D-Frag is an ongoing comedic manga by Haruno Tomoya. In 2014, Brain’s Base (yes the studio behind Baccano, Ixion Saga DT & OreGairu) aired a twelve episode adaptation. I’ll be covering both that and the one episode OVA that was bundled with a special edition for the manga.
Our protagonist, Kazama, is a delinquent. One day he and his fellow skivers find themselves running afoul of the Game Creation club. To their surprise, they’re handily beaten by the girls in the club. This swiftly results in Kazama being recruited to join the club. This, naturally, leads to shenanigans.
The humour in this is pretty hit and miss. It has some very funny moments. The types of weird games the club comes up with can be really funny. A lot of the gags referencing games are also quite well done. The series is also good at coming up with crazy scenarios that have a lot of comedic potential. The OVA is a great example. The characters get involved in a race for special limited edition water and there are a lot of comedic possibilities with that as your premise. It wouldn’t work as a long, full length anime but for one episode it’s a perfect concept.
On the other side of things, you have the jokes about masochism which just get really repetitive and predictable very quickly, thereby losing most of their impact. The series manages a few scenes that work with it but for every time it works there are three where it doesn’t. It doesn’t help that the series gives us two characters who have masochism as their main spiel. The same major issue holds true for the bulk of the love triangle japes. Kazama finds himself of interest to two different girls in a way that’s so obvious even I wouldn’t be oblivious to it if I were in that situation. And I once thought a young woman wrote her phone number on something she handed me by accident. And this dude seems completely oblivious. But that’s not the issue with these jokes. The problem is that they’re basically the same thing every time. The buxom girl gets embarrassed and acts cringey, while Roka is just completely forthright and Kazama plays the oblivious straight man. They can be funny sometimes but they’re usually just cringe-worthy.
I will give the series credit, though. Its comedy does work well more often than it falls flat, by a pretty strong margin.
All in all, the cast works fine in a comedic context. If this were a serious series, they wouldn’t. But as is, the only real complaint I have is that Kazama is kind of dull. His one job is to react to all the crazy shit everyone else does, and get dragged into it. Some might argue that you need the more “serious” character to help emphasise the craziness and respond to it but Galaxy Angel has an entire cast of bizarre, quirky characters and it is a superior comedy to this. Same with Muteki Kanban Musume.
I’m not saying that no comedies should ever have that type of reaction character, but they aren’t exactly interesting &, honestly, they shouldn’t be put in the lead role. The mostly uninspired and uninteresting love triangle interactions don’t help make a case for him either.
The animation is decent enough. Kind of standard but the designs work, the movements are smooth and the series does use comedic stylistic shifts and expressions pretty effectively.
Hanazawa Kana, Takahashi Mikako, Saito Chiwa & Ueda Kana make for a thoroughly solid cast. About the worst I can say is that the series may be excessive with its use of exaggerated reactions and it results in a lot of yelling that can get quite trite. I bet Konishi Katsuyuki really shredded his voice doing that since he gets the worst of it. Chamomile tea is good for that, Mate. The music… I wasn’t fond of the theme tunes in this one. It goes for that super hyperactive, noticeably auto-tuned aesthetic you get with some comedies. The incidental music was perfectly fine. Not the best I’ve heard from Matsuda Akito, but decent enough.
There’s a bit. One of the masochist characters seems to want some polyamory involving Kazama. The OVA gets some homo-erotic moments between Sakura and Noe.
D-Frag has a good amount of funny moments and some characters with strong quirks to carry it. I would go so far as to say that it is a good comedy. But it also suffers from putting a rather standard, dull character in the lead role and from some comedic bits that just get played out way before they stop using them. So, I can’t call it great. Final rating, a solid 7/10. Next week, The Choujo.