10/19/2007

Series Review: Doujin Work

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"Young lady...you dropped your ero-hon."

Chalk another one up for the 'eh' pile.

Doujin Work, contrary to appearances, is not a yaoi show; but this sort of perversion makes up a decent amount of this comedy show about a girl trying to strike it big in the doujinshi (fanwork) industry. The connection should be quite obvious for anyone who's ever been exposed to the dark side of fandom, or, should I say, the internet itself.

But since Doujin Work is a publicly televised show (although that didn't stop other shows which can be deemed questionable) it naturally has to tone down a bit on the dirtier jokes. But the problem is, for those who read the manga, those are also known as the 'funny' jokes.

While the more worksafe content can still manage to be funny at times, and there certainly are moments that will make you laugh, it just seems that these moments are far and few between, even in a short series like this.

And it's epically short, by any standards. Given that each episode only is half-length, and that the series is only 12 episodes in length, Doujin Work is extremely brief and barely has any chance to make an impact.

Given that many of the jokes get almost painfully drawn out already though, it might be a bad idea to extend the length of Doujin Work. But, perhaps, if it was a longer-lasting show, it would've had a large budget which would have saved, in short, a lot of problems with it.

Doujin Work takes on too much and too little at the same time. Likable characters don't get used enough and unlikable characters get all the attention and stale jokes ... when they're not busy introducting a new character.

Certainly the premise and core characters are amusing, but Doujin Work needs to be sent back to the drawing board for a professional makeover.

Doujin Work may be a comedy, but the hints at some vestige of a storyline really are dissapointing when one realizes that really not a lot gets resolved in the story.

Hoshi spends his entire time, as Tsuyuri put it, being "Najimi's wingman" rather than getting the relationship development that almost seemed like it was going to happen. Ditto with Justice, the childhood friend's childhood friend (Protip: Osana Najimi = Childhood Friend) who has something almost resembling a competition with Hoshi...almost.

Najimi's focus on making a bajillion dollars (yen) through the doujin industry dissapears pretty quickly as well; although it makes a reappearance in the final episode, it doesn't really feel like it influences her at all in between.

Maybe this is a good thing, maybe this can be chalked up to character development, but it feels more like they ignored it than Najimi truly changed. Najimi's rivalry-turned-friendship with Nidou can be bought, but the omission of this aspect is just kind of strange.

It's probably because, honestly, the rest of the show is so static.

On to the characters themself, the cast feels surprisingly large for such a short show - it's just a shame that it sort of works against Doujin Work.

The main group of Najimi, Tsuyuri, and Justice work well. Tsuyuri's an excellent manipulator, which combined with her casual outlook on the adult industry makes her one of the series's shining character for comedy; maybe it's because she's so good at eliciting shocked reactions from or messing with the heads of the rest of the group.

Justice is a solid character as well; he plays the gullible foil quite often to Tsuyuri, and as such gets in a lot of amusing misunderstandings. The best part of his character is just how powerful, in a sense, he is, as well. He's very devoted to the point of insanity to both his work and Najimi (well, not in that sense so much) and so when Tsuyuri can get inside his head, awesome ensues.

Najimi doesn't really rub me either way; she's not a character that's either really likable or dislikable. Her easy embarassment (again, with Tsuyuri's sharp commentary) can lead to some laughs, but most of the time she's just your standard idealistic, hardworking main character.

And then things get hairy.

Nidou, the rival, is equally amusing with Najimi when neither of them can rack up sales at doujin conventions, but most of her character revolves around her love of boys' love doujins; this leads to a lot of fantasies when the male characters get in conflicts. Something that's funny maybe once or twice, but when that boils down to her whole character, it's kind of sad that she takes up increasing amounts of screentime as the show goes on.

Hoshi is Justice's rival in a sense as well as his main purpose is to cheer Najimi on, and to freak out Justice by cheering Najimi on. Like most main males, somehow, Hoshi manages to be incredibly average by being your standard nice, easily flustered guy.

Hoshi's brother is introduced with two episodes left to go; he is the professional manga artist, and spends what little time he has being shocked at the ugly quality of Najimi's drawings, yet still trying to get her to become his artist. He also is a victim of Misunderstandings Occur, but not as much.

And Sora exists to do lolicon cosplay, hug Justice, and say a one-liner at the end of every episode.

None of these characters are horribly fleshed out yet they end up stealing a lot of focus of the show in the latter half. It's not so much adding new characters so much as replacing them, since there just isn't enough time to devote to each character.

It also feels like the Doujin Work team didn't have much time to devote, period. The animation, like the length of the show, was incredibly budget, with a lot of stills and cheap animation. It's not a deal-breaker but when you have nothing interesting to actually pay attention to in long stretches during the show, the animation doesn't really improve the situation.

On the plus side, the show did have a catchy OP and ED theme, which I can't complain about.

But really, the whole show has about as much effort put into it as a term paper finished the day before it's due. As much of a good premise it has, as much good stuff one can say about the beginning, if it's rushed (into, essentially, 6 episodes) and done in a hurry, it's not going to live up to it's full potential.

In that sense, Doujin Work is a show that started with a lot of promise, with some creative jokes, and then it fell into that groove, doing the same jokes over and over, just trying to get the job done rather than really doing anything overly interesting or giving some of the riskier manga content a shot.

It's still a show that could be enjoyed, but only really as a stopgap, a 15-minute break between better fare; not something to be marathoned or watched intensively.

The manga works better due to slightly better content and the larger pick-up-and-read nature of the manga as opposed to almost dragged-out 15-minute episodes. In the words of the manga creator, Hiroyuki, a Doujin Work anime, unfortunately, is not (quite as) fine too.

-CCY


17 comments:

While getting a little more into Comic Party, Doujin Work seems to bring the same feeling to it without being completely the same.

I guess all Doujin-centered anime/manga are like that.

On another note, I agree that it got a little old after a while. It's pretty hard to keep a doujin-centered anime fresh when the plot's not "continuous" and some of the jokes don't have the same feeling as they do in the manga counterpart.

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