Here’s a story about two things which are equally part of the Shibuya experience.
It’s fitting that the guy who plays Onoda Sakamichi stars in Tonkatsu DJ Agetarou, because this series is definitely not a mass-produced model. Either a show about a tonkatsu-ya or one about a club DJ would be somewhat unusual in the current anime environment – do a mash-up of the two of them and you have something really unusual. Throw in one of the most famous directors in anime and a highly unusual animation style reminiscent of Ping Pong and you have an out-and-out odd duck on your hands.
The director in question is Daichi Akitarou, and the really interesting thing about his involvement is that this guy is known almost exclusively for shoujo – he’s done some of the most iconic examples ever, including Fruits Basket, Bokura ga Ita and Kamisama Hajimemashita. But he has shown the occasional yen for odd projects, like the thoroughly delightful cat short Poyopoyo Kansatsu Nikki. Tonkatsu DJ Agetarou is a short too, at ten minutes, and as a shounen quite a departure for Daichi. But if the first episode is any indication, he has a good handle on the material.
The plot here is pretty simple. Young Katsumata Agetaro (Yamashita Daiki) works at his family’s tonkatsu restaurant in Shibuya – a job which he finds boring and stifling. One night his father (who for some reason appears to be Saddam Hussein) sends him on an after-hours delivery, which turns out to be the doorman of a local dance club. Agetarou being 16 or 17 has never experienced the inside of a club before (as elsewhere, some clubs in Tokyo are adults-only, some all ages – I didn’t see any indiction which was the case here) and the doorman lets him in as thanks for the delivery. And Agetarou is immediately entranced by the world inside.
I’ve always been more a pub than club guy myself and I’d never seen any indication that this subculture was of interest to Daichi-sensei, but somehow Tonkatsu DJ Agetarou really works. Agetarou’s wide-eyed wonder at the club scene – dancing, pretty girls, and a real-live African-American DJ named Grand Master Fry (Chafurin) – given the premise it’s hilarious to try and guess which English word they were going for here (maybe both) – is communicated very effectively. And things get really interesting when Agetarou sees the similarity between what GMF does and what his dad does, and decides he’s going to become a master of both. I kind of wish this show was full length (I was really bummed when it ended so fast) but I think it has a chance to be another Spring sleeper.