I can’t wait to read more, and I bet any fan of the genre would feel the same.
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