Digging for Delight with School DJs – D4DJ Episode 1 Review and Analysis

The source material feat. Noisy Tribe Mic (because I can’t afford a better one at the moment):

Almost everyone missed D4DJ First Mix in the Fall 2020 season. That’s probably because it officially began airing on October 30, 2020 which is later than usual. It did also stream online a week earlier, but I didn’t watch it at the time.

D4DJ stands for “Dig Delight Direct Drive DJ” (say that 10 times fast). It’s a multimedia project with a mobile game, manga, music and now a sparkling brand-new anime. It was created by the company Bushiroad which also created the BanG Dream! and Revue Starlight franchises – both of them also having a mobile game, manga, music and anime. The D4DJ anime is produced by studio SANZIGEN, a CG studio that has contributed to studio TRIGGER’s Promare and has made shows that are primarily in 3D, one example being Arpeggio of Blue Steel. The director is Seiji Mizushima who directed the original 2003 Fullmetal Alchemist, Concrete Revolutio and Gundam 00 just to name a few.

Beginning the dive into the episode proper, at first I was confused. It starts with a brief scene of a girl sitting alone in a forest and instead of setting myself up for a bright time, I was instead prepared for horror like something from Higurashi. This clearly wasn’t helped by the voices of the DJs in the distance seeming like they belonged to spirits of bygone days. It was a bizarre way to begin the series, but the girl is then brought out of the darkness by her moving closer to the concert. In this concert, they’re playing a song called “Wow War Tonight”, a 1995 Japanese groove that’s apparently a classic. Before watching the episode, I listened to different versions of the song but I couldn’t find English lyrics to it. There was no translation in the episode either, as is natural for official subs. That means I unfortunately might not have been able to grasp the true significance of it playing throughout the entire episode, where it’s introduced once again after a time skip. This issue would compound if it played multiple times throughout the series and it’s even the ED.

The concert also has a terrible CG crowd, but that’s the worst the CG will look. In fact, it’s actually quite OK and I got used to it. Regarding other visual aspects, the way the characters move and the good facial expressions are always welcomed.

Those factors are present in the OP, and I could go on about the OP on its own, but I will say here that it includes high school girls doing hip-hop gestures which was a sight to behold. Cute girls doing cute things is evolving and the future is now. Furthermore, it uses poppy colours and stylish imagery like the turning of a record and the song itself uses the onomatopoeia “ぐるぐる”, which means to turn round and round. Overall, my eyeballs and eardrums were delighted.

My eardrums were delighted even more by the background music composed by Ryouhei Sataka, who also composed for Release the Spyce and Gleipnir. If there’s one thing I wanted the most out of this series, it was a jammin’ OST and we got it. After the OP, we transition to the main character, Rinku, running in the school she just transferred to. The music builds up, goes into breakbeat and then blasts Persona vibes. I imagine a Persona main character running down the hallway with one hand in a pocket and it prepares us for the journey about to unfold. The music style is varied throughout, with both chill and hype beats that get me absolutely vibing.

In the scene I mentioned, Rinku’s feet while she’s running are emphasised, which reminds of another series: Love Live! The episode also obviously parallels the Love Live! spinoff, Love Live! Nijigasaki, airing in the same season. This is in 2 ways, the first being the huge and futuristic school. In D4DJ there are digital chalkboards that you can overlay with text and images and everyone has laptops. The two series make me think of what kind of things they will add to schools in future anime as technology becomes a greater part of our lives. It’d pretty cool if someone were to cover different depictions of schools over anime’s history. The second similarity to Nijigasaki is how the main character witnesses a live performance and is then inspired to do the same thing. In D4DJ it’s in a concert hall in the school which hosts raves. This really surprised me, not just in how it went further in modernising the school but also how the students are even trusted in the first place. Having these raves makes me think of them hurting themselves and possibly being involved in some kind of drug ring. Does the school have dark secrets?! Possibly.

Besides this performance, we get very little sense of why Rinku wants to be a DJ; is it just because she saw one performance? However, Rinku does encounter a pink-haired girl who seemingly recognises her, so maybe there’s more to her than meets the eye? Her background is interesting: she used to live abroad on some African island I’d never heard of called Tiotio. I googled it and it apparently doesn’t exist, so it might just be an amusing reference to a certain band that blesses the rains down in Africa. Rinku describes this island as having lots of jungle, and jungle is an actual genre of music. “Wow War Tonight”, at least according to Discogs, is a jungle song. Her name itself – “Rinku” – is like the word “link” and DJs link songs to transition between them. In addition, she says that her mum is an insectologist specialising in dung beetles and we get a beetle rolling something on the ground to accompany it. The beetle is moving rhythmically, in tune with itself and the action it’s undertaking. Maybe her mum was a DJ? We don’t know the answer yet or maybe we never will. Finally, Rinku has a catchphrase – “Happy Around” – and she physically spins when she’s happy, spreading her joyous tune to the surroundings. The anime does not just have music as a subject matter but also incorporates musical themes into the non-DJ segments.

Now, imagine chilling at lunch thinking about life when anime eyecatch music starts playing, literally representing the half-time break in school. In D4DJ, you’re listening to the announced “Lunchtime Groove!” featuring a song sung by two artists: one of them being none other than Nana Mizuki. I’d actually have enjoyed going to school every single day if I were a student here. I imagine Tsubasa from Symphogear live DJing on the battlefield while spinning around and saving the day. Also related to Symphogear is the group Elements Garden, which is credited for the music in the live performance Rinku witnesses. Nana wills it.

In school, Rinku eventually encounters Maho, a “rookie star” DJ. Rinku eventually convinces Maho to show her what DJs do. Maho explains BPM (beats per minute) while we see the DJ set, gradually showing us what it’s all about and easing us into the premise.

Rinku then makes a suggestion for a transition and Maho sees that Rinku might have potential. That’s when we move to the ED with Maho dancing to “Wow War Tonight” and having a good time, just like I was. She even does a charming gesture to us at the end. The next episode preview follows with music that slaps and so the episode concludes. I’m definitely continuing this. It’s dope and hopefully it keeps being a jam and a vibe.

What did you think of the episode, or my own thoughts on it? Feel free to leave a comment below. And as always, you can find me on Twitter and Twitch.

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