A kind of chorus has settled in us in recent years, that of new hits. Mashle, Kaiju 8, Jujutsu Kaisen, Sakamoto Days… So many recent titles that have caught the eye, sometimes with a lot of almost rowdy communication. Kazé, having now evolved into Crunchyroll’s pan manga, has become a master in the field, and its recent acquisition is no exception. Thus, Dandadan is launched with great fanfare in the fall of 2022. The inauguration is also based on a prior success of the title, since the work has attracted a lot of attention with its pre-publication, made accessible worldwide via the platform Manga+.
In Japan, the manga was born in 2021, offered on the Shônen Jump+ platform, which has established itself as a launcher of successful titles in recent years. Today, seven volumes have been published, and each new part does not fail to find itself in top of the sales with its exits. We therefore imagine that a potential animated adaptation would only crystallize the enthusiasm on a planetary scale.
At the helm of the work, Yukinobu Tatsu, a mangaka who already proved himself in the early 2010s with the short series Seigi no Rokugô and Fire Ball!, before becoming an assistant for Yûji Kaku on Hell’s Paradise, and Tatsuki Fujimoto on Fire Punch then Chainsaw-Man. By this CV, the artist was to be watched, and the announcement of his own series had something to attract attention, which did not fail. And indeed, by the simple first volume of what is currently his major work, Yukinobu Tatsu does not fail to share a certain talent.
In Dandadan, Momo Ayase and Ken Takakura are two high school students with completely opposite characters, but who have everything to get along. Everyone firmly believes in the existence of the paranormal, Momo for ghosts and Ken for extraterrestrials. When the young woman intervenes to rescue the boy from persecution, their temperaments and their convictions collide. It doesn’t take much for both of them to impose a reciprocal challenge on each other in order to prove what they believe in, a simple bet that will lead them to face imperceptible universes of our world, and upset their quiet daily life…
The first volume of Dandadan does not take long to grab its reader. Quickly, Yukinobu Tatsu demonstrates an energy to varying degrees that creates a rhythm and a kind of addiction to the story. Not only do the interactions between the two heroes quickly prove to be tasty, but the whole thing explodes after a few pages with a sudden strangeness that we did not expect. Fully crunching his double delirium of UFOs and evil spirits, the mangaka lays down his pawns chapter after chapter while narrating an explosive adventure devoid of any taboo. Between extra-terrestrials seeking to use humans as reproductive material or the ghost of an old soul with fleshy language, two elements very quickly introduced, the artist does as he pleases, for the good of his work which presents its color without waiting.
We therefore understand that it is in this very particular, bizarre and unpredictable universe that we will follow Momo and Ken, without really knowing what will be the turn of their adventures in the long term. Because in this zone of the unpredictable, Yukinobu Tatsu uses classicism in a very disconcerting way, as we don’t know what will happen to the relationship between the protagonists and the “gifts” that the story claims for them. As such, we can never really know what Dandadan will tell on the next page, what the narrated intonation will be, and quite simply what the story will bring in terms of developments. The author shakes up some of our achievements with a certain talent, which also goes through his promising visual touch between well-scratched boxes and a narration with bursts of audacity, not to mention the inventive imaging of the bestiary which never lacks serve the grotesqueness of this first opus.
However, the mangaka is not content to accumulate delusions and simply seek to take his reader by surprise. It is not even said that this is his original intention. So, the beginnings of Dandadan plant a wacky supernatural journey while skillfully telling the story of its two heroes, developing their personal universes little by little and already pushing their bond far enough for a launch opus. At the end of the reading, the duo presents a real alchemy, proof of a fine and well-balanced character writing, which gives the first figures present characters and stories that make you want to find them again in the next opus. And still in this idea of not just wanting to play UFOs, Yukinobu Tatsu skilfully evolves his story between purely comic phases and action sequences that resolve certain issues, all narrated with ideal clarity to make these moments intense and explosive. .
So, on a simple first volume, Dandadan manages to be the surprise that we have been sold so much. Not only the publisher, but also the fanbase that has been built around the world since the pre-publication on Shônen Jump+ and Manga Plus. Funny, rhythmic, transporting, visually delicious and totally promising as a whole, Yukinobu Tatsu’s major manga offers a most surprising and skilful start, with multiple feats that all the first opuses of the genre fail to offer. Fortunately for us, Crunchyroll publishes the first two parts simultaneously, the opportunity to continue reading immediately and confirm, or not, this first glowing review.
Concerning the edition, Crunchyroll is only the evolution of Kazé, so it is the latter’s recipe that we find here: Thin paper for a flexible volume, standard shônen format… Nothing exotic, therefore. We appreciate the presence of color pages (an element that falls to the Japanese version) as well as the inventive and delicious translation by Sylvain Chollet, applied by the comfortable lettering of the Hinoko studio.