Comic Party Vol. #4 - 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: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Nozomi Entertainment
  • MSRP: 29.95
  • Running time: 132
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Comic Party

Comic Party Vol. #4

By Chris Beveridge     June 21, 2004
Release Date: July 27, 2004


Comic Party Vol. #4
© Nozomi Entertainment


What They Say
From the Right Stuf International, the company that brought you His and Her Circumstances comes 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)!

Destined for destruction or distinction? The culture fest is here, and Taishi's in charge! Under his gifted leadership, they'll have the best student-run café ever! Though somehow he seems to have managed to once again leave all the hard work up to Kazuki...

Kazuki, however, is still dwelling on Comic Party. And now, with graduation fast approaching, he's got his future to consider, too. Everyone else seems to already have their entire lives planned out except him. What direction will his life take? Is it time to leave comics behind?

Meanwhile, Taishi's dreams of destined greatness are dwindling fast ? there's only one week left until the big winter convention. If they don't make a quick comeback, The Two Brothers may be gone for good! Come remember what it means to be a fan in this final volume of Comic Party!

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!
As the cast starts looking towards their futures, each of them has to decide which path to take and how easy or difficult to make their lives. Can doujinshi be a future?

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 earlier volumes, 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 Yuu in her casual outfit with her paper fan and big 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 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 Evangelion movie poster parody that's just beautiful to behold with Kazuki taking on the ghost-like image of an oversized Rei-head rising up. The insert provides several pages of inside jokes from the show by showing the image from the show and providing a few lines of text about it. 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. On the plus side, the menus did accept our language defaults as set by the player.

Extras:
The extras are well rounded this time as well, following much of what we saw previously. 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 a couple of pages of notes.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While Comic Party started off strong and kept us entertained over the first couple of volumes, the final four episodes that bring the series to a close work well overall but seem to drag a bit too much and not keep the focus on the doujinshi itself. This isn't entirely unexpected as the arc moves us towards where the characters are going to focus their lives and we have to see Kazuki go through the choice, but without some of the manic energy of the spot exhibition sales and the general chaos of those events, it just feels a bit weaker.

After the last volume and the way Kazuki had gone back and forth about doing doujinshi work, only to find out some of what the real love about the form is after going through a spot sale as Yuu's assistant, he's still not entirely sure of what to do with his future. Being a part of the school he's in, he's got the guaranteed college acceptance via the escalator program to the college that the school is affiliated with and he's not really given it much thought beyond going there. Since Kazuki is already taking the easy way, he gets rolled pretty quickly by Mizuki in class when the teacher looks for someone to take on the lead role in the classes culture festival, which is going with the simple and clichéd café in the classroom motif.

This gives Kazuki an out for his thinking and he focuses pretty much on just getting everything done with that and dealing with all the things that need to be done, from organizing the other students to figuring out what grocery items they need and so forth. But he does let some creativity shine through when he helps Mizuki with the large print poster she's working on for the front door signage to invite people in. Mizuki gets to see a new side of him that she hadn't before and when he explains why he is the way he is, after first refusing to take on the role and then accepting it wholeheartedly, and that starts to make some inroads for her in how he deals with everything else in his life. But her small pushes about the future have gotten him thinking as well.

A lot of this takes up the next couple of episodes as the school year is quickly coming to a close and all the characters are talking up their futures. From Yuu talking about taking over her family's inn and ensuring its survival while still trying to do some doujinshi on the side to friends of Mizuki's that are looking abroad or to other schools to find the things that they want to do. Things that she didn't know they had any interest in at that, which causes her to re-evaluate her own choices and plans. Add in the sizeable cast and all the little bits about them figuring out their lives and it's little surprise that it covers so much territory. But everything does eventually turn back to doujinshi as it should.

While Kazuki's still deciding on his life, he opts to work with Taishi on Brother 2 having come to understand the passion that drives him and the reasoning behind his choosing of Kazuki to be his partner in this grand vision of the future. The manic energy and general enthusiasm that was strong in earlier episodes as Kazuki and everyone else worked their tails off to produce stories that meant something to them is shining through here once more, from coming up with the entire story and artwork as quickly as possible to getting it all put together under horrendous deadlines. The camaraderie level that's evident as it plays out here in the final stages is what the show is turning itself into as it moved forward, the way doujinshi brought all these kindred spirits together whether they knew it or not and set them on a new path that leads "to a bright future" in the world ahead of them.

A show like Comic Party doesn't actually come to an end though, and those hoping for some serious character resolution are going to be disappointed, particularly after some of the rough episodes between Kazuki and Mizuki in the third volume. The lack of any real closure there does hurt things, but the change in how each of them views their futures is probably the more important part to take away from the story here at the end. What they had planned to do ends up becoming something they question a lot since they were just following the path that had been laid out before them for so long.

In Summary:
Comic Party was quite the fun series in the end with a real love of manga, anime and all things that make up the world these characters inhabit. While it lacks a lot of the sharpness and wit of a show like Otaku no Video, Comic Party serves as a more "real world" version of what would likely happen, or probably has happened knowing how many doujin authors there are out there. Both titles share a number of similarities but the best thing to take away from it is to follow the things that drive you passionately. For most of the cast here, it's the creation and sharing of their works with others, while for some others it?s the actual enjoyment of the end result that is their passion. Tied with a childhood pair of friends grappling with what they really mean to each other, Comic Party hits on a lot of things decently but doesn't do any one of them spectacularly. It's quite the enjoyable series and provides plenty of fun however and we were most definitely entertained by it.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles, Special Mini #4, Art Gallery, Character Bios, Translator Notes,Special Booklet, Textless Opening & Closing

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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