Najimi is a college student who is low on funds. After talking to a friend who makes doujinshi (armature comics), she sees an opportunity to make money and decides she'll make doujinshi as well. There's only one problem: she sucks at drawing. Her friends offer her support but it's hard to tell if they're a help or a hindrance. Even so, Najimi is determined to stick it out and make a name for herself.
Doujin Work is a 12 episode anime which features a girl trying to break into the doujinshi industry she's recently been exposed to, although little is said about the industry itself. Doujin Work was broadcast on TV with the first half of each episode as anime, and the second half as live action. On the DVD this is split into 4 episodes of anime followed by 4 episodes of the live action stuff on each disk.
Each episode basically follows Najimi through day to day adventures in her quest to become a manga artist. Most of it revolves around humorous misunderstandings and innuendos. It's funny and the characters are conductive to that point, but there isn't much of a story behind it or the cast. Instead Doujin Work jumps from situation to situation. Each episode is less than 15 minutes long so nothing significant is ever accomplished. That's not a big deal, just don't expect anything profound. The characters work well for basically being props. I guess the only other thing I can say about the anime segment is that the animation is pretty cheesy and little is even animated.
The thing I like most about Doujin Work is the LACK of talent. Whatever you think Najimi's artwork is going to look like, it's not that. In fact Najimi really sucks at drawing. She does eventually find she can draw a character from ONE angle, and then becomes the notorious artist known as the "one pose girl". Her rival is also a terrible, but decides to orient her manga towards erotic stuff to boost sales. She finds this embarrassing enough, but it becomes more so when even hardcore doujin readers become disturbed by how perverse her content gets. Lack of skill is a very different perspective compared to most titles where the underdog always has talent. That adds a lot of fun too something that could have ended up unremarkable.
The live action segment is an unusual setup that is probably more like a marketing gimmick to save money, but turns out to be kind of cool in its own right. Two of the voice actresses are chosen to produce their own doujinshi. If they succeed, one gets a TV and the other a Playstation 3. If they fail they'll have to dress up in an embarrassing costume and do an apology. Neither has any experience with doujinshi and one has never even drawn much. They get pretty stressed over the entire thing, and one of them looks like she's about to cry a lot. That's nothing compared to what they put people through in game shows over there. These segments turn out amusing in their own right.
What's cool about this, is the girls going through the entire process of creating doujinshi. It starts in print planning, tools involved with drawing, and how the printing process works. The girls even visit Doujin Work creator Hiroyuki. Just because doujinshi is "amateur" doesn't mean it's lacking in quality. If you've ever seen how incredible some of the doujinshi in Japan is (sometimes better than commercial manga), these segments show you a lot of the techniques used to create some amazing stuff; aside from hard work and talent of course.
From the anime perspective doujin work is ok for a light comedy piece. It doesn't get too much into the anime/manga industry, and it's pretty low budget. The live action stuff I think is certainly worth watching if you have an interest in how comics in Japan are made, and fairly amusing too. Sandwiched together they make Doujin Work a decent watch.
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