Najimi Osana just lost her job at the local supermarket. Her friend Tsuyuri takes her to a doujin convention, and Najimi decides to make doujinshi into her personal cash cow. The path she has chosen may not be as easy as she thinks, but with the help of her friends, anything is possible.
I honestly didn't have high hopes for Doujin Work, but I decided to give it a shot. After all, doujinshi is a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine, and if Comic Party and Genshiken were any indication, there could be plenty of fun to be had here. While not quite as good as either of its predecessors, Doujin Work still manages a fair number of laughs for its short run time, especially considering that it's based off the four-panel gag manga format, which is notorious for being hit-or-miss upon adaptation into narrative form.
Still, don't expect any real ground to be broken here. Doujin Work's character design work, for example, feels like a slightly cutesified version of Comic Party's cast, with the only exception being the towering character Justice. In particular, the characters look young enough that it's really hard to believe that most of them are over eighteen (Najimi is drawn to look about 14, but is actually supposed to be 20). The inclusion of a mascot (a miniature dancing pair of bloomers) feels utterly irrelevant and even kind of offputting. Attempts at a plot come off as super-contrived to the point that the characters break the fourth wall noticing it.
Speaking of the characters, Masumi Asano (Hakufu Sonsaku in Ikki Tousen) as Najimi is likable enough; her reactions to the often highly perverted content of doujinshi and ero-games are particularly amusing. Tsuyuri (played by Momoko Saito, Solty Revant from Solty Rei) has an outward cuteness that belies her penchant for causing embarrassing misunderstandings, though this pales compared to the fact that she apparently makes all her money on rape manga. (This, fortunately, remains mostly offscreen and unexplored.) Justice (Hiroki Yasumoto, better known as equally gigantic Yasutora Sado in Bleach), who doubles as Najimi's childhood friend / protector and pretty-boy convention idol, is sort of a strange character, and his way-too-close relationship with the clearly underage cosplayer Sora Kitano (Kimiko Koyama, Re Mii in Zoids: Genesis) remains strangely unquestioned by the rest of the cast. Also present are a potential love interest, Junichiro Hoshi (relative newcomer Kazutoshi Hatano) and an unwitting rival, the yaoi-obsessed office lady Kaneru Nido (Ito Sakata, who sounds like she's perennially fighting off sinus allergies).
There is nothing here that will impress anyone on a technical level. The animation is often very simplistic, relying heavily on "flipping" characters on a two-dimensional plane, as if everyone in Tokyo were escapees from the world of Paper Mario. Non-essential characters aren't even properly colored, mostly in grays and sepia tones. While it never looks outright terrible, it does look very low-budget. The music isn't much better, with very peppy, but ultimately forgettable opening and ending tracks tied with unremarkable background themes.
Fortunately, Doujin Work is light enough and silly enough that its flaws don't matter too much. It's essentially a doujinshi-based sitcom, with characters put in circumstances that are mostly perverted in the minds of the characters involved (though every episode's title screens are plenty perverted no matter who's watching). There's surprisingly little truly offensive content, though, and the humor does a good job over overshadowing the series's technical inadequacies.
In short, Doujin Work is rather like one of Najimi's doujin manga: not tremendously skilled or technically impressive, but crafted with a fair amount of heart that shows through. At approximately two hours runtime, it's not like you'll feel like you're investing too much into this; it certainly won't compete for any awards, but it's a perfectly fine way to unwind from watching heavier shows.
It works. Doujin fanatics (the kind who spend every day off at Toranoana) may want to add another star. On the other hand, those who care primarily about visuals and technical merits might want to drop a star instead. — Carlos Ross
Recommended Audience: There is a fair amount of implied nudity and adult-oriented humor and themes, but there is nothing truly graphic during the course of the anime series. Despite being surrounded by perverts, Najimi is only truly threatened once, but thankfully nothing comes of it. The relationship between Justice and Sora may strike viewers as being rather inappropriate, but the anime treats it very tamely (especially compared to the manga). Overall, a lot of perverted humor, but really nothing that older teens couldn't handle.
Version(s) Viewed: Prerelease fansub
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Doujin Work © 2007 Hiroyuki / Houbunsha / Doujin Work Production Committee
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