D4DJ First Mix – Ep. 1 (First Impressions)

We’re almost a month into Fall 2020. Me personally, I currently have plenty of shows to watch this season (in fact, I need to trim the list down). And yet, here is D4DJ First Mix, showing up late to party but nevertheless one more show up for consideration. This show is technically slated to premiere on October 30th but go figure, the simulcast started earlier on the 22nd, hence this post coming up a few days earlier.

D4DJ (apparently short for Big Delight Direct Drive DJ…whatever that means) is a new multimedia franchise produced by Bushiroad, the same company that created BanG Dream! and Revue Starlight. The former show is worth bringing up the most as D4DJ is very similar to it in terms of premise and structure. Like Bandori!, you have a happy-go-lucky protagonist new to a particularly hobby, DJing in this case, who will gradually and inevitably build a group and reach for the top together. Hijinks will no doubt ensue and there’s definitely going to be a ton of cute anime girls in the roster. I can’t blame Bushiroad for having a crack at the same basic premise again, Bandori! is huge right now, but it does feel redundant and safe.

But is D4DJ any good? To the show’s credit, there are a couple of signs that give me hope. The premiere follows the same beats as Bandori‘s but it paces through them much faster. Whereas Bandori took two episodes to get the main band form, this show already establishes the DJ club in the first one. Also, the cast is looking a bit smaller this time around, four per team it seems, so D4DJ has a lot more breathing room to set up its principal cast and explore its supporting characters. Still, the comparisons between Bushiroad’s two shows are hard to shrug off. Execution aside, the story still feels a bit too familiar for my liking. Rinko Aimoto (Yuuka Nishio), the show’s protagonist, is pretty much Bandori‘s Kasumi Toyama in all but name and character design. The biggest thing that sets her apart is her backstory of living abroad in Africa but that’s superficial at best. Some of the characters feel reminiscent of Poppin’Party’s other members.

A bigger detractor however is the CG animation provided by Sanzigen. Bandori viewers are probably familiar with them as they animated the second and third seasons of that show. The usual problems with anime CGI persists here. Motion feels off and jittery due being animated in a low framerate and it’s hard to deny that these character designs would look way better in a more 2D aesthetic. To Sanzigen’s credit however, they provide a lively and cartoonish quality to the way the characters move. By having them move so frequently and quickly, the show is able to mask some of its technical problems while also making the characters charming on screen at the same time.

If nothing else, the soundtrack for D4DJ is really promising. Some of these tunes are bangers and the emphasis on hip-hop, EPM, and rap does set them apart from Bandori‘s pop and rock bands and Revue Starlight‘s musical numbers. Give Bushiroad credit, their franchises seem to get the music right.

Of course, having a solid soundtrack isn’t going to keep me engaged with a show. It all depends on the story and characters. I thought BanG Dream was fine enough (there’s no denying its popularity) and I absolutely loved Revue Starlight. Will Bushiroad strike again with D4DJ? We shall see in the coming weeks.

Thanks for reading!

Watch D4DJ First Mix on Crunchyroll, Funimation, and HIDIVE

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