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Do It Yourself!!
Episodes 1-3

by Steve Jones,

How would you rate episode 1 of
Do It Yourself!! ?
Community score: 4.2

How would you rate episode 2 of
Do It Yourself!! ?
Community score: 4.3

How would you rate episode 3 of
Do It Yourself!! ?
Community score: 4.4

The show is called Do It Yourself!!. Its heroine is named Yua Serufu. The characters rib the audience with this information so hard that you'll need a chest X-ray afterwards. This is peak punning, peak anime, and peak coziness. Plus there's a pig with sunglasses. Genius stuff. I can think of no stronger recommendation.

Well, I can probably go into a little more detail. Do It Yourself!! debuts as a comfy, iyashikei-heavy club anime about girls hanging out together in the toolshed. Think Laid-Back Camp, but with more electric drills. On first blush, power tools and relaxation might not seem like ideal partners, but DIY only needs one episode to assuage your fears and lull you into a pleasant, hand-crafted state of tranquility. In fact, in an anime season unusually stacked with heavy blockbuster hitters, DIY easily punches above its own modest weight with superb execution and a confident grasp of the mellowest of moods. If Chainsaw Man is revving you up on Tuesdays, then DIY is here to wind you down on Wednesdays. Or at least that's how I'm doing it!

The anime is a delight to watch thanks to its idiosyncratic designs and fittingly loose animation philosophy. The character designs in particular ooze with the precise kind of simplicity that belies the expert touch needed to make them work so well. Little details like Serufu's unshaded mouth cavity and perpetually bandaged face add as much to her character as Konomi Inagaki's playfully airheaded performance. The animators, meanwhile, take full advantage of the simplistic designs with a range of exaggerated facial expressions and body language tailored to each character's personality. Serufu seems to sway with the wind, while the uptight Miku walks more deliberately—when her brooding isn't being hilariously undercut by the jankiness of a self-driving bus, that is.

There is, however, one place where DIY doesn't play around, and that's with its mechanical animation. If iyashikei anime don't tend to be your speed, then you still might want to check it out to see some of the most lovingly animated simple machines I've ever seen. Unsurprisingly, the series has a designated DIY consultant, Swaro, who helps design and oversee the girls' projects. That gorgeous mosaic sign that Takumi puts together in the second episode? She designed it down to the pebble. Much like Laid-Back Camp's attention to the minutiae of being outdoorsy, DIY's investment in these details helps instill a sense of authenticity that buoys the show's ambitions to inspirational and educational heights. I would not at all be surprised to see an uptick in hobby shop patronage in the coming months.

Storywise, the series follows the expected beats of the genre. If there's one thing these gimmicky club anime love, it's gathering a bunch of weird girls together in order to save the club from being disbanded due to a lack of interest. DIY even makes fun of how cliched a setup this is, which is also why I trust it with that cliche. If something ain't broken, don't fix it; and if it is broken, get a hammer and some nails. The characters also fit into fairly broad and familiar archetypes. It'd be tempting to denigrate the show as “safe” if not for all the personality injected into it by its creators. Much like the handicrafts featured in the anime, DIY possesses the unmistakable warmth of a labor of love.

DIY is also not without its depths. Beneath its bright and bubbly surface lie a lot of tasty and relevant themes. Most generally, the writing establishes its DIY ethos both in concert with and in opposition to advancing technology. This is the main conflict between Serufu and Miku, but stretches out and digs into nearly every other level too. I love the surreal, almost political cartoon-worthy sight of Miku's huge fancy vocational school eclipsing, surrounding, and practically swallowing Serufu's humble one. For many people, that's the eventual terminus of technology—to outstrip and usurp the older, more primitive ways of doing things. DIY, so far, argues that this goes against something fundamental in our nature. No matter how far technology advances, there's something in our brains that longs for the tactile, and which finds pleasure in work applied meaningfully. There's also something to be said for how advances in AI art, for example, have for the most part rekindled people's appreciation of the human touch. When Serufu imagines a world where she'll never have to work or want for anything, do you think she's satisfied with that picture? Or does even a space cadet like her have a tangible yearning rattling around in her brainpan?

I want to again praise the hard work of director Kazuhiro Yoneda and his crew at PINE JAM for instilling so much joy and coziness into Do It Yourself!!. You would never know these are some of the same people who worked on Gleipnir, except for the fact that both series are excellent (in my humble opinion anyway). However, I want to take a brief moment to highlight another name in the credits: Imago. They're credited for creating the “original work,” although there is no manga or light novel that the story's based on, and Imago has nothing else credited to their name. It's curious, though, when I think of a playfully loose animation philosophy and an interest in technology's impact on people and society, there is a name that comes to mind: Mitsuo Iso. And in his seminal series Dennou Coil, the term “Imago” is conspicuously important. So I'm not saying that Iso definitely had a hand in making DIY look and feel so special. I'm just saying it's mighty curious.

Do It Yourself!! and its almost devastatingly adorable endorsements of the value of elbow grease have screwed their way snugly into my heart. Whether you love power tool sakuga or just enjoy taking a nice snooze, it's absolutely worth checking out. In a couple months, I don't know if I'm going to be able to wrap up these reviews without sharing a picture of a shelf I'll have felt compelled to put together. That's the kind of anime we're dealing with, and it rules.


Do It Yourself!! is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Steve is a regular freelance contributor to ANN and also the guy who called Arataka Reigen an internet sex symbol that one time. Feel free to roast him on Twitter about this. Otherwise, catch him chatting about trash and treasure alike on This Week in Anime.

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