Ep. 36: Dandadan ch. 1-8 by Yukinobu Tatsu

Deb leads the crew through Shonen Jump’s Hot New Title, Dandadan by Yukinobu Tatsu. This is a spicy manga, and it makes for a very spicy episode! It’s not for the kiddos, but does that automatically make it perfect for Chip?

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Dandadan Chapters 1-8
By Yukinobu Tatsu
Translation: Kumar Sivasubramanian (ch. 1-3), John Werry (ch. 4+)
Lettering: Sara Linsley
Editing: Jenny LeBlanc
Published by VIZ Media / Shonen Jump (Digital – Website Only)
Also available legally at https://mangaplus.shueisha.co.jp/titles/100171.

Show notes by Christopher Butcher, Edited by Deb Aoki. Episode audio edits by David Brothers.

Before We Get Started: This is an 18+ title, so kiddos don’t listen to this episode, it’s full of cussing. 

Also we spoil the fuck out of the first 10 chapters of this, give or take, so absolutely read it first if you don’t want it spoiled.

Finally: We were originally going to read chapters 1-5, rather than 1-8, because chapters 1-5 are what’s included in the first Japanese language trade paperback. However, there’s no English-language trade paperback of Dandadan currently planned (through July 2022!), and if it’s only available digitally anyway, we may as well read it in arcs, rather than by volume breaks. We’d like to take a second to thank all of the fans who wrote us on Twitter/Instagram/etc. to recommend reading chapters 1-8 instead. It made for a much better read, and I think a much better episode of Mangasplaining! Cheers!

00:00 As Deb mentions in the intro, this is a CUTTING EDGE, JUST RELEASED new series! It started in Japan in April of 2021, and was a late addition to the English-language Shonen Jump site. Not only is there no print edition of this manga yet, but because it’s a “racy” “spicy” “ecchi” series that runs online in Jump Plus in Japan, it’s an 18+ title here in North America… and so it can’t show up in the Shonen Jump app! That’s because the app is limited to titles 16+ and younger. So the only way to (legally) read this is at https://www.viz.com/shonenjump/chapters/dandadan, *if* you have created an account with VIZ (it’s free to do this — just share your email address and set a password to sign in) and you’re over 18 years old. Anyone who meets these criteria can read the first three chapters and the three most recent chapters for free. If you want to read it all, you’ll need to subscribe to Shonen Jump, which is *the best deal in manga today* (not a paid plug), or check it out on Shueisha’s MangaPlus website/app.

Meanwhile, here’s a very little bit about author Yukinobu Tatsu.

Yukinobu Tatsu, only appearing with his face obscured.

Yukinobu Tatsu is a mangaka that lives in Japan. He, weirdly, does not have a Japanese Wikipedia entry, which I’ve never seen for a mangaka, and I can’t find any biographical info about him at all. While DanDaDan is his first manga work under that name, he does actually have a relatively long history in manga. He previously created several series under the name Yukinobu Ryuu, including Yamada Kiki Ippatsu, Seigi no Rokugou, and FIRE BALL! Thanks to Reddit for this heads-up. Previously Yukinobu Tatsu worked as an assistant to on Fire Punch! by Tatsuki Fujimoto, author of Chainsaw Man, and Hell’s Paradise Jigokuraku, by Yuji Kaku. You can find him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/TatuYukinobu.

If your Japanese is top notch, here’s a special interview with Tatsu-sensei released on the official Jump YouTube Channel:

Even if your Japanese ISN’T top notch, WOW, just getting to watch this dude draw is pretty darned amazing. Getting to see the rough sketches of his work as well, and prototype drawings of what would become the series. Very cool.

Also while I was digging up videos, here’s the official trailer for DanDaDan, done in the style of an ‘expose’ about aliens and ghosts on Japanese TV. PRETTY GOOD!

Alright, let’s get into the episode!

08:30 The greatest chapter-ending cliffhanger of all time?

It’s gonna be that kind of episode.

10:04 David here is referencing the manga (and anime) series Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, by Hirohiko Araki, published by VIZ Media. One of the longest continually running Shonen Jump series (debuted in 1987!), Jojo’s is a generational action/fight manga about a family who keep getting fucked around over the course of thousands of years by a guy from an internet meme, Dio. It’s like the gay/fashion version of Fist of the North Star, kind of? It has also changed significantly over the course its telling, and has one of the most passionate fanbases on the internet. Weirdly, David edits Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure for VIZ, meaning that when he says DanDaDan is like Jojo’s, it kind of carries a lot of weight. 🙂

12:00 Deb here is right on the money, there are some really stunning pieces of art in Dandadan, and great use of double-page spreads. They’re all kinda spoiler-y though? While there are some incredible spoilers in those double page spreads that Deb mentions, I think we can include one of them here. Here’s the terrifying giant heads at two ends of a tunnel drawn in fisheye. I end up talking about this again at the end of the episode a lot.

12:45 Ken Takakura (1931-2014) was a Japanese actor who appeared in over 200 films. He was best known for a brooding, stoic style, often playing honorable yakuza-type, and Western audiences will know him for his role in Ridley Scott’s Black Rain, in which he surprises the American cops played by Michael Douglas and Andy Garcia, with the line “I do speak fucking English.”

Think Clint Eastwood, Robert Mitchum, Humphrey Bogart. He had a sort of career resurgence in the mainstream in 1984 where he starred in a TV commercial where he famously declared “I’m kind of awkward, you know…”, “I’m an awkward guy.” (“Jibun, bukiyo desukara…” – a line that is referred to in the manga that makes Momo’s heart skip a beat.)

Here’s an image of Takakura-san next to the relevant piece of the comic.

17:49 So… yeah. Chip’s comic book with Matt Fraction, Sex Criminals, sort of infamously ran afoul of Apple / iBooks or whatever for being a book for grownups that featured PICTORIAL ILLUSTRATIONS of adult situations. They used the excuse that it was pornographic, but it isn’t, but there we go. So given the cold feet, and (as of writing) the absolute insanity going on in Texas school libraries about what is or isn’t appropriate for children/any reader, I get VIZ’s decision here, but I still think it’d be worth fighting for. They obviously feel differently, and I can’t fault them, but I really wish that as a grown-ass adult I could read comics for adults in a convenient way on my various dumb digital devices. This is why you should buy print books, kids… and apparently hide them from your parents.

16:35 Chip is surprised that it’s 18+! In Japan this is more of a mature shonen title, running on Jump Plus, a digital-only service by the Shonen Jump people. We’ve actually already read a series exactly like this, Spy X Family, which also took off and became a surprise smash-hit. It just got an anime announcement, even!

But yeah, Dandadan is not quite within the Shonen Jump formula, or it’s a bit too edgy, too violent, or too sexy. Makes sense, but that’s not an 18+ manga in Japan. And honestly, I’m with Chip and David here, I don’t know that this should necessarily be considered 18+ here in North America either. I honestly think that it’s the fact that these are teen characters and there’s hints of outrageous sexual situations that makes it inappropriate. For example, you can head over to the MangaPlus website run by Shueisha, and read these chapters without registering for an account and there’s no age-gate. In America? Bad news, chum. 18+. Are VIZ being overly cautious here, or are they being exactly the right amount of cautious given what a shit-show things are nowadays? /editorializing

19:31 The translator changes starting with chapter four, and I think the dialogue changes a little bit in a noticeable way, and gets a bit flatter. No shade intended to either the editor, our pal Jenny, or translator of chapter 4+, John Werry.

[Deb:] As Mangasplaining listener Tim Burnham explains in the comments below, the switch-up between translators seems to have been a temporary situation, given the haste to bring Dandandan onto the VIZ site quickly. It is:

Ch. 1-3: Kumar Sivasubramanian
Ch. 4-9: John Werry
Ch. 10-12: Sivasubramanian
Ch. 13-15: Werry
Ch. 16-31 (current chapter): Sivasubramanian

– Tim Burnham

21:40 Rather than just say “this is different”, you can look at the tone of the first three chapters and see the humour and wordplay when it comes to TurboGranny tryna suck dick in chapter 1…

And then things get a little more… direct… in chapters 6 and 7. Like, right after saying that she hates casual speech. It’s interesting?

Anyway, like I said, I don’t have (and haven’t read) the Japanese so I can’t properly comment on this, but it stuck out.

22:45 Tropes! The young-ish grandma saying “I can only go all out twice,” is an example of the “time-limit on how long your superpowers can be used” trope. This story is full of tropes that are common to manga, especially comedy/action manga. It often feels exactly like ‘giving the fans what they want,’ but executed at a very, very high level. I go on to talk about this idea for the next few minutes. Nothing wrong with that, I think!

23:45 David mentions Damage Control, a series of mini-series published by Marvel Comics, co-created by writer Dwayne McDuffie and artist Ernie Colon. Set within the Marvel Universe, it was a somewhat experimental comic series, a ‘sitcom’ about the folks who need to rebuild New York after the massive destruction that superheroes and villains would cause in their battles. It’s very funny and I bet it holds up, though I haven’t re-read it in years. I think it even was supposed to get a TV show at one point, though that never seemed to have materialized. It looks like Marvel printed a trade paperback of the complete early stories, including the Kyle Baker-illustrated volume 3! It’s even in print! Wow!

25:45 Here’s a few moments that we talk about and reference specific artworks.

Chapter 5, pages 24-25. Nerd-kun (aka “Okarun,” short for “Occult-kun”) pulling the face off of himself, Bleach-style. “A nice little reach-around for the Jump fans.”

[Deb:] Speaking of fun references to other tropes / manga-type things, comics creator and kaiju/tokusatsu connoisseur Joey Weiser made the connection between the aliens/spirits in Dandadan being influenced by some alien villains in Ultraman! You can also see Tatsu-sensei flipping through a book of kaiju photos in the interview video posted earlier, and he’s probably mentioning this too.

Believe it or not, the striped one on the right is called “Dada”

26:40 Leaping over the barrier: Choosing the exact right moment to portray.

Also some great slightly cartoon-y super-deformed artwork in that first panel.

27:18 The scream lettering is great on “CRAAAAB!”

(This is the English version this time. Check out the Japanese version below (“Kaniiiiiiii!”), and you can see what a good job Sara Linsley did on this lettering compared to the Japanese.)

28:00 Little moments of humour, like dressing up in traditional, spiritual clothing to fight the demon, but still having to take the train to get to the place where the fight is going to happen and being mortified while being dressed this way amongst the normies.

29:30 One of the things that the series does well (that we mention here) is the numerous moments of calm that is immediately broken by showing a massive chase sequence. That happens with the CRAAAAB! illustration above, and happens again a chapter later when the crab, Turbo Granny, and the whole town of possessed spirits come after them. It’s a great motif that really builds the action.

30:10 Chip references the X-Men Villain Cameron Hodge, but I couldn’t find the illustration. Sorry!

[Deb:] Sorry, it’s been years since I’ve read X-Men, but is this what Chip is referring to? (Uncanny X-Men issue 306)

Uncanny X-Men #306, art by John Romita

30:30 Like I said up top, I talk a lot about that 360-degree tunnel drawing! It’s just… ambitious… in a way that I respond to. Here it is again in case you don’t wanna scroll. And I guess it’s more of a 270-degree drawing, give or take…

31:10 Chipper mentions Tatsu’s work reminding him of Olivier Coipel, and I agree! Coipel is a French comic book artist whose work is mainly published in North America by Marvel Comics. He’s best known for House of M and Thor, and his work is stunning, one of my personal fav contemporary comic artists. His Instagram is really good too, check it out at https://www.instagram.com/oliviercoipel/.

Here’s a drawing by Coipel of the teen hero Static from the most recent series. I think you should be able to see some resemblance to the art of Tatsu-sensei.

32:42 David mentions that there’s a similar page in Dorohedoro, a dark/gritty fantasy/sci-fi series by Q Hayashida (published by VIZ Media).

scene from Dorohedoro

40:26 Chip’s favourite page is the way the characters think about saying “good bye” in various ways.

It’s such a nice, soft moment. Chip then goes on to mention this very subtle nudge, when Okarun gets too caught-up in his own bullshit to actually follow through on being her friend.

41:25 Nerd-kun gets a big glow-up hairstyle.

46:00 David references the manga Gleipnir, by Sun Takeda, published by Kodansha. It’s a tale about a boy who gains a mysterious power, and a strong-willed girl who pushes him along his path. Read it at https://kodansha.us/series/gleipnir/

[Deb:] it’s available in print and digital, and for various reasons that I won’t get into here, it too is not for kiddies. There’s also an anime adaptation of Gleipnir streaming on Funimation too!

49:00 This was a pretty ‘light’ take on the 2D phenomenon, of which much has been written that’s very good reading. If you’re curious, start at this Wikipedia entry for “Nijikon”, or “Nijigen konpurekkusu, or “2D Complex” which means people who are more attracted to fictional/illustrated characters from anime, manga, and light novels, than they are to people from the real world. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nijikon

Also, “Gatcha Ladies” refers to the characters/trading cards/etc. that are mostly female that you can ‘collect’ through lottery mechanics in games like Genshin Impact. It’s a whole-ass industry in gaming right now, and it’s a sad form of gambling that preys on folks. It should probably be illegal, or at least heavily regulated!

53:00 So, just to get this out of the way: VIZ has been simultaneously publishing many new Shonen Jump and Jump Plus series’ with Japan. They didn’t do that with Dandadan, for obvious reasons that I mentioned here. But then the series BLEW UP in Japan, and (more-or-less) coinciding with the release of the Japanese volume 1 trade paperback, VIZ picked up and released the series digitally with nearly 21 chapters all at once, and has been weekly simultaneous since then (it’s at chapter 31 now). It looks like chapters 1-3 were probably going to be a “Jump Start” translation (that’s why they have a different translator), before it was decided to move to simulpub.

It’s interesting, because something similar happened with Kaiju No. 8, another Jump Plus series by Naoya Matsumoto, but that one is way less sexual. It’s also getting a print release these days, here’s hoping the same happens for Dandadan

UPDATE: VIZ Media announced via Twitter a print edition of Dandadan Volume 1 will be released in Fall 2022.

[Deb:] Kaiju No. 8 volume 1 hits stores on December 7, 2021, so pre-order now. 🙂

Also, If anyone from VIZ is reading this, hey, it’s Christopher. I’m saying what I’m saying in the podcast and it’s all true from my POV, but I’m not saying it without a good measure of sympathy and understanding for your position. We’re all compromised and we’re all making compromises, doesn’t make it fun though. Anyway, keep soldiering on in the manga mines, thanks for your hard work. Just wanted to put this in here. 🙂

56:40 We really earned that extended moment of silence.

58:26: THE BREAK!

This week no Q&A so we could try to get a short episode in there. So, let’s go straight to Shout-Outs!

Chip shouts out the trailer for the new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Out now, but let’s cringe at the trailer anyway.

David shouts out the film The Yakuza (1974). Directed by Sydney Pollock, written by Paul Schraeder and Robert Towne. Starring Robert Michum and Ken Takakura, one of the subjects of today’s podcast! “Problematic Warning.”

Christopher shouts out Golden Kamuy by Satoru Noda, also available from VIZ, but only on the website and in print. 

Deb shouts out not a manga, but convention company Reed Pop, for holding a successful and not-that-contagious comic con event during COVID. The idea of a comic event with 30-40% less people actually sounds really nice, but not… that… nice. 

And that’s the week! Thanks again for listening to this episode!

Find a comic store near you at comicshoplocator.com

Check out Mangasplaining theme song composer D.A.D.S. on Spotify

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13 Responses

  1. Okarun says:

    Great episode. I personally found the main duo to have so much chemistry. Every single interaction is gold imo.

  2. Okarun says:

    The faces are so good too. The hamster Ayase face.

    • Tim Burnham says:

      The art overall is excellent. The varying postures and movement is unbelievable and is always super clear and easy to follow. The emoticon-esque faces within word balloons when a character is off panel are a ton of fun.

  3. Gabriel says:

    Well, huh. I had vaguely heard of the series but had mentally filed it in the “eh, probably not my thing” pile, but after hearing all your reactions i decided to check it out after all. Even after just reading one chapter i’m pretty intrigued and yeah, the art is pretty fantastic.

  4. Tim Burnham says:

    Great episode! I gave this series a shot after first hearing about it when Deb recommended it for the show and after that first chapter didn’t go all of the way to the dark side, I’ve loved it so far.

    Curiosity got the better of me and I looked up the translation credits for DanDaDan and they broke down like this so far:

    Ch. 1-3: Kumar Sivasubramanian
    Ch. 4-9: John Werry
    Ch. 10-12: Sivasubramanian
    Ch. 13-15: Werry
    Ch. 16-31 (current chapter): Sivasubramanian

    It looks like things have settled down over the second half of the material translated thus far. Maybe it was just a scheduling thing in a rush to get that first chunk of the titled released in English?

  5. Tim Burnham says:

    Letterer Sara Linsley recently shared her process for creating those great screaming word balloons on Twitter (thread):


  6. Miguel Corti says:

    This was an interesting one. I read the first two tankobon, and…I don’t know what I was expecting. Based on Deb’s original pitch, I thought it was going to be more Junji Ito (but sexy!) than shonen tropey. It really took me till the end of the second volume before I allowed myself to charmed by it. You were right, it does embrace all the tropes of a shonen manga, but if you not in the mood for said tropes, this book can be a major turnoff. Again, my expectations were set for something that wasn’t quite a popcorn read. In the end, I did enjoy it, and I want to read the next volume, but I had to overcome my aversion to the tropes to get there.

    • Miguel Corti says:

      The illustrations, and cartooning, were fantastic. Tatsu really took to heart all the lessons he learned as an assistant. I think you’d be hard pressed to find a confusingly drawn sequence. And I was just agog when I realized he had drawn human faces on the underbelly of the crab! The only thing I didn’t like was the young/hot grandma trope, mainly because she was drawn to look exactly like the video game character Bayonetta.

      I was surprised how fast it gets to the action. I thought they’d spend the entirety of the first volume trying to convince each other about the existence of ghosts and aliens.

      Regarding the translation quality, other commenters have given an explanation, and as usual the primary culprit is rushed scheduling. That said, I’d like to not that the Japanese itself suffered a quality drop somewhere in the middle, when the two characters were back in school. It recovers, but I don’t know if Tatsu was still getting a feel for the characters or what, but they didn’t sound as high school-y as they should in some sections. I chalked it up to Ayase being out of touch since she her favorite actor is from her grandmother’s generation. If the translator was on a short schedule and the source material also dipped in quality, that’s kind of a no-win situation. Just my two cents.

      I too had trouble figuring out why this is 18+. It didn’t feel that more risque than, I dunno, GTO or something of that ilk. You could definitely tell it wasn’t for kids, though, because there was no furigana for the kanji! Kids can’t read it if, you know, they can’t literally read it.

  7. Wilson says:

    This series reminded me of Major Bummer, a short lived late 90s comic by John Arcudi & Doug Mahnke. A couple of aliens give a slacker superpowers by mistake and follows the consequences of him not dealing with everything that comes with that. There was even an issue with a demon possessed baby. Not quite similar in content, but had a certain vibe of action/comedy.

    Dark Horse released a collection in 2011 which is long out of print, but is available digitally.

  8. Now the printed, and e-book, release of volume 1 is set for Oct 11. Got my pre-order in.


  9. Gilles Poitras says:

    I just finished taking notes for volume 1 and decided to Google Turbo Granny. It turns out she is an actual yokai and not a character made up for the manga.

  1. January 17, 2023

    […] Ep. 36: Dandadan ch. 1-8 by Yukinobu Tatsu […]

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