Well, I was getting a bit bored one day and wanted to see something different and this title popped out. Personally, this is my first J-drama that I have viewed and have finished it. This is my review of the J-drama version of Akihabara@DEEP, not the novel, movie or the manga versions.
This drama revolves around a group of otaku, all using a website which you can chat one on one to Yui, a woman will answer any personal questions 24/7. After a couple of events that happen, they solve problems that revolve in the city. This plot has a more subtle storyline between Digital Capital (or DigiCap for short), Yui and the same group of otaku named by her, Akibahara@DEEP.
Akibahara@DEEP members: (Note that each member's name is a nickname used on the website)
Page- A shut-in otaku that has a speech impediment and talks better by a computer. He becomes the leader of the bunch. Portrayed by Shunsuke Kazama
Taiko-A music otaku, which he produces ringtones and the like and is prone to having seizures or what they call “freezing” in place. Portrayed by Gen Hoshino
Box-A otaku that draws, who is a germaphobe and he doesn't like real-life girls where he can sense one by a peculiar sound. Portrayed by Toma Ikuta
Akira-She isn't exactly a otaku, but she works as a maid cosplayer in a maid cafe for which she is the most popular of all of the maids in there. She has a hobby of boxing or any martial art. Portrayed by Yuka Kosaka
Izm (or Izumi)-She is a programmer/hacker that can't live without a computer. She has doesn't like to be social and had a good relationship with Yui and Naoki Tousaka. Portrayed by Hatsune Matsushima
Daruma-He is a cosplayer where he makes his own costumes and dresses up as a character of an anime. Out of all the members, he is the most quirky of the bunch. Portrayed by Yuki Himura
Takeshi Nakagomi-He is the company's president and also a huge otaku having a scale inch model of a pink mecha (I am thinking it's from Gundam) in the background, cosplays as Char from Gundam and laughs like Keroro from Sgt. Frog. He serves as the villain from the shadows to the group. Portrayed by Kazuki Kitamura
Kounosuke Shimoyonagi-He is Takeshi's right hand man or as what I call him a 'yesman' from Kappa Mikey where he is runs around doing errands and becomes a comic relief character. Portrayed by Masayuki Izumi
Yui-She is the person who named the group with it's title. She and Takeshi have a backstory with each other. Portrayed by Manami Honjo
Ajita-He is a Indian shop keeper where he sells everything from used parts, porno, weapons, anything.
Portrayed by Youssef Lotfy
Naoki Tousaka-He is a programmer like Izm hired by Takeshi to develop a program for the company. Portrayed by Satoshi Matsuda
Of course I could go on saying every character but the list goes on.
Now that I have given you the plot, the characters and now time to give you guys what it all comes to.
The series itself is 11 episodes with about 1 hour runtime, so relatively short with a making of the drama that counts as an episode (which I want to say it's an extra on the dvd). It is indeed episodic as the group solve the problems handed to them and I can't see any problem with how it will be executed any other way.
In each episode, its plot progresses at a relatively good pace. The episodes involve incidents involving an otaku or anyone that is about to be harmed in Akihabara by clients and other things that lead up. The members act like another bunch of kids solving mysteries, exposing a crime, trying to get more funds, and helping each other, so a bit of Scooby Doo/Amazing Chan/any other Hanna-Barbera show involving teens or kids from the 70's and around there in present day form. This formula does not include in each episode but uses the similar approach and mixing it up.
The comedy in this show is flat out hilarious. By comedy, I am talking about slapstick, word puns (thankfully the translators noted the words they are making fun with), goofy acting, and what have you. I was laughing quite a lot to how they present the humor where there are realistic situations in which they get themselves in danger to flat out making it laughable. I want to say that it is a live-action anime.
Now I want to mention again that this is also a drama, so I want to say about the actor's portrayal in this show. They did a terrific job at fleshing out characters to be realistic and develop over time in the series. Even the minor characters that appeared grow on you and surprise you.
Now here comes my negative views for this show.
Aside from the bad lighting and filming, I feel like some of the jokes were lost in translation. There was a certain character that appears in the series 3 times and the members recognize him as someone famous. I googled/binged/wikisearched the guy's name and nothing appeared as someone famous in Japan. So I questioned why he was mentioned for about 2-3 minutes if there is no information on him from the internet, making him a ghost in the drama.
I didn't like how some of the actors look. In particular are the hairstyle. They look so rugged that seems like they went through mopping around gutters and haven't had time to style it. Another thing is that they wear winter clothing all the time. Either Japan is really cold all the time at below freezing or they are going over a look like a homeless person. The first can't be true since some people don't dress that much for cold weather and it isn't snowing and one of the main characters wear shorts, so why they do that? Maybe they wanted to make them standout, I think that's reasonable.
Overall, this J-drama was really outstanding and I would recommend others to watch it. It is very animated and likable thanks to the actors and the writing. I can't rate this since I don't follow that standard personally but you should definitely watch it if it interests you.
Some trivia of this show that I noticed:
Page's actor, Shunsuke Kazama, is the same voice actor for Yugi Mutou from Yu-Gi-OH!
Kazuki Kitamura added Sgt. Frog's laugher “ku-ku-ku” sound effect in the script since his character, Takeshi Nakagomi, likes Gundam
The show references Densha Otoko, the love story of an otaku getting help from 2ch to date a girl he met on a train.