D-Fragments

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Monday, June 30, 2014

When it comes to comedy in anime, the Japanese have a tendency for eccentric and completely over the top scenarios. Even those series that have a tendency to be oriented towards wordplay and puns like Joshiraku have some slapstick and over the top situations in the name of comedy. D-Fragments goes for this same type of approach, as it follows the exploits of high school student Kenji Kazama, who is dragged into becoming a member of the Game Creation Club (Provisional) after helping them to put out a fire in their club room. It’s the type of series that I really didn’t like at first, as there’s a bit too much of an emphasis on all the female characters being completely evil to Kazama, but it grew on me as I kept watching and by the end there was enough development to keep me interested. Even by normal anime standards the humor can be a bit weird in this one, and while it’s not likely to become one of my favorite series it’s not a bad watch for someone looking for a comedy that’s unafraid to be eccentric and downright mean.

Kazama is supposedly a delinquent, though it’s shown repeatedly throughout the course of the series that compared to the other characters he’s actually a pretty nice guy. The first episode introduces us to Kazama’s friends, a rag tag group of guys that have been his friends for quite some time. One of the first things I noticed was that Yokoshima might be one of the shortest characters I’ve seen in an anime in years that’s supposed to be a high school student. He’s small enough to be a toddler, and that immediately added to the series eccentric feel. The other two of Kazama’s friends are Hiroshi and Ataru, the latter of which is the vice president of the student council and reveals himself to be a masochist early on. While it seemed like they might play a supporting role in D-Fragments, once the Game Creation Club comes into the picture the Kazama crew is mostly left to minor roles and cameos.

After that short round of introductions, Kazama stumbles upon the Game Creation Club, who is in the process of setting their club room on fire. He helps them put it out, which leads to club president Roka demanding that he join as a member so that they have enough people and aren’t disbanded. Kazama initially declines, and at this point each of the Game Creation Club members essentially attacks him while claiming that they all have different elemental powers. Roka channels the power of darkness by placing a bag over their heads, similar to what you might see when a terrorist group takes someone hostage. The other three members, Chitose, Sakura, and faculty advisor Minami also have unorthodox attack methods and the main theme seems to be that they’re obscenely powerful for high school students/faculty. For the first few episodes, the majority of the humor is focused around the fact that Roka, Chitose, and Sakura seem to be downright evil and torture Kazama with all kinds of over the top actions.

If the entire series had ended up being slapstick gags where the Game Creation Club members use impossible strength for the sake of messing with the main character, I wouldn’t have liked it that much as that would’ve become old fairly quickly. But it does redeem itself by introducing some additional cast members. As it turns out, there’s another Game Creation Club and the one that Kazama is only provisional, as Roka was originally a part of the other club before leaving and forming this new one with Chitose. The leader of the original, Takao, is a large breasted girl who has a knack for programming games and she declares war on Roka’s club. Things don’t go as planned, and she spends much of the series as a tsundere that has an apparent crush on Kazama and hangs out with their club on a regular basis. The size of her chest is also used for a number of different gags throughout the episode, and I have to admit that they worked way better than I was expecting. Aside from this rivalry, the emphasis of D-Fragments attempt at a plot puts together two game like tournaments that pits members of the Game Creation Club (Provisional) against others in the school. This is where the series really hits its stride, as the way these competitions are held are completely over the top and insane to the point that it had me laughing on a regular basis. Like many manga adaptations the second competition arc of D-Fragments feels like it ends with plenty of potential for another season, and with the series still ongoing this could happen further down the road.

As the series moves forward, the cast expands quite a bit, though the majority of them remain in fairly minor roles. There’s an interesting dynamic between Roka, Takao, and Kazama, as sometimes it’s hinted at that Roka also harbors feelings for him but it’s hard to tell because she’s such a strange character and all of her pastimes and actions are fairly eccentric. Chitose’s thoroughly unlikeable for the majority of the series, as she maintains that “better than everyone else” attitude, and Sakura doesn’t really get enough development for me to fully judge her. Towards the end of the season the ex-student council is introduced, with former president Tama acting as the antagonist towards the rest of the characters. She’s similar to Chitose, as she seems to want to crush everyone else into oblivion. The trend towards the characters seems to be that they’re quirky or downright psychotic, making this an anime that might not appeal to everyone.

This far into the review, you might be wondering about the “game” elements considering that the series is called D-Fragments and revolves around two competing Game Creation Clubs. While there are some scenes that parody video games, and they are amusing, the focus here actually ends up on traditional games. The provisional club likes to play a self-created board game that has them competing as smugglers transporting alien porn through space, as well as traditional games like rock paper scissors and cards only with new rules being added on the fly. That seems to be another theme of D-Fragments, as no matter what game the characters find themselves in the middle of, it never follows the normal rule set and that’s where a lot of the additional comedy comes from.

The first thing I noticed when I turned on D-Fragments was that the animation style reminded me of quite a bit of a number of different series from the early 2000s. That’s not to say that Brain’s Base and the other studios behind the animation have gone for a style that looks dated on purpose, but the way that the characters were given over-exaggerated reactions and facial expressions to just about everything reminded me of quite a few slice of life/comedies from that time period. It does go for a bright and colorful approach to match the insanity of what’s happening on-screen, but despite that I didn’t find myself remembering particular sequences that truly stood out. There weren’t any noticeable dips in animation quality, which is good considering how much can be happening during any one particular scene, but I didn’t find that D-Fragments was the type of series that seemed capable of wowing people that have seen a significant amount of anime.

Although the animation may not have been an element that truly stood out to me, the audio is a different story. The voice cast does a fantastic job and are able to deliver a high energy performance that perfectly matches the on-screen antics. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kazama’s voice actor Katsuyuki Konishi (Bleach, Hetalia) was close to losing his voice by the end of each recording, as he’s practically shouting every line to reflect just how off the wall the events around him are. There’s a similar sense of energy and ability to go over the top from some of the other main voice actresses, and it seems likely that they had fun with the scripts. As far as music goes, the opening and ending themes perfectly match the quirky, spastic nature of the show and the ending track uses sound effects that have a distinctive video game vibe. Overall, I think the audio I an area where the production staff really nailed it and this helped the series quite a bit.

Early on I had a love/hate relationship with D-Fragments, as it seemed a little too reliant on trying to belittle and tear down the main character for the sake of comedy and this became repetitive pretty fast. But as the cast expanded and the focus shifted over to over the top game tournaments and other physical comedy, I think the series started to hit its stride and it was worth sticking with it. While D-Fragments never reached the level of other recent comedy anime like Binbougami Ga for me, it’s still an above average release that is sure to find its niche with its quirkier and sometimes downright bizarre moments.

http://www.hulu.com/d-fragments
http://www.funimation.com/shows/d-fragments

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