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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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03/19/2006 Archived Entry: "Anime review: Doki Doki High School, Vol 1"

Doki Doki High School, Volume 1
English language version produced by Geneon

Review by Kelly S. Taylor

A high school is perhaps anime's most commonly used setting. For situations dramatic, romantic, or horrific, most anime characters will spend at least a little time inside a classroom. Despite the familiarity of the setting, Doki Doki High School will probably manage to surprise most viewers and leave them trying to picture the target audience for this show.

The story's premise is interesting. This is one of the very few anime series with a high school setting that features the teacher as the main character. Our heroine is Mika Suzuki, an unmarried 27 year-old who still lives at home with her parents. She stands only 4' 10" and looks like a little girl. Although it's difficult to believe that in this day and age there are still classroom situations that weren't already old and tired when our Miss Brooks was still in braids, the teacher-who-looks-younger-than-her-students scenario hasn't been completely strip-mined yet. Lots of potential for dramatic, and comedic tension there, I think. (So if you're a would-be WB exec looking to create the next Beverly Hills 90210 clone!) Doki Doki High School, as anime frequently does, takes an interesting idea and goes totally oddball with it. Forget The Breakfast Club style melo-trauma. Doki Doki High School is as zany as Jim Carey on a unicycle in a monkey costume.

The art style is childish, but some of the students' personalities might strike a U.S. audience as being boldly adult. The class includes: a dumb jock, a vain rich girl, a shop-a-holic, a guy who looks like a middle-aged man, an obsessed anime fanboy, a boy-band obsessed girl, a lesbian in love with the teacher, a gay male student in love with the jock, and a cross-dressing narcissist.

Done in a color palette so bold and simple that it would make Crayola blush, Doki Doki High School has a strong manga feel to it. It's a veritable smorgasbord of anime iconography. Eyes sparkle, noses bleed, tears stream, backgrounds go patterned, and characters go chiba all at the drop of a hat. The animators aren't even afraid to drop in text as explanations or sound effects. One begins to expect speech balloons start popping up. The cuts between scenes are fast and frenetic, contributing greatly to the general air of zany-ness.

Unfortunately, the writing contributes less. Doki Doki High School's jokes are very hit or miss, mostly miss if you don't think there's something instantly and inherently hilarious about boys who like to dress like girls. I did like the way the first episode quickly identified each member of the large cast in a vignette that memorably encapsulated his or her outstanding characteristics, but regrettably that was about all the character development that took place in the episodes collected on this DVD. Doki Doki High School doesn't have much of a sustained plot line. Episodes are built around events in the Japanese school year. There's a Summer Festival episode, a physical exams episode, a beginning of the term episode, etc. Characters and their relationships don't change much, so this ultimately means that you're just seeing basically the same jokes in a variety of settings. And if you didn't laugh the first time!

As often happens with DVD compilations of animation series, our package of extras is thin. They give us two versions of the opening, previews for other videos, and a list of credits for the DVD. Yet another example of the producer interpreting "extras" to connote not bonus material that's a treat for the fans, but merely non-episode material that needed to go somewhere.

Conclusion
As you can tell, Doki Doki High School was not quite what I wanted it to be. However it is a slickly-produced, high energy series with an original twist on a well-worn genre. If you're looking for a tonic to those Boston Public blues, then look no further.
The art style is childish, but some of the students' personalities might strike a U.S. audience as being boldly adult. The class includes: a dumb jock, a vain rich girl, a shop-a-holic, a guy who looks like a middle-aged man, an obsessed anime fanboy, a boy-band obsessed girl, a lesbian in love with the teacher, a gay male student in love with the jock, and a cross-dressing narcissist.

Done in a color palette so bold and simple that it would make Crayola blush, Doki Doki High School has a strong manga feel to it. It's a veritable smorgasbord of anime iconography. Eyes sparkle, noses bleed, tears stream, backgrounds go patterned, and characters go chiba all at the drop of a hat. The animators aren't even afraid to drop in text as explanations or sound effects. One begins to expect speech balloons start popping up. The cuts between scenes are fast and frenetic, contributing greatly to the general air of zany-ness.

Unfortunately, the writing contributes less. Doki Doki High School's jokes are very hit or miss, mostly miss if you don't think there's something instantly and inherently hilarious about boys who like to dress like girls. I did like the way the first episode quickly identified each member of the large cast in a vignette that memorably encapsulated his or her outstanding characteristics, but regrettably that was about all the character development that took place in the episodes collected on this DVD. Doki Doki High School doesn't have much of a sustained plot line. Episodes are built around events in the Japanese school year. There's a Summer Festival episode, a physical exams episode, a beginning of the term episode, etc. Characters and their relationships don't change much, so this ultimately means that you're just seeing basically the same jokes in a variety of settings. And if you didn't laugh the first time!

As often happens with DVD compilations of animation series, our package of extras is thin. They give us two versions of the opening, previews for other videos, and a list of credits for the DVD. Yet another example of the producer interpreting "extras" to connote not bonus material that's a treat for the fans, but merely non-episode material that needed to go somewhere.

Conclusion
As you can tell, Doki Doki High School was not quite what I wanted it to be. However it is a slickly-produced, high energy series with an original twist on a well-worn genre. If you're looking for a tonic to those Boston Public blues, then look no further.

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