Over four years ago (before the blog), I read through Inio Asano’s manga Goodnight Punpun. It was a bit pretentious, and VERY edgy, but for some reason, it was really good. Something about the panel flow and the unique artstyle of Asano (which we’ll get into later in this post) made Punpun a very hard-to-forget experience. So of course, I decided to start his newest “experience”, Dead Dead Demon’s Dededede Destruction.
In Dead Dead Demon’s Dededede Destruction, the world is ending. A mysterious flying saucer has appeared over Tokyo, and everyone is in a state of panic. However, instead of focusing on the politicians and the military side of things, this manga instead focuses on Kadode Koyama, and her very strange friends, who just try to go about their lives.
Just like Punpun, Dead Dead Demon has some phenomenal and unique art, which forms the backbone of the whole experience. Asano complements hyper-realistic backgrounds with cartoony, caricatured people. Seriously… a lot of them look really, REALLY weird. Also, the panel flow is as sporadic as it was in Punpun, and contains a lot of desktop-worthy two-page shots.
It didn’t take long for Dead Dead Demon to have the same strange sensations that coursed through my body during Punpun. Despite the whole alien invasion, Dead Dead Demon is—bizarrely enough—more lighthearted than Punpun. Well, at least compared to Punpun. There’s still stuff like hints of an illicit relationship between Kadode and her teacher, as well as the fact that Kadode wants the aliens to win, while one of her friends wants to be a dictator when she grows up. All that, along with a pervasive sense of misanthropy.
For the most part, Dead Dead Demon is—of all things—a CGDCT: Cute Girls Doing Cute Things. Like I said before, most of the manga is focused on the civilian side of things; the obligations of society don’t just freeze up because of an alien invasion (even if they did freeze over a virus). A lot of the chapters are just the girls hanging out, and well, that’s about it. Would this manga be a typical CGDCT if there was NO alien invasion? Yes, definitely, absolutely. Call it superficial, but that seems to be the nature of Asano’s work; after all, would Punpun be so unique if its main character wasn’t drawn as a bird-stick-figure-thing?
Another issue with Dead Dead Demon is the fact that it has overly on-the-nose writing. I had a similar problem with Punpun, where a lot of the characters seemed to be overly aware of how the world worked. One example is a scene where a character uploads a clickbait article to social media, and goes into some huge poetic speech about how he’s starting a cyber war and plans to be tried as the greatest criminal in all of humanity. I get that clickbait posters are definitely aware of what they’re doing, but it’s not natural to go into such a clearly pre-written speech off the top of their heads (it’s as if the manga is pretentious).
Although a lot of the chapters are typical CGDCT interactions, there is some semblance of an overarching plot, even if it’s mainly in the background. Most of the main story is told through news reports and various signage. Things pick up at volume three, which follows a tragic event, and ends with the main cast’s graduation. We also get to learn about the aliens and their perspective during the incident. Eventually, we learn the true nature of the invasion and relevant parties involved. Unfortunately for me, it didn’t help that I waited months at a time for new volumes through Viz, as I most likely forgot what was going on. However, as I’ve made clear, you don’t read an Asano manga to know what’s going on; in fact, you read them just to enjoy being confused in perpetuity. It also ends very unceremoniously, which will likely leave you wondering what the point of any of it was. Going off of Punpun, that’s just another part of Asano’s brand.
I tend to not like characters in a CGDCT, and not even Asano can make that an exception. I found a lot of the girls to be pretty bland. In fact, (spoilers until next paragraph) one of the main characters is killed off early on and I felt like it was merely a means to get you to sympathize with the others. For a mangaka who was genuinely good at portraying a tortured soul, I found this to be kind of a downgrade from Punpun.
Fortunately, I did enjoy one of the characters: Oran. She’s this snot-flinging moe blob, who happens to be the aforementioned girl who wants to be a dictator when she grows up. She’s a real sociopath, and would be the subject of much controversy if this manga’s upcoming anime adaptation gained enough traction in the community.
Similar to Punpun, the manga hard cuts to many other individuals, but I don’t find them to be that interesting, especially not compared to that cult leader guy from Punpun. The only other interesting character is this one kid who happens to be one of the aliens in the guise of a human. They’re just cool, man.
Final Verdict: 9.3/10
It’s superficial. It’s ham-fisted. It’s pretentious. But man, despite all that, Dead Dead Demon’s Dededede Destruction is so damn good! I wouldn’t be surprised if some critics consider Asano a hack; in fact, I’d believe them. However, when compared to eccentric writers such as NISIOISIN of Monogatari fame, I’m much more willing to respect Asano, since he’s a talented artist and doesn’t just vomit words while intentionally committing writing sins. I recommend it to fans of Punpun, as well as anyone who wants a unique take on the slice-of-life genre.
P.S. back to Disney again after this. Next post on May 20th!
You must be logged in to post a comment.