Reviewby Zac Bertschy,
Di Gi Charat
DVD 1: Limited Edition
Alien catgirl Di Gi Charat (otherwise known as Dejiko) has arrived on Earth with a simple goal: take over the world as a pop superstar! Unfortunately, it isn't as easy as it sounds, and the rough (and expensive) streets of Tokyo prove to be less than hospitable. Fortunately, the owner of an anime store called Gamers takes pity on Dejiko, her buddy Puchiko, and her guardian Gema, and allows them to live in the store in exchange for work. It's all well and good until Dejiko's new rival idol, Rabi~en~Rose shows up, ready to challenge Dejiko at every opportunity.
While on its surface it might seem like yet another hyper-cute anime series with adorable animal mascot characters and no real content to speak of, Di Gi Charat: The Original Series is a hilarious, refreshing and pleasantly mean-spirited hour of short cartoons. If you find yourself sickened by the repetitive humor of cutesy shows like Mao-chan or the creepy sexual undercurrent of Bottle Fairy, Di Gi Charat will be a welcome reprieve. It's like the antidote to today's “adorable little girls do adorable things” anime formula.
There's very little story to speak of, naturally, considering the average length of an episode (around 5 minutes) and the fact that this is gag anime, but that's not really important. The appeal of Di Gi Charat: The Original Series (not to be confused with its myriad cutesy-poo spinoffs that failed to capture the magic of the original shorts) is watching the suitably adorable characters doing terrible things to one another. There's a good belly laugh at least once an episode, which is more than you can say about a lot of other anime comedies. The humor here is surprisingly black, with a mean streak a mile wide; it's wry and sarcastic and self-referential, far from the lame slapstick parody that permeates other comedies of this type. Even if you're only watching for the cute characters, you should be able to find something in these shorts that tickles your funny bone.
Originally produced in 1999, the shorts included on this disc are all done in very basic and sometimes fairly crude cel animation, and while it isn't anything particularly special, it's nice to see something that isn't entirely animated by the computer. The music is all very simple piano tunes, save for the incredibly catchy opening theme and the pleasant closing. The next-to-last episode, “Party Night”, is basically just a music video (with the unfortunate lyrics “Touch me baby, uki uki lady”). If you find yourself really grooving along with the show, you'll be pleased to know that Synch Point's release comes with a CD of the show's more memorable tunes. It's a sweet bonus in an already excellent package.
As for language options, the Japanese version is decidedly superior. Although the English language dub is a good try, it doesn't quite capture the tone of the Japanese, which is note-perfect. Really, the humor in this show (as in every other comedy ever made) relies heavily on delivery, and the Japanese voice actors were skilled enough to pull it off. The English Dejiko is almost monotone, and many of the other voices just don't quite fit right.
Even if you're turned off by the cute little characters, give Di Gi Charat: The Original Series a spin. Even the crankiest and most jaded of anime fans will appreciate the wildly original and very funny humor. It's never weird simply for the sake of being weird; everything that happens in the show is in the name of comedy, and the series religiously follows its own twisted logic. The English dub is a bit of a mixed bag, but these shorts could easily be called classics. Don't miss it.
Overall (dub) : B
Overall (sub) : A
Story : C
Animation : B
Art : B+
Music : A
+ Cute, funnier than it has any right to be.
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