Saturday, 21 January 2012

デ・ジ・キャラット/ Di Gi Charat – s1, OVAs and movie

First Impressions - 3.10.05

Tried some new anime – cutesy classic Di Gi Charat, designed by the same person who came up with Pita Ten, but it was extremely annoying and not at all cute, so I didn’t download any more of it.

Follow-up - 8.1.07

Fortunately, I’m not in bad spirits because Di Gi Charat turned out to be just what I wanted last night. I think I was put off by episode one because I was hoping for something like Pita Ten, and seeing the totally random humour, Dejiko’s annoying hyperactivity and the fact that most of the humans were drawn as fingers with faces, I was just irritated. Total randomness with bits of slapstick really doesn’t make me laugh – that’s why Furi Kuri grated on me. But when more characters are introduced into Di Gi Charat, their totally archetypal character quirks may not be fresh or new, but they at least give a warmth and humour to proceedings, and I’ve now watched all 16 original 3-minute episodes and think it’s actually quite a funny and cute series. Nothing near as good as Pita Ten or that other cute Kogo Donbo-designed series, Chicchana Yuki Tsukai Shugaa (A Little Snow Fairy Sugar), but much zanier and sillier and worth watching when the brain needs to be turned off.

Final Thoughts - 21.1.12

On the strength of those two old entries, Di Gi Charat would be an excellent example of a time I’ve had a bad first impression of an anime but then picked it up again – over a year later – and actually come to enjoy it. It’s happened a few times, including to greater and lesser extents all of Shounen Jump’s big three series. Like Tales of Symphonia’s OVAs, it’s also one I intended to write up full impressions of when I had seen everything, but in this case it’s a little more complicated: I was happily watching everything Di Gi Charat-related a couple of years back when there was a big computer failure and various things got transferred between various computers, and along with Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei, this is one of the series that has suffered, because I’m not quite sure what episodes I do and don’t have floating about, or when I’m going to get back to watching them. So I’ve decided that I’ll give Nyo!, Panyo and Winter Garden separate entries later, and look at the (loosely continuous) rest here – the firstseries, the specials, the short movie and the Leave it to Piyoko! side-story OVAs.

The story, inasmuch as there is one, is that green-haired alien Dejiko arrives in Akihabara with her sidekick Puchiko and their weird floating mascot Gema. Dejiko wants to be an idol, but has no money and nowhere to live, so takes employment (and a room) in a Gamers store – which makes sense, given that the character was conceived by Koge-Donbo as a mascot for the chain. Dejiko soon clashes with local idol Rabi-en-Rose, and usually outdoes her, while various outlandish and surreal things happen. In the OVAs, the Black Gema Gema gang, along with little Piyoko, who is adorably useless at being evil, try to kidnap Dejiko in the name of interplanetary war, getting into various scuffles that usually end up with Dejiko using amazingly destructive eye beams, Piyoko using her mouth bazooka and poor Puchiko failing entirely to contribute.

Dejiko is a pretty annoying character, all things considered, but manages to just about be cute. The rest, though, are genuinely adorable, and I have a soft spot for the peripheral male characters like Coo, Murataku and overenthusiastic weeaboo Rodoyan. Really, the best thing about Di Gi Charat is how funny and even clever it is when it gets totally reimagined, though – something that would not work without a strong and distinctive base. And that’s exactly what this is. Not everyone’s cup of tea, not all that funny and not clever, it is still adorable, memorable and a great start to a franchise.

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