Fans of spirits, aliens, and gonzo humor, rejoice: the Shonen Jump+ manga series Dandadan will be adapted into an anime in 2024. A new trailer released on November 27 revealed 45 seconds of new animation and names involved with its production. Notably, the series is being made by Science Saru, the studio responsible for the Netflix hit adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley‘s Scott Pilgrim graphic novel series, Scott Pilgrim Takes Off.

Dandadan tells the story of tough girl Momo Ayase and nerd boy Ken Takakura. Momo believes in spirits but not aliens, while Ken believes in aliens but not spirits. When Momo is abducted by aliens and Ken encounters a frightening urban legend, the two of them must fight for their lives—not to mention Ken Takakura’s private parts!

The Artist

The artist of Dandadan is Yukinobu Tatsu, a former assistant of Chainsaw Man artist Tatsuki Fujimoto. Tatsu shies away from Fujimoto’s cruelty and cynicism in favor of adolescent awkwardness and non-stop sex jokes. There are goofy characters, freaky monsters, and grand-scale action scenes as big as anything else in Shonen Jump. As an online publication via Shonen Jump+, Dandadan includes scenes that would never fly in its print magazine or even the Shonen Jump app.

Tatsu’s drawings are a stiff challenge for any anime adaptation. Monster designs are big, detailed, and complex in shape and function. Dandadan also features hyper-detailed splash pages reminiscent of ONE and Yusuke Murata’s One Punch Man. The series demands to be reconceptualized for the screen rather than replicated panel by panel.

ken takakura with glasses and backpack
© 2023 Shueisha

The Staff

Thankfully, the Dandadan anime has powerful allies. The most powerful of them all may be creature designer Yoshimichi Kameda. Kameda served as character designer and occasional animation director for Mob Psycho 100, Bones’s once-in-a-decade action comedy spectacle. His work can also be found in ambitious action anime like Space Dandy and Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. If anybody can make the creatures of Dandadan work on television, it’s him. 

Other members of the Dandadan team hail from MAPPA’s Chainsaw Man crew. Hiroshi Seko, a hyper-prolific screenwriter responsible for dozens of action series, is adapting Dandadan’s script. Composer kensuke ushio is tackling the music. ushio has worked with Science Saru and its lead directors since 2014’s Ping Pong. I’m not surprised that the studio would lean on him for a big series like this.

dandadan alien
© 2023 Shueisha

Dandadan marks the series debut of director Fuga Yamashiro. Yamashiro came up under Science Saru’s co-founder Masaaki Yuasa on his films Ride Your Wave and Inu-Oh. He directed excellent episodes of Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! as well as Naoko Yamada’s The Heike Story. Most recently, he joined Shingo Natsume for Tatami Time Machine Blues, the sequel to Yuasa’s beloved 2010 series. Now that Yuasa has left Science Saru, I’m excited to see Yamashiro evolve as a solo director.

Last but not least is character designer Naoyuki Onda. Onda’s designs tend towards realism, and he’s especially good at handsome gothy types, as seen in Ergo Proxy and Gantz. But he’s just as capable of drawing silly and expressive characters, so long as the animators can keep up. 

momo ayase chased
© 2023 Shueisha

But What About Science Saru?

Dandadan may very well be one of 2024’s biggest anime series. It’s also a barometer of how much Science Saru has changed in the past two years. Masaaki Yuasa, Eunyoung Choi, and their friends founded the studio to make anime with the assistance of Flash. They promoted themselves as a studio that follows their own muse rather than industry trends. But then Yuasa left in 2021, and the studio came under fire for poor management not far removed from other industry horror stories. Now they’re adapting a Shonen Jump comic, which, if you’re a Western comics reader, is like if Fantagraphics started publishing Batman in collaboration with DC.

In the wake of Scott Pilgrim Takes Off, I believe the artists at Science Saru will find opportunities for personal expression in Dandadan. I also can’t help but wish that the artists at Science Saru had access to the same opportunities Yuasa benefited from as a young artist. Yuasa spent many years working on franchise films like the Crayon Shin-chan series. But his career really took off with his “original” projects such as Kemonozume, Kaiba, and Mind Game

momo ayase kicks alien
© 2023 Shueisha

Original anime series are rare these days due to the time and labor required to produce them. Those that exist are far more conventional than what Yuasa got away with back in the early 2000s. I don’t know if folks like Fuga Yamashiro would ever be given the opportunity to make Kemonozume or Kaiba today. In fact, I’d trade a dozen (good!) Shonen Jump adaptations for just one original series of that type by a crew of young Science Saru artists.

So Dandadan isn’t exactly what I want from Science Saru at the moment. Do I expect Yamashiro and company to knock the assignment out of the park anyway? Absolutely. I’m excited to see the series on air alongside fellow Fujimoto assistants like Tatsuya Endo (Spy x Family) and Yuji Kaku (Hell’s Paradise.) Hopefully, Science Saru’s adaptation does justice to the source material and the team’s particular interests. If all else fails, though, there’s always Naoko Yamada’s upcoming film.