Comic Party Vol. #1 (also Limited Edition w/box) - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Nozomi Entertainment
  • MSRP: 29.95/39.95
  • Running time: 115
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Comic Party

Comic Party Vol. #1 (also Limited Edition w/box)

By Chris Beveridge     February 11, 2004
Release Date: March 30, 2004


Comic Party Vol. #1 (also Limited Edition w/box)
© Nozomi Entertainment


What They Say
A hilarious new series that parodies the entire Anime/Manga industry! With direction by Norihiko Sudo (Assistant Director ? CASTLE IN THE SKY) and scripts by Hiroshi Yamaguchi (NADESICO / GATEKEEPERS 21)!

Destiny or delusion? It?s a hilarious rollercoaster of laughter and confusion when Taishi, the ultimate otaku, drags his friend Kazuki into the swirling world of ambition, hatred, and love ? the world of fan comics! Poor clueless Kazuki must sink or swim when he?s dumped straight into the middle of a massive comic convention. Lost amidst hoards of buyers, sellers, and cosplayers, Kazuki is about to be baptized by fire, all in order to lead him toward his true calling: to take over the world through fan comics!

Meanwhile, Kazuki?s childhood friend Mizuki isn?t about to let him be dragged from his normal life without a fight! But will she be able to stop the addictive draw of the new world that lies before Kazuki? Little by little, Kazuki is slipping down the path towards destiny?and Taishi is shoving him every step of the way!

Join the Comic Party, and follow Kazuki as his journey takes him through the steps to becoming a master fan comic author - while spoofing everything along the way! From Gundam to Evangelion, from Initial D to Wedding Peach; if it?s part of the anime world, it?s all fair game.

Limited Edition: To celebrate the premiere of the comedy hit COMIC PARTY, Right Stuf International is releasing a special version of DVD 1 which comes with a Limited Edition Slipcase Artbox, complete with a high-quality, color lithographic slipcase featuring images of Comic Party?s main cast! Plus, exclusive to RightStuf.com - Comic Party Taishi Super Special Item FREE with Limited Purchase! (available only while supplies last)

The Review!
Comic Party boldly goes where almost nobody else has gone before, and that's into the noisy, smelling and frightening world of doujinshi!

Audio:
Having seen part of this series when it originally aired, we opted to pick it up with the Japanese track that we were familiar with. The series sports a solid stereo mix that has some good moments of not only directionality with ambient effects but also dialogue. The music makes good use of the stereo channels as well, providing a solid full sounding piece. We skimmed the English track on it briefly during the review and much like the Japanese track we found no issue with it and experienced no dropouts or distortions.

Video:
Originally airing in 2001, the transfer here comes across quite well but not without some inherent flaws. In general, this is a solid looking transfer with a good mixture of rich and vibrant colors as well as a set of softer tones used for backgrounds. The character color designs look very good here without typically going too far into the bright zone, but enough so that they stand out well. There's a fair amount of detail in this show, and that's unfortunately translated through as some noticeable edge cross coloration throughout. It isn't overwhelming like some other shows we've seen in the past, but for those attuned to it, you'll see it here in the opening sequence and usually along the edge of characters hair here. Surprisingly, shots of the doujinshi come across very clean and free of cross coloration. The way the materials are provided here are how I'd love to see all releases done, with the original Japanese opening and ending sequences followed by a translated credit scroll after each episode.

Packaging:
With the way this entire release is put together, Right Stuf has done such a masterful job that it's impossible to really convey just how great this is. First, the keepcase is done in reverse, i.e. the front is the back and the back is the front, as the keepcase is held like you would a manga graphic novel. The 'front' cover is set like a TOKYOPOP manga release with the front cover having the extra spine coverage where Right Stuf put their logo. Even cuter, there's a parody of the old Comics Code Authority age rating there to use the 13+ rating. The artwork for the cover is quite good, using Mizuki giving a small smile while color photos of the other characters are in front of her and behind the English logo. The back cover has a very cute section telling you to stop since this DVD is printed in 'manga style'. There?s a great summary of what to expect and the style in which to expect it as well as a listing of the discs features and extras, all set above another batch of photos.

For those who haven't liked the English language logo design, Right Stuf went the extra mile and has a reversible cover, which is a direct copy of the Japanese first volume cover. The reverse side is the same as well, with numerous shots throughout the summary of the volume, extras listings and the staff and technical features. This cover should please everyone mightily.

Even better, and paying tribute to the homage aspect of a doujinshi creator, the insert takes a parody of a popular release. Mimicking the .hack//SIGN style, we get an insert that has a great parody called .comic//PARTY with the lead wearing the same kind of facial makeup as Tsukasa, the same sort of background and even the platinum line silver bar at the top. This is just priceless and something I wish we saw more of out there. Inside the insert is several pages of pictures and references to them that show the various inside jokes placed into the show and where they're originally from, be it a nod to Marvel Comics, Pringles or a host of classic anime series. The back of the insert is a great nod to the Cat or Fish studio that we see mentioned throughout the show. Overall, the packaging for this series is standout and very well executed.

Menu:
The menu design for the series looks really good so far but manages to suffer from something that past releases from Right Stuf have had as well. The main menu is a really nice piece that has Kazuki at his desk working hard on his artwork while a notebook is visible to us that has a black and white sketch drawn out slowly on it while the opening song plays along. This is a really great in-theme menu that's nicely creative at the same time. The problem area is in the trailers section, which when you move across each title, there's a lag to it due to the images being swapped out to the right. This has happened in other titles and other companies as well, but it's just something that feels like the menus are chugging to try and do something so simple.

Extras:
The first volume is loaded nicely with extras, plenty of good content to be found. A real highlight is the first of four episodes of the 'special mini' episodes, which has the gang heading out to a new exhibition sale at a hotspring. There are all sorts of comedy along the way, and with it being at a hotspring, lots of fanservice. It runs just under eight minutes and is very amusing, but from the perspective of the first volume it will give away how the relationships between the characters develop. Proceed at your own risk!

In addition to that, we get a good mix of black and white artwork in step-by-step gallery and a small character biography section for the three lead characters. The translators notes cover two of the episodes and the special mini by providing some good tips into what we?re seeing, particularly with the special mini since the inferences made during one of the gags wasn't that easy to figure out at first. The other big extra that we get here is the eighteen-minute interview piece with a few of the Japanese actors that covers a wide range of questions and fun with them. This was a really enjoyable piece to watch since I like seeing the actors themselves and what they think about their characters and how they try to portray them.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Comic Party is something that's somewhat rare when it comes to anime. Maybe not so much with manga, but there are very few anime series where the focus is on a group of people coming together for something creative. Save the world? Sure. Stop alien invasions? Several times a day often. Duel with monsters of the day? That's a cash cow.

But a show about a strange group of introverts and extroverts that end up forming a group with the goal of expressing the passionate art and feelings inside them through the doujinshi market? Now that's rare.

The story of Comic Party centers around a high school senior named Kazuki. He?s one of those kinds of students that does decently, isn't really a standout and sort of is that common person who doesn't necessarily just 'get by' but doesn't appear to have that motivation to really strive, but has enough ability to go forward. Through one flashback, we see a time a year or two prior where he worked with his girl friend Mizuki to come up with a promotional art piece for one of their clubs, and it came out looking so professional that Mizuki began to encourage Kazuki to continue with his art. Kazuki pretty much did so, but he never made much of a deal about it or really pushed it on anyone. From what we can see, it's basically something he did at home that Mizuki saw fair frequently and enjoyed.

The day before his senior year is set to start, Kazuki is heading out to spend some time with Mizuki, but their plans are thrown off kilter when fellow classmate Taishi shows up. Taishi is a hard one to explain. Taishi is the kind of person who quotes from famous shows and places everything that's done in the vein of it being one of the most important things in the world. Often his speeches (which are quoted from classics like Gundam and others) have him portrayed with flames behind him or other icons that give things a larger meaning in life. Today, he's dead set on taking Kazuki with him to one of 'the most important places in the world', which turns out to be a local spring comic market in one of the huge convention centers.

Kazuki had never been to one before, partially due to the way Mizuki had described them as odious, but both of them are suddenly whisked in via Taishi. The enter scene is overwhelming, with tables upon tables, all sorts of readers, the competing egos of the artists and of course cosplayers roaming about. All three end up separated and having different experiences; Taishi snares all the doujinshi's he's been wanting to get with ease, Mizuki finds herself being trampled upon constantly and Kazuki finds himself meeting up with a young woman named Yuu. She's one of the artists there promoting her latest book and ends up taking Kazuki under her wing as something of a student/slave of the doujinshi market since he?s so apparently clueless.

As things turn out, Taishi later reveals to Kazuki that his plans for all of this, in addition to getting someone to help him carry his haul of goods, was to introduce Kazuki to the brave new world he's about to thrust him into. Taishi's speech rambles on about how doujinshi will be the new entertainment of the 21st century, out to replace classic old Hollywood, and that the revolution will begin with the doujinshi group that Taishi puts together, acting as a sort of manager/editor/beating-stick. Kazuki isn?t all that sure about it, and Mizuki is dead set against it, but Taishi wears him down with the idea that doing it once couldn't hurt.

You know how that is. Try out this anime. It's only one episode. Watch it, it couldn't hurt. Next thing you know, you?ve got a huge library of shows, books, toys and music. While Kazuki doesn't fall in that deep, mostly due to his personality, he does give in to Taishi and decides to try it out. Their group gets fleshed out the next day when they find out that Yuu had transferred to their school so she could get prepared for the area college she?s going to the next year, so she joins up the group. The conversations that they all have, where they try to describe the different kinds of genres, styles and more that they need to take into account in creating their manga is beautiful. There's so many little fan nods throughout it that it?s one of those shows of the more anime/manga you know, the more you get out of it. That alone provides a lot of replay value.

Once the group is established, all sorts of elements start to come into play as Taishi in his wondrous style guides Kazuki along the path. Showing him how the printing is done (not photocopying!?) and how to deal with all the issues in setting up your own table and selling your own book at the actual comic convention. With Kazuki's somewhat oblivious mode combined with the over the top Taishi, you have a fun duo. When you start adding in the somewhat manic and competitive Yuu, the increasingly jealous Mizuki and then other characters that add their own quirks such as the girl who works at the printers or Yuu's main competition in the marketplace, the show fills out really nicely.

There's a great variety to the cast and they all click with each other in different ways. Watching how Yuu and Taishi manage to work well together, and how she's able to temper his nature a bit when Kazuki actually makes something of a leap of faith in his material is great. Yuu and her competitor, the almost shrill Eimi, have a hilarious relationship in how Eimi tries to continually flaunt her success while Yuu is able to handily tweak her about it even still. What got me particularly interested even more is the potential relationship between Kazuki and another comic artist he ends up spending time at a table with, Hasebe. But then again, I always did like the quiet ones myself.

Comic Party, plays out the strengths of the field while also giving a comical nod to the geekier aspects of it. The two main consumers of doujinshi we see at the comic markets are freaky in design and in their perceptions of what should be put out. While these moments are funny, it's also depressing at the same time because it is these very people who keep the studios churning out the same safe material over and over instead of flooding it with fresh and new material. It's easy to see these two berating Kazuki for his choice of an original story instead of looking at what?s popular now and mimicking that instead. And it warms the heart to see Kazuki stand up and not take it from them, but also for Kazuki to see the works of those around him and realize that he's got a lot to learn himself.

One area where Right Stuf continues to lead the industry is in their subtitling. While this may be due to their more limited release schedule and the time they have to do it, the end result is that they're effectively unique in this. Various signs, title cards and other areas are so creatively subtitled with different fonts and colors that mimic the original Japanese text that when I finish a Right Stuf disc and go to anyone else, I'm always quickly disappointed. While this may not mean a hill of beans to anyone else, I find their ability to do this kind of work a huge selling point and a real plus for their releases. Comic Part makes out fantastically well with this in particular.

In Summary:
Comic Party is something of a 'fans' show but also works well in providing something that anyone can get into. Since the comic market side of things is rarely done in anime, a lot of things here are new to people and it can serve surprisingly as educational anime at the same time. What I get from it though is a lot of humor, a number of great genre jab jokes, cute characters and a series that's focus is on doing something creative, something from the inside that's not tied to magic or technology. This release from Right Stuf manages to hit just about everything perfectly. From the packaging to the extras and all the little incidental bits that are snuck in, this has definitely been worth the wait.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles, Reversable Cover, Special Mini #1, Art Gallery, Character Bios, Translator Notes, Special Booklet, Interview with Lead Japanese Voice Actor

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, 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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