Dojin Work Vol. #1 (of 3) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Friday, March 20, 2009
Release Date: Tuesday, February 24, 2009

When Najimi has a hard time holding a job, she gets caught up in the world of erotic dojinshi creation to make her money.

What They Say
Doujin Work follows the life of a young girl named Najimi Osana and her exposure into the doujin world. She was first tempted into becoming a doujin artist after seeing how much one of her friends can make at a convention. Najimi loves to draw, though soon learns, contrary to what she expected, that this new world is anything but easy. As she attends more conventions and meets more people, Najimi eventually manages to find a group of very interesting friends. These friends already have some experience in the field and help her out along the way so that she can someday make a name for herself creating doujinshi.

The Review!
Audio:
Dojin Works is given only its original Japanese language for this release as no English language adaptation was created. The series sports a pretty standard stereo mix encoded at 192kbps which doesn’t really get a whole lot of use. It’s very much a dialogue driven piece outside of the incidental music and basic sound effects so it doesn’t require much. The track is solid throughout but it obviously doesn’t have any real place to shine or show off. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2007, the transfer for this twelve episode TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The series is a bit of an odd piece as it’s made up of 13 minute episodes, so we do get four episodes on each volume but they’re only fifty-two minutes total. Each episode looks good with solid looking colors, a generally high bitrate and no serious issues such as cross coloration or line noise. There’s a bit of background noise here and there, but it’s rather small and unnoticeable for the most part. To compensate for the smaller episode count per volume, the live action segments play directly after the anime segments and these four segments run for ten minutes each. They’re basic shot on video footage pieces and look about as you’d expect. The interior pieces look better than the exterior ones, but they’re generally clean and problem free.

Packaging:
The cover art for this is really nice as it has a background done in pencil with the standard approach vanishing point to it while the foreground has four of the characters in full color. The logo looks really nice and appeals to that artistic side as it’s done as a rough while the character artwork stands out really well against the gray and white background. The back cover has several sheets of paper laying around which has the summary on it and various stills from the show. The discs extras are clearly listed and the production information is nicely contained. The technical grid is quite good a well though I’m still uncertain about the inclusion of the live action segments in the shows running time. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
The menu design for Dojin Works is simple but effective as it uses the cover art from the front with a bit of the additional paper designs on the back to tie it all together. The character artwork looks good and the sketch design has an even stronger feel here, especially on a large screen. The navigation is kept to the lower left corner with the section of art paper that was used on the back cover and it all fits very nicely and sets the mood just right. Submenus load quickly and access times are nice and fast. And with only one language on here, player presets are obviously a non-issue.

Extras:
The only extra included in here is the clean version of the opening sequence. The live action segments are not considered extras by Media Blasters.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the four panel manga series by author Hiroyuki, Dojin Works is an interesting show in its adaptation to anime form. When it originally aired, the show was made up of fourteen minutes or so of the anime itself and then a ten minute live action segment featuring the voice actresses for Sora and Tsuyuri. For this release, the anime plays by itself for four episodes and then it shifts to showing the four related live action segments. Each piece is in its own title on the DVD which gives it an unusual breakdown, particularly for Media Blasters who usually only has one DVD title for each release.

Dojin Work revolves around a young woman named Najimi who is having a hard time in the work world since school ended. She wants to make money but has a hard time really maintaining jobs. So when she’s offered work by her friend that would give her money to buy a new bicycle, she’s all ears. What surprises her though is that it initially sounds very dirty, something where her friend Tsuyuri is trying to get her to be her girlfriend. That’s quite a misunderstanding! As it turns out, Tsuyuri is a dojinshi writer/artist and she wants Najimi to help her sell her books at the next Comic Market. Apparently Najimi doesn’t know her friend all that well considering that this is all news to her. When Najimi takes the job, she finds herself in a big new world where there’s the potential to make a lot of money selling her own stuff. Providing she can actually create and market something that people would want.

Najimi gets thrown into things pretty quickly and with an amusing couple of characters brought along to play. At the Comic Market, she finds out that her childhood friend Justice is a big time dojinshi man who just moved some thirty thousand copies of three different books combined. Of course, he sells them for only a hundred yen a pop since he wants to satisfy his audience so he’s not exactly making big money on it. Justice has the whole pretty boy thing going but with some real meat on his bones, so he’s not effeminate but he’s entirely far too handsome and attractive. This is made worse by his friend Sora, a very small young girl who has claimed him as her own though she’s far too young to really know what it means. Sora’s incredibly jealous of anyone that talks to Justice so it causes some small frictions here and there.

The series is pretty light hearted as it has Najimi working through what she needs to do to become a dojinshi artist. Tsuyuri is pretty helpful at times but she can be difficult for Najimi to deal with sometimes. Tsuyuri’s works certainly belie her appearance, especially as the work she has to sell the first time is an incredibly erotic piece of work. Tsuyuri also is pretty straightforward in her comments on things. When she gets Najimi to buy an 18+ game so she can understand the basics of what makes good storytelling, she talks about the game rather publicly – even in front of Justice, which turns Najimi several shades of red. She’s not quite ready to admit where her life is going to go yet, but the potential for cash earnings that’s there has her sticking with it. She doesn’t make too much progress in these first four half length episodes, but it’s fun to watch her take in the dojinshi world and the various aspects such as the gaming and the people who inhabit it.

Where this release leaves me rather bland is with the four live action segments that run a seemingly strict ten minutes each. This part of the show – kept separate as previously mentioned – has the voice actresses for Sora and Tsuyuri together as they go through a challenge created by the producers. They learn that there is a part of the ad for the show where it states that the two will be producing a dojinshi for an upcoming show and that if they fail to, they’ll have to wear an embarrassing costume and take questions in them from the audience. So each segment has them working through the process of what they have to do to create a dojinshi. This is all narrated by Bloomer-kun, a little animated pair of bloomers that’s in the main show itself. It’s a fairly fluffy piece but it’s admittedly cute at times as they showcase their artistic talents and deal with the fear of what an embarrassing costume may be. But this still feels more like an extra than something that should be counted as a main part of the show.

In Summary:
Dojin Work is the kind of show that certainly has appeal to it. It has some of the elements of a show like Genshiken but also some of the fun of a show like Otaku no Video where it deals with all the homegrown sides of being a fan who is trying to capitalize on the industry. The passion of those who work in this particular area is nicely captured in some ways, but it has a very different take since it’s based off of a four panel comic. It’s shorter in nature, doesn’t spend a lot of time really working on the characters and their growth but rather the humor and simplicity of the situations. Dojin Work isn’t deep, but it’s a lot of fun and I smiled through the bulk of the anime side of it. I only wish there was more than what’s effectively two normal length episodes here.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Live Action Segments, Clean Opening

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.



Mania Grade: B-
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Region: All Region DVD
Released By: Media Blasters
MSRP: 19.99
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Dojin Work