Di Gi Charat - The Original TV Series (Standard Edition) (of 1) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, August 23, 2005

What They Say
Alien-hybrid cat-eared girl Di Gi Charat (Dejiko) travels to Earth with one goal–world domination as a superstar. But superstardom doesn’t just fall into your lap and Dejiko discovers that living in Tokyo takes more than cunning and cuteness.

Luckily, there’s a live-in job opportunity at an anime chain store called Gamers. Too bad her coworker Rabi~en~Rose is geared up to fight for customer adoration. Along with pal Petit Charat (Puchiko) and guardian Gema, Dejiko’s adventures on Earth are just beginning!

The Review!
This is where it all started as Dejiko and Puchiko first come to Earth and take up residence in the Gamers store.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. We started off with a couple of episodes in English to let the kids check it out and switched to the Japanese afterwards but noted no real issues in the translation from there. The Japanese stereo track is pretty decent but it does show its age and origins by being fairly center channel based in its nature. There aren't any issues with it but it's not something that's going to give anyone's equipment a workout or shine in any other way. 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 Mad House 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.

Released in a single sized white keepcase, this has a really cute cover that features a great looking illustration of the three principal girls from the show with a simple blue background with the footprints on it. Done in a more recent style and unlike the animation, all of them are really nicely drawn here and with a great amount of detail to the design and some good soft colors. The back cover continues the blue pawed looked and has a number of shots from the show lined up around it. The summary covers the basics pretty well and the discs features and extras are clearly listed – though it's given to just being listed as dual language without being clear what those languages are. The insert is really well done with a cleaner version of the front cover that opens up to a number of pages. It goes over the origins of the show, does summaries for each episode as well as a couple of pages of translation notes. There are also some lyric translations and a couple of panels worth of advertisements for other Di Gi Charat products.

The menu layout for the release is fairly straightforward with a large shot of most of the cast together with a small bit of animation playing off in the corner as the music plays along. The artwork is appealing and it shows most of the cast so it works nicely for this. Selections are standard and easy to navigate and the submenus load quickly. On the downside, the disc did not properly read our players' language presets and went with English language only with no subtitles.

The show has a decent selection of extras to choose from. The really neat extra here for the die-hard fans is that there's a commentary track by Koge-Donbo as well as the producer of the series. In addition to that we get some of the standards such as the art gallery, the clean opening and closing segments and a series of dub outtakes which are a mixed bag. One of the fun extras that I liked is the Gamers Commercial since Japanese commercials tend to be amusing on some level. This one goes for cute but works still.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The release of Di Gi Charat material in the US has been somewhat awkward at best as we've seen other variations on it before the original series is released. The show in its creation was as many know 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 properties but much of it remains the same.

In Summary:
Di Gi Charat is the kind of show that completely fills you up on the cute and adorable kind of anime that you sometimes need a filling of. Watching it is something of a mixed bag though; if you watch it all in one sitting it starts to become too much to handle by the end. If you watch it episode by episodes, it loses some of its magic. This is really the kind of show where you want a multi-disc player that can queue up an episode before watching another disc. As it stands by itself, it's a fun little show and it's good that we get all of it in one release.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Creditless opening & ending songs,Illustration gallery featuring art by Koge-Donbo & character design sketches by Yoshinobu Yamakawa,Outtakes

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable 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 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Synch-Point
MSRP: 29.95
Running time: 60
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Di Gi Charat