For someone like Jun Aoki, the director of Pop Team Epic, it would barely raise anyone’s eyebrows if he picked up an oddball comedy manga named “My Roomie’s a Dino/Gal & Dino” to take the creative reins over. It’s an oddball duo that makes you expect plenty of absurd comedic moments to stem out of it. Granted, there were absurd comedic moments aplenty, but it smoothed out to being a lot more wholesome and endearing show than I expected and further subverting my expectations with its creative production choices.
By creative, I mean each episode’s latter half is live-action footage of the gyaru and someone in a Dino suit and it still remains entertaining and not cringe in the slightest. The live-action cast are competent but it’s the person in the Dino suit that steals the show for me every single time – they translated the cuteness of the anime Dino really sincerely into live-action form.
The cinematography is pristine, the lighting makes the sets and background look fresh, I love live-action Kaede’s make-up – everything visual looks very neat and pretty. But the prettiness is sometimes juxtaposed with guest appearances of slapstick, absurd comedians and it somehow works. My favorite guest appearance is Zakoshi – dude is hilarious. The comedians’ skits may seem like they are trying too hard, but that brand of humor gives me a good chuckle.
I would even go as far as saying that, overall, the live-action half is marginally more enjoyable than the anime half. I mean, have you seen Dino camping by the riverside?
That’s not to say the anime half is lackluster or not entertaining. I dig the cute and rounded visual style with the vibrant color palette and unique linework. I love Dino’s adorable expressions in the anime parts – a bucket of sunshine whenever it’s on-screen. There are more cast members in the anime half and the chemistry between them is comfy and often mildly comedic. Kaede, the gyaru, is portrayed as a more down-to-earth, amicable person, in contrast to stereotypes around gyaru. I like how the show set up the wholesome dynamic between Dino and Kaede, it’s cute how they eventually learn to communicate without Dino even uttering a word. Dino’s elation in almost every scene is infectious, it’s the best aspect of the show. The adequately-written supporting characters are great additions that add some energy to an otherwise laid-back show. Still, I can’t say I love the human characters, I have no emotional stake in them.
Each episode is split into four parts (two anime parts and two live-action ones) and sandwiching adjacent parts are intermissions in the form of short stop-motion animation youtube-style videos and also in the form of “find the dino” game which got exponentially harder throughout the series. I won’t pretend and say that the intermissions were consistently entertaining, though. While I appreciate the creativity and collaboration of the animators involved, I found myself looking at the progress bar more than actually enjoying the skits. Still, I think the episode structure works well, the skits in between rarely trip up the flow of the episodes for me.
I don’t think the delays due to the pandemic impacted the quality of the show in terms of production or writing – it’s very consistent. Gal & Dino really deserves to be watched more. While this multimedia show didn’t meet the enjoyment threshold of a Pop Team Epic for me, I still think it’s worth your time. It’s a great show to grab your beverage of choice and lazily binge on a weekend.