“Trendiness” is something I’ve historically been very hostile towards. If I sniff any such odor that may linger about a new anime series, I turn up my nose and skitter back into my cave. Things have changed since then… at least to some degree, and I’m willing to indulge in these varyingly creative works that have been inspired by those before. That, and any anime with “Cool” in the title has a better chance of acquiring my attention.
Cool Doji Danshi, or Play It Cool, Guys, may not necessarily be derived from a specific piece of fiction, yet its existence lends itself to a very particular group of humanity. A bunch of goofballs who also happen to be very attractive, which only accentuates how lovely their presence is to others. It’d be easy to simply use this as a crutch for the whole of the series. Fortunately, these guys’ level of “cool” rises to the level necessary to give the story worth. Usually.
“Enter: a bunch of cool guys who look like they got that unapproachable swag. But let’s be real—that’s not the true them. They’re just a bunch of dorks who’ve got the act down pat. So sit back, grab some popcorn and enjoy watching a bunch of goofy guys try to look cool all day every day.”
Something to consider when preparing to view this is that each episode, not including the opening and ending themes, is about eight minutes. With twenty-four total episodes (as of now), it equals out to about the length of an eleven-episode series, so slightly less than one-cour.
Due to the shortened runtimes, pacing definitely feels fairly quick, or “bite-sized.” Each of the four (initially) main characters are introduced in the first four episodes, with a majority of the screentime dedicated to their “quirks” and, later on, how they fit in with the whole group. Early on, it can feel repetitive with just how obviously structured the base idea is, chock-full of silly errors that many make on a daily basis. It’d be easy to jump ship and assume this was all there was to the anime.
Like any creative skill, the execution becomes better with practice. Cool Doji Danshi begins to mend itself a cozy cottage of good-natured hijinks once all the pieces have been gathered and put to use. Using the materials to their fullest advantage, the characters are what make this worth watching. It seems like I’ve been saying this a lot more lately.
As a slice-of-life/comedy title, it’s imperative that the characters pull their weight when the plot isn’t much of a player in the game. Whereas a lot of similar series include characters that are the very stereotype they embody, this piece manages to use the quirks as simply that—quirks. One guy isn’t just “the one that laughs at every failure.” They have enough to them—as do the rest of the cast—to paint them as ordinary individuals that also happen to be kind of incompetent.
I’m very thankful this angle of dimension embodies each character, as the silly “Oops, I messed up!” shtick is often the worst part of each episode. There’s only so much one can do with something so simple. The joke, the punchline, is always the same: “Ah… I didn’t mean to do that.” Cue awkward reaction and some air of either stagnant silence or appreciative adoration, because it’s apparently cute. Though it works in some circumstances, there’s far too much to be consistently amusing.
What does help is the often soft, borderline-chibi-like presentation of everyday life. The main cast, though “attractive” in their default presentation, have an almost puppy-dog appeal due to their clumsiness. And the animation follows suit to emphasize that as much as possible. Colorful backgrounds, simplistic faces, and reactions adorned with blushes and flustered face stickers. Like giving a stage to the most dramatic of individuals to perform to their talents.
Impressively, the dialogue is fairly effective in communicating a desire to be better for others and for oneself. I like when there’s a point to be made about self-assurance, even if it has been somewhat overused of late. To be fulfilled personally goes a long way, and it helps to inspire others to do the same. It’s a common thing to have each guy find another guy “cool” for whatever reason, leading them to try and achieve a higher level of “cool” themselves. It’s fun.
Although, that’s really all there is to the series. A bunch of guys trapped in a good-natured existence of being beloved for their clumsy faults. They have good camaraderie, and the series sports a pleasant art style, and that’s what gets it by. Should these things not work for one, a complete lack of substance awaits.
The played it cool for as long as they needed to. Once it found its footing, it took off at a brisk jog, accumulating enough sweat to measure up to the workload it’s made for itself. What it lacks in any real conflict, it makes up for in endearing, probably-somewhat-gay interaction among its mostly-male cast. I would definitely watch more of this should they make them, though it’s something of a passive enjoyment. Has its moments!
The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.
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