Tonkatsu Dj Agetarou really was the little series that could – but not as much as it could have.
I have nothing but good feelings for Tonkatsu DJ Agetarou itself, because it was a series that was full of nothing but good feelings. Anything Akitarou Daichi does is going to be stylish and interesting, and Tonkatsu was certainly no exception. It managed to be visually interesting and inventive on an obviously shoestring budget, and dealt with its subject material was an affection that was obvious through and through.
For me, there’s also the love affair with Shibuya. This neighborhood really is the melting pot of Tokyo, the one ‘hood where almost everybody goes – the cool and the uncool, the local and the tourist, the young and the elderly and the skater and the punk and the hipster. With most of Tokyo’s famous and important areas if someone asked you to sum their style or vibe up in a word, you could do it – but not Shibuya. That’s because Shibuya is a little bit of all the others.
My only real disappointment with Tonkatsu DJ Agetarou is that it was too short. 11 minutes really isn’t enough for a series with this much to say, especially when you consider it only got 12 episodes. This show really needed to be full-length of multiple cours, because it was barely able to scratch the surface of what it could have been. That’s not to say the surface wasn’t damned fun and entertaining, and Akitarou-sensei is way too smart and seasoned to have ruined things by biting off more cutlet than he could chew. I just wish he’d been given a chance at the whole meal.
The finale was about what one might have expected – the summation of the “Hey, kids – let’s put on a show!” theme that’s been a recurring one for the duration. It just so happens that Lard City falls on the night of a highly unusual blizzard in Tokyo, which naturally causes problems (and memes galore). Now, as it happens I was in Tokyo for the two biggest snowstorms in 50 years – and they happened exactly one week apart. And I can tell you, the city does kind of go into dystopian mode when it happens. And yes, someone invariably puts a hat on Hachiko to keep the snow off.
Long story short – Tonkatsu DJ Agetarou has to open the show at the ungodly early hour of 11:30 PM, not knowing if any of the invited guests will show up. But one by one, they trickle in – Amakara hitching a ride from Harajuku (which is one stop on the Yamanote, a walk I’ve made in weather good and bad), Ikenosuke walking all the way from Ikebukuro (which is a flight of fancy given the weather – that’s like 8 miles) – showing his integrity despite his gruff demeanor. And Dong-myeong makes it all the way back from Seoul – he does need a plane to get to Japan, but only as far as Fukuoka (which is FAR) from whence he hitches a ride on (top of) a truck. That’s dedication.
Having opened the show, Agetarou has one final role to play – he makes some Tonkatsu DJ pork soup to warm up the masses, and leaves it to Oily-san to heat them up. Which the old war horse does in his own signature style, showing these youngsters a thing or two about kicking it old school. Is it hokey? Sure – but the tongue is thoroughly in-cheek, and it’s all comes from a good place. This was a fun ride – I wish it had been the ride from Ikebukuro (or better yet Ikebukuro) to Shibuya rather than from Harajuku, but with oddball little series like this I’ve learned to be grateful for whatever I get.