Cromartie High School: The Movie (Live Action) (of 1) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, July 31, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, July 11, 2006
What They Say
Takashi Kamiyama, normal high school student - completely normal, really - makes the not normal (unnormal?) decision to attend Cromartie High. It's known for having more violent thugs, prehensile mohawks, alien landings, and enrolled gorillas than any other Japanese high school.
First there was manga, then there was anime and now Cromartie High School is adapted into a live action movie that amazingly enough actually works.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this film in its original language of Japanese and in its 5.1 mix. While I have no problem watching anime dubbed, live action material is something that just drives me up a wall and I can't do it, even for comedies sake. That said, the Japanese track for this is pretty solid though it doesn't have much going on with the rear speakers that I could discern. The forward soundstage is where the bulk of the action is and it's got a great sense of directionality there from dialogue to sound effects. The music when it kicks in has a good full sound and encompasses the forward soundstage nicely. The Japanese track is basically pretty solid and free of problems.
Originally released to theaters in 2005, the transfer for this film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The transfer for this film looks quite good with well saturated colors that don't exhibit much in the way of mosquito noise, blemishes are non-existent and black levels look quite good. There is a decent amount of grain throughout the film with some scenes exhibiting more on purpose but overall it manages a good film like feel. A lot of scenes have a certain yellowish hue to them when done inside the school and that gives it an interesting feel that's slightly oppressive. The print overall looks great though and it's very easy to get into the film. The print is apparently the same as was used in Japan as the opening text is kept the same and the logo remains unchanged as well.
The packaging for this release is interesting in that there's a slipcover for the single keepcase inside. The slipcover is almost identical to the keepcase cover itself other than the back side being short on the technical information which was added as a sticker to the outside shrinkwrap. I can't figure out why this got a slipcover at all. The front cover is a big cast shot of everyone from the lead character down with a simple yellow starred background to it. The back cover has a few stills from the show and a creative use of one scene to showcase the discs extras (but not all of them strangely enough). The back cover is rounded out by the usual production information and technical grid. It's a decent looking layout and the summary gets the point of the show across clearly enough. No insert was included with this release.
The main menu uses the same artwork and logo but rearranged a bit and with some of the fast paced music playing along side it. It's a static menu that doesn't have a lot of really good vibrant colors to it but it is bright and colorful, almost too much so. The layout is otherwise pretty standard material and it's easy and problem free to navigate, and how can you not love that it uses Beta for the menu cursor? Access times are nice and fast and the disc correctly read our players' language presets and played accordingly.
The extras appear to mirror much what was on the Japanese release. A making of featurette briefly goes over some of what went into the production, there's a standard photo gallery and a theatrical trailer (something that is often not included for various rights reasons). A commentary track is included as well, such as the screenplay writer, the director and several of the actors. The commentary is rather fun since everyone is having a good time and all of them get along rather well, at least here, to make it fun. The last special is a bunch of shorts of sorts put together that seem like extended scenes and quasi-outtakes.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Cromartie High School is an interesting title that's been one of the few to get as full a release here as it has. It started as a manga series and then spun into an anime series which made plenty of references back to its manga, both of which have been released by ADV Films. A live action film was then kicked off, though not without controversy as there was a lawsuit over the name, and this got picked up pretty quickly by Media Blasters. The live action movies aren't always picked up so it was a surprise to see it happen as quick as it did.
When moving to live action, adaptations are generally fairly different and it's not much of a surprise. The trick is to keep as much of the good stuff that works while mainstreaming it so you can draw as many people to the seats as you can. A title like Cromartie is actually able to be adapted without losing much but it's the comedic timing that can be killer since it's filled with visual and word gags. Though a number of things change and characters don't look exactly (or anywhere near) like the originals in some cases, the feel of the manga and anime is carried across well here.
We're introduced to new high school student Kamiyama as he enters Cromartie High School, the lowest of the low high schools out there. He had decided to transfer here from a good school when his best friend was going to drop out due to poor grades, but Kamiyama convinced him he could continue his high school career at Cromartie instead of heading into the street. While his friend got kicked out a day or two later, Kamiyama finds himself now stuck in a school of losers, oddballs and freaks. Now that he's in this situation, Kamiyama decides that he can change the school to make it better and slowly but surely builds up some friends around him, such as Hayashida and Maeda, and learns the ropes about the make-up of the school.
In his attempts to fix things, he discovers that there are bosses of sorts that he has to be able to either befriend of bring over to his cause, such as Freddie the mute Queen fan, or the gorilla that runs around. Even stranger than the gorilla is Mekazawa, an oil can shaped robot who is considered a god among his classmates and leads his gang with a strange charisma. But even Mekazawa has a quirk or two that go beyond and when you see his little brother Beta it just gets even more hilarious. As Kamiyama works to win them over, he also has to deal with the arrival of a wealthy influential new student who accidentally came to Cromartie thinking it was another school and finding he has no power there.
The humor of Comartie is pretty close to the original source material in how it deals with a high school filled with punks who are just strange. There's no teachers to be found here at all and they're not the point. It's not about dealing with adults and the real world but the strangeness that seems to hover around Cromartie. The movie goes from simple gags such as Kamiyama teaching them not to smoke cigarettes because of how harmful they are to the arrival of a UFO that's piloted by an ape-man and an assistant that's an ape. A Global Defense Force is created by Kamiyama and the others in order to bring about some change to the school but their focus isn't exactly right for a lot of it and overall they tend to do little more than to sit around and watch TV or talk about their plans. They do look snazzy in those uniforms though.
I wasn't exactly a fan of the manga while the anime was a bit more fifty/fifty in how much of it was enjoyable, but the minute I saw the trailer for this I knew I had to see it. In some ways, it didn't disappoint at all. The visual of everyone eating bananas instead of smoking leads to a schoolyard of nothing but banana peels. It's dumb, it's stupid, but damn if I didn't laugh. At the same time, the second half of the film with the arrival of the aliens just stretches to long as they looked to have an overall plot instead of just keeping it a series of strung together vignettes This is not a property that should be trying for anything long term but instead just play up the comedy until it's time to go home. It's certainly worth checking out the movie if you're a fan but it's something that I think needs some familiarity in order to really enjoy a lot of it.
Japanese 2.0 Language,Japanese 5.1 Language,English 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Making Of,Special Sessions,Theatrical Trailer, Commentary Track
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Samsung BD-P1000 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania Grade: B-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Media Blasters
Running time: 85
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Cromartie High School