Dementia 21 Volume Two

Writer / Artist
Dementia 21 Volume Two
Dementia 21 Volume Two review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Fantagraphics Books - 978-1-68396-281-6
  • Volume No.: 2
  • Release date: 2012-2013
  • English language release date: 2020
  • Format: Black and white
  • UPC: 9781683962816
  • Contains adult content?: yes
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: yes
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no
  • CATEGORIES: Horror, Manga

Dementia 21 began with carer for the elderly Yukie Sakai’s sometimes horrific, but always strange experiences caring for assorted people, and the deeper into Volume One we went, the more Kago’s conceptual sense of absurdity and surreality infused the short stories. No matter how weird things become, there’s always a reset before Suki’s next adventure begins. Her positive, caring and dedicated personality propels the stories, as she constantly searches for the best solution for her patient, irrespective of the bizarre territory it may draw her into.

Multiples is a theme Kago’s used before, and it recurs in the first story of a man who had numerous children, each of whom produced numerous grandchildren, and he can’t keep up with the expectation of having to give them all money every new year. Yukie’s solution is to prevent any further reproduction via constant monitoring and coitus interruptus. It’s far from the finest story in this selection, but showcases Kago’s vivid imagination, ridiculous sense of humour and admirable art.

Other novelties include a care home staffed by zombies, Santa developing senility and a former heart-throb actor plagued by women sending him chocolate. Inventions also feature frequently, such as a machine for temporarily freeing someone’s spirit, and the device preventing police from seeing crimes committed by the elderly seen on the sample art. For those who liked the premise last time, the woman able to wipe out people when she forgets them is revisited, again endangering the world. The best story is bingo re-imagined via incidents in a sheltered housing block, distasteful, horrific and hilarious, and leading to attempts on Yukie’s life.

A standout for being different is Kogo seemingly departing considerably from message by including a strip in which the prospect of Dementia 21 being animated is dangled in front of him. It’s a satirical change of pace and very funny as he considers how the strip would adapt, and the changes his agent wants him to make.

Almost all the standout material is toward the end, which is bleak, yet funny. However, they’re not enough to disguise this as a perfectly acceptable selection of horror stories with a splash of whimsical absurdity, but lacking the boundary-pushing nature of the first volume where Kago’s imagination ran riot. Japanese books read back to front via the Western system and the solution to the Dementia 21 dilemma is to apply that to the volumes also by reading this first to avoid disappointment, then moving on to the first selection.