It’s death by cuteness.
What They Say:
Dejiko is a perfectly normal princess from the planet Di Gi Charat, who arrives in Tokyo with dreams of becoming an idol. Unfortunately, girls with cat ears and a tail and who can shoot ray beams out of their cat eyes aren’t exactly what most prospective employers are looking for. But there’s one place where Dejiko does fit in perfectly: Akihabara, where a kindly game store owner offers a job to Dejiko, her sidekick Puchiko and their balloon-like protector Gema.
But things still aren’t going to be simple, as Dejiko’s bunnysuit clad rival Rabi-en-Rose wants to become an idol too. And when the notorious Black Gema-Gema Gang, led by Princess Piyoko of the planet Analogue, lands in Tokyo, it will be all Dejiko can do to keep up with Piyoko’s nefarious plot of opening a rival game store across the street! (She’s kind of on a budget, since her parents spent all their money unsuccessfully trying to take over Di Gi Charat.) Can an interstellar cat princess really find happiness on Earth in the music industry?
Contains episodes 1-16.
The audio presentation for this release uses the same materials as we saw previously as we get the original Japanese language track as well as the Sync-Point created dub, both of which are in stereo and encoded at 224kbps. The series is not one that stands out all that much and is basically a center channel based work where it’s straight dialogue and silliness with a touch of music along the way. It’s not a badly done mix, but it is representative of the short form material of the time and what they did. The music is what stands out since it uses both channels well, but that’s not really saying all that much. The language tracks themselves are solid and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally released back in 1999, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The presentation of the episodes is done in an interesting way that’s fairly similar to how other releases in this region have been done; with it being sixteen episodes, it’s split into two “episodes” where we get the eight opening sequences followed by their episode and then one ending sequence after that. Repeat again for the second set of eight episodes. This isn’t a bad way to do it and there’s certainly precedence for it and it’s one less chapter to skip through with each episode. The transfer itself looks good and is representative of what the show looks like since it was done in very small quantities. There’s plenty of the Madhouse charm to how it’s animated but each episode is still just less than five minutes. Colors look good, cross coloration is non-existent and overall the animation just has a certain feel to it that works well for what it’s trying to get across.
The packaging for this release is simple and straightforward but looks good as we get the cover art that we’ve seen before of Dejiko and the gang set against soft blue shades and circles. It’s bright, colorful and utterly adorable as we get them and all the little widgets associated with it. The logo is kept simple but effective and it makes it clear on the front that it’s the complete TV series. The back cover uses the same kind of color scheme with some circles around it that has various shots from the show and a good rundown of the overall premise of the series. The 16 episode count is included, but it’s the kind of episode count where you really have to verify the runtime in case you’re not sure what you’re getting since these are three minute episodes. The production information is good and the technical grid covers everything in a very clear and easy to read way. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
While I can’t say I expected much for a menu design here, I can say that I wish it was a little different. Because of the method of listing episodes by number and title on the main screen for selection rather than a submenu, that’s all we get here. It’s done with some of the colors from the packaging with the blues, whites and green, but it’s basically one big block of text with no character artwork. And while it is functional, and you do want episode access this way, it’s just not appealing. Everything loads quickly and easily and the submenus are quite usable when you need to get to them for language selection, there’s not much here otherwise so it’s just the main screen that you’ll mostly see. And that doesn’t leave a good impression.
None. Which is unfortunate, since the previous edition from Sync-Point had some good stuff from a commentary by Koge-Donbo to commercials clean opening and closing and some fun dub outtakes.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The arrival of Di Gi Charat in North America all those years ago was a complicated thing as the various series were split and this original series was one of the later ones to arrive. So while each series does reinvent itself in some ways, the original core work took longer to get here, so when it was seen, we had already seen the variations. That said, there’s always something to be said for going back to what started it all and enjoying it for both its simplicity and honest nature, which is what Di Gi Charat is all about. The show in its creation was just a series of shorts created to promote the mascot created for the Gamers stores where fans go to buy all kinds of goods. The draw of a cute mascot is good but when it evolves into an anime, even one as short as this, it takes on a new life.
The premise of the show is very simple since it has to fit into a very confined space. We’re introduced to Di Gi Charat who goes by the name of Dejiko, a perky young green haired girl in a cute cat-girl like cosplay outfit who has arrived on Earth via her UFO with her friend Puchiko, a somewhat introverted yet spooky girl who tries to emulate Dejiko in a few ways but not in regards to personality. Their arrival on Earth has Dejiko wanting to become a famous idol but with no money and no home she’s got her work cut out for her. Her wailing about the situation works to her advantage though as a man known only as the Manager shows up and offers her a place to sleep above his store, providing she’s willing to work in the store. And thus, Dejiko began her job at Gamers.
Dejiko’s life at Gamers is amusing. As described by one place, Gamers is where the otaku go and act like morons. Often the background characters, and the manager, are drawn solely as giant walking fingers which certainly are easy on the detail and design. But there are other human types that show up including a couple of fans that interact on a better level with the cast. One of these is Rabi~en~Rose, a fourteen year old girl also bent on becoming a popular idol and conquering the world. She ends up working at Gamers as well in competition with Dejiko and the two of them are arch-rivals. She also ends up with a dual identity situation where she’s a normal schoolgirl but in her Rabi-form, she’s got huge floppy bunny ears and an adorable outfit.
A few other characters wander into the series and cause trouble but overall the show in its very brief episodes tends to focus on the things that happen to Dejiko or her friends like Puchiko or Gema, the giant yellow ball that follows her everywhere. With the episodes being as short as they are, the comedy and situations are quick and fast, they hit their marks without much time to really take in the situation so it’s very sight gag based as well as a number of dialogue puns throughout. There’s a bit more of a mean edge at times to this compared to some of the other released Di Gi Chart properties, but much of it remains the same.
Di Gi Charat will always hold a special place in my heart since it was a show I originally watched with my daughter when she was young and she actually cosplayed as Dejiko when she was six or seven years old. The characters are simple but work perfectly for this kind of humor and the way background characters, in-jokes and other aspects of the show work definitely fits the bill with what it needs to do in a short time. These kinds of episodes weren’t done often back then but have grown a bit now and I can definitely appreciate this material more now. Sentai’s release brings the show out as it should and retains the core of it, but at the expensive of the additional fun from the extras. If you’re all about the show, this is definitely a great release to get and especially if you’ve never seen it before. It makes me hope that there’s a sliver of a chance of someone trying to get more of these short form shows since there’s a lot of charm to them. Di Gi Charat broke a lot of ground back in the day and is still a lot of utterly adorable fun.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: C
Extras Grade: N/A
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: October 22nd, 2013
Running Time: 65 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P 3D HDTV, Sony PlayStation 3 via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.