Dandadan Vol. 3Dandadan Vol. 3
Written and illustrated by Yukinobu Tatsu.
Adapted by Jennifer Leblanc.
Translated by Kumar Sivasubramanian.
Lettered by Kyla Aiko.
Published by VizMedia.

Dandadan is still getting better?! How is this possible? The third volume of Yukinobu Tatsu’s ongoing manga series shoots for considerably bigger emotional impact! A return to the first book’s themes of horniness and disquieting atmosphere and ridiculous action sequences! Further complicated by the expanding cast and deepening emotions of the second book! Ridiculous and fun! Am I yelling!

If you’re just joining us, he’s a UFO fanatic who is cursed by a yokai spirit, and she’s obsessed with the paranormal and has been abducted by aliens. They do-they-don’t-they like each other, and also have weird powers, weirder friends, and regular encounters with monsters. Dandadan is packed with absurd body humor. Non sequitur humor. Survival horror.

Structurally, this collection was a satisfying chunk, perfectly paced. Dandadan rips your heart out, comedic break, and then a return to its neck and neck race between scary and goofy. Momo’s activated psychic powers seem to keep drawing more people and yokai into her proximity, and then combining them. The dinner table at grandma’s house keeps adding strangers and growing stranger.

Acro-SilkyDandadan's superior localizationThe conclusion (sort of) of the Acrobatic Silky (mother monster) storyline from the last book is a traumatizing two-punch. First is a straight cinematic sock to the solar plexus, the heart drops into the stomach. The second is an expression of tenderness in earnest reaction to the sadism. Raw, the wounded is shown compassion. What happens is shocking, but I get the sense that Tatsu cares for the depth of his characters more than he wants to write scenes to shock his readers. Immediately following wrecking the reader, he serves noodles extra preposteroni. Then some golden testicle baseball.

A huge belly laugh was exactly what I needed after I was batted around by the first few chapters. When Tatsu dials back the Sam Raimi wackiness, the horror can get really intense. Thankfully a mid-book dining scene hits the reset button, yelling with its mouth full. The character designs when yokai and people merge already had this mid-90s X-Men vibe to it, so when a random baseball game came up… it felt right. There’s this tiny hint of Jim Lee in Seiko’s swing. And some One Piece in her -and-a-miss. Turbo Granny’s high inside knuckle ball is what the experts would call “an inverse nut shot.”

Combining stuff is the general theme of the third book. Once Okarun is reunited with the magic testis Aira found in the second volume, things resume the lightning sprint that the series began with in book one. The bulk of this Dandadan is spent in a shadow-world trap having a powers battle with aliens. The Dover Demon turns into Alien Baltan before combining with the Kamikoshi City version of the Loch Ness Monster.

Dandadan destruction!“Kamishie” blasts laser beams out of their mouth, by the way, like a scene from James Stokoe’s Godzilla in Hell. Tatsu’s art goes full Geoff Darrow Big Guy and Rusty when it comes to the creatures absolutely tearing shit apart in microdetail. The Acro-silky hair trap scene at the collection’s start was another jaw dropping spectacle of architectural demolition. The fine details on maximum overdrive really sell the severity of the blows that land. The hits hit. The only thing that there’s more of than structural destruction and veins of cracked concrete in Dandadan is bare ass.

And all the while, everyone is arguing. With the alien invaders, with each other. The barrage of dialog is from a fire hose, and so is the flow of fighting and fleeing and general action chaos happening beneath the speech bubbles. The back and forth is snappy, snarky, and weird. Jennifer Leblanc and Kumar Sivasubramanian once again kill it on delivering flavor through the text. From “turd burger” to “Gurf!” Full of surprises, comics.

Dover Silky ShowdownThe density of this book works in strange ways. It won’t slow you down, but it does mean that double triple the normal amount of fighting can occur between the covers. The fight scene art is so good! A million tiny movement lines drawn in lieu of straight contours to create an illusion of motion blur, a setting permanently on “over the top” in Dandadan. I wouldn’t have it any other way. The nonstop banter is very screwball comedy, and bouncing off the constant combat, the ever-present horniness, it’s kind of an Eagle Shooting Heroes affair. Big mo lei tau energy.

Three books in, Dandadan continues to floor me with how much fun it is to read, and how I am perpetually unable to see what’s coming next. I don’t think I need the volume that comes next to be even bigger and zanier than this one, despite the feeling that each book has been even better than the one before it. Just keep doing this. What makes Dandadan rule has been a constant factor from the jump. No matter how complicated it gets, whether it is creeping you out or making you weep or laugh, it’s a nonstop blast. Tatsu shoots you out of a cannon, or with one. Superb stuff.

The third volume of Dandadan is available from VizMedia and wherever finer manga, comics, and books are sold.