Inio Asano’s Dead Dead Demon’s Dededede Destruction is one of the most unique alien invasion stories I’ve ever read. The aliens themselves hardly appear at all; rather, humans drive most of the drama. Not only that, but little about the main narrative is post-apocalyptic. Sure, there are military missions and a pervasive sense of dread, but this is ultimately a tale about normal teenage girls. Or rather, it has been. The tension rises in Vol. 4 as some of the invaders finally get some spotlight. The human protagonists, meanwhile, continue to clumsily make their way through young adulthood. Does the series’ latest installment effectively balance all these plot elements? Is it good?
The aliens are receiving significant page-time at last, and they’re already just as interesting as the human characters. The safety of Earthlings is always a concern in stories like this, but Asano addresses a different question: how safe is Earth for alien invaders? Differences in species tolerances for radiation are addressed, as is the threat of human militia. It’s unclear how much choice the aliens depicted had regarding coming to Earth, and the violence they’re exposed to from humans is horrifying. It sounds counter-intuitive to feel sympathy for invaders, but Asano successfully makes the aliens endearing, sympathetic characters.
Asano’s artwork also continues to impress. The aliens’ designs are downright adorable. They all more or less have the same basic look, with short bodies and diver helmets for heads. There isn’t much individuation between aliens, but what distinct touches are present (such as hairpins, though they don’t actually have hair) are charming. The spaceships hovering over Tokyo remain imposing with their gigantic scale and intricate line-work. The humans, meanwhile, tend to be rendered in a more cartoony style than the world around them. This works for the most part, as their exaggerated facial expressions are quite funny. The mishmash of styles only occasionally falls flat, generally with faces that feel more phoned in.
Speaking of the human characters, their personal dramas are still enjoyable to read about. The protagonists are now first-year college students, and they approach all the changes around them with great humor. There’s a very millennial sort of comedy to the volume, with the characters flippantly joking about the depressing realities of capitalist life careening toward potential apocalypse. My only real complaints with these portions of the book pertain to the pacing. The shifts between characters and scenes are sometimes a bit too rapid, cutting events short in ways that don’t seem to best serve the story. This isn’t a major problem, though.
Overall, Dead Dead Demon’s Dededede Destruction Vol. 4 is yet another high quality installment in the series. Asano’s take on alien invasion has only gotten more unique with time. Not only do we get amusingly flippant human protagonists, but we finally get to see more from the invaders as well. The visuals are also great, with a mixture of styles that heightens both elements of humor and dread. There are some occasional weaker scenes and pacing issues, but I still highly recommend this volume.