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by Richard Eisenbeis,

Dead Dead Demon's Dededede Destruction Part 1 Anime Film Review

Dead Dead Demon's Dededede Destruction Part 1 Anime Film Review
The world changed forever on the day a giant UFO appeared in the skies over Tokyo—or, at least it was supposed to. Three years later, the UFO still floats there, occasionally making odd noises and sending out small craft (which are promptly shot down). Life, however, continues on. While some people fear the alien craft that blots out the sky, many have gotten used to the new normal—including a pair of high school seniors worrying more about love, college, and their nebulous future more than the potential alien invasion right on their doorstep.

Many anime films are adapted from manga and Dead Dead Demon's Dededede Destruction is no exception. Usually, a film will cover a single arc of the greater plot—giving the story on screen a solid beginning, middle, and end. However, this is not the case with the first Dead Dead Demon's Dededede Destruction film. Clocking in at 120 minutes, this film covers two arcs. And given that these arcs differ wildly in both tone and story, it feels like two, tangentially related one-hour movies rather than a single cohesive one. That said, both arcs in this movie are fantastic in their own rights.

The first half of the film is basically District 9 meets O Maidens in Your Savage Season. There is a UFO in the sky, and things are happening in the background as the military ups its aggressiveness toward the unseen aliens but this is of no real concern to Kadode and Ouran—a pair of high school seniors getting ready to graduate.

This is a story about a group of teenage girls entering the world of adulthood. The life they've known is about to change. In a few months, they'll either be in college or working—their normal school life will be over and they won't see each other every day. On the one hand, this makes them worried for the future. On the other, it makes them want to stop coasting through their senior year and make every moment count.

But as much as this is a coming-of-age story, it's also a thesis on how people can get used to anything—how our myopic problems still fill our worldview. Kadode has lost her father and the military attacks against the aliens keep causing collateral damage—regularly killing an innocent civilian or two. Even when her mother decides to move out of Tokyo with a new man to escape this life, Kadode doesn't seem to see the bigger picture. It's all just “normal” to her and she has no want or need to change things beyond the changes she is already being forced to make simply by growing up.

The second half of the film, couldn't be more different. Rather than focusing on high-school Kadode and Ouran, we get a flashback to them in elementary school. The pair of unlikely friends, the bullied-yet-stubborn Kadode and shy-yet-somewhat-popular Ouran find and befriend an alien—years before the arrival of the UFO.

This becomes a dark deconstruction of Doraemon as the alien gives the two girls one gadget after another—ranging from an invisibility cloak to a sonic screwdriver. After all, what does a bullied girl with a strong sense of justice do when suddenly given superpowers—and with no adult oversight? It's depressing, disturbing, and psychologically horrific—even more so in contrast to the much more lighthearted tone of the first arc—and it leaves you with a lasting impression for days following.

While both story arcs shown could easily be separate, unrelated films, there is a simple theme that ties the two together: humans are the true monsters. In both parts, we never see an alien harm a human. Rather, it is always the humans unilaterally attacking what they don't understand—what they have no interest in understanding in the first place.

The military wants the nationalistic ego boost that comes from defeating the “invaders.” The scientists thinking up new weapons look forward to the fame and money they'll soon receive. The people in the media and online keep drumming up fear—normalizing the idea that killing the aliens is the “right thing” to do—for their selfish reasons.

And this isn't just directed towards aliens. Kadode in the flashback story has no problem attacking anyone and everyone she deems as “evil.” Everyone is the hero of their own story. In the absence of objective good or evil, even the most horrible actions imaginable can be rationalized away.

It's a heartbreakingly pessimistic (though all-too-realistic) take on the nature of humanity. But in the face of it, we have the counter-example in Ouran. She's not perfect nor is she some beacon of virtue. However, she does try to avoid directly harming anyone—even if she fails a bit at times. If the whole world were like Ouran, we'd still have our problems but we wouldn't be dead set on genociding a race of aliens for no reason other than that they parked their ship in an inconvenient location.

On the visual side of things, Dead Dead Demon's Dededede Destruction doesn't look like most anime—especially in the character designs. None of the main characters have the typical pretty anime face and hourglass figure. Some characters have buck teeth, others are permanently blushing, and still others have perpetually watery eyes. Yet, despite these exaggerated character designs more commonly seen in anime aimed at young children (or perhaps because of them), the whole story feels much more grounded. The fact that the backgrounds and sci-fi technology are highly detailed also contributes to this.

As for the music, the only thing that truly stands out is the ending theme song. It starts cute and generic but eventually devolves into something harsh and discordant—much like the film it's attached to. It's a spot-on choice.

All in all, this first Dead Dead Demon's Dededede Destruction film is simply fantastic. While it doesn't feel like a single movie due to its two separate, vastly different stories, the stories themselves are told beyond well. And lurking behind them is a constantly explored theme about the darker side of human nature and our obsession with the idea that, no matter what we do, we are the ones in the right. Honestly, I feel blessed that I only have to wait a month for the second film to come out.

Overall : A
Story : A
Animation : A-
Art : A
Music : B-

+ A coming-of-age story, a dark deconstruction of Doraemon, and an exploration of both morality and human nature all in one two-hour package.
Feels like two, tangentially related, one-hour movies rather than a single cohesive film.

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Production Info:
Director: Tomoyuki Kurokawa
Series Composition: Reiko Yoshida
Screenplay: Reiko Yoshida
Music: Taro Umebayashi
Original creator: Inio Asano
Character Design: Nobutake Ito
Art Director: Mika Nishimura
Chief Animation Director: Nobutake Ito
Sound Director: Takeshi Takadera
Cgi Director: Akira Inami
Director of Photography: Takuma Morooka
Executive producer:
Kōichi Inaba
Yukio Kawasaki
Shunsuke Muramatsu
Nobumasa Sawabe
Tatsumi Yoda
Yoshikazu Beniya
Shinya Keyamura
Ayumi Ōhigashi
Junya Okamoto

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