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Dandadan is a feast for any shonen manga reader’s eyes

The fantastic art complements the writing perfectly

Momo Ayase, a girl with dark red swooping hair and alien-shaped earrings, wipes the sweat off her cheek, as Ken Takakura stands over her in his speed mode, which has a toothy scary mask Image: Yukinobu Tatsu/Viz Media
Julia Lee (she/her) is a guides producer, writing guides for games like The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom and Genshin Impact. She helped launch the Rift Herald in 2016.

Yukinobu Tatsu’s hit manga series Dandadan is both a feast for the eyes and an engrossing story. With Viz releasing its first collected English volume, it’s the perfect time for me to talk about one of the few manga actually I look forward to reading every week.

Momo Ayase believes in spirits, but not aliens. Ken Takakura believes in aliens, but not spirits. After Ayase dares Takakura to check out an area filled with ghosts and Takakura dares her to meet aliens, they gain special abilities that sweep them up into the world of aliens and the occult.

I was very eager to write this post when I found out Dandadan was getting its first trade paperback, but it should be said that, like many shonen manga, the series does have a disgruntling amount of fan service at times. The first chapter has most of it, but if you hate that kind of stuff, the series might not be for you.

The rest of Dandadan, however, is pretty dang good, full of twists and fun reveals. But the meat of the series is in its art. Author and artist Yukinobu Tatsu uses dynamic poses with extreme perspective and detail to accentuate Takakura’s superspeed even beyond what we could imagine.

Takakura using his Turbo-Granny abilities grabs Ayase and runs so fast that his legs look like wobbly curved blurs. The panel on the left shows him with a cool demonic mask over the lower half of his face. Image: Yukinobu Tatsu/Viz Media

The artist also uses an exaggerated curved perspective when a character wants to, say, reach something super far off using hair like Rapunzel. But that perspective isn’t only used for the action sequences. Using two-page spreads, Tatsu can exaggerate the horrific situations that Ayase and Takakura get themselves into, spreading a feeling of dread and panic. With the hyper-detailed scary faces of the aliens and spirits they fight, you’re put in their shoes; these monsters are terrifying, and the duo is often up the creek without a paddle.

Two realistic old woman faces take up both sides of a curved tunnel with Ayase and Takakura between them. They prepare to use their abilities, but are shocked to see the heads. Image: Yukinobu Tatsu/Viz Media

The series pairs comedy with incredible action sequences in a fun way that reminds me of of Gintama. You have your more serious long arcs with jokes sprinkled in, but you’ll have more goofy one-offs that end with a punchline.

Dandadan is available to read for free on MangaPlus and via the Viz subscription service, and you can buy a physical copy of Dandadan vol. 1 now.