Comic Party Vol. #3 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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  • 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: 29.99
  • Running time: 109
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Comic Party

Comic Party Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     May 13, 2004
Release Date: June 29, 2004

Comic Party Vol. #3
© Nozomi Entertainment

What They Say
s destiny finally at hand? It's time for the biggest convention of the year: Comic Party! All of Kazuki's scrimping and saving, hard work and planning are about to be put to the test. Kazuki's never been this fired up before, and he's certain that he's drawn the perfect comic. All that's left is to sell it to the legions of otaku! It's the next big step toward world domination for The Two Brothers! But... why isn't Taishi celebrating?

Meanwhile, Mizuki may not like Kazuki's new hobby, but she's still trying to be supportive. When her surprise appearance at Comic Party goes terribly wrong, Mizuki is determined to get his mind off of fan comics for awhile. With the warm summer weather, that means a trip to the beach! More than every, she wants to show him that there's more to life than just comics, but all Kazuki can think about is what happened at Comic Party. Will Kazuki ever return to normal?

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!

The Review!
Kazuki brings out his latest masterpiece and gets ready to wow them at the first Comic Party exhibition, but is he dreaming too big too fast?

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.

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.

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 this cover has a shot of Shio in a cosplay outfit 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 fifth 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 Kare Kano parody using the US release cover artwork with Kazuki in the background looking angsty while some of the secondary female characters fill out the front, but otherwise a spot on parody of the Kare Kano material. The insert starts off with two panels of notes on the various gags from the show while the next four panels provide a look at the original Japanese DVD cover artwork and other various promotional covers and pieces. 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.

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.

The extras are well rounded this time as well, following much of what we saw previously. The interview segment is amusingly weird as the three voice actresses play a game of don't upset the pirate, and whoever does has to answer some mean questions, like "what's the first place you clean when you take a bath." And you thought our off-topic forums could get bad? The mini episode for this volume continues the groups journey underground to where they think they've discovered the remains of the first exhibition spot sale, all while still wearing skimpy swimsuits. 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 with this volume being more relationship oriented there's far less to talk about, resulting in only one page of notes.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Comic Party continues on pretty much on track here as we pick up just before the big Comic Party exhibition that's about to kick off. Kazuki has spent all of his time doing massive amounts of research into what's popular and what people like and bringing it all into his latest doujinshi. It's got just about everything under the sun packed into the single issue he's worked on and bled over.

We go through only a small part of that actual process here but spend more of the time with him as he goes through getting it set for the printers, setting up at the exhibition sale and being primed and pumped for what he expects to be a sellout performance. He's so confident that he's ordered a hundred copies to be made and is selling them for 1000 yen each. With a bright shiny attractive cover, solid artwork and everything the fans want, he sets himself down behind the table and waits for everything to go his way.

Of course, you know it's just not going to work that way. Though his neighbor does give him some hope by telling him that when these things open, most people go to the established authors first to ensure they get the big titles they want, the smaller and newer doujinshi folks tend to get more of their business flowing around noon. Kazuki spends some time checking out the other tables and meeting up with friends, but the slow depressions starts to set in as he sees Yuu and Eimi doing so well and moving so many copies. Things do start to pick up a bit later in the day but he still doesn't move much. Those that check it out like the artwork and designs, but the general thing that comes across, something that Kazuki doesn't pick up on, is that it lacks soul.

While Kazuki goes through his own personal hell, Mizuki has her own trials as she's decided to try and support him a bit by bringing him a lunch. Unfortunately she doesn't realize just how big an event this actually is and ends up being late and has a hard time even getting in the door, never mind actually finding him. So when she does come across him at the end of the exhibition with most of his books still there, she sees him tearing up and utterly depressed about what just happened. Her attempts to cheer him up fail but nowhere near as bad a bit later when both Yuu and Taishi try to show him how he was setting himself up for failure, but the word stings no matter the intent.

It's even worse when Eimi shows up and does her usual cackling at Yuu about how well she did and giving Yuu grief about having copies left over. While Yuu only has a few left over, the insult really gets to him since he barely sold twenty out of his hundred copies. Abandoning everyone, Kazuki puts himself into a bit of a self-imposed exile in his room and tries to figure out what went wrong and why nobody was buying it. He retreats more into himself as he decides to give up on the entire doujinshi field and pushes Taishi and the others away. His energy level drops and he becomes fairly zombie like in a few ways.

Mizuki does her best to try and cheer him up though, helping him out with various things and trying to do her subtle best to be something like a girlfriend without actually using the words. She tries to get him to go out on dates and to go places with him, even suggesting at times that she'll go to art supply stores so he can get more things to work on his doujinshi. But his retreat is pretty solid and he continues to have a blank dull stare about things. Mizuki takes advantage of this somewhat and manages to convince him to go to the sea with her, something any young guy would definitely enjoy. But his failure at the Comic Party has gotten so deep under his skin that he can't even notice what's around him anymore. With Mizuki spending so much energy and time trying to reach him, she finally hits her own limits and we get a few of the teenage romance clichés kicking into gear here.

The time spent during the bulk of these episodes focusing on Kazuki's relationships and less on the actual doujinshi helps a lot. Giving him some down time from it after he had gone so overboard with it lets him take things in with a fresh view if he can get over his failure, something that's not easy to do at that age and really not all that much easier to do once you get older either. It's also interesting to watch how Yuu takes advantage of the situation and keeps giving Mizuki those big knowing grins that she knows all about how she feels about Kazuki. As the series goes on, I'm glad that while there's a sizeable female cast, nobody but Mizuki is really after him. Part of my wants Aya to get him for some strange reason.

In Summary:
Comic Part keeps going strong here with plenty of good doujinshi action, lots of little in-jokes and a bigger emphasis on the relationships that make the show go around. The beach episode in particular works very well and avoids a lot of the usual blunt fanservice moments to instead actually tell the story. Things do get a bit more serious through these episodes and it's definitely depressing watching Kazuki fail so badly, but it's all to move the story forward in a logical way and it's done well. Good stuff, though I hate the fact that it's all over with the next volume.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles, Special Mini #3, Art Gallery, Character Bios, Translator Notes, Special Booklet, Interview with Japanese Voices Actresses for Eimi & Yuu Part 2

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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