Cromartie High School Vol. #3 (of 4) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, November 09, 2006
Release Date: Monday, August 21, 2006
What They Say
Dudes Don't Fail Me Now!
It's not easy being a delinquent.
Especially if you're trying to survive the tough streets around Cromartie. There are chat room bullies with no manners, aliens abducting your friends, vicious biker gangs, and the Boss Championship - a famous cutthroat competition to determine who's the biggest badass around. (Of course, when Kamiyama is running it, it's more like a game show were you have to wear a stupid hat.)
But it seems the biggest danger is... love. Yep, that's right, Mechazawa is in love. Fortunately, this romantic robot has friends like Kamiyama, Hayashida and Maeda to reprogram him!
Wait a minute. Maybe that's not such a good thing after all...
This volume of Cromartie High School sticks to what it does best, and keeps the wacky comedy coming.
Audio is provided in English 5.1 and Japanese 2.0 versions " I listened to the Japanese track for this review. There were no obvious problems with the track, which makes only limited use of the soundstage, mainly as the material doesn't really lend itself to creative use of positioning. There are one or two scenes where there's some movement around to match on-screen action, but for the most part it's kept simple.
Video is presented in its original 1.33:1 full-frame format. Cromartie uses a very simple animation style " a lot of the time there's very little actually happening on-screen " with plenty of bold colours, which come across very well. There were no apparent problems with the encoding.
This volume's cover is a take on the cover of a 1999 album by Little Feat, with Mechazawa taking centre stage on a swing. Worryingly, he's wearing high heels... The rear features a large image of Pootan, the usual promotional paragraph, technical information and screenshots, while inside there's another 8-page booklet of background information. All told, a nice package.
The is quite possibly the strangest set of menus I've ever seen - plain black text on a plain white background, with a synthesised voice reading out the options and instructions for how to use them. The submenus use the same theme. It's almost as though whoever authored the disc forgot to put the proper menus in and just used the authoring program's defaults. They're certainly easy enough to use, but the voice wears thin very quickly.
The usual suspects appear here - clean versions of the opening and closing credits (several different versions of the ending), another of the original Japanese "please sit back from the screen" warnings (done in a typically Cromartie style), a set of trailers for the Japanese DVD, CD and PS2 game releases, and an extensive set of cultural notes explaining some of the show's more obscure references. Very useful.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
The biggest problem with shows like Cromartie is that, after the first volume, it becomes very difficult to write reviews for them. I could pretty much copy & paste large chunks of the reviews for volumes one or two into this one, and it would be pretty much accurate " but let's try and do this the proper way.
Descarte isn't the only other school trying to teach Cromartie's delinquents a lesson " enter Manuel High School, whose top badass Kiichi Fujimoto takes no prisoners, and is determined to prove his superiority over the Cromartie boys. Strangely, he's a complete pussycat on the internet, where he's been having a very civilised debate over manners with Kamiyama.
Add in the Japan Boss Tournament, the annual competition to find Japan's strongest delinquent, the efforts of Hokuto's lackey to get people to remember his name, Freddie's new acting career, Mechazawa's love life, and what appears to be Hayashida's long-lost relative, and you get the idea of the territory that this volume covers.
While the last volume threw a few surprises into the mix by going in some slightly different directions, by this stage of the series Cromartie is firmly settled in what it's trying to do and sticks to it, with a few of the ideas used earlier in the series getting rolled out again (like motorcycle-Mechazawa, who with Kamiyama's help is delivering Justice to the city). There are still a few surreal moments as well, such as Hokuto's dream sequences, but generally it's another six episodes of the usual rather blunt comedy.
That's not a complaint " especially if you watch an episode or two at a time rather than trying to take in the whole disc at once, the short episodes make sure that nothing drags out long enough for you to get bored with it. As long as the gags themselves don't put you off (and I'll admit that this show's sense of humour isn't to everyone's taste), then Cromartie will be a good way of bringing a smile to the face & passing some time. The show isn't anything really special, but then it's not trying to be, and it does do what it sets out to do.
If the first two volumes of Cromartie High School appealed to you, then this volume serves up more of the same and will appeal equally well. If Cromartie's humour isn't your thing, then this isn't going to change your mind any. The show's comfortable with what it's doing and just sticks to the formula, but sometimes that's all you really want from a series.
Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 5.1,Cultural Notes and Comments,Clean Opening & Closing Animations,Original Japanese TV Warnings,Production Booklet
Panasonic TX-W28R30P 28" widescreen TV; Pioneer DV-626D player; Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.
Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: C
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 2 - Europe
Released By: ADV Films UK
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Cromartie High School