Comic Party Vol. #1 (Mania.com)
Review Date: -
Release Date: Friday, June 22, 2001
What They Say
One morning, Kazuki and his long time classmate from junior high school, Mizuki, head out to meet their classmate. Taishi, waiting in front of the station, takes them to a place where people are lined up by the thousands. That place is the "Anime, Comics, Games" festival! Doujinshi (fan art) exchange convention! Jostled by the crowds, what will happen to Kazuki and Mizuki?
If you're into doujinshi (anime-inspired fan art), "fan boys", "otaku", and its larger-than-life, but still unknown world, you won't want to miss this "comic" introduction. This 13-part series is yet another PC game to console game to anime OVA by Aqua Plus animation company. Fans of Aqua Plus will remember the other anime DVD series that had similar origins, To Heart. Comic Party, in its first outing, draws heavily from To Heart in both parody and spirit. Get ready to meet Comic Party's cast of lively female heroines, all working within the doujinshi world as artists or supporters.
Video is pretty much static and unmoving. Aqua Plus continues their anime style of slow panning through static, but pretty, pictures. Character design is much more pointed and less rounded than To Heart characters. In "comic" scenes, characters revert to over-the-top facial expressions.
On my DVD player I did get some wierd horizontal lines in some frames on the moving characters, but perhaps this is normal.
Audio is Dolby Digital, but through headphones, it's nothing overly exciting or annoying. The seiyuu (voice actors) are very animated and clearly recorded. Taishi's voice vigorously overwhelm Kazuki into action. I would love to hear Taishi spur on Kazuki into new depths of fanboy-ism.
Content: (may contain spoilers and mistakes... sorry)
Doujinshi? Doujinshi is the fan's liberal application of a manga or anime's characters into their own stories. Most doujinshi I've seen comes in X-rated flavor, but of course, there are many different kinds available, for example shojo (girl comics) doujinshi. I've been in big stores completely dedicated to selling of doujinshi comics and goods; doujinshi is big in Japan, but you'll have to go out of your way to find it.
This anime is based on the Sega Dreamcast game, which itself is based on a PC game of the same name. I have yet to play the PC game or the Dreamcast game (which will be released at the end of July 2001). Aqua Plus is also responsible for the Sega Dreamcast anime sequences and story. If Comic Party, the anime, follows the same transition from the original games as the To Heart PC game to To Heart Sony Playstation game to To Heart anime DVD 13-part series, we'll be treated to an PG-13 rated story arc with an episode or two highlighting each female heroine.
Did I mention that this seems to be a male-oriented anime? The original games themselves are arguably just for fanboys. But the anime presents more well rounded heroines that don't just exist for the main male character to interact with. Nevertheless, two boys, and at least 8 girls throughout the entire story.
You begin as Kazuki... oh wait I'm not reviewing the game... ^_^;
The introduction before the title our main character, Kazuki, is worth the price of admission for those reminicent To Heart fans. It does seem, however, that the lines voiced in that sequence seem to be recycled from the To Heart anime DVD, notably Masashi.
Kazuki, an average yet artistic 3rd year high school student, and Mizuki, his long-time classmate (the seemingly girl-next-door type), set out meet their mutual classmate, Taishi. This 3 classmate group (resembling the 3 classmate group from To Heart) set out for the Doujinshi exchange convention. Taishi, who believes doujinshi is the culture that will revolutionize entertainment all over the world, move fluidly through the crowded halls. Kazuki and Mizuki, both first-timers, are overwhelmed, overrun, and overtaken by the frantic "fanboy" crowds. Mizuki becomes seperated from Kazuki, and Kazuki's reconnoiter through the doujinshi convention becomes our introduction to the main heroines that will comprise the anime's story arc.
Kazuki first gets run over by the cart-pushing artist, Chisa (1), who thanks him for stopping her cart. Next, trying to find an exit, Kazuki is scolded by Minami (1), one of the doujinshi convention's organizers. Weary to find a regular exit, Kazuki is pushed into the middle of a fracas between Yuu, another doujinshi artist's hopeful, and convention fanboys. The caricatures of the fanboys are hilarious and pay service to the original PC game's graphics. Yuu is spunky person from Kansai (who resembles a rowdy Hoshina from To Heart). After the scuffle, Yuu enjoins Kazuki to teach him the ways of the convention. On the way back, Yuu meets her nemesis, a high-falutin' Eimi (1) who boasts of her drawing and selling skills. Under "Panda" Yuu's supervision, Kazuki sees the value of the doujinshi activities.
At the end of the day, Kazuki is reunited with "Life is wonderful" Mizuki, who seems to be on her last legs. Mizuki hates the convention. On the other hand, Taishi, hands full with bags of doujinshi manga, encourages Kazuki to follow him into the doujinshi world. Kazuki ponders his suggestion. The episode ends with a new mystery transfer student and the revelation of Kazuki's new hobby.
The story carries heavily on the character interactions and character acting. There is no English option, nor did I find a readily available subtitle script for this. Understanding regular (or fanboy!) Japanese conversation seems to be a prerequisite to watching this anime. However, if you can understand Japanese more than just a little, but you don't know the special doujinshi vocabulary, this anime seems to give a small introduction.
(1) The names of the characters were not clear said or not introduced at all, so I'm not sure.
I purchased Comic Party 1 at the local Sofmap store (in Japan) and they gave me a poster of the reclining Mizuki, nice. Opening the clear plastic Popmanboo case (similar in size to a Amray case), I notice the inside cover jacket has blue pencil sketches of the main characters, very nice. The included papers include 2 full-color trading cards, very very nice. The interview with the 3 main characters is very interesting, kinda nice.
It would be better if they had cel stills or character descriptions on the DVD itself, though. I guess you're going to have to get the Dreamcast game to get each heroine's three-size... Heh.
For those of you who follow or play love-simulation console games, or those who revel in doujinshi, you'll probably follow this anime closely. And those To Heart people, this is right up your alley.
But for those who like their anime with action, such as undead creatures, super-human characters, or realistic, engaging characters, or anything not related to high-school romance or "comic" comedy, you'll pass without missing a thing.
Japanese Language,Special Interview
P3-500 based computer , Pioneer DVD-ROM DVD-303 player, 17-inch Attic monitor, Elsa Erasor X2 (Geforce 256 DDR) graphics card, stereo headphone speakers.
Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: A
Extras Rating: A
Age Rating: All
Region: 2 - Japan
Released By: KSS Films
Running time: 30
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Comic Party