Mania Grade: B-
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: A-
- Packaging Rating: B+
- Menus Rating: A-
- Extras Rating: B+
- Age Rating: 13 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: ADV Films
- MSRP: 29.98
- Running time: 75
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Cromartie High School
Cromartie High School Vol. #2
By Chris Beveridge
May 06, 2005
Release Date: May 10, 2005
Cromartie High School Vol. #2
What They Say
© ADV Films
What are the dumbass delinquents of Cromartie to do? Their robot classmate Mechazawa is feeling blue. Seems his little brother keeps getting stepped on, which isn’t surprising since he’s the size of a tea canister. Hayashida’s baseball team might lift his spirits—if they can ever find their way out of the woods and onto an actual field. Add a rival gang with handpuppet leaders and a crowd-phobic hijacker on their class field trip, and you have the sophomore volume of Cromartie High School!The Review!
Grappling with boredom and the humdrum of everyday life, the tough men of Cromartie High look for that something that will break the monotony.Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its English dubbed format. The English 5.1 mix for the show is fairly basic with some simple uses of the stereo channels with some of the action sequences as well as some of the dialogue where the gags are involved in shifting the voice around the soundstage. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no trouble with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.Video:
Originally airing in 2003, the transfer for this show is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The show was one of a number of half-length series that aired in 2003 and each of the 10 minute episodes are presented with their original openings and endings with them, though with translated credits. The animation for the series isn't exactly a showcase of what current shows can do since it's at times less animated that Boys Over Flowers, but it does maintain a very solid feel throughout the episodes with backgrounds that aren't shifting, no jitter and a relatively problem free print. The one area I was most concerned about was with the color gradient which with a show like this could be problematic since it goes for large bold sections of color but even upconverted it was a very solid looking piece of work. Free of other problems such as cross coloration and aliasing and you've got a very clean piece of animation here.Packaging:
The reference for this cover is lost on me as we get a few of the characters looking down the open stairwell set to a really old looking album cover. It's neat looking with its design and the way it feels like an old LP cover though. The back cover continues the old feeling to it with a red background and provides one large shot of the gorilla alongside a summary of the premise and its gags and a listing of the extras on the disc. They want to show a lot of what the show is like so there's a ton of pictures through a strip in the lower center that separates the production information and technical grid from the top half. Everything is clearly listed there and easy to find which continues to be a real plus. The insert is a multiple page black and white booklet that does some character design work, talks with the series staff, provides a few more insights into the gags of the show and overall helps flesh things out a bit more.Menu:
The main menu is an interesting live action piece that's basically the inside of a record store and has people going in and out of it and looking at various records, sometimes at high speed. There's amusing moments throughout it as people steal stuff, wipe their rears with some records and more. A bit of instrumental music plays along with some video effects to age the look of it giving it a really fun nostalgic feel. The layout is straightforward and everything is easy to access and navigate. Submenus load quickly and as is usual for an ADV release, the disc correctly read our players language presets and played accordingly.Extras:
There aren't too many extras here but some of the standards and useful ones are included. The opening and closing sequences are given their shot in clean format and we also get the original Japanese piracy warnings which are done by different characters and fairly amusing. The useful extra is a series of cultural notes that go a long way towards explaining a number of the gags in this show and other cultural bits such as the taxi coupons and some linguistic gymnastics.Content:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the first volume of Cromartie, I wasn't left with the best of feelings with the show. There were plenty of moments I liked but when it comes to a comedy, it didn't cause me to laugh out loud alongside it or really find as much about it as funny as I was supposed to. A lot of the problem I had came down to way that the anime is a companion piece to the manga and they say just as much in that you'll get much more out of it if you do read the manga. I'd rather a show succeed on its own merits though but that'll be difficult with this series.
With the second volume, I opted to watch the entire thing in English but with the Japanese language subtitles playing so I could see the differences. While it didn't have me laughing out loud a lot, it did a couple of times and I found the experience overall to be much better than the first volume. The gags worked a bit better, partially since we weren't dealing with introductions stacked upon introductions, but also because there wasn't quite as much of the show. With only three episodes, it didn't feel like it was going on too long as we got further into the show which only added to the sense of un-funny that the first volume had in a lot of places.
The camaraderie of the group continues to be one of the strong points for these characters though they show it in different ways. When we see how most of them react at Maeda's house after one of them talks about going somewhere else soon to do something more fun as Kamiyama smacks them down, it show just how sensitive they all are underneath the bravado. This was just a weird episode to begin with since people kept mistaking his mother for him which is just impossible to do. She's more akin to the gorilla than to Maeda but it's something that happens regularly here. Maeda's an amusing character in general, such as later on when he gets kidnapped and explains what kind of students are at the school based on the groups findings. Explaining away a horse, an alien and more just isn't something that can be easily swallowed.
One character that I didn't care much for in the first volume but enjoyed a lot more here is Mechazawa. A good chunk of that change is attributable to the introduction of his little brother, Beta Mechazawa. This pint sized companion is cute from the start but gets even cuter when he gets smashed up and rebuilt at Sato into a hand-held size. Mechazawa leaves Beta with the group while he goes and does other thing but they end up trashing Beta a couple of times over, sometimes intentionally and sometimes not. The best way to fool Mechazawa when he comes back early though? Paint a small can to look like him and pray for the best.
One gag that runs over a number of episodes involves the Bass high school gang that wants to rumble with the Cromartie gang. They try a number of different things to get more information about the Cromartie place this time around and we get to know their members a bit more and that serves to flesh out the differences between the two groups a bit. Takenouchi gets some good material in this volume as well, such as finding himself on a trip via an airplane but ends up becoming involved with some terrorists and accidentally takes over the group. Only this guy could have that happen to him. One of my favorite small bits on this disc though is towards the end with Yamaguchi as he decides on his number two for the gang and it gets confusing as the person he chooses does hand puppets. The gang members can't tell if they're supposed to listen to the puppet or the guy holding the puppet. The puppets in this are great, from their design to the way they interact.In Summary:
While the show hasn't won me over by any wide margins, it did get me to laugh more this time around and to enjoy the characters a bit more. There's still plenty of gags that go over my head with this kind of show but the notes do a good job of cleaning some of those up and others are easy enough to figure out. Mechazawa and his little brother are the real highlights of these episodes and overall the show manages to click a bit better overall than what the first volume did.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Cultural notes and comments,Original Japanese TV warning,Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.