Comic Party Revolution Vol. #1 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: C-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: TV 14
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Comic Party Revolution

Comic Party Revolution Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     September 21, 2006
Release Date: September 19, 2006


Comic Party Revolution Vol. #1
© ADV Films


What They Say
A man-made island sits on the edge of Tokyo, well off the beaten path. The time is drawing near when this island of cold concrete will be set afire with passion. People will gather to draw manga, search for manga, and get passionate about manga! It's a joyous celebration of individuals who've staked their entire youths on doujinshi. It's - Comic Party! We rejoin Kazuki and Mizuki as college students as they immerse themselves in the otaku subculture. Kazuki has grown more confident in his abilities as a doujinshi (amateur comic) artist, but will all the girls distract him or help him succeed? And what of Taishi's plans for world domination? Parodies abound and wackiness ensues in the first chapter of Comic Party Revolution TV!

The Review!
Now in college and some with jobs, the cast from Comic Party face new challenges in their efforts to show their love of doujinshi.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. Having been familiar with the voice cast from the previous series we wanted to keep with that. The Japanese mix is a fairly standard stereo presentation and comes across well. There is action of a sense in the show and those areas utilize the stereo channels well but for the most part this is a strong dialogue piece that uses the full soundstage to good effect. Music and some of the ambient effects handle the stereo channels and overall it's a solid mix. We spot checked some of the English mix and didn't find anything problematic there.

Video:
Originally airing in 2005, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The first four episodes for this release are from the TV series release, not the OVA release. The transfer for this show is one of the most inconsistent I've seen in a bit though the majority of the problems are in the source material and was the same for the Japanese release. The episodes are simply filled with a lot of dot crawl, causing a lot of scenes to look really bad. This seems to occur in each episode and shifts between being faintly noticeable to overtaking an entire scene. During the first episode, there's a scene where the text "Mizuki's Kitchen" is in the background and the text is covered in dot crawl. You can see this against characters, backgrounds and other text in various backgrounds throughout the show. There is also a fair bit of mosquito noise with the solid color areas, or lack of solid colors, most noticeably in the hair.

Packaging:
Done in the same "manga style" packaging that Right Stuf did with their release, the cover artwork here feels like a flashback to some of the fifties comics as it has an all female cast on the cover with three of them being headshots inside of bubbles. Add in the adjectives applied to their names and the overall layout and it does feel somewhat dated and less like a modern day doujinshi or even western comic book. The back cover gives us some good shots of the show, several fanservice oriented ones in fact, across two strips. The shows premise and summary are nicely covered as is the discs features. The bottom of the back cover is the standard presentation we like to see that has the production information and the technical grid. While there is no insert, there is a reversible cover for this release. The reverse side front cover has a nice looking piece of art with the original logo with Mizuki and Aya. The opposite side has a text interview with their voice actresses.

Menu:
The menu design for this release is pretty good as it uses a similar design to the front cover but along the left side it has a scrolling series of clips from the show. The background is made up of papers and erasers while the paper sections have rough pencil sketches rotating out on them. The menus that ADV is using these days tend to look a little bare since it lists out the episodes by number and then just the extras and languages. It's easy to not pay the numbers much mind which makes the rest of the selections look really minimal. Access times are nice and fast though and we had no problems with the players' language presets being picked up.

Extras:
The on disc extras for the release look to be pretty good and rather Japanese centric which will please some. The clean opening and closing kick off the extras which is followed by a pair of voice actor interviews that are done in text form. Also included are some voice actor profiles which are basically one page of information for four of the Japanese voice actors. The liner notes cover some of the basic terms that come up in association with doujinshi and there is also an article that talks about the evolution of Comic Party from a game to where it is now.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After an initial series that introduced young Kazuki to the world of doujinshi and got him on a roll as a creator alongside instigator Taishi, Comic Party Revolution advances the storyline a little bit. If that. Taking place with Kazuki now in college and others having moved on to the work force, those whose love is doujinshi find challenges in finding the time and energy to create such things while the real world moves in around them.

The original series was pretty fun as it did a fair number of parodies and cute looks at the world of manga and anime, but more so at the fans and the way they live and operate. It had its moments where you got a glimpse at some of the darker sides but for the most part it was something of a mild love letter towards the medium and didn't stray too far from the usual routines. The setup of the show even made the fact that Kazuki was surrounded by a number of women something that didn't seem completely out of the ordinary. The way that the circle he became involved in grew was fairly natural, as is the competition that it brought in the form of Eimi.

Revolution does carry on with most of that but with the mild twist of them now being a bit older and wiser in the ways of the selling markets as well as having a bit more popularity. Kazuki isn't the biggest thing out there but he's doing fairly well and has mastered the comic party events themselves all while balancing it against college. Unlike the first series though, these first five episodes don't have any real driving force behind them. The original series had us along with Kazuki learning the ropes of this worlds doujinshi artists and the trials they face. This was mirrored with the storyline about Mizuki and her lack of understanding of all of it while trying to make sure she got into the relationship with Kazuki that she wanted. That was naturally stymied by there being so many girls near him, with reason to be, and their minor infatuations with him.

Here, the doujinshi side seems to take a bit more of a back seat to the groups' antics and troubles. This isn't all that surprising considering the way this series came to light. After the relative success of the first series, a two episode OVA series was decided upon so that would just be short stories. Then it was expanded to four episodes which again kept to standalone stories. From there, those four OVAs were then edited slightly and turned into TV episodes and the series went up to the usual thirteen. So these opening episodes don't have much in the way of a real story since they were never intended to. And to some extent I think that hurts it a bit. There isn't a lot of real continuity among them and they play out in such a way the characters aren't really introduced properly since they assume you're coming from the TV show.

A couple of episodes revolve around the doujinshi, such as the opening one where they hit up the latest Comic Party event to sell the books and we get slightly reacquainted with everyone in their new roles. Another episode later one has Aya helping out someone who wants to write and draw a romantic doujinshi but can't do it since she's never been on a date herself. The concept of experience being the best teacher is definitely understood though the execution of it is pretty weak. Aya sets her up on a date with Kazuki, complete with Mizuki's reluctant permission, and the two head to a theme park for their date. It certainly lives up to the idea of a very innocent date but you have a hard time really thinking it'll give the aspiring writer any real experience for her writing.

A lot of the show doesn't revolve around the doujinshi but other group activities. One episode focuses on the obvious summer beach trip. It's a problem for Eimi since her grades are so low that she's going to have to do remedial classes. Kazuki's intent on going to the beach with everyone but he doesn't want her to either skip doing her work or lug it all over the place so she has to deal with that all while she sees everyone else getting in gear for it. It's one of the lesser forms of a beach episode but it's not uncommon. Another mostly doujinshi unrelated episode focuses around a sudden baseball match between Eimi's team and Kazuki's circle. Kazuki's team is most definitely the underdogs as they at first don't even have enough players and then just suck in those who came to help make the uniforms. Things do veer back a bit more when the first official TV episode plays out as it shifts into cosplay territory but overall it's something of an uneven mix of content throughout the volume.

In Summary:
Comic Party Revolution is something of a real mixed bag in its first volume in a couple of different ways. The video problems are pretty strong and while I understand that many people simply don't know or can't see dot crawl, for those that do this is a huge problem. There are a lot of really great looking scenes but it can change very quickly. The other problem is that the content itself isn't really geared towards telling anything yet other than some standalone stories since they were originally OVAs. The next couple of discs could radically change this though. The original Comic Party started off strong and got weaker and my hope is that this one starts off weak and will get stronger once it gets to the full TV designed episodes. I like the cast, as big as it is, and the concept allows for plenty of fun and parodies. The execution here just leaves a lot to be desired.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,Interviews with Riko Sayama (Mizuki) / Mie Sonozali (Aya) / Shizuka Ishikawa (Eimi) and Sumie Baba (Chisa),The Language of Doujinshi,What is Comic Party? (Part 1),Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Samsung BD-P1000 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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