Despite the close relationship that anime fans have to gaming, you don’t often see an anime dedicated purely to the subject. Sure you get references to games quite regularly in some of the more outlandish anime such as Lucky Star and Chobits and even some anime based on actual games but it falls short somewhat. However, D-Frag is a show where games and the world of gaming is the base for a funny and refreshing spin on the school club anime scene.
OK, D-Frag may not be OBSESSIVE when it comes to the world of gaming, but it does form the foundation for the setting that our characters live in. The story starts with Kenji, a ‘delinquent’ who has recently moved to the city with his friends. I use inverted commas because they aren’t really bad people; they merely want the mystique that is attached to those kind of people. Their bravado is quickly gotten rid of and they’re actually decent guys albeit a bit cowardly. He encounters a young girl named Roka who is in charge of the Game Dev Club and after an initial encounter, the two meet up again with Roka aiming to recruit the trio into joining their club. All’s not well with the club though and it’s on the brink of closing through lack of members. Kenji and companys’ appearance breathes hope into their club but let’s say that their recruitment drive is…less than orthodox. It borders on the manic and farcical. The first several minutes give you no preparation for this and you are at first left in stunned silence but the tension slowly dissipates and you realise that the club is a rag-tag team of eccentrics, obsessives and power-mad horrors. After many ridiculous attempts to recruit Kenji, he gives in and joins the group saving their skins. However, there’s a twist in the tale and there’s already a Game Dev Club which exists led by a busty girl named Takao. This extra addition gives a sense of competition and dynamism to the story. It could’ve been sewn up in the first episode and the element of peril would’ve been extinguished. Fortunately it lingers on and adds an extra dimension to proceedings.
Going back to those recruitment drives I mentioned; suffice to say that the girls who run this Game Dev Club have very active imaginations. They like to live their role-play characters and use their ‘powers’ to convince Kenji into joining. At first it all seems stupid and somewhat disturbing but you quickly lighten up at how elaborate their actions are. It’s definitely worth a laugh or two. Or three. It does have a lot of humour going for it and those watching will not be disappointed when it comes to the writing. Despite the easygoing and quaint scenario, there are loads of facets to the characters which mean it doesn’t feel generic or staged. Sure some of the characters can be pigeon-holed into archetypes such as the dominatrix, the peppy go-getter, the lazy placater but each of them has an extra dimension which saves them from being purely plot vehicles. The writing is very good.
As for the rest of it, it sort of falls down a little. The art work can be good at times and when the comedy is heightened to insane levels, it comes into its stride and it works; during the bits in between it feels a little flat and dull – like you were watching a rushed product or a part where the animators were wanting to get to the bonkers parts. It’s not bad but it’s not as the good as the very good parts. It lacks regularity in its animation production.
D-Frag has a decent pedigree having released eight volumes of manga since 2008. With the studio Brain’s Base behind the production [the animators behind Durarara and Penguindrum – both being modern classics] it certainly has potential to be a good series albeit a little tamer than the examples I listed just now. I certainly like this show and find it to be very funny. Gaming is something that I and most anime fans can understand and relate to and so I’m surprised it has not been explored more often. It’s a refreshing addition to the school club genre and I certainly recommend this show for people seeking a wacky comedy with a lot of slapstick and shouting. Lots of shouting. All the shouts.
D-Frag! is available to stream on Funimation.com. [yay!]
RATING: CONTINUE [An absolute hoot!]
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