Comic Party Revolution Vol. #2 (of 3) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, November 21, 2006



What They Say
Kazuki, Taishi and all their crazy cohorts are back and getting into all kinds of misadventures. Not every day is a Comic Party, so the gang has to find some way to occupy their time, and that means trouble! There's a steamy trip to a hot springs, an out of control tennis tournament and a camping trip that ends in a fight to the death! Who'll be the last one standing?! Hang on, because you never know what's around the corner in the second chapter of Comic Party Revolution!

The Review!
Though still episodic, the show manages a bit more balance and normality as it becomes a short run TV series.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. Having been familiar with the voice cast from the previous series we wanted to keep with that. The Japanese mix is a fairly standard stereo presentation and comes across well. There is action of a sense in the show and those areas utilize the stereo channels well but for the most part this is a strong dialogue piece that uses the full soundstage to good effect. Music and some of the ambient effects handle the stereo channels and overall it's a solid mix. We spot checked some of the English mix and didn't find anything problematic there.

Video:
Originally airing in 2005, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. After a very inconsistent first volume, the second set of episodes of this series manages to strike a bit more of a balance. The first volume, notably the OVA episodes, were simply littered with dot crawl issues. This volume manages to avoid that for the most part, and what little is left isn't quite so severe. The dot crawl seems to be fairly limited to the opening/closing sequences and not within the show itself. Within each episode, it's a fairly decent looking transfer but the series is one that looks like it never had great looking source materials to begin with. Some of the panning sequences introduce a bit of judder but the main problem is that there's a fair bit of mosquito noise throughout it with some of the stationary large areas of color. Cross coloration is pretty minimal as well. This is a definite step-up from the first volume but it's not a solid piece across the board either.

Packaging:
Done in the same "manga style" packaging that Right Stuf did with their release, the cover artwork again feels like a flashback to some of the fifties comics as it has an all female cast on the cover with two of them being headshots inside of bubbles. Add in the adjectives applied to their names and the overall layout and it does feel somewhat dated and less like a modern day doujinshi or even western comic book. The back cover gives us some good shots of the show, several fanservice oriented ones in fact, across two strips. The shows premise and summary are nicely covered as is the discs features. The bottom of the back cover is the standard presentation we like to see that has the production information and the technical grid. While there is no insert, there is a reversible cover for this release. The reverse side front cover has a nice looking piece of art with the original logo with a pair of the girls. The opposite side has a text interview with the Japanese voice actresses for Yu and Ikumi.

Menu:
The menu design for this release is pretty good as it uses a similar design to the front cover but along the left side it has a scrolling series of clips from the show. The background is made up of papers and erasers while the paper sections have rough pencil sketches rotating out on them. The menus that ADV is using these days tend to look a little bare since it lists out the episodes by number and then just the extras and languages. It's easy to not pay the numbers much mind which makes the rest of the selections look really minimal. Access times are nice and fast though and we had no problems with the players' language presets being picked up.

Extras:
The extras for the release look to be pretty good though rather Japanese centric which will please some. The clean opening and closing kick off this section which is followed by a voice actor interviews that are done in text form. Also included are some voice actor profiles which are basically one page of information for four of the Japanese voice actors. The liner notes cover some of the basic terms that come up in association with doujinshi and there is also an article that talks about the evolution of Comic Party from a game to where it is now.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Understanding that the first volume of Comic Party Revolution wasn't quite intended to be TV material as the first four episodes were meant as standalone OVA releases gives those episodes something of a pass. With this volume, it's all TV material though and the differences are there in that the stories, self-contained that they are, aren't quite as filled with flights of fancy or just pure silliness. They're more in the style of the original series and that definitely helps.

That said, they do still feel somewhat weak and without purpose. If the overarching storyline to the entire animated franchise is Taishi's world domination, it doesn't really get dealt with in a meaningful way. The first series at least had the focus on learning the ropes of ComiPa and the basics of creating doujinshi as well as the culture that surrounds it. The shift to having the cast in the working field isn't a bad one, but the creation of doujinshi and the trials within take a back seat for the most part. Essentially, for the core cast of characters who are making doujinshi, they've mastered it and we're instead spending time focusing mostly on their lives.

Some of it plays into the doujinshi world a bit, such as the opening episode that deals with the printers and the trouble that Chisa and her father are going through with the shop. It does a nice segue into the history of printing and the importance of it, but it's more focused on having everyone come together to help out. We've seen this done before in somewhat different ways in this series and the last one so it's nothing too terribly new beyond trying to tie Chisa closer together with everyone else. Another episode just deals with the rivalries that the girls see between each other when Taishi operates as the judge in a series of tennis matches that they're all involved in. Kazuki, like in a lot of things it seems lately, takes a back seat to everything and isn't all that much of a presence in it. The main problem with it is that the show has grown the cast of girls so quickly now that the core ones you like the most initially get much less time and the new ones don't get enough to differentiate themselves beyond their stereotypes.

There are some fun moments though and it's not all bad, just weak in terms of anything resembling a real storyline. The obligatory hot spring episode is one that while it doesn't stand out turned out to be more fun than I imagined it would. Yu manages to convince Kazuki to come with her to a Kansai ComiPa with the lure of a place to stay at her parents hot spring inn. Everyone else invites themselves along and stays at the same place. The hot spring moments are predictable " girls teasing each other about breast sizes and some of the guys doing their best to leer " but it slows things down a bit for Yu and Kazuki to have some time together and deal with an issue between the two of them. I've seen dozens of hot springs episode across many series by now and nothing here really separates it from the rest but the characters do make it a good bit of fun.

Another surprise episode that has a weak premise to it is one where the gang has gone on a camping trip but their ability to return home is in peril. Taishi claims it to be something of a legend, but they keep returning to the camp no matter where they go. It takes a weird turn when a bunch of modern day Lazer Tag fans show up in full camouflage gear and offer to tell them how to get down if they can beat them in a survival game match. I didn't expect to like it based on how it started, but the match was a fair bit of fun as the girls all get into cosplay in order to throw off the survivalists. Who could shoot a sexy or cute girl in costume in the middle of the woods?.

In Summary:
By this point in the series, and the franchise in general, I've come to realize that there's little intent to try and really make something of all this. The doujinshi has been minimalized heavily and the harem style aspect has grown to take its place. It has its moments that are enjoyable to be sure, but the cast has just grown too much to be able to be consistently enjoyable since it pushes out the main characters too often. There may not be a lot inherently wrong with Comic Party Revolution, but I think I may simply finally be burning out on some of these kinds of shows.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Interview with Satomi Korogi (Asahi),The Language of Doujinshi,What is Comic Party (Part 2),Profiles of the Seiyuu,Production background art,Clean opening animation, Clean closing animation

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic DMP-BD10 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: C
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B-
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: TV 14
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Comic Party Revolution