Tuesday, 18 September 2012

デ・ジ・キャラット ウィンターガーデン Di Gi Charat: Winter Garden/Winter Garden from Di Gi Charat

Note, 10.2.07 Ehhh? What is it with Di Gi Charat and King Crimson? First a reference to the inside cover of the first album, and now the front cover appears on the door of a ‘Prog Club’ in Puchiko’s school in the serious reimagining OVA Winter Garden

Initial Impressions, 25.4.07. Bizarre, seeing the bizarre made mundane. Entertaining, though. That final twist was obvious from the beginning of the episode. Nice to hear the girl who debuted as Takahashi in Bokura Ga Ita in another role

Final thoughts, 18.9.12. I have to say, I didn’t notice that ‘Prog Club’ from five years ago when I rewatched the Winter Garden OVAs. Maybe between broadcast and DVD release the sign got changed. It was the weirdest moment in the otherwise largely naturalistic adaptation (along with a twitchy cameo for a piece of ‘art’…!), with the sign changing every few moments, and I’d certainly have noticed such an iconic image. This time I just smiled at how Puchiko was joining the Keiongaku club – and imagining her in K-On.

Anyway, five years later the idea of a complete reimagining of a series isn’t such a new idea for me, and at least to my mind this strange little nugget of seriousness in a franchise known for its ultra-cutesiness and insanity strikes me as very funny. It’s less like Mai-HiME becoming the rather different Mai-Otome, and more like the skits in Rock Lee’s Springtime of Youth being spun out to whole episodes and played much straighter, which lends considerable subtlety. It’s more like imagined universes with the Vocaloid characters, or, I suppose, Xenoglossia with the girls from The iDOLM@STER. The studio even changed: from Madhouse to J.C.Staff.

Winter Garden is not funny, other than a few little moments, mostly with Puchiko being either blunt or a cutey, having brought more of her personality from the original than her sister did. It’s not zany. It’s actually a very, very typical love story, starting with lots of coincidental meetings, and then being given tension with a misunderstanding and the possibility of separation. What makes it funny is the very idea that it’s based on Di Gi Charat, that these sweet, ordinary girls are based on Dejiko and Puchiko – that Rabi-en-Rose is a recognisable but consistently dismissed minor celebrity. It’s just a funny concept, and the disappointment of viewers like me who didn’t get told the nature of the adaptation beforehand and expected more me-kara-beams and kuchi-kara-bazookas masked that.

Well, years have passed now, and while it’s sad that more Di Gi Charat doesn’t seem anywhere on the horizon, I consider this one a bit of gem overall and am happy it’s part of the DGC canon, confusing all who stumble upon it unprepared.

And, y’know, it’s adorable how Dejiko doesn’t even seem like herself until she gets to the verge of yelling, and the old Dejiko can just be heard in that voice. Only just! 

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