Comic Party Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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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
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Comic Party

Comic Party Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     April 13, 2004
Release Date: May 25, 2004


Comic Party Vol. #2
© Nozomi Entertainment


What They Say
The path to destiny is unfolding! Kazuki has created his very first fan comic, and they're on their way to world conquest, but there's just one minor hitch in Taishi's glorious plan: it's expensive to print comics, and now they're out of money!

Taishi, being his usual self, has already solved the problem - he found Kazuki a part-time job! Our hapless artist ends up trekking out to Akihabara, Tokyo's famous electronics district, to become a waiter at a new cafe called "Cosmix". The job seems innocent enough (coming from someone like Taishi), but why are there Steel Angel Kurumi cosplayers outside the cafe...?

Yet even as one problem is solved, another appears! With all the time he's been spending on comics and his new job, Kazuki's grades are plummeting. The way things are going, he'll have to choose between good grades or fan comics? Will Kazuki throw away a future career for his newfound hobby? Or is Taishi?s dream of ruling the world about to go up in smoke?

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!

Contains episodes 4-6.

The Review!
After getting a real taste of success, Kazuki now has to balance school against the world of comics as he becomes even more determined to be successful.

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:
Much like the first volume, 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 a new character that Kazuki meets 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 good section telling you to stop since this DVD is printed in 'manga style'. There is 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 third 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.

Another area that plays up the style of a doujinshi artist, the insert takes a parody of a popular release. This volume goes for the Spirited Away parody using the US release cover artwork and putting Mizuki in the front role with the heavy reds in the backdrop. There's even the gold leaf bit for the quotes, which is just perfect. 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. 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 extras are well rounded this time as well, following much of the first volume in content. There's a 10 minute interview session with the voice actors again as well as the next special mini as we follow the cast in their journey underground by the hot springs. The art gallery has a few more design shots from the show and the character bios are what you'll expect. The translators notes bring a few more things to light from the show that didn't make it into the booklet but there's only a few short pages of them this time around unlike the first volume.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first volume of Comic Party hit a lot of the right notes with us. From the varied types of cosplayers, comic artists and fandom in general to the jokes and comedy that filled up much of it. It also hit things right in providing some real heart to the show with Kazuki putting his all into creating something, a feat that many characters in many shows simply do not do. That challenge alone puts this show ahead of a lot of others.

Now that Kazuki has done not only his first doujinshi issue and made it through his first spot sale, he's eager to take on the next one. Taishi is loving the fact that Kazuki is really into it and getting a real feel for things but there's a problem. After the first spot sale when all is said and done, the Brothers 2 team is actually in the red. Taishi's shown how they have no money at all and are indeed in debt to the printers which he's managed to delay payment to. With the next big event coming up in August, the Comic Party spot sale, Taishi has decided that they need to get some much needed funds in so that they can go forward with the next issue. His solution is that Kazuki needs a part time job.

Before he knows it, Kazuki has been almost sold off by Taishi to a cosplay café down in Akihabara. The café is one of a number in the area where the wall is littered with all sorts of anime posters (many amusing ones here) and the waiters/waitresses are all wearing costumes while doing their job. The first day he shows up the girls are all in Steel Angel Kurumi outfits while the second day on the job he finds them (and himself) wearing Wedding Peach outfits. You can see these kinds of places being the fanboys dream of course and it's played out with both its perks and downs, such as the duo of "camera boys" who show up and try to take advantage of one of the girls. Kazuki finds himself enjoying the place the more he's there and gets along well with the girls there as well.

Of course, the idea of Kazuki working there doesn't go over well with Mizuki. Not only is she competing with his love of the doujinshi, she has to deal with more cute girls in sexy outfits at his new place of work. And to make matters even worse, there's the entire element of finals going on at school so Kazuki is distracted between all three elements and has the chance to be held back a year if things go poorly. So Mizuki tries to help him but he ends up getting his priorities confused which only aggravates her more, turning it into a vicious cycle for a bit where she's simply mad and he has no clue why she's mad. And it doesn't help to have Taishi jump in here and there and tweak the situation.

Though the cast continues to grow and some of the characters that seemed really important in the first volume are almost absent here, the primary characters continue to be the strong focal point. Watching Kazuki go from someone who does well but is essentially unmotivated by anything in life to being someone who exudes a lot of raw passion for something is fun to watch, as well as those who try to deal with his newfound passion that seems to be stealing him away from them. There's an element of the 'harem' anime syndrome showing here, but unlike some other shows you can see why the girls would be interested in Kazuki since he's the nice guy who is focused on something now. It's also a huge plus that they aren't all throwing themselves at him and declaring their undying love.

In Summary:
These three episodes do an excellent job of building upon everything that was set up in the first volume, though there is a lessening in the wacky and high energy material. These episodes go a bit more towards character development and moving the plot along but still play around with the comedy. They're just not as continually active like the first couple of episodes were since they needed it a bit more to hook people in. There's still plenty of inside jokes and little nods scattered throughout here, making it a show that's fun to re-watch and see what you missed. This release overall hits everything just right though, from the packaging to the continued use of various fonts and colors for the subtitles, an element that puts Right Stuf up a bit higher than other studios. Comic Party is definitely a show that's aimed at people like myself and it cracks me up throughout. Good stuff, very recommended for those of a similar mind.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Special Mini #2, Art Gallery, Character Bios, Tanslator Notes, Special Booklet,Interview with Japanese Voice Actresses for Eimi & Yuu Part 1

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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