Story/Art: Inio Asano
Translation: John Werry
Touch-up Art/Lettering: Annaliese Christman
Design: Shawn Carrico
Editor: Pancha Diaz
What They Say:
After the appearance of “Invaders”, Tokyo has never been the same… but how much has really changed? The political & socioeconomic climate is as contentious as ever – America attempts to strong-arm the Japanese government for invader tech, soldiers slaughter Invaders left and right, the people are split, and each day feels that much closer to calamity. And yet, life goes on – Idols promote their latest CD, Isobeyan releases a new chapter, gamers anticipate the newest patch updates and online forums joke about the end of the world… all while the ticking time-bomb of the Invader mothership looms overhead.
It’s summer break and the Occult Club heads seaward to learn about extraterrestrial life and enjoy their youth. But not even the hot summer sun can shake the uneasy feeling of what’s to come. The end of humanity draws closer, and Dead Dead Demon’s Dededede Destruction Volume 7 drops a cliffhanger of supernatural proportions!
Content (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Inio Asano continues to surprise me with his modern take on Japanese disaster fiction through Dead Dead Demon’s Dededede Destruction (which I will refer to as D8 for convenience’ sake). Despite its otherworldly plot, D8 takes a pragmatic approach to portraying social interaction in response to crisis scenarios.
Volume 7 opens with the latest chapter of Isobeyan as per usual, but this time the reader is an American otaku named Sean. American President Padron (a cartoonishly accurate Trump replica) condemns and threatens Japan on the TV in the background. The loner weeb and game developer firmly stands in solidarity with Japan, whose people have given him so much entertainment. He and his roommate discuss the rumors of an impending World War III, but there are more pressing matters at hand… they need to redesign the main character for their game so Japanese audiences won’t criticize them! Sadly, the tension of global affairs makes it too stressful to work, so Sean hops on an online game instead.
This is just one microcosm of humanity Asano examines in D8. We’ve been shown perspectives across the spectrum – from tone-deaf politicians and superficial celebrities, to traumatized soldiers and radical revolutionaries. The Invader situation has grown to a global scale predicament, and Asano has shown us the ugly failings on all levels of society. And then there’s our main group of gals. Oran, Kadode and the gang are at the peak of their adolescence – freshman college students with fleeting aspirations, innocent feelings of love and not a care in the world. Even with the discovery of Oba, their very own invader-in-disguise, they’d rather talk about video games and Isobeyan than political intrigue. Ultimately, Oran and Kadode represent the new generation of apocalypse fiction victims. Amid a crumbling civilization, what is expected of the kids in this formative period of their lives? A denial of responsibility is their response. D8 secretes the frustrations of today’s youth – in a society corrupted by the greed of past generations, how else can we exist? If we have no control over Earth’s demise, what can we do other than relish in what little there is left to enjoy in this dying world?
Another great example of this blissfully ignorant lifestyle comes in the form of Occult Club President Ojiro. The gang joins Ojiro for a coastal field study to interview some girls who had an extraterrestrial encounter eight years ago. While the others use the trip as an excuse for summer vacation, Ojiro is trying to fulfill some fantasies of his own. Despite the very real existence of aliens in Tokyo, Ojiro is a firm believer in tradition aliens. You know – big heads, grey skin, probes, all those good sci-fi tropes. But after interviewing the girls and talking with Oba about the invaders, Ojiro realizes his alien fetishism was simply an escape from reality. Chasing his picturesque alien was the same as averting his gaze from the truth. The Occult Club actually learned valuable information from the interviewees and Oba. But that info didn’t spark any kind of fulfillment in Ojiro. Rather, it pulled him back into the real world, shattering his romanticized extraterrestrial encounter you can only find in the movies.
The final leg of Volume 7 focuses on Oran and Oba, whose relationship has been blossoming since Oba’s introduction. Since Volume 1, Oran has been the poster child of non-participation, rambling about overthrowing the world with an army of marshmallow-wielding warriors and fantasizing about her online games. But as we’ve seen from flashbacks, Oran wasn’t always this way. On the inside, she’s a very timid and fragile girl. As her brother Hiroshi explains to Oba earlier in the book, he stays at home because Oran needs a home to return to. And all throughout Volume 7 we see Oran reverting to her old ways. Are her feelings for Oba becoming too real for her? Or has the reality of Tokyo’s destruction released her from her fickle fantasies? The answer may very well be neither. Oba has been keeping a secret about Oran. After using one of his Isobeyan-esque gadgets to see Oran’s memories in a previous volume, Oba learned the truth about Oran and her ties to this supernatural world… the details of her situation will be revealed in Volume 8.
Just as an aside, I want to compliment Asano for how densely packed his story is. There are so many relevant subplots being strung along that I’ve barely had time to cover them. The most pertinent one being the government’s Project Ocean, which is intended to be an escape vessel for Japan’s richest people when the Invader mothership inevitably crashes and destroys the planet. Journalist Miura has been prodding Hikari Sumaru, an engineer at SES Robotics, whose AI development has been implemented in Japan’s SDF and anti-invader weaponry. SES’s President Takrada has come under fire from pro-invader activists for supplying weaponry to the government and now Miura is attempting to reveal the truth about Ocean Stadium.
D8’s narrative is constantly escalating in such satisfying ways, and Asano’s writing has never been better. His characters have always radiated an air of ennui about them, but never have those personalities felt more relevant than in our current state of global pandemics and failing societal structures. The end of the world is nigh – can Oba and the gang do anything to save both humanity and the invaders? I can’t wait to find out.
Content Grade: A
Art Grade: A
Packaging Grade: A
Text/Translation Grade: A
Age Rating: Mature
Released By: VIZ Media
Release Date: October 15th, 2019