Sunday, September 17, 2017

Anime Review : D-Frag!


“A loud comedy show that is really open to it’s own absurd nature, which is very entertaining”

What is D-Frag! ?

The anime follows Kazama Kenji, a delinquent who does not participate in any club activities and would rather hang out and go home with his delinquent party. However, his life was suddenly altered when he was forced to join a suspicious club called the “Game Creation Club”. 

So, what do I think about it?

When you think of comedy, you think of one thing, which is to laugh, simple and clear. For a comedy show to work, it needs to have one factor, it has to be funny. So, how are you going to make it funny? You make the most absurd setting there is on the anime, and that is what D-Frag! all about, it is absurd and loud, yet it is so funny, to the point that I lost track of how many times I laughed to almost every punchline flung at me while rewatching the show.

For a comedy show to work, it needs to still instill you with that laughing factor despite how many times you have watched it, and D-Frag! certainly makes full use of their absurdity to make all the jokes that I have rewatched numerous time to still remain funny. Sometimes, you have the main cast to be shifted to a random character with the tag of ‘Extras’ accompanying them, sometimes you have the elemental jokes regarding each character elements, but out of everything, the core strength that makes D-Frag! truly is funny is it’s Tsukkomi routine that the main character, Kazama Kenji, does all the time.

A show needs to be funny if it is a comedy show.

Tsukkomi, or retorting another’s stupid antics, is a common trope found in anime series, so common that it has been exhausted in this era. It was hard to find a very good tsukkomi routine, but Kazama Kenji and this anime is certainly the master to this technique. The way Kazama retorts to every single thing that all the people is doing or saying to him is very, very entertaining. And since this anime has an absurd setting, his tsukkomi routine never falls out of place and the way Kazama is retorting to every single thing is just how we, the viewer, casually view this show and just couldn’t help retorting to all this anime gives us, and Kazama is solely our representative for that.

However, the downside of tsukkomi is that not that many people are entertained with tsukkomi routine, and some might even find them annoying. I’ve found several one or two cases where viewers who watched D-Frag! did not find the anime funny at all, and they found this highly-entertaining anime to be boring. Well, to each their own, they say…

The formula is simple, yet it worked so well and is the show's core strength.

Aside from the formula, I mentioned of how the anime’s setting is so absurd that it actually embraced it, yes? It’s own absurd setting is, like I said before, the accompanying core strength of it’s intense tsukkomi routine. There is no way that this anime would have worked if the setting is a regular high-school or the students are all generic and they treat every single thing, even the smallest one, to be bigger than it actually was.

Yes, the students here are not your commonly-seen generic faceless students or those with similar features all over again. Aside from the main character, any side or background character looks out of place in this high-school setting. Some looks very old, some looks very young, and some are certainly from different anime series. Yet, since the setting is absurd, they do not look out of place at all. In fact, they look certainly at home in this absurd anime.

The setting is so absurd that it started a tournament just for a bag.

And I liked how the show treated those said side or background characters. They are given much love just like the main character of the show. Their color, animation, and smoothness are on par with each other, so much that you might mistake a background character for a main character at certain point. Some of them are even given a consistent amount of appearance that one might even recall or know the name of this side character even when several episodes set them apart. Also, they are sometimes subjected to a hilarious one-liner regarding the current situation that they’re currently in.

I spoke about side characters first rather than the main characters… How strange…

The careful animation put on each background character makes it so absurdly hilarious.

As well as their design.

However, they mesh pretty well with the main cast despite their different status.

Anyway, speaking of main characters, I liked how they are highly-entertaining but sometimes treated as just fodder for Kazama’s tsukkomi’s routine. Aside from Kazama, not much of them are given enough backstory or reasoning on why they are the way they are currently. Well, that, if their somehow doctored background story are actually genuine.

Kazama Kenji is the main character and, of course, the central character, of the show. Everything revolves around him and his every single thing that he did will greatly impact the plot or the story that the anime is currently undergoing or going to play out. Such as when Kazama called out another group of delinquent only to ended up being kept hostage, which leads to the club trying to save him, and so on.

Of course, his most powerful asset is his tsukkomi routine, which I have mentioned numerous time in the story. He reacted to every single thing that other character did with a really, really loud voice that protested everything that the character is doing. He and the other character on the show are all self-aware of Kazama’s daily tsukkomi routine, which other character found it to be either entertaining or his trademark thing to do, and he does this to such great extent that he sometimes exhaust himself and claimed that doing this on a hourly basis could kill him due to the great exhaustion that this act is giving him.

Kazama is very entertaining as he is the core strength of how this show truly works.

There’s also the game creation club, which consists of Shibasaki Roka, Karasuma Chitose, Mizukami Sakura, and Minami Osawa. They all are unique in their character and even has their element represent their personality, though not which all represent them correctly. Roka is flame and dark, which explains her… I don’t know, cute nature? Chitose is represented through Earth element that explains her dominant personality? Osawa is represented through electricity but she is lazy and fell asleep on every given minute? Well, that all were an irony there. Of course, aside from Sakura, whose water element perfectly represented her innocence and playful nature.

Sakura is, by far, my most favourite character of the entire show, as her playful nature is so endearing and her overall appearance is also good enough for me. Her comedic timings are second to none, which has Kazama retorting to her antics over and over again that provides a perfect harmony. However, her comedic timings are not always reliant to Kazama’s tsukkomi, as she sometimes displays a very unique yet humorous antics, such as waiting in a crouching start as she anticipates Kazama’s attempted escape, or coating her hand after she punch someone before saying casually that she doesn’t want to touch them is all comical gold. Truly the best.

All of the member of the game creation club are unique in their own right.

However, Sakura's playful demeanor is what makes me regard her as the best out of all.

There is also a character which the anime truly loves, which is Takao. Takao, after her debut episode, constantly appeared through each and single episode of the show and acts in her own nature of shy yet commanding president of the actual game creation club. Yes, there is two game creation club, and Takao and Roka are the president of the respective club. Takao is, unlike Roka, more entertaining to watch due to her apparent crush towards Kazama and her bold attempts to be close to him, but always ended up failing spectacularly. And yes, her comedic timings are not always reliant on Kazama’s tsukkomi, which is good on her own right.

Takao also boasts a mad figure of gigantic boobs, which is subjected to several dirty, yet hilarious, jokes regarding the said figure, such as how her boobs is big enough it causes a zipper shot, Chitose's 'That' thing that i do not understand at all yet it is so funny thanks to her delivery, and so on. Ever since her debut, her jokes are mostly regarding her boobs, though most of them work since it is delivered so well.

Takao interacts well with Kazama, though she does not needed to be carried by him all the time.

If I speak about the entire character, then the amount of pages needed will be too much, so I am going to speak about several more characters before moving on.

However, if i am to complain about character, then it is one thing, it is too much. So much that its hard for the anime to keep track on each character. Kazama's little sister, for example, is only given one genuine episode that focuses on her before she makes no more appearance in the anime until the OVA, which is a shame to be honest.

Speaking of characters, I also liked of how debuting characters are given a cameo appearance on an episode where they will certainly appear next. It adds to the show’s charm and makes you think that you are perceptive enough to notice them again after noticing them prior to their debut. That’s awesome.

In this scene, Kazama's little sister makes a cameo appearance before her full-fledged debut.

And in here, the two members of the student council make a cameo appearance before their debut.

Music  was okay, as it fits the wacky theme of the show, most of the time. However, I cannot say much as I did not pay too much attention to music, and was paying more attention on the sound effects that were used, which sounded a bit original to me.

Still with sounds, voice acting was great as, like the previously reviewed Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun, the anime boasts several stellar name for their main cast and their reccuring characters. The strongest performance was, of course, by Kazama’s VA, Katsuyuki Konishi, who managed to scream all the way from their first recording session to the end. I am not surprised if he has speaking problems after all that screaming. Then, there is the performance of Mizukami Sakura’s VA, Mikako Takahashi, who totally fits her childish and playful personality. The rest were okay, but those two deserves a shout-out to each.

I’ve sampled several episodes in English dub and found them decently entertaining. Not as much as the original japanese but still enjoyable. This is partly because tsukkomi routines are not as good when it is dubbed into another language, and as D-Frag! core strength lies in it’s tsukkomi routines, it made the English dub a bit weaker, as the VA needs to change his wording to fit the language better.
However, now came the bad thing, which is the animation. The animation is not as smooth in certain episodes and was questionable at times. However, the show was greatly carried by it’s tsukkomi power so I think it is okay.

And lastly, there is almost no plot in this story. Everyday, it’s just how Kazama going to spend the rest of his day in either the clubroom or somewhere else that a character dragged him into, although there were certain parts where Kazama is not on the clubroom and so on, though the last arc regarding the fight between the old student council agains the game creation club was mildly entertaining to say the least, and it ended anti-climaticly to top all of that.

The time Kazama spent in each episode is either with his delinquent party,

Or with the game creation club.

So that’s it, the review of D-Frag! I think this anime has a great potential to be very successful, yet the company behind this great anime does not have much faith in the original source work, I think.  It contains a very absurd setting and a formulaic tsukkomi pattern which blends well together for some reason. The characters were all entertaining, for the main cast, and downright hilarious, for the secondary characters, which I found very amusing.

Be warned that since it contains so much tsukkomi, those who do not like the style of humor should not watch this anime series.  Casual viewers might have mixed response regarding this anime, though if they like comedy, this should not be a problem for him.

Even as formulaic or cliched as it gets, D-Frag! always finds a way to make it less clich├ęd or formulaic and more entertaining at hand.

The Good: Absurd settings. Plethora of great entertainment. Strong cast.

The Bad: Too reliant on using the tsukkomi routine. 

Highlight Moments: The tournament for the bag. Kazama’s recruitment to the club. When Kazama’s sister appeared

Final Score : 3.5 out of 5. Despite it's tired formula, the anime still goes strong.

As the anime is over, a sequel is not as needed as Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun .Both anime have almost similar principle such as utilizing background characters  as possible, to name a few.

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