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Manga / Dandadan

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Momo Ayase, a young and hot-tempered girl looking for love, believes that spirits and ghosts are real, while Ken Takakura, a nerdy boy who happens to share a name with Ayase's Celeb Crush, has firm belief that UFOs and aliens exist.

When the two meet by chance, their differing beliefs clash as the two headstrong teens bet to see which of them is more correct. One abduction and possession later, the two find common ground in their shared experiences with the paranormal, though that's only the beginning of their budding relationship. Ghosts, monsters, aliens, romance, missing genitals, and much much more out of this world phenomena stand in the way of them and their future; their universe will never be the same!

Dandadan (ダンダダン) is an ongoing supernatural action comedy manga series written and illustrated by Yukinobu Tatsu (a former assistant of Chainsaw Man mangaka Tatsuki Fujimoto) that began serialization in Shonen Jump + on April 6, 2021. The series began an official English simultaneous release on August 23 that same year, available on VIZ Media's website here and Manga Plus's website here, and later received English printed volume distribution starting on October 2022.

Dandadan contains examples of:

  • '80s Hair: The Hayashi performers manage some truly astounding hairstyles, as is proper for the reference.
  • Absurdism: The story thrives on the unexpected, as the characters are thrown into the weirdest situations on a regular basis. To put it into perspective, the plot is kickstarted by the removal of the male main character's dick... and the story just balloons from there to the craziest tangents imaginable.
  • Accidental Kiss: Occurs in chapter 9 when Momo and Okarun accidentally bump into each other and lock lips, to both of their embarrassments.
  • Alien Fair Folk: The series has aliens and spirits appearing side by side, and the dividing lines between them isn't exactly clear. Spirits are Invisible to Normals, but the aliens have no problem seeing them. Okarun insists the The Flatwoods Monster is an alien, but it was affected by the temple's ward as if it was an evil spirit, making him question the connection between them.
    Okarun: Certain studies have shown that people who see psychic phenomena often also see UFOs just as often! In other words, spirits and aliens may have some points of commonality.
  • Aliens Are Bastards: Most of the extraterrestrials encountered so far have been callous at best and murderously exploitative at worst. Even notable exception Peeny-Weeny, a.k.a. Shrimp, the boxing gig worker still worked for the Serpoians out of economic desperation.
  • Aliens Steal Cattle: The boxing Gig Worker beams up a cow as he leaves Earth. Justified in this case as his species' blood is identical to cow's milk and he needed to give his son a transfusion.
  • Art Evolution: A rather quick one on Okarun. In the first few chapters, his appearance is that of a mob (a bland background character) and it's only as the manga goes on that his appearance becomes more unique, with his eyes becoming more visible and his hair becoming more stringy.
  • Beam-O-War: Jiji blows away a pair of Space Globalist invaders by overwhelming their beams with his Evil Gun special move.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Subverted. Momo and Aira get rustled and thrown around quite a bunch, especially considering that they're both gorgeous girls.
  • Beneath the Earth: Turns out that the Kito family matriarch is a subterranean alien in a human suit. The death worm was raised as part of a centuries-long plot.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: Would you expect yokai with the name “Turbo Granny” or an alien race that wants human genitalia and calls it “banana organs” to actually be very terrifying beings?
  • Bizarrchitecture: The stack of houses in the Mongolian Death Worm's underground chamber, formed of all the houses that the Kito family have buried over the centuries, veers into Alien Geometries sometimes.
  • Black Comedy Rape: Zig-Zagged. The scene in the first chapter where Momo is abducted by aliens leads to her being stripped, Strapped to an Operating Table, and nearly vivisected for her reproductive organs by an extremely Phallic Weapon. The aliens' creepy designs mixed with their bizarre dialogue adds some levity, but Momo's disgust and horror are played straight as well.
  • Breathable Liquid: The mantis shrimp aliens have lungs instead of gills because they evolved in some sort of oxygen-rich liquid. This makes visits to Earth awkward, as they're adapted for movement in liquid but can't breathe underwater or hold their breathe long. And when they bring a cow to their planet to milk it, it's very difficult because the milk dissolves in its surroundings.
  • Breather Episode: Each arc ends with Ayase, Okarun, and Ayase's grandma eating some food related to the Monster of the Week.
  • By Wall That Is Holey: When the "gators" are trying to assault Ayase at the hot springs, the building walls fall down on them, with Ayase conveniently in the doorway.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Justified, as Seiko explains that having a name for attacks gives them more power as there is conviction and strength within those words.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: When he, Ayase, and Shiratori are fighting Serpo and Gig Worker aliens, Okarun says how it's "such a bummer" as he's charging at them in Turbo-Granny mode.
  • Celebrity Crush: Ayase has one on actor Ken Takakura, having dated her first boyfriend because of his resemblance to him and later develops a crush on Okarun who shares his name.
  • Chekhov's Classroom: Before the Nessie attack, Momo and her class are in the midst of learning about mantis shrimp. The Gig Worker that shows up shortly after is based on the same creature, with all the accompanying strengths and weaknesses that get used and exploited throughout the fight.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Ayase doesn't take kindly to noticing that Shiratori had obviously also fallen for Okarun.
  • Conspiracy Kitchen Sink: All urban legends are true, whether they be ghost stories or alien conspiracy theories.
  • Cosplay Café: Following the great serpent arc, Ayase gets a job at one of these to help earn money to fix her grandmother's house. She's a bit embarrassed of the uniform.
  • Curly Hair Is Ugly: Getting burned by the temple's ward turns Okarun's hair frizzy, which Momo mocks him for. Using Turbo Granny's power in the same chapter makes it more stringy-looking from then on.
    Momo: What's with your hair?! What a riot! It looks like a middle-aged lady's perm!
  • Dance Battler: Acrobatic Silky possesses agility befitting her name and attacks with dance-like maneuvers. Shiratori inherits these abilities as well after Silky gives up her own aura to save her life.
  • Detachment Combat: Taro the Eerie Anatomy Model can split apart into all his organs, and then re-form once he's escaped Ayase's clutches.
  • Dirty Cop: Officer Tsuru lets the Kito family get away with anything.
  • Eerie Anatomy Model: Ayase, Okarun, and Jiji chase after an animated one named Taro, who's in love with a female mannequin named Hana who was thrown out. Hana is also sentient, but lacks arms and legs.
  • Enemy Mine: Ayase and one of the Serpoians work together to escape a void overrun with reprogrammed clones.
  • Entertainingly Wrong: After hearing that Okarun, Ayase, and Shiratori all mysteriously appeared nude in the hallway, Ayase's friends conclude that there must be a Love Triangle between the three of them, which they were resolving with nude gladiatorial combat (using rulers and protractors for some reason).
  • Evil vs. Evil: The only thing possibly preventing a total Alien Invasion of Earth are the malevolent spirits who haunt the planet and possess powers the aliens can't comprehend.
  • Flat-Earth Atheist: The plot kicks off because Ayase believes in ghosts, Okarun believes in aliens, and neither of them believes the other. Both are real, of course.
  • Flower Mouth: The Stock Ness Monster can split open its mouth into four parts.
  • Full-Frontal Assault:
    • The Serpos' attack on Okarun leads to his clothing being destroyed, and he's naked for the rest of the battle, all while trying to find something to wear.
    • Due to the frantic and chaotic nature of the fights they engage into, it's not strange for the main characters to end up fighting in their undies, or even buck naked on occasion.
  • Fusion Dance: After losing one of their kind despite drafting the assistance of Nessie and the Mantis Shrimp Gig Workers, the surviving Serpoian merges with its workers, resulting in a Serpoian Nessie that has the Mantis Shrimp's powerful punches to compensate for its Breath Weapon cooldown.
  • Genre-Busting: A supernatural/paranormal Shōnen action adventure that can suddenly switch to Romantic Comedy as soon as things go back to normal.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: Turbo Granny has one as a Bond Creature.
  • The Great Serpent: Legends of Jiji's village tell of a giant volcano serpent that requires Human Sacrifice to keep the volcano from erupting. It's real, sort of; it's a huge Mongolian death worm cryptid that emanates suicide-inducing vibes and inhabits a pocket dimension accessible through a hidden room in Jiji's house.
  • Groin Attack:
    • Turbo Granny's favorite move, it seems. She's constantly biting at people's crotches when in her regular form.
    • More than a few characters end up trying to take and fight over Okarun's genitals. Turbo Granny manages to take them off through possessing him, though since it's magic it's not as violent and more reversible than if she just bit them off. The Serpoians eventually become as interested in taking his "banana organs" as Ayase.
    • Ayase kicks one of the Kito men in the balls.
  • Gyaru Girl: Ayase is of the Kogal variant. One of her friends is more directly Manba.
  • Helpless with Laughter: Ayase rolls on the floor in laughter when she learns that a demon has stolen Okarun's balls
  • He's Not My Boyfriend: The general reaction Ayase has when people rightfully call her out on her obvious crush on Okarun.
  • Human Sacrifice: The Kito clan have been offering people to their serpent deity for centuries; this includes the boy who became the ghost haunting Jiji's house.
  • Hunting "Accident": The Kito matriarch threatens to give one to Jiji and Okarun.
  • If Jesus, Then Aliens: Averted and discussed. At the very start, Momo ardently believes in spirits but not aliens, while Okarun believes the opposite. After they see that both are real, Okarun brings up how often the same people claim they've seen both, and figures there's some kind of connection.
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: Okarun is a very lonely boy. The reason why he became obsessed with the paranormal and aliens is the rationale that since no humans had thus far shown him friendship, he might as well settle on aliens. Ayase ends up being his First Friend and he's so elated by having a friend that it takes him a while to even consider the one girl that likes being with him in a romantic light.
  • Invisible to Normals: Spirits are invisible to those without spiritual power outside of specific circumstances. Coming into contact with spirits will typically allow someone to see them as well.
  • Irony: Ayase, who didn’t believe in aliens, gains psychic powers from aliens and Okarun, who didn’t believe in ghosts, gains ghostly powers after being cursed by one.
  • Kafka Komedy: Stating that hilariously weird stuff happens to Ayase and Okarun would be an understatement. To boot, the series indeed relishes on Kafka-levels of Absurdism with genitals-stealing ghosts, milk-bloded alien invaders, underground aliens, you name it.
  • Love Epiphany: Okarun was so happy about getting a friend that he failed to even consider Ayase in a romantic light. It's only at Chapter 12 when several classmates bring up rumors about them dating that Okarun begins noticing how cute she is.
  • Magic Versus Science: Okarun theorizes that the reason that the aliens have not invaded Earth despite their superior science and technology is because of the yokai around the world. Even with their tech they can't beat the yokai and therefore they are attempting to study humans with special power in order to develop the tech needed to beat the yokai.
  • Meaningful Name: Dandadan has many incidental common themes with the Dadaism artistic movement, especially by embracing nonsense and irrationality.
  • Mega Neko: To protect a critically injured Okarun from incoming wave of aliens, Momo and the gang need to transform her house into some sort of giant vehicle. This results in a number of absurd creations, including somehow turning the house into a giant kitten, who's holding Okarun in its mouth.
  • Missed Him by That Much: Happens throughout Chapter 9, as Momo and Ken search for the other during lunch break to hang out but keep barely missing each other. Eventually they think the other is avoiding them, but eventually reunite with an Accidental Kiss at the end.
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: Turbo Granny and Acrobatic Silky both have permanent slasher smiles with dozens of teeth. Once they get powers from them, Okarun and Shiratori grow these as well in their demon forms.
  • Not What It Looks Like:
    • Ayase is walking around the school when she sees Shiratori on the ground, with Okarun on top of her, as if they were about to kiss. Okarun desperately tries to explain that he was doing pushups and Shiratori tried to give him a Love Confession, but they tripped into a Suggestive Collision when he tried to push her away.
    • Ayase and Okarun, Okarun buck naked and Ayase wearing only her underwear, end up in a VERY suggestive position in the middle of the school hallway after beating the Serpoians and their two Gig Workers and escaping the Serpoians’ space. Shiratori is also in her underwear, leading to wild rumors.
  • Not Zilla: The Stock Ness Monster's head and face is drawn to resemble Shin Godzilla. Its jet of water is also drawn to resemble the film's version of the Atomic Breath.
  • Organ Theft: Turbo Granny supernaturally steals Okarun's penis upon possessing him and holds it hostage to make him and Ayase come to her highway tunnel. After they defeat her and earn it back, Okarun then realizes that he still doesn't have his balls back (she mislaid them when Grandma Seiko blew her up).
  • Our Cryptids Are More Mysterious: The alien-type monsters in the series are usually based on real cryptids.
    • The biggest departure is The Flatwoods Monster, which in this series looks like an enormous sumo wrestler.
    • The serpent god of Jiji's hometown is a Mongolian death worm of tremendous size.
  • Phantom Zone: Alien-type enemies are able to create a pocket dimension called a "void" that only allows access to people with powerful enough psychic or spiritual energy.
  • Powers via Possession: Turbo-Granny's possession of Okarun allows him to go into a Superpowered Evil Side twice a day, with superhuman speed, strength, and reflexes. He needs Ayase to use her Psychic Powers to keep Turbo-Granny from taking over his body, though... at least until they exorcize her spirit while keeping her powers. From then on, he can use them whenever he wants, though the twice a day limit still applies to using his max speed.
  • Pun: One that is lost in translation, but the fact that Okarun's balls are turned into golden spheres is a Japanese pun with the colloquial term for testicles (金玉, read as "kintama", and literally meaning "golden ball").
  • Put Off Their Food: Okarun loses his appetite for crab after he and Ayase were almost killed by a giant crab spirit. Ayase and her grandmother snatch his portion and berate him for refusing to eat it.
  • Pyramid Power: Pyramidal structures, whether great or small, can apparently function as end terminals for teleportation networks. Such a network allowed Vamola to escape to Earth from the Sumerian planet after it was overrun by invaders.
  • Shipper on Deck: Ayase's friends Kei and Mii, while at first surprised by the turn of events, are shown to be nothing but supportive of her very obvious crush on Okarun and treat the two as if they're officially dating in spite of Ayase insisting otherwise.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The boxing alien the Serpoians brought along with them on their second appearance sings a verse of "Chiquitita" every time it attacks.
    • When the Kito family matriarch attacks, she prefaces her moves with "Jennifer! Lopez! Anaconda!".
    • After the gang realizes that Jiji's body switches control over from him to the Evil Eye with hot or cold water respectively, Jiji starts singing "Yappa-paa, Yappa-paa, don't know what to do!", lyrics from the first opening theme of Ranma ½.
    • The series is filled with references to Tokusatsu, sci-fi, and mecha series, from items the villains carry to outright movesets.
      • Ayase's backpack has "Choudenji Spin" (from Combattler V) on it, and Okarun has "Rocket Punch" (Mazinger Z) written on his.
      • In the scene where Okarun is explaining that Yokai keep aliens from attacking the Earth, one of the spaceships looks like a star destroyer. Later on, the boxing alien's ship looks like the Millennium Falcon with eye stalks.
      • The Monkey Alien fought in the extra chapter is essentially Dr. Gori, from Spectreman - but as a mandrill. The tip of his baseball bat is even styled after the titular protagonist!
      • Kinta's turn with the house-turned-Budhha-bot is a giant throwback while also making it display a proud and pointy pair of triangle shades. Even his "rocket punch" (consisting of him using the vehicle's broken off arm and throwing it) seems styled off of Z Mazinger's Zeus's imitation "Rocket Punch". Even the quote he gives before he starts his assault is a reference:
    • Okarun gives Ayase a Golgo 13 DVD as a present.
    • To Jojos Bizarre Adventure
      • Aira mentions in Chapter 51 that the lotion she uses is called "SKK Gold Experience"
      • When fighting with Turbo Granny, both her and Aira keep making the sounds of "ORA ORA ORA" from Part 3.
    • The Hayashi performers look an awful lot like early X Japan's Visual Kei style.
    • The reprogrammed Serpoian clones resemble the namesake individual from the late-aughts "Ever Dream This Man?[1]" urban myth.
  • Skepticism Failure: The first chapter begins with Momo visiting a reported location of alien abductions and Okarun visiting a supposedly haunted tunnel, each trying to disprove what the other believes and being disastrously wrong.
  • Slut-Shaming: Alpha Bitch Aira starts a rumor about Momo being "easy" as payback for Momo getting snarky with her for making fun of Okarun. Okarun shuts that down the moment he hears about it by transforming and threatening to beat up one of the boys passing it around.
  • Stock Ness Monster: Ayase is attacked by a Loch Ness Monster lookalike that can fire a powerful jet of water from its mouth.
  • Take Off Your Clothes: In Chapter 23, the protagonists are teleported to a flooded Pocket Dimension. Ayase orders Shiratori to strip, since water resistance on clothing makes it harder to swim away from the aliens that are attacking them. She also starts taking her clothes off (Okarun's already naked because of Clothing Damage).
  • This Is a Drill: Aira bores through an invader and its armor suit by augmenting a mighty kick with her hair. "Pirouette! Noble Drill!"
  • Violently Protective Girlfriend: Ayase psychokinetically drops a water basin on Shiratori's head for teasing Okarun. Much later in chapter 88 after seeing Okarun clinging to life following a knock-down-drag-out fight with alien invaders, she throttles Vamola in a fit of rage, suspecting the alien girl sold them out.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: The realistic effect of actually piloting Kinta's Combining Mecha is shown when Momo and Aira get horribly motion-sick from the experience and rush offscreen to puke their brains out afterward. The only reason Kinta wasn't affected was that he anticipated this as an aspiring Mech Pilot and had been riding rollercoasters for ages in preparation.
  • Weirdness Magnet: Both Okarun and Ayase, by virtue of their association. If there's a fight bound towards them, things are gonna get weird-and-a-half.
  • Word Purée Title: "Dan (談)" means "story", and is often used as a suffix for specific types (e.g. "kaidan" means "ghost story", "joudan" means "comedy story"). "Dandadan" is a portmantitle of "dan" and "Dada", with an extra "dan" thrown in front.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The grown men of the Kito clan have no compunctions against beating Okarun and Jiji bloody. The later reveal that historically they've killed at least two children as offerings to their serpent god is thus horrifying, but in-character.