Film Festival week: Dragonball Film 2- Majinjou no Nemuri Hime

I’ve talked about Toriyama Akira’s shounen classic, Dragonball before. I’ve also gone over its first film & several of its sequel DBZ’s films. Which is natural, I suppose, given how influential it is and how many films it has. We’re kicking off this year’s film festival with a look at the second Dragonball film. This one hit theatres in 1987, when most of you weren’t born and I was just a baby. I understand I was already highly critical of media and snubbed Maya the Bee for being too pedestrian.

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Story:

We open with a quick retread of Goku & Krillin approaching Roshi for training. He sends them on an errand to bring him a beautiful young girl but he doesn’t trust them so he specifies that he wants the sleeping princess who’s been imprisoned by demons for centuries according to legend. Which, I guess still makes her young when compared to Roshi. The pair set off, each determined to be the one who finds her. Unbeknownst to them, there’s more to the situation than meets the eye. And no, the castle isn’t a Transformer. As awesome as that would have been.

The biggest narrative issue does lie in the retread. First off, there’s no real reason for this. You could easily have Roshi send them during their training whilst offering some reward that they both want. Secondly, there are parts of it that really don’t work when you think about it. Bulma, Yamcha, Oolong & Pu’ar all arrive on Roshi’s island to look for Goku, for example. And there’s no reason they should expect him to be there if he’s not being trained. It would be like if I asked a store’s manager if they knew where my friend was because I saw her shop there once and just assumed the staff would know her whereabouts because of it. It’s like they want to have the established situation of the series proper but they also want to reset it.

On some more positive notes, the film does to a good job of encapsulating the show’s aesthetic. It’s the type of quick, goofy scenario you might just get for one or two episodes. It has a  strong sense of fun to it and just the right ratio of weirdness.

Characters:

The film has all your favourite characters, from the point it’s set. You have Krillin, Goku, Roshi, Bulma, Oolong, Lunch & Pu’ar. Also, Yamcha is there but he’d already begun his spiral into uselessness at this point and, while Goku & Krillin are fighting demons he punches out a physically deformed old man and that’s pretty much it. I’ll echo a question from DBZ fans everywhere. Why is Yamcha even here? Anyone could’ve decked that deformed elderly man. Even Oolong.

The best part of the characterisation in this film has to be the portrayal of Krillin & Goku’s rivalry and transition into friendship. It’s a nicely done element that’s actually kind of genuine, in spite of all the absurd elements around them.

Art:

The film looks like the series that spawned it.  Which comes with the good and the bad. They recycle some bits. The backgrounds aren’t the best. However, the aesthetic is appealing,the monster designs are pretty good and the crazy futuristic technology is nicely done.

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(Do you have a moment to peruse these tracts?)

Sound:

I’ll focus primarily on the film only characters since every single member of our main cast was well acted in the series proper, occasional overdone moment notwithstanding. They were also strong in the last film and I’m sure they’ll be strong in the final two Dragonball films  when I eventually review them. And that’s not even going into the Z related part of the franchise. In this case, we only really have the antagonists  voiced by Nozawa Nachi, Iizuka Shouzou (who also voiced good old number 8 in the main series) & Gouri Daisuke (who voiced a plethora of minor characters including the tortoise, Colonel Yellow, Cymbal & Drum). Gouri also voices my favourite antagonist in the film because he just seems to be having such a grand time although all three give good performances. The music is solid as well.

Ho-yay:

Not really any here. Unless you think Goku’s eagerness to be friends with Krillin has to do with romantic tension. Which I don’t but I’m not averse to the idea.

Final Thoughts:

Majinjou no Nemuri Hime is a solid film. It’s enjoyable with some strong action sequences, good comedic moments and, frankly, if you’re a fan of Dragonball this is forty five more minutes of the same type of thing. So, you’ll enjoy it. It’s definitely a vast improvement over the first film. I give it a solid 7/10. Tomorrow, we’l continue the week with Godzilla: Kaijuu Wakusei.

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Garo: Honoo no Kokuin- Very Plain

Garo: Honoo no Kokuin is an anime from the mid 2000s. It was created by Amemiya Keita (who’s done a lot of work on Kamen Rider). Although the anime was written by Kobayashi Yasuko (who also worked on the anime for Claymore & Shakugan no Shana) and was brought to us by MAPPA. A studio I only know because they worked on Sakamichi no Apollon, which was pretty crap.

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Story:

We open with a very pregnant witch being burned at the stake for “causing disease.” Although she was probably just a woman who owned some land, given the history of actual “witch” burnings. She gives birth while in the fire and an armoured knight moves past the soldiers, in spite of their best efforts, and snatches the baby, swiftly disappearing on a mechanical looking stead. We watch a brief compilation of more witches getting hunted down and slaughtered. Cut to years later, horrific monsters are feasting on humans. It turns out the so-called witches were protectors who hunted down these horrors and the hunts have been orchestrated by the king’s evil advisor, Mendoza. Why is it you get so many fantasy-based works where the king’s advisor or chancellor is just blatantly doing something malevolent but no one notices except for a small band of heroes? In any case, it’s up to the armoured knight from before, Germán & his now grown son, León. Can they stop Mendoza and bring peace back to the land?

Here’s the fundamental problem with this series. It tries to be a super dark, edgy and adult version of a sentai show. But sentai shows have a lot of elements that don’t work well in media for older audiences. The monster of the week format, the one-dimensionally evil antagonists, the really obvious and formulaic plots. And all of those are in this series. But it also has brief depictions of sexual assault that never even come close to being handled in an adult, mature manner. So, there’s that.

Let’s go into the issue of the plot being really obvious in a little more detail. This is something that’s fine in a work for children because they haven’t seen a whole lot of media and probably won’t see the obvious plot flags as easily as an adult would. But this series is definitely not for children, so let’s be as harsh as it deserves. So, we have a young, optimistic prince who finds himself betrayed by the big bad in this world of knights with magic armour. You see that happen, you know he’s becoming a major character. Or how about this one. The big bad seems to be killed in battle, but you don’t see him actually cut down. Obviously, he’s not dead and is going to return. How about this? You have a series that’s really trying to be dark and adult but one of the main characters seems to find peace with a nice, accepting family that oh so kindly takes him in. That ends in the exact way you would expect. Seriously, it’s not just so trite it’s obvious, it’s so trite it’s painfully obvious. I’ve actually spoiled that part just by describing the very basic set up. The ending is a bit shit too. It’s an obvious ending but one where it briefly seems like they might show some ovarian fortitude and take a bit of a risk but then comes the ass pull. Well, that was close. They almost did something interesting.

That being said, most of this series isn’t bad. Yeah, it’s really predictable and about as interesting as waving tissue paper around but, with a few exceptions, it’s not actively annoying or infuriating to watch. Even the obvious “we found a book on writing formulae and decided to follow it to the letter” bits aren’t bad. They’re just uninspired, unoriginal and uninteresting. Think of it as unseasoned white bread with no schmear or anything else on it. It’s edible but not exactly appetising.

Characters:

Speaking of unoriginal, let’s look at our cast of characters. We have the protagonist who carries a deep, burning anger over the past. The more hopeful, paragon character. The irresponsible father who deserves a hard kick to the bollocks but we’re supposed to forgive because “he actually really cares about his on even if he doesn’t always show it very well.” We have the action girl who’s motivated by something that happened to a man in her life. Can’t forget the enigmatic supernatural being who offers guidance. We also can’t forget the villain who just considers himself above everyone else. To extrapolate the issue here, all of these characters are clichés. And this isn’t one of those series that starts with clichéd characters and then develops them into something more. Goodness no. They either get developed in the most bog standard ways or they don’t get developed at all. Friendship is Magic has more character complexity than this and it’s a show for young girls about multi-coloured cartoon horses.

Art:

Here’s one element that I can give a good amount of credit. The action sequences have a strong sense of spectacle to them. The art style is rather nice in general. Particularly when it comes to the armour and monsters. There are some exceptions. Anima looks really bleeding stupid. And the CG may look good on its own but it doesn’t always mesh with the regular art style particularly well.

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Sound:

MAPPA got some strong actors for this. We have Paku Romi, Namikawa Daisuke & Horiuchi Kenyuu are all good, seasoned actors. Nomura Katsuhito may not have as many roles, but he’s pretty good in this. The group MONACA handles the music and they do a pretty good job.

Ho-yay:

There isn’t any to be found.

Final Thoughts:

Garo is a series that suffers a lot from a complete reliance on clichés. Which just makes the issues with the writing all the more apparent, since it isn’t offering you anything unique to distract your attention or compensate for them. The best element, by far, is the sound but having good sound and decent art can’t make up for a narrative that’s, at best, sub-par or characters that have nothing to them. Ultimately, I give it a 4/10. If you really want to see the style and the lack of substance isn’t going to bother you then you might enjoy it. You may also enjoy it if it’s quite literally your first dark fantasy story and you haven’t seen everything it does before but, as a whole, I can’t recommend it. The writing is simply too mundane on the whole. Next week we’ll have our film festival week, starting on Sunday.

July Bonus Review: Secret Six- Villains United

The original Secret Six goes all the way back to the late 60s and used a bunch of characters who most people wouldn’t recognise. The team was revived two decades later for its second arc. But we’re looking at the third incarnation from the mid 2000s written by Gail Simone. This particular collection includes Villains United #1-6, Villain United: Infinite Crisis Special #1 & Secret Six #1-6. 

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Story:

We open with a bunch of big name villains, including Deathstroke, Talia Al Ghul, Lex Luthor & Black Adam, gathering everyone they possibly can into a Society of villains. Their purpose is simple, prevent any heroes from crossing over the line and erasing their minds like they did to Doctor Light in a stupid retcon for a shit comic.

We’re introduced to the first of our major characters, Catman, when he refuses an offer from Doctor Psycho and Talia. Psycho is furious since Catman’s been basically a joke for years. We cut to a small group: Deadshot, Scandal Savage, Cheshire, one of Darkseid’s Parademons, Ragdoll & The Fiddler, fighting some H.I.V.E agents. They complete the operation and the Fiddler is deemed unworthy, resulting in Deadshot straight up murdering him. They need a sixth member, which turns out to be the aforementioned Catman. Now these six less than well known villains under the guidance of the mysterious Mockingbird find themselves at odds with a massive society of villains.

At least, that’s the first arc of the collection. The second deals with Vandal Savage deciding that it’s time for his daughter to pump out some babies. Because he wants those grandchildren. Neither she nor her girlfriend, Knockout, take kindly to the notion.

The writing in this  is, frankly, really stellar. Especially considering it’s working off of something as shit as Identity Crisis. In a sense, it’s the ultimate underdog scenario. Not only are these villains fighting against much bigger villains, but they’re villains who are largely regarded as C-list, at best. And the situations they find themselves in don’t have the usual, obvious comic solutions. Things happen that you would never expect especially if you’re used to comic conventions. I guess that’s the advantage of using unconventional characters. And these aren’t twists that come out of nowhere, Simone does a good job of building up to them. She just makes it vague enough that you aren’t sure what exactly the build up is for until you see it.

About the only thing I take some issue with is the use of character death. This is something I’m critical of in comics as a whole. I don’t like seeing characters die cheaply. I don’t like seeing them resurrected cheaply. In this case, we see quite a few characters killed off. To be fair, most of them are characters who weren’t being used and were unlikely to show up in anything else. In some cases, like The Fiddler, we even see their legacy passed on. I still can’t help but see it as taking part in a very negative trend, even if it handles it better than the vast majority of comics.

Characters:

Simone has a difficult task in this story. She has to build up these characters that you probably don’t give a shit about going into the story in a way that keeps them villainous but also makes them relatable enough for you to have some investment in what happens with them. Fortunately, Gail Simone is easily one of the best comic writers out there and she does a fantastic job of doing that.

The characters are heavily flawed. They do some very questionable things but they have enough complexity to them that they are interesting to read about and, perhaps more importantly, they have likeable traits. And one of them is a freaking nameless Parademon.

They also have strong dynamics. Deadshot and Catman start developing a strong friendship that neither one will likely ever call a friendship. Scandal and Knockout are kind of adorable in their relationship. The Parademon and Ragdoll have an interesting dynamic. Cheshire and Catman have a lot of intrigue betwixt them. And those are just the stand out dynamics. really, any two major characters who are part of the six together will have something interesting to their interactions.

Art: 

The artist changes throughout. We have Dale Eaglesham, Val Semeiks & Brad Walker for the pencillers. All three do great work. this is a well drawn series of comics. The colourists, including Paul Mounts, Rob Schwager & Guy Major also deserve credit because the colours in this are also damn good. The action sequences are dynamic with a strong sense of flow. The characters look great, it’s just strong work all around.

Final Thoughts:

Secret Six- Villains United is pretty phenomenal. Thirteen comics and they’re all great reads. I would certainly recommend it for any comic book fans and my final rating is going to be a 9/10.

Ninja Batman:The Dark Knight sinks into the muck

I’ve talked about some Marvel related anime before with Blade & X-men. It seemed about time I looked at something DC related. This film came out in April & June of this year with a screenplay by Nakashima Kazuki and relative newcomer studio, Kamikaze Douga, handling the animation. So, how well does it portray the Dark Knight? Will it surpass Mask of the Phantasm as the best Batman animated film?

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Story:

We open with Bats headed for Arkham Asylum where the villainous Gorilla Grodd is conducting an experiment. Now, you may wonder why they would poach a villain from the Flash for this when Bats has such a stellar rogue’s gallery of his own. I don’t know, because no one cares about the Flash since they de-powered Wally West. The result of the experiment is Batman, Catwoman, the Arkham inmates and some other people who were nearby being sent to feudal Japan where The Joker, Penguin, Two Face, Poison Ivy & Deathstroke become warlords. You may wonder why Deathstroke is in this when he’s primarily a Titans villain and not insane so he should never have been in Arkham. Well, they poached him because no one cares about the Titans since the reboot gave it to one of the worst comic writers in history, Scott Lobdell. Yes, the same writer who portrayed Starfire as an emotionless sex robot. You may also  wonder how his villains all learned to speak Japanese but don’t worry about it. Grodd’s time machine has a universal translator function like the TARDIS. And now Bruce has to reunite with his allies and stop his villains before they can change history.

The big issue with this film is that it tries to throw in random, out of place, stupid shit because it’s popular in action anime. For example, the Gotham criminals all build giant robot bases that can combine into one massive giant robot base. Fortunately, the monkeys and bats are able to  coalesce into a massive humanoid form to combat it. It is, no exaggeration, one of the dumbest action sequences you will ever see. There’s also this ancient bat prophecy that the bat ninja clan follows which leads them and their massively conspicuous bat adorned vehicles to Batman. Because ninja were definitely known for their ostentatious displays.

Honestly, the final showdown in this doesn’t make much sense either. They basically set it up as a duel with Batman, master martial artist and hand to hand combatant, against the Joker, a man who’s dangerous because he’s unpredictable but who has very little skill in hand to hand fights. Yeah, this film had literally three characters who could reasonably match Batman in hand to hand combat; Deathstroke, Bane & Grodd. They only used the Joker because he’s the most famous Batman villain. Which isn’t good form for a narrative.

Characters:

They screw up quite a bit with the characters in this. First off, neither Deathstroke nor Bane should be here since they aren’t the types of insane villains who would go to Arkham. They’d go to a regular prison. Neither one gets used well either. They have very brief appearances and do basically nothing. The same could be said for Two Face, Ivy and Penguin. None of them serve much point. The film could have been much cleaner and less cluttered sticking with Grodd, Joker & Harley. But let’s talk about the various Robins for a moment. Honestly, there’s no reason for any of these guys to be here. They do basically nothing but go off to have ten second confrontations with the villains who do nothing. And it seems really counter to Damian Wayne’s character to have him befriend a little monkey.

Even the more major characters are off. The Joker doesn’t come across as particularly crazy in this. Then we’ve got Bruce. There’s this scene I actually kind of like where Bruce expresses uncertainty over how he’s going to manage trapped in the past without any of his usual resources. And I’m all for Batman being more humanised and less of a Mary Sue who can beat anyone in the galaxy with a week to prepare. The problem is that his “solution” is that he needs to learn to move and fight like a ninja. This is freaking Batman. He already knows how to move in the shadows, how to use gadgets to obscure his presence and how to fight as a world class master in any martial art. Batman doesn’t need to learn ninjutsu, he’s already an expert. I like the idea of showing his vulnerable, human side but that execution is rubbish.

Art:

The film does look pretty good. Some of the action scenes are kind of bad, especially the giant robots versus combined animals one. It also does suffer from some dumb art decisions like giving Bruce a monk’s hairstyle with a fucking bat cut into the middle. Even the goofy Adam West version would consider that too embarrassing. Still, the art style is pretty good, the film does have a nice visual aesthetic to it and when it has a strong action sequence, it does have a good spectacle to it.

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Sound:

The acting is pretty decent. Even without a strong script to work off of they did get some strong actors like Kugimiya Rie, Kakuma Ai, Ono Daisuke & Yamadera Kouichi. The music from Kanno Yugo is all right as well. It’s not his best.

Ho-yay: 

There isn’t any. Don’t expect the canon Harley Ivy relationship that they’ve had going in the comics for a while. Which is fine because this film probably wouldn’t have done a good job with it, like they don’t with most things.

Final Thoughts:

Ninja Batman is a pretty pitiful attempt at showcasing the Dark Knight. It doesn’t know how to use a lot of the interesting characters it has in its cast. It doesn’t know how to tell a compelling narrative. Bottom line, it’s a bad film that has some decent spectacle moments. My final rating is going to be a 3/10. Next week, Garo: Honoo no Kokuin.

Makai Senki Disgaea: Based on a much better game

The Disgaea franchise is, generally speaking, fantastic. They’re RPGs with a strong sense of humour & endearing characters. Sort of like another RPG franchise that I reviewed an anime based off of. The anime for this came out in ’06 from OLM. That’s right, the Gunsmith Cats, Steel Angel Kurumi 2 & Pokemon studio. Let’s see how they managed with this one.

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Story:

we open with an angel, Flonne, faffing about in the underworld to assassinate its king. She comes across the king’s son, Laharl, who was poisoned and left in a casket. She heals him and the pair swiftly learn that his father died while he was snoozing. After some confrontations with other demons, and finding a companion in Etna and her Frobisher… I mean prinny squad,  they decide to head for the castle so that Laharl can claim the throne.

The biggest issue with the narrative is simply that it’s extremely abridged. Things like strong pacing, atmosphere building and some of the more amusing but frivolous dialogue get tossed out in favour of trying to hit all of the major plot points from the game. To be honest, I’m not sure it was the best way to go about it. It might have worked better if the anime was slower and only covered a quarter or a third of the game.

I will give the anime credit for fleshing out the Big Sis Prinny reveal a bit better than the game did. And that’s literally the only thing I’ll credit it with over the game. It is also kind of nice to see the big scenes in a fully animated form, even if they are shortened in order to cram it all into a twelve episode series. And I’m kind of glad they don’t use the game’s best ending since it gives viewers more incentive to actually play it.

Characters:

The major characters are pretty decently represented in this series. They don’t have all the development they get in the game proper nor do they have all their best lines but, for a short series that’s trying to cover everything, they do a pretty good job. And it does feature one of my favourite aspects of Disgaea. Demons with a lot of redeeming qualities and angels who are kind of scumbags. Call it heretical if you like, but I enjoy the subversion and I like that the execution in this franchise is a bit more nuanced since the characters are fleshed out enough that the angels do have positive traits as well, Flonne especially while the demons are significantly flawed.

My biggest issue is that the anime might be too heavy handed with that aspect. The game was better about putting it in and not really drawing a huge amount of attention to it whereas the anime feels the need to shove it in your face.

Art:

The series looks good. They captured the game’s aesthetic nicely. Unfortunately, the animation is pretty lazy. There are a lot of scenes where someone talks and their mouth doesn’t move or where an action scene starts and ends very abruptly and I’m not sure whether it’s because they were “hard to animate” or because they were just rushing to get to the next plot point. Either way, it’s not a good impression.

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Sound:

This is one aspect where I can give the anime full credit without any “but…” involved. Mizuhashi Kaori, Hanba Tomoe & Sasamoto Yuuko are all fantastic. The soundtrack is really damn good as well. The sound design is just on point all around.

Ho-yay:

There are, maybe one or two scenes where Etna & Flonne read as having tension but it’s not exactly a significant thing.

Final Thoughts:

Ultimately, this anime has its strong points. The sound is fantastic, the characters are close enough to their game versions to have a lot of the endearing factors intact, the story has its moments. But its pacing and atmosphere suffer from being too abridged, the big subversion is too heavy-handed, the animation is lazy and it ultimately ends up being an inferior version of the game’s story with some changes that do work and others that don’t really matter. I give the anime a 6/10. It’s decent enough and it might be worth watching if you love the game or if you’re on the fence about trying the game and you want something that can give you a good idea of whether or not you’d like it. Because if you enjoy this anime well enough the chance of you enjoying the game is very high. Next week, Ninja Batman. Because I’ve looked at a few Marvel anime already and it’s time to give DC a chance.

The Choujo

The Choujo is a part of the Rumik World series of OVAs, none of which I’ve seen. It came out in 1986 from Studio Pierrot. Yes, the same studio that worked on Yu Yu Hakusho & Osomatsu-san. So, how does this compare to their other works I’ve seen?

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Story:

We open with Maris, a survivor from an extinct planet, beating the shit out of some bad guys as part of her duty for the Intergalactic Space Patrol. She goes on vacation and tries to earn some extra money, as her parents break things constantly. That’s when she’s given a big, important job to rescue a kidnapped heir. She sees it as an opportunity to marry into money. Lady, just take out an ad. You’ve got super strength and good looks (by the standards of the art style), I’d bet some wealthy heir or heiress would accept you as a trophy bride. In any case, she goes off to confront the kidnapper and rescue the rich twit.

The biggest problem with this series is just that it’s pretty damn boring. The humour is stale with very predictable jokes. There are also long chunks of the OVA where nothing happens. You want a long scene that’s supposed to be funny where we just watch random shit on the beach? That’s in this. And I’m sure it’s totally not a flimsy excuse to see some ladies in bikinis. Because this series just puts its main characters, protagonist & antagonist, in bikinis any way. There’s just nothing compelling to it. Maybe there was some novelty value to be had back in 1986, but I’ve seen some other anime from that era and I kind of doubt it.

Characters:

Here’s where the real issues come in. This is one of those series that should be relying on quirky characters to make its humour work, but they range from dull to actively annoying. With the major characters gravitating towards the latter. Maris herself is just obnoxiously vapid. The same is true for Sue. They’re just physically powerful ladies, who have a vague “hate being poor” schtick going for them. But, you know, they dress in battle bikinis so we can call that character development, if we want to use dumb old memes. Then we have the heir. Think of Andy from Cowboy Bebop if he had no interesting or redeeming traits and was just shit. That’s pretty much Koganemaru.

Art:

Even for the mid 80s, this looks bad. The animation is really slow and choppy, a lot of the artwork is just lazy. In terms of its weirder, theoretically comedic, imagery, it’s not exactly Yellow Submarine. This might have actually benefited from being more stony, to be honest. About the best I can say is that it’s easy enough to follow and not a huge mess. Just a bit of one.

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Sound:

Koyama Mami & Shimamoto Sumi are both decent enough in this, considering the script. Yeah, not gonna lie it comes across as a bit lacklustre. The music is fine too. Not the best in the world, but it works.

Ho-yay:

There isn’t any. The only bits of romance we see are vapid ladies pining over a bored rich boy.

Final Thoughts:

The Choujo is a bit rubbish, actually. With a completely trite narrative, weak humour, annoying major characters, poor artwork and sound that’s just okay (but still the best element in the piece.) Ultimately, I give it a 3/10 and probably should have left it floating in the septic tank instead of fishing it out just because I was curious. Someone put it in the tank for a reason. Next week I’ll look at Makai Senki Disgaea. I just hope the anime is as good as the game.

D-frag: Just shift the lead a bit and…

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.

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Story:

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.

Characters:

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.

Art:

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.

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Sound:

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.

Ho-yay:

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.

Final Thoughts:

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.