After much deliberation, our anime society decided that for the term’s final bonus meeting, we would watch Doujin Work. Having seen a few episodes, I was pleased about this, although pointed out that it would continue the year’s reputation for having a lot of loli. Nonetheless, it was me who really insisted on it today and therefore it was Doujin Work we watched: and everyone walked away happy, including myself!
Doujin Work is a very silly show. It follows Genshiken and the like in being a show about otaku, although goes even further to idealise the kind of people who are part of the culture, while being much more exaggerated and comical in tone.
Osana Najimi is a typical genki girl who decides to make doujinshi when she discovers her friend Tsuyuri makes money that way. Along with her rival Nidou and her childhood friend/mentor Justice, a strange man who spends all his time with a little girl called Sora, she sets out to become a great artist, even though she cannot draw and writes terrible trash.
Short enough to marathon, it doesn’t matter that there’s little substance here or that the nepotism that drives the climax of the series feels hollow and makes it drag somewhat. The short series is utter brilliance because its characterisation is so good. Like Azumanga Daioh, every one of the characters is easy to love and provides endless entertainment. Najimi is cute, daft and likeable, but it’s the others who are truly brilliant. Tsuyuri is the most perfectly-done Machiavellian sadist I’ve ever seen in anime, pulling the strings in the most deliciously detached way. Nidou seems like she’ll be a basic rival character but turns out to be an adorable childish oeru. The love interest is funny and put into all sorts of compromising situations.
And then there’s Justice, surely one of the best characters ever seen in anime. A huge silver-haired genius of the doujinshi world, he can be as intimidating or as goody-goody as need be. He is weird, random, aggressive, loving, and commanding – and then he’s also in a weird, kinky relationship with a tiny little girl of about seven who he dresses up as a maid, a fairy, a bee-girl…which is so very wrong it’s hilarious.
It’s a simple but brilliant little comedy, well worth anyone’s time – albeit certainly not something to show someone not initiated into the tropes of anime…
(originally written 8.12.08)