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The games have only just begun…

School is one whacked out, crazy place, chock full of all kinds of characters who might not have met if not forced together under the confines of education. Whether this is a positive or negative experience kind of boils down to personal preference and personality, though there are some characters that are universally understood to be off their rocker. Those select few that to friend and foe alike are an unrelenting, unfathomable force of lunacy and borderline psychosis. Thus, within this realm of insanity, we find the entire cast of D-Frag! Strap yourself in for this one.

These people are crazy. A description as laconic as it is true. From the diminutive, self proclaimed Darkness elemental that is Roka, to the brash student president Chitose, to the curiously chipper Sakura, the Game Creation Club is not a place for the well adjusted. Unfortunately for Kenji Kazama, the only relatively normal person in the world, a particular series of events leads to his less-than-willing induction into said club. So beginneth a chaotic school life that borders on the unbelievable and legally acceptable…or at least it would if this wasn’t an anime. Anime; the only world in which a teacher can tase students without any form of repercussion.

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How can you say no to that face?

Following the trend set by the characters who dwell within the series, D-Frag! itself is one of those anime that relishes in randomness. With the Game Creation Club existing as a premise to simply give reason for this congregation of people, events in the series mostly possess an ancillary connection to actually making games. Whilst this is actually brought up as a plot point, it is nowhere near as important as one might think. That being said, the series does, to its credit, continue to find ways to revolve around the concept of gaming in all its forms. The scope of this is of course ramped up to anime levels, but the sentiment is there. Be it a friendly bet that escalates into a clash between 48 students, or a not-so-friendly bet that essentially becomes a no holds barred beatdown, these people know how to hold an event.

Despite the entirety of the plot revolving around the Game Creation Club and those caught within the gravity of their actions, the series contains a surprisingly recognisable background cast. From the tough guys who patrol the halls, to the surprisingly large amount of bald students, heck there’s even a resident remote controlled robot. An impressive amount of foreshadowing is also present for these often inconsequential faces, with some being mentioned a fair few episodes before making an appearance. Overall, this has the effect of providing enough faces to fill out a cast, yet somehow still providing a sense of closeness between them. Everyone seems to have some amount of contact with each other and, to be honest, no real sense of animosity exists between any particular person or group. If anything, everyone finds some manner of acceptance within the presence of another. Even the most perverse of characters discovers one who shares their interest, creating an oddly endearing bundle of weirdos.

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…especially when this is the alternative

In the midst of this gaggle of student, Kazama exists as our proxy, constantly taking time out to kick, scream and wonder just what the hell is happening. Of course, this persona is an integral part of the entire series, as without it we would be left with no real vessel in which to enter this crazy cast. It also serves as some representation of sanity, which is a fleeting necessity in a world where a history teacher is pretty much Sean Connery from Indiana Jones…or where a particularly busty character can legitimately call the sturdiness of a uniform into question. That being said, Kazama maintains his place within the series by constantly going along with the schemes of his peers, just as we too continue to watch. After all, how could we marvel at the possibility of such a world unless we witnessed it?

Despite technically existing in reality, or a reasonable facsimile thereof, D-Frag! possesses a rather vibrant colour palette. Mostly owing to the fact that each main character colour co-ordinates their pupils and hair tone, it is hard not to have your attention drawn to them. Each characters overall propensity for overreaction is also bolstered by the constant fluctuation of expressions, colour fill and chibi-ness. Just as with the plot itself, the series presents average elements in a fantasised and ludicrous way. Quite simply, it’s fun to watch.

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Two sides of the same coin…just don’t tell them that

Considering the dub, it’s also fun to listen to, with each character presenting their own brand of humour at their leisure…which is usually any time they talk. One accomplishment that I would like to present for consideration, is the fact that Kazama’s shout-rants never grated on my nerves. Instead, I enjoyed each one of his less-than-calm observations of the world around him, even/especially when said moments revolved around breaking through the mysterious fourth wall. Props to the script writers as well for translating the series’ wackiness into believable and enjoyable English phrasing.  Also, despite any personal leanings you may have, credit also has to go to whomever managed to come up with so many different terms for Takao’s…chest area. If only because it is mentioned with such frequency that variation was a necessity. Poor girl can’t catch a break…

D-Frag! is an…interesting series. As one of those anime that is bizarrely more bizarre for its setting within a world much like our own (ie no special powers or secret societies). But what it lacks in high speed space battles, it makes up for with personality…and an ever present desire to enact high speed space battles. Ultimately, the series greatest source of strength is its inability to take itself seriously. Whenever a moment is looking to become sombre or upsetting, it is contrasted by another burst of humour. Not undermined mind you, just contrasted. Pushed aside. Sure it limits the series range, but I really don’t think D-Frag! was going for a deep insight into the human condition, just a brief glimpse into a colourful cast of characters.

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Ever the damsel, always in distress

That being said, my main complaint about the series would be its lack of resolution. The typical infatuation with the main character plotline (which sparked my interest as the main contender was not the central female role) was rendered almost completely inert by Kazama’s obliviousness. Sure that personality trait is par for the course with these types of character, but he seriously takes the cake. It’s like Kazama doesn’t even understand the concept of a crush. Although conversely, his overall lack of interest in the perversions of those around him was kind of refreshing within the confines of anime, whilst also serving to truly cement his role as the straight man. Mainly however, my complaint draws from the series’ final episode, which just kind of…ends. No different to any other episode. Sure it follows the finale of an arc, but it just feels as if the series will be back for another episode immediately after. Some might like this feeling, giving a sense that the series carries on without us and I respect that. For me however, it just lacked the pizzazz I expected this series to go out with.

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Denied!

Overall, D-Frag! is a fun series that’ll provide you with more than a fair share of situations to laugh at, characters to laugh at and hyperbolised interactions…to laugh at. I think you get the picture. So give D-Frag! a look if you feel like watching a story that doesn’t tug too hard on the old heart strings. Sure there’s limitations to this style, but if you go in with the right attitude, you’ll have a good time.

If you still feel like becoming a member of the Games Creation Club, you may just be a Madman

Grade: B+

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