It might be serendipity that the same season a rapping anime comes out (Hypnosis Mic), we also see an anime about DJing: D4DJ First Mix. My early impression is that it’s pretty run-of-the-mill series rife with standard tropes of anime: cute girls doing an Activity, a Yu-Gi-Oh!-esque setting where DJing is the be-all and end-all, a plucky newbie with lots of potential, and a path that’s probably gonna lead to some tournament or competition to be the best. That being said, I am highly receptive to those tropes, and the fact that I know next to nothing about the world of DJs and have been trying to improve my understanding of music makes me an ideal audience for D4DJ First Mix’s beginner-level expositions.
There’s a lot that’s head-scratchingly awkward about D4DJ First Mix—little oddities that collectively make the show at times feel like an alien wearing a human skin. The title of the show is actually short for Dig Delight Direct Drive DJ. The show is done entirely in CG, bringing to mind Love Live! and Aikatsu! performance sections. The main heroine, Aimoto Rinku, is a Japanese girl who recently came back from Africa, and at least from early episodes it’s unclear what that’s supposed to mean for her character. At one point, she panics that the lunch she left out might get stolen by monkeys as a nod to her time abroad, but is her ability to intuitively sense the beat through her body supposed to be a result of her experience in Africa, or is it something more innate? The facial expressions remind me more of Virtual Youtubers or Comipo software models, like they’re aiming for a very conventional idea of anime aesthetic. This is doubly noticeable because of the sharp contrast between important and unimportant characters, the latter of which look like different versions of the “default” setting of a create-a-character mode.
When D4DJ First Mix does manage to overcome the quirks of its presentation, it actually does exude a real charm and charisma. The chemistry between the characters feels nice, and it feels earnest in actually teaching its audience about the world of DJing, and to grow a sense of appreciation for their hobby and passion. I can feel myself being pulled in, and I do wonder if some of what makes D4DJ First Mix feel strange is that it’s one of those multimedia projects (like Hypnosis Mic or Trinity Tempo) built around different character groups who are all supposed to garner their own loyal fanbases. If I stick with the show long enough, maybe I can find the team that’s right for me.