“D4DJ First Mix” Anime Review: A Pleasing Addition to The Franchise


D4DJ is a mixed-media franchise by Bushiroad involving DJ activities of six different DJ units with their own themes: Happy Around!, Peaky P-key, Photon Maiden, Merm4id, Rondo, and Lyrical Lily. Until now, D4DJ has expanded to various media, starting from live performances, manga, a mobile game, and of course, anime. As a self-proclaimed Bushiroad franchise fan, I have been following this mixed-media franchise for some time from their live performances, weekly DJ Time, and the newly released rhythm game that I am so hooked on recently. When the anime version D4DJ First Mix was released on the official YouTube channel, it makes me wonder, how would this anime please the fans and expand the mixed-media universe of D4DJ?

Happy Around! members. From left to right: Maho Akashi, Rinku Aimoto, Rei Togetsu, and Muni Ohnaruto (© bushiroad All Rights Reserved)

A part of a bigger universe, D4DJ First Mix takes place in Yoba Academy, a school where DJ activity is a very popular thing, with many DJ units or groups compete for fame and success there. Enter Rinku Aimoto, a girl who transfers into Yoba Academy after years living in a jungle island in Africa. There, she meets Maho Akashi, an aspiring DJ who introduces her to the world of DJ-ing. After watching a performance from one DJ unit called Peaky P-key, Rinku then sets her eyes on the stage and aims to perform there. From there she will meet her childhood friend, Muni Ohnaruto, and a prodigy pianist, Rei Togetsu, before the four of them forms a DJ unit called Happy Around!. And so, their journey in the DJ world starts here.

For the first impression, many initially thought D4DJ First Mix will be a tank full of drama, but turns out, this anime is a pure feel-good anime. Almost all of the escalating problems and troubles are finished only in the span of one episode to further implement the feeling of everything is going to be alright. While most people are genuinely enjoying this approach, sometimes it makes an episode’s pace feels a little bit funny. But, that problem is not really troubling as the execution of the resolution is always grand, awesome, and wholesome depending on what trouble arise. From a very wholesome act of gratitude to a fiery rap battle, the colourful resolutions make this anime really enjoyable and make us wanting for more.

Problems arise in one episode, and solved in the same episode but with unique resolutions. (© bushiroad All Rights Reserved)

There is one other interesting part about the storyline that makes the character development in this anime is very great. That interesting part is how they actually already tease or foreshadow the incoming trouble for the later episodes in the early episodes. They put small hints here and there about the characters and put it out in the bigger picture when they really want to flesh out the character development. It makes people easily appreciate every character introduced in this anime as nothing is built up too suddenly. It’s also a really nice thing as they need to keep this anime as a feel-good anime so things not escalated so quickly and so intensely.

But there are two other points that must be highlighted as the biggest strengths of this series, and those are the visual and the music. Starting from the visual, it is known that it is produced by Sanzigen, famous for their works with 3DCG animations. And with this anime, I am certain that they already improved so much from their previous works. They utilize 3DCG animation for various things and lifts them further. One of the examples is in the utilization of 3DCG for character expressions and movements. Rinku is characterized as a very hyperactive and expressive girl. She moves around so much to express her excitement and happiness. The 3DCG animation expands the possibility of her expressions towards her crazy and outrageous movements. The most notable one is when she is eating her sorrow away. It’s not just a solid evidence of how well they utilize 3DCG animation for movement and expression, it is also demonstrated that their integration of 2D animation with 3DCG animation is so great.

Other than for expression and character movement, they also utilize 3DCG for live performances and camera movements. The 3DCG animation opens the possibility of taking impossible shots for live performances while having the dance and movements on point like they should be on a real-life stage. And they do their performances in every one of their episodes, showing off the great animation and music at the same time in each episode. For me, the best example for the 3DCG animation utilization for live performances would be Peaky P-key’s “Let’s Do The Big Bang” where they show off the impossible camera shots while keeping the dance choreography looking great and alive.

As I said before, one other greatest strengths of D4DJ First Mix would be its music and soundtrack. Since the anime itself revolves around DJ-ing, it would be shameful if they do not have great songs and this anime definitely has a very great collection of insert songs and soundtracks courtesy of many track makers and music producers who are involved with this franchise. Almost in each of this anime’s episodes, there’s a new song or a new variation of the already released songs. 

The most interesting part is every song performed in each episode mirrors the situation, theme, and character development in that said episode, adding more depth to the storyline that happens within the episode. The one who is featured in the song is usually the main spotlight of the episode’s story, helping the resolution of the problem raised within the episode. Also, let’s not forget how each unit has its own theme, atmosphere, and song arrangements, making every unit unique on their own. My personal favourite for new songs that are introduced in this anime would be Happy Around!’s “Brand New World.” The song introduces a new atmosphere to Happy Around!’s colourful vibe with a mellower and calmer music arrangement that has pieces of Johann Pachelbel’s Canon in D and featuring the fan favourite voice of Rei Togetsu’s voice actor, Kanon Shizaki. It is a very beautiful song and a very catchy arrangement to boot.

It also comes to my attention that the Japanese voice actor for Maho, Karin Kagami, is also voicing Maho in the English dub of this anime. This prompted me to check out the English dub that is also released on their YouTube channel. The English dub is also very enjoyable with the respective characters are on point, especially Rei Togetsu’s voice, Anairis Quiñones. Maho’s Karin Kagami is also trying her best with her English. I must say that after watching the dub, it is becoming more apparent how talented Kagami is in voice acting.

In the end, D4DJ First Mix is a very enjoyable anime. There may some imperfect things around here and there but overall, this anime managed to steal my heart with its wholesome plot, pleasing 3DCG animation, and interesting collection of songs. It certainly pleased a fan like me and successfully expanded the universe for anything they will bring next to the franchise. Now, I am ready for their next move to the franchise and probably, also hoping for more Nyochio in the future.

Nyochio. A cat-shaped speaker plush with many expressions. (© bushiroad All Rights Reserved)

Facts and Figures

Alternate Title(s)
Original Work Mixed-Media Franchise by BUSHIROAD
Cast Aimi as Kyoko Yamate (Peaky P-key)
Ami Maeshima as Ibuki Nijima (Photon Maiden)
Haruka Mimura as Muni Ohnaruto (Happy Around!)
Haruki Iwata as Towa Hanamaki (Photon Maiden)
Hinata Sato as Noa Fukushima (Photon Maiden)
Kanon Shizaki as Rei Togetsu (Happy Around!)
Karin Kagami as Akashi Maho (Happy Around!)
Miyu Takagi as Shinobu Inuyose (Peaky P-key)
Moeka Koizumi as Yuka Jennifer Sasago (Peaky P-key)
Nana Mizuki as Airi Amano
Raychell as Shano Himegami
Reo Kurachi as Esora Shimizu (Peaky P-key)
Risa Tsumugi as Saki Izumo (Photon Maiden)
Toru Furuya as Kofune Ryujin
Yuka Nishio as Rinku Aimoto (Happy Around!)
Director Seiji Mizushima (Fullmetal Alchemist, Mobile Suit Gundam 00)
Series Composition Gou Zappa (Blend S, Nekopara)
Character Design Takuya Chanohara  (BanG Dream! 3rd Season)
Music Ryouhei Sataka (Gleipnir, Release the Spyce)
Opening Theme “Guru Guru DJ TURN!!” by Happy Around!
Ending Theme “WOW WAR TONIGHT ~Toki ni Wa Okoseyo Movement~” Covered by Airi Amano (VA: Nana Mizuki) and Shano Himegami (VA: Raychell)
Studio Sanzigen (BanG Dream! 2nd Season, Arslan Senki)
Official Website https://en.d4dj-pj.com/
Twitter @d4dj_pj (Japan)
@d4dj_pj_EN (English)
Broadcast Date 30 October 2020 (1400 GMT/2100 WIB/2300)

The Indonesian Anime Times | Review by Keinda D. Adilia

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