D-Frag Review (Streaming Episodes 1-12)

Synopsis

Kenji Kazama is just your average high school delinquent. He leads his gang known as the Kazama Party as they do deliquent-like activities, such as skipping class and causing trouble. However, an incident with Roka Shibasaki and the members of the Game Creation Club (provisional) led to Kenji being forced to join the club. After spending time with them, Kenji notices how each member has his or her own oddities about them which drives his crazy. Together, they experience a whole lot of wacky adventures with other students who have their own oddities.

Review

I first started getting interested in D-Frag when Funimation started doing their English dub cast announcements. Normally, they do these cast announcemnets in a single post with all the voice actors and their characters. However, with D-Frag, Funimation stretched the announcements over the course of three days, complete with special character sheets that you would see in tabletop RPGs. They did something similar with Free! Eternal Summer and The Devil Is A Part-Timer, and those were good shows, so I had to check it out to see if D-Frag was any good, and you know what: it was.

The main drawing point of D-Frag is its comedy. Everyone in the universe of D-Frag is eccentric in their own way, and it’s up to Kenji to play off them. The series uses a lot of rapid-fire sequences between Kenji and the other characters, delivering punch line after punch life in such an entertaining and hilariously way. The situations that arise in D-Frag are absurd, but since absurd is normal in this universe, everything is resolved in an over-the-top and wacky manner. The arcs of the series usually lasts for a single episode, though there are a couple of arcs which last for multiple episodes. That doesn’t stop it from delivering a lot of weird and wacky situations for the characters. The tournament arc is especially notable for the amount of absurdity and insanity going into otherwise mundane games. Never has a game of musical chairs contain so much tackling that leaves the competitors in tattered pieces or a King’s Game containing only two people to be filled with so much insane logic. The way the tournament arc played out is full of brilliance. If there is a complaint I have about this series, it is that there weren’t episodes that really focus on Sakura and Minami. It seems like they were added just to complete the elemental circle and weren’t really relevant to any of the situations that arose. It would be nice if a couple of segments were devoted to them in order to flesh out their characters.

DFragChair

Musical Chairs is serious business.

Visual humor also plays a big part of the comedic aspect for D-Frag. Roka plays a huge part in this visual humor switch from her normal character design to her chibi form which she is portrayed in about 30 to 40 percent of the time and her flame-based moe moe attack form (which fails all the time). Seeing her in the chibi form while others are in their normal art style provides a stark contrast for the viewer, as it is fun and cute to watch. Considering the overall theme and tone of the series, that is par for the course. Another instance of visual humor concerns spiky hair in Kenji’s little sister. When the members of the Game Creation Club (Provisional) takes turns touching Kenji’s little sister’s hair, they experienced actual pain in their hands and their reactions are priceless.

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Roka’s Flame-Based Moe Moe Attack!

Because the plot revolves around the Game Creation Club, there are bound to be references to other video game franchises. The references are not really integrated into the plot, but serve more as background. References to the Super Mario, Dragon Quest, and Earthbound can be seen. A major reference to the classic game Ghosts n’ Goblins comes in the form of Magical Village, a series with similar gameplay, that Kenji, Roka, and Takao waited in line for in a short arc. Overall, these reference add a nice bonus to the series.

The music is just as eccentric as the series. The OP shows the many characters that appear throughout the series in a frenetic and colorful style with references to many games with the song “Stalemate!” matching its style. The ED depicts the main cast in super-deformed forms as they hang out in the club room. The song “Minna no Namae o Irete Kudasai” starts off with an Oriental-style opening as it marches on to a typical J-Pop ensemble. The voices for these songs tend to get a little high-pitched, but the OP and ED are certainly enjoyable to watch and listen.

Notable voice acting performances have to go to the voices of Kenji (Katsuyuki Konishi) and Roka (Kana Hanazawa). Konishi as Kenji is always on point with deliveries of the punch lines in response to the wacky statements by the other characters. He plays the straight man well in an over-the-top manner that you would expect from this series. Hanazawa puts in a very good performance as the diminutive Roka, switching between her cute and darkness sides. Another notabale performance goes to Ami Koshimizu as the club advisor Minami Osawa, who portrays the lackadaisical and sleepy nature of her character perfectly.

D-Frag really surprised me with its quality of comedy in terms of its wackiness and humor. There wasn’t really a dull moment in the show that I could remember. It had me hooked from wire to wire, and I really enjoyed it. I’m definitely hoping for another season to spend more time with the Game Creation Club (provisional) and their wacky adventures.

Rating: 9/10 (Excellent)

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