Monday, August 11, 2014

Digi-Girl Pop!

Coming out in February of 2003, Digi-Girl Pop! (also known as Digi-Girl Pop! Strawberry & Pop Mix Flavour) is an odd little show that appears to have been based off a web animation. It's quirky, it's weird, it's fun, and it's definitely a product of its time, seeming to have heavy influence from the Gal culture of the day. However, this show is frustratingly hard to track down.

I fell in love with it at first sight.

It follows the exploits of Digi-girl, a robot who fell from the sky without much explanation, as she wreaks havoc in the lives of Nails, the woman who took her in, and her younger brother, Yamaguchi. Digi-girl follows the quintessential archetype of bumbling fish-out-of-water. Like characters before her such as Arale (Dr. Slump) and Chii from Chobits, Digi-girl means well, but doesn't take prompting well and ends up doing things like cleaning dishes in the washing machine.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

What initially attracted me to this series was the art style. It's so funky-retro-60's and yet very typical of the late 90's - early 00's, and fills me with that nostalgic happiness that evokes memories of The Powerpuff Girls and The Super Milk Chan Show. The colours are bright, the lines bold, the characters distinctive, the animation rare. It's something between stop-motion, cut-out, and regular that really only brings to mind the weird little flashes we all watched back in the day. (Homestar Runner, anyone?)

The neo-retro look is something fun and fresh, mostly because it's not tried by other series.

Each episode is made of several shorts, usually involving the daily comings and goings of the makeshift family, and Digi-girl's struggle to emulate something close to normal human behavour. Being comic relief AND a robot, she never achieves this, but it makes for some interesting moments along the way. The opening and ending share a tune (outside of 2 episodes which have a different ending theme), and all the endings (sans the first) parody a movie in some way, making it a fun pop-culture hunt for film buffs. Some examples include the Blues Brothers, Harry Potter, Ringu, Jurassic Park, and Titanic.

If you feel like it, looking up the endings on youtube turns into a cute game of Spot the Reference.

The one major flaw I have with the series isn't even the series' fault; it's that I can't find any material for it outside of the 26 endings, the opening, and the first episode. I managed to track down a full version of the theme song (Uhyohyo Pop!) on youtube along with all the endings, but otherwise, the series is a blank. Info sites such as Anime News Network and My Anime List have little to no data on the show. It makes for a frustrating craving that will never be satiated.

I can relate to Yamaguchi here.

Overall, though it only took me 13 minutes to "get through" the series (read: the only episode available), it was worth it, as I have yet to see anything as weird and fun as this show is (though The Super Milk Chan show is very close in nature, and much more available). There's nothing dirty in it, and was even aired on a kids' network (they literally say that), so it's cool to show to basically any audience....but I don't see much point in doing so. No need to frustrate anyone else with the lack of closure.

Fear not! You can find the endings, a standalone opening and the full theme song on Youtube by searching for "デジガールPOP!".

The ONLY place this anime can be found at is at the Hylia's anime download database, which I will provide a link to. Anonymous Russian Rippers (ARR) did the first episode (so, 5 shorts), nothing more, and since none of the torrents are alive anymore, this direct download is the last resort. Not even youtube has it.

http://anime.thehylia.com/downloads/series/digigirl-pop-strawberry-pop-mix-flavor

You know you've broken the fangirl barrier when you're shipping characters you've only seen once.

3.5-4/5

Monday, August 4, 2014

Dantalian no Shoka

Dantalian no Shoka (aka Bibliotheca Mystica de Dantalian, or The Mystical Archives of Dantalian) was a 12-episode, 1 OVA series by Gainax that aired through the summer of 2011. It is set in early 1920's England, right after the end of WWI, and follows a young man named Hugh Anthony Disward (or Huey to basically everyone) and a young girl named Dalian as they work together to round up magic tomes known as Phantom Books.

Huey is what's known as Dalian's Keykeeper.

Though episodic in nature, the series is quite compelling as the pair deal with all manner of individuals in their efforts to round up the dangerous volumes before they wreak havoc in all sorts of ways. Dalian plays the tsundere role effectively and Huey has the patience of a saint, making them a superb comedy duo in their exploits. Though they could have gone the bumbling idiot route, instead Huey is an Air Force veteran ready and able to do battle with both human and demon, even without the help of magic. It makes for quite a thrill ride.

NEXT WEEK ON ACTION LIBRARY: SUSPENSE, DRAMA, AND ACTIIIIOOOON!!!

The art style in Dantalian is somewhat typical for an anime, but uses a lot of bright effects with a mostly dark pallet to make for a firmly gothic-lolita look. As if to confirm this, Gainax collaborated with fashion retailer Baby, The Stars Shine Bright and their child company Alice and the Pirates to design the costumes of the characters. Baby and Alice even went a step further by selling the fashions from the series, meaning that if one was so inclined (and had $1400 to spare at the time), one could dress as Dalian on a daily basis.

It took a few style risks, but overall it was consistent.

Making it even more rooted in its gothloli nature is the music. The opening, Cras Numquam Scire, is a gorgeous choral piece sung entirely in Latin, while the ending is a mysterious little song called yes, prisoner by a singer or band named maRIONnetTe (I've found no information on google, youtube, or wikipedia on either the singer or the backing band). Only adding to this is the ending itself, which is live-action, in black and white, and has nothing to do with the series save book pages falling from a tree and an obsession with keys. Beautiful as it is, it makes no sense, but at least it doesn't reflect poorly on the music, which is all soul-stirring.

The ending is strange, but pretty.

With plenty of action, drama and mystery, this dark star of a series was quite the watch. It won't be everyone's bag, but it can appeal to a good chunk of fans if they're willing to give it a try. It's not sexual, it's not vulgar, and it's not very gorey, so outside of some possibly complex themes, concepts, or words, age won't be an issue here, either. Despite it looking like thorns on the outside, what's inside is actually an elegant rose.

Who knew this series was so queer positive?

Dantalian is available from Commie, Coalgirls, Deadfish, Horrible, M.3.3.W Subs, Zurako, Hatsuyuki Fansubs, Whine Subs, Yamayurikai and Nanaone (as a collaboration; German), Chinurarete Fansubs (German), Fairy Tale Fansub (Italian), Kanari Anime (Spanish), Urahara Shop (Hungarian), AnimeOu (Turkish), and Aria Chan Subs (OVA Only; Arabic). It was also released with english subs online by NicoNicoDouga and Crunchyroll.

Oh Myyyyy.

4.5/5