Title: Dead Dead Demon’s Dededede Destruction Vol. 1
Author: Inio Asano
Publisher: Viz Media
Genre: Slice-of-Life, Fantasy, Drama
Publication Date: April 17, 2018
After being introduced to Oyasumi Punpun (Goodnight Punpun), I instantly became a fan of Inio Asano. When I saw VIZ Media picked up Dead Dead Demon’s Dededede Destruction, I knew that I had to check this series out and so far, I am not disappointed!
The series centers around two childhood friends: Kadode Koyama and Ouran Nakagawa. It is, much like Oysumi Punpun, a story about growing up and experiencing life, but this one comes with a sci-fi twist to it. On August 31, three years prior to the start of the story, a massive alien mothership centered itself over Tokyo and began to attack, laying waste to several districts. The Japanese government began coordinating with the U.S. and their allies to launch a counterattack, subduing the aliens. The mothership has been mostly silent for those three years, but every once in a while, a smaller saucer will depart from it and usually get shot down by the JSDF.
After the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the saucer, some people either became sick or developed an anxiety to becoming sick from radiation poisoning. This lead to Japan’s development of a “Green Ray” laser which didn’t emit dangerous levels of radiation, was cost-efficient versus traditional weaponry and could vaporize any airborne objects without the worry of having falling debris in the aftermath. A test of this new laser was successful which gave Japan hope that they could defeat these alien invaders. Through it all, life continued on as normal for the rest of Japan
I’ll be sure to offer some deeper thoughts when I close out this review, but knowing Inio Asano, this isn’t a work to be taken at face value. So far, the story deeps to be a bit deeper than what it appears to be on the surface all while retaining the attitude and point of views Asano has on life and society as a whole. Oyasumi Punpun was an acquired taste type of manga and Dead Dead Demon’s Dededede Destruction is no different. Still, I found the first volume’s story well-written as it builds the world in which our characters live in nicely and connects the reader with the events happening in that world. The only jarring moments come from the beginning of the manga where things are a bit confusing as we just five right into the character’s personalities more than anything, but it all ties together the further you dive into the first volume.
While there are a few characters that stand out, I’m not sure at this point who is going to be prominent mainstays outside of Kadode and Ouran, but I’ll touch upon them nevertheless.
Kadode seems like a normal high school girl, but I noticed she has a Punpun-esque quality about her. She’s always wondering what people would think they would do if they could fly. This reminds me of Punpun’s wish to leave Earth and go live on his own little planet. While the contrast between the two wishes is rather stark in its face value, the underlying wish is rather similar. Kadode is, essentially, wondering what it would be like to be free from the shackles of life. It’s almost if she hasn’t really come up with an answer to this herself so she’s asking others for their opinions. It seems like an innocent question from a young mind with an imagination, but that question holds deeper meaning and raises more questions such as “What is Kadode wanting to escape from specifically?” “Where is she looking to escape to?” “Does she mean to escape physically or spiritually?”
One could attribute her desire to escape to her mother who has been affected by the invasion. She’s not sick, but she has a touch of hypochondria mixed with depression and anxiety. There are some days where Kadode can deal with her and other days she cannot. Kadode gave up going to college so she could support her mother which shows that she does genuinely care, but even that is starting to wear out the more episodes she has to deal with. Of course, Kadode has a bit of a dark side, which is to be expected in an Inio Asano story. Her “dark side” is the fact that she’s in love with her teacher which, as you could guess, would be an illegal relationship. I don’t necessarily know if I would label this as dark, per se, but it is an unethical, albeit rather common, trope used in some forbidden love stories.
Makoto Shinkai used this in The Garden of Words, but he pulled it off with a bit of elegance whereas Asano, as you know, doesn’t care much about elegance, if at all. His stories are dark, gritty and do not shy away from just blurting out blunt statements without preparation so you can imagine the revelation of Kadode loving her teacher wasn’t exactly all that subtle. Still, Kadode is an interesting character and is, by comparison (at least for now) a lot more timid than Punpun was.
Ouran, on the other hand, is pretty straight-forward and a bit demented. She is a gamer who loves playing FPS games, but her hatred for society has her rooting for the invaders. She wants to see chaos and destruction and even has aspirations of taking over the world in a dictatorial fashion. Her love for FPS games is in direct correlation for her hatred for society. Since it’s illegal to kill people in real life, she exerts her joy by doing it within the confines of a fantasy setting.
Ouran seems like a handful and her mindset makes every conversation involving her something colorful and special. She seems like a polar opposite of Kadode which makes me wonder how the two of them remain friends? Kadode seems to just generally accept Ouran for who she is and, in fact, has a bit of an obsession with her. When Kadode was asked what she could do if she could fly, she said that she would fly straight to Ouran. It seems their friendship is mainly based off of the fact that they completely understand one another. I can buy that as I have a friendship with someone that is based on the same exact foundation. I really find Ouran to be an interesting character and I think she that even though she is a main character, she’s not the main star and I’m fine with that. She’s easily my favorite character so far and I think her role is absolutely perfect for what she is.
Later in the series, we are introduced to Hiroshi Nakagawa, Ouran’s older brother who is pretty good at fixing computers. He’s a bit out there as well and is in love with Kadode. They even promised to marry each other when they were younger, but Hiroshi is kind of a fat slob these days with no aspirations of getting a real job or making anything of himself, which causes Kadode to dismiss his love entirely. Hiroshi is the kind of person who spends all day in front of a computer posting memes and haunted pictures at people who are suspicious until the end up deleting their social media accounts.
What a life, eh?
Naoki Watarase is Kadode’s teacher whom she has a crush on. Bringing her home one day when she wanted to borrow another one of his books gives him a label as a lecherous teacher, but despite his brash attitude, he does have morals and squashes any advances Kadode even hints at. I believe it’s kind of a façade from the simple fact that after Kadode leaves, he deices that he’s going to go watch some porn.
At face value, that could simply mean that he’s a man with needs and porn is one of those convenient devices to fulfill said needs, but the fact that it was muttered after the situation presented itself, it’s hard not to interpret that in a way that suggests that Watarase wouldn’t mind having a relationship with Kadode. In fact, he even eluded to it when he sarcastically remarked that they could be friends with benefits once Kadode graduated. Even though he wasn’t being serious, you’d have to wonder if he really was. ESPECIALLY in an Inio Asano story.
Volume one of Dead Dead Demon’s Dededede Destruction is laying the foundation for another deep, meaningful story with many layers to each and every character and plot point. The first volume does a phenomenal job with the characters by giving us clear insights into their personalities all while planting seeds which could take those personalities and branch them out in multiple directions. Asano is great at building characters piece-by-piece in a structured way to where the overall character is very complex, but each individual piece of them is straight-forward and easy to relate to and I see that here with all of the characters that have been introduced thus far.
As for the story, there are many underlying philosophical points to it. While, yes, there is an alien mothership ever present in the sky, it’s a bit ominous that society has continued to live on and accept its presence as something that is normally part of their lives. Most people would either panic, but while they probably did at first, it’s almost as if a sense of complacency has fallen over society as a whole.
If you take that into account, the mothership no longer becomes an object, but a metaphor. Each and every day, people carry on with their lives with this looming feeling, a looming presence over their heads. These feelings can have different weights depending on the gravity of the situation. Worrying about making it on time to pick your kids up from soccer practice, the upcoming date of an important surgery, maybe you’re not too far out from getting married, etc. etc. Life’s events present different weights which constantly hang over one’s head and this mothership is a direct representation of that.
When will the invaders attack again? Why are they still here? Why haven’t they left yet? I find these invaders annoying! Do we have to force them to leave? Can we defend ourselves if they attack again?
All of those are weights that hang over people’s heads, but they carry on with their lives regardless. Much like life’s situations, they are always there looming above and even when you deal with them, much like how the U.S. dropped an A-Bomb and got the invaders to stop attacking, there’s always something else to replace it, giving you constant reminders that you are never truly done dealing with life’s issues. That is represented by the occasional small saucer flying down to the surface to do whatever it is they do. They serve as constant reminders that the invader are still active, but yet, Japan carries on with life as normal.
Just like when faced with a tough decision in life, you wonder if it’s worth carrying on. The invaders could attack at any time and wipe out civilization so what’s the point of doing my homework or studying for a test if I’m just going to get evaporated tomorrow? What’s the point of planning a birthday if I die on the operating table next week during my surgery? It’s all relatable metaphors that can be applied to all of us and I think this underlying message is one that Asano wants to convey to his readers.
It’s just a prime example of what is contained within volume one. I cannot wait for future volumes to come out so I can see how this story unfolds and how I can interpret what Asano is trying to say. Then again, everything I’ve said here is my own interpretation and one thing Asano loves to do it leave things open for you to discern on your own. Perhaps you have a different interpretation than I do? I’d love to hear it if you’ve begun reading the series!
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This item was provided for review by Viz Media