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D4DJ First Mix is part of the complete D4DJ franchise, with the D4 part standing somewhat nonsensically for Dig Delight Direct Drive. Next to the main anime series First Mix there's also the Japanese-only mini-series D4DJ Petit Mix, with a computer game set to come out still this month.
It won't be too much of a surprise that a show called D4DJ First Mix is about... DJs. More exactly, a group of DJs at Yoba Girls' Academy, an ultra-modern Japanese high school famous for it DJ culture. During one of the school's Lunchtime Groove radio sessions one of the upcoming DJs, Maho Akashi, happens to put on “Wow War Tonight”, a song that Maho had seen performed on stage years before.
Little does she know that it is also the favourite song of Rinku Aimoto, freshly returned from Africa where here parents had worked for a few years. Rinku spontaneously storms into the radio studio, and upsets the broadcast before Maho manages to get rid of her — or at least thinks so, because now Rinko follows her with questions about all things DJ. When Maho decides to take Rinku to a live school concert by one of Yoba's most popular school unit, Peaky P-key, Rinku is electrified and wants to host her own concert.
Now, if you'll enjoy the show or not will certainly also depend on how you take to Rinku, who's enthusiastic, but also a completely over the top and not exactly thinking ahead. One of the kids spontaneously called her “embarrassing, crazy and without brains” on seeing the first episode. She's certainly a bit of a Yui Hirasawa, but without Yui's charm.
The rest of the show moves according to rather predictable patterns. Rinku and Maho finally team up to host their first concert together, with Maho behind the disks and Rinku as the small group's dancer and singer. Two more girls join, Muni as illustrator and visual artist (VJ) and Rei as composer and occasional singer. Together they form the DJ unit Happy Around!.
In the school's competitive environment Happy Around squares off against various other bands such as Photon Maiden and Peaky P-key. In a rare sense of realism the four girls sometimes come out on top, sometimes not, but overall have a good time.
Neither the largely predictable story line nor the rather stereotypical characters have impressed me. Ultimately, both are more of a backdrop for the music, however, and it's here that D4DJ shines — it's a wonderful excuse to indulge myself into J-Pop, rap, house, techno, and more. Even if I don't care much for the anime's 3D optics, the dances are beautifully choreographed, the songs catchy. This way, most of the episodes left me smiling and quite often scrolling back to some of more memorable performances of Happy Around and their competitors and friends. And that's already something.
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