Anime series with an airtime shorter than the usual 20-something minutes usually tend to fly under the radar of anime fans. And that is a real crying shame. Some of my all-time favorites are "short" anime. Without Short anime, we wouldn't have masterpieces like Cromartie High School, Detroit Metal City, the Hetalia franchise, Chii's new Home and many, many others.
And in the past few years, short anime have taken a huge spike in creativity, especially when it comes to typical Studio Trigger projects..
2016 as well has had some weird and creative short anime that are worth taking a look at. In the following few weeks I'll give a spotlight to the most interesting of these short anime of the past few years, starting off with Tonkatsu DJ Agetarou by Studio Deen.
Tonkatsu DJ Agetarou is a short anime on the other end of the spectrum of what we're used to. It doesn't look at all like an average anime of today. If anything, it would more or less fit into a creative animators block on MTV (like back in the 90s). It has a weird animation style, its cast are mostly young adults/teenagers and it's all about music. It would totally fit on MTV (too bad MTV has totally lost all of its relevance today)!
So start to boil your pork cutlet and look up your best vinyl records. Because today we're spinning Tonkatsu!
Tonkatsu DJ Agetarou is a gag manga created by Lipyao and illustrated by Yūjirō Koyama. If you never heard of those names before, that's not really surprising. This series IS their first.
It has been running in the digital Jump variant "Jump+" since 2014 and it has already been published into 9 physical volumes (since December 31st).
And in April of 2016, Studio Deen has adapted the manga into a short series of 12 episodes of about 10 minutes each. Not only that, Pioneer has been sponsoring the show and few club parties have been created surrounding the "Agetarou" figure. If the series becomes more popular and gets a greater following over time, who knows what else we can get from this?
What IS Tonkatsu?
Tonkatsu is a typical Japanese dish, which consists of a breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet. The pork cutlet is either fillet, or loin parts. And it's usually served with shredded cabbage and rice. There's also a variant of it with Japanes curry, aptly named "katsu-Kare" (Tonkatsu-Curry).
And yes, while I was in Japan a few years ago, I've eaten it a few times as well; even in a family-run restaurant like Agetarou's family restaurant.
Agetarou is a young adult who is working in his family's tonkatsu restaurant in Shibuya. But since he's forced into the job by his parents, he's not really into making Tonkatsu. One night, he's forced to do a delivery to the staff of a night club.
Agetarou has never been to a club before, and as thanks for the delivery the staff member lets him in from the back entrance.
When entering the club, a new world opens for Agetarou and he instantly falls in love with the environment. He loves the music, the chill people and the cute girls. On the dance-floor he suddenly meets Shuugo, one of his frequent suppliers of hot towels (yes, that IS a thing in Japanese restaurants). Shuugo apparently is a frequent visitor of the club and it doesn't take too long for the two to become close friends.
Agetarou starts to go to the club more frequently. Until one day, he sees the American DJ Big Master Fly perform. Agetarou becomes inspired from him and realizes that the BPM of the DJs tracks is similar to that of cutting the cabbage in his restaurant. In fact, throughout the series he finds lots of similarities between preparing Tonkatsu dishes for customers and DJ'ing. But he is even more inspired when he receives an LP from the DJ.
He instantly dreams of becoming a DJ and starts to set out on becoming a full-fledged DJ. But Agetarou realizes he has a long way ahead of him into learning the craft.
The rest of the story focuses on Agetarou's journey to become a DJ. From finding a decent setup to practice his DJ skills (that doesn't cost an arm and a leg), digging through records, learning the crafts from a "sensei" DJ, playing his first gigs, almost f**king up his first gig, and so on.
|Agetarou Katsumata: Main character. Is your average "innocent" teen boy who has been somewhat sheltered due to him and his friends never really having too much time to go out. That changes after Agetarou discovers "the club" and wants to become a DJ.|
|Agesaku Katsumata: Father of Agetarou. Doesn't like his son going out that much and would rather have that he learns the skills to become a top tier Tonkatsu chef!|
|Shuugo Oshibori: During the day a delivery man of hot towels in restaurants; During the night a frequent visitor of the clubs depicted in the anime.|
|(DJ) Iori Oiri: Veteran DJ with a style that Agetarou likes. Becomes the sensei to our young wannabe DJ and helps him through his first sets.|
|DJ Big Master Fly: American DJ who towers over everything and acts like "god" for Agetarou (sometimes in the series even literally as a god, giving him advice from the skies).|
Other guest characters include the writer (Raita), other DJ characters and even a possible love interest.
This is done by Studio Deen and err... well, it's something only they could do (probably). Because it's an anime where not keeping up consistent quality animation doesn't really matter.
No, Tonkatsu DJ doesn't look like your average anime. If anything, it looks like the crude animation style of your typical 90s and early 2000s MTV cartoons (like Beavis & Butt-head, like Aeon Flux, Like Daria, etc). Crude, but cool enough for teens to enjoy. And trust me, there are some trippy images to enjoy.
As expected of an anime about DJs, there's a lot of groovy tracks on the soundtrack. However... how do I put this?
It becomes too repetitive WAY too fast. I guess the budget for tracks to play on the anime was limited, so they had to keep themselves to the few tracks that were on the OST. And while they're not that bad, it's just way too repetitive for the entire series to remain interesting to listen to.
And for a series focused on music, that's a crying shame.
Personal opinion and final conclusion
I loved this short, quirky anime. It's something completely different from what we're used to in the everyday anime of today.
And as somebody who grew up on watching MTV (back when it was still relevant), including the classic MTV cartoons, this seemed like a blast from the past. It's something that would fit right in there!
I personally hope there will be more of it because i enjoyed this; even with the music becoming repetitive at the end.
I'm giving this a solid 8/10!
Recommendation: If you like music, or if you liked the classic 90s MTV cartoons, give this a watch! It's a really interesting short series!
Until next time, V out.
On a side-note... how did this never become a meme? Screw it, I'm going to be using this image from time to time now!