Let’s go on a monster-hunting, food tasting, wild adventure through a mystical land with nomad brother’s Dani and Ramen! Will they find out who (or what?) destroyed their home in this intriguing first volume?
Publisher: Fishdog Studios
Writer: Jake Morrison
Artist: Jake Morrison
Price: $19.99 from Fishdog Studios
From the moment we saw a Hayao Miyazaki quote on the inside front cover, and the potatoes vs yams debate on the first page, we knew that Dani and Ramen would be an enjoyable read.
Following the adventures of two brothers, Dani the frog and Ramen the red panda (go figure), Dani and Ramen begins its tale with our two protagonists finding out that their forest home has been completely destroyed. Not only that, but it’s definitely no accident. The two embark on a crazy adventure across many lands in order to find out who took their home, and how to get it back.
The dynamic between the two brothers is one of the best parts of this graphic novel. It felt somewhere in between Finn and Jake from Adventure Time, and Wirt and Greg from Over the Garden Wall. Dani acts as the older, taller, more responsible brother, while the shorter, younger Ramen is often the source of a lot of the humor (we particularly loved his preoccupation with food). The comedy throughout was fantastic, with frequent cheeky banter between the two, and some hilarious misunderstandings with their enemies.
Another aspect we loved was the world building. Jake Morrison definitely didn’t need to bat as hard for building the huge magical world he did in this tale, but it makes the lore and excitement of the book so much more thrilling to read. We adored the map endpapers (maps are always a plus in our book!), and really appreciated the frequent ‘author notes’ or world building pages, which generally appeared at the end of each chapter – sometimes it included some really applicable lore (explaining exactly where the brothers are and the history of it) and sometimes it was a random bit of knowledge from their world, like the origin of a fish dog (our new favourite animal!).
Food is also a constant throughout due to Ramen’s passion for cooking. There were some really awesome onomatopoeic moments where Ramen is munching away, and it feels like you can almost taste the food yourself. A scene that particularly stands out is the market scene early on in the book. It’s so charming, and colourful, and Ramen is so excited by all the food!
The story works well, as it’s divided into various chapters, which occasionally change perspectives from our main protagonists. The different chapters give the book a separate comic book volume feel, as each opening page has a brand-new piece of original art alongside the title. The art in general is fantastic, with a Cartoon Network cutesy feel to it, while also being really beautiful. It’s just a real pleasure to look at.
We appreciated that as the story goes on, it gets a little darker tonally. The brother’s start off innocent and hopeful that they’ll get their home back, but they soon run into lots of obstacles: an evil antelope who is trying to put a stop to their mission, and a town whose monster they get roped into destroying, to name a few. Although they also meet some friends (God bless Tracey and her food baskets), Dani and Ramen soon realize that their mission isn’t going to be as simple as they’d hoped. Especially when they discover that Dani has magical powers involving a mythical violet flame…
Volume 1 was utterly enjoyable, and we can’t wait to review Volume 2! We recommend reading up on fish dogs, getting some snacks, and sitting down to enjoy this delightful read.