Inio Asano’s Dead Dead Demon’s Dededede Destruction has been one of the most impressive ongoing sci-fi comics of the last several years. Some of its charm stems from its highly detailed and stylized art, as well as from its adorable aliens. With that said, the manga’s strongest aspect is its human element. Asano depicts a cynical but not unsympathetic society of people continuing to cope with everyday problems even as the promise of doom literally hovers over their heads. The countdown to the end of humanity approaches zero in Vol. 10, with what feels like the closest approximation of calm left before the storm. In many ways the characters’ lives have already been changed irrevocably, but how are their final moments before the next metaphorical (and, perhaps, literal) bomb drops? Is Dead Dead Demon’s Dededede Destruction Vol. 10 good?
It’s an obvious maxim at this point that sci-fi and supernatural stories are really just about human nature, and Asano’s depictions of humanity continue to be thought-provoking. International power balances and backstabbings play a large role in the plot, while domestic propaganda and issues of self-entitlement among the ruling class play out at a heightened level even as chunks of spaceship rain down from the sky. Asano handles this subject matter deftly while respecting the reader’s intelligence. While much of DDDDD is undeniably cynical, it’s not without its brief glimpses of kindness and basic decency from humanity.
Though he only appears in a few short scenes, the Prime Minister proves to be the most compelling figure in this volume. The governmental scenes ring true in that not even the end of the world can put an end to politics as hell and the normalization of violence and conspiracy. The PM himself ironically serves as a bit of of an audience surrogate despite his high office. We receive new information alongside him as his retainers provide him with updates and instruct him on matters of public reassurance. It’s difficult to describe his character arc without severely treading the line spoiler-wise, but he’s a great example of Asano taking what could just be an expository, archetypal figure and fleshing them out to achieve true three-dimensionality.
With that said, there are also some aspects of this volume that are a bit lacking. While the more explicitly political figures star in some great scenes, the moments focusing on more average citizens are a bit mixed in impact. There’s an entire plot involving a TV journalist and a woman she suspects might be gaming the welfare system, and their emotional arc together just seems a bit slapdash in its execution. The degree of cynicism present in some of these scenes also doesn’t square cleanly with the tone of the rest of the manga. The series’ main cast, meanwhile, is delegated to the background and most of their page-time here doesn’t contribute much of interest. One of them delivers some nice retrospective narration, but that’s about it.
The art, however, is flawless as usual. The further in the series gets the more thought-provoking the difference in style used for rendering human characters versus the world around them gets. The machinery and architecture have a precision and abundance of line-work that feels realistic even when it’s sci-fi gadgets being depicted, i.e. the alien mothership reads believably like what the technology necessary to create such a ship might actually look like. The nature imagery and architecture are similarly exacting in detail, helping give the world a sense of being lived in and significant, thus heightening the drama of its promised end.
The human beings, as always, are much cartoonier in comparison. Many characters look like outright caricatures with specific facial features enlarged or emphasized for comedic effect. On one hand this frequently emphasizes the folly of humans as they bicker over politics or act cruelly to other people. With that said there are still some tender moments of joy or humor that help sell Asano’s vision of humanity as one that, though cynical, is not entirely damning. With that said, there’s another important aspect to how the people are depicted here: they look fragile, weak, and outright fleshy. Despite all their goods and evils they ultimately look physically outmatched by both the invaders’ technology and the killing machines devised by their own governments.
All in all, Dead Dead Demon’s Dededede Destruction Vol. 10 mostly delivers more of what readers have come to expect from the series. Fortunately, those expectations are high. The memorable, impressively detailed and emotive artwork paints a clear image of humanity and its potential doom while being engrossing to look at. The writing, meanwhile, is decent though not stellar. The more Asano shifts away from the core cast to focus on political events the better here. Nonetheless, a lesser volume of this series is still among the best manga currently on the market.
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