If there were ever a series that was destined to be either ignored or abjectly derided by Western anime fans, it’s surely Tonkatsu DJ Agetarou. It’s a funny-looking series about stuff that anime are never about, and it’s a short to boot. There was never a chance this show was going to receive much acclaim or attention, but that doesn’t make it any less of a standout.
I have certain natural biases in favor of this show – I love Akitarou Daichi as a director, and I went to school every weekday in Shibuya for two years and know it about as well as any foreigner can know any Byzantine Tokyo neighborhood. But I’d love Tonkatsu DJ Agetarou anyway, because it’s really smart in the way it goes about telling its charming little story. Even the little stuff like Saddam-san telling his son to stir the tsukemono “33 times the first time around, 45 times the second” shows that humor is being mined even in the little details here. I love the visual style and the cast, too – especially Daiki Yamashita, who’s slowly branching out and proving he can be excellent at roles quite different than Onoda Sakamichi.
There were a ton of funny moments here, like the talking dog at the record shop where Agetarou learned about digging the crates (he likes big butts and he cannot lie) and pretty much everything about the DJ party at the end of the episode. But my favorite moment was when Agetarou popped Grandmaster Fry’s (I’m pretty sure now that’s the right Romanization) LP on the turntable and couldn’t figure out why there was no sound. I went into a Starbucks in LA a few years ago and ended up in conversation with a young lady of about 20 (working on her screenplay, natch), and eventually started talking about records. *What’s that?” she asked, and I sighed at the fact that she didn’t know that’s what wax was called. But it turned out she didn’t even know what records were – she’d never seen or heard of an LP, a 45 or a turntable. Young people really are that clueless, bless their hearts…
I may not have known all that much about rare grooves or mixers going in, but I know good anime when I see it and this is good anime. And if only a few of us are open-minded enough to figure it out, so be it. My only complaint with Tonkatsu DJ Agetarou, in fact, is that it’s too damn short – I’d love to have 22 minutes of this series every week.