Cromartie High School Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: A-
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: ADV Films UK
  • MSRP: £14.99
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Cromartie High School

Cromartie High School Vol. #2

By Bryan Morton     November 02, 2006
Release Date: June 19, 2006


Cromartie High School Vol. #2
© ADV Films UK


What They Say
Cro-Mar-Tee, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!
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 given he's the size of a tea canister. Perhaps Hayashida's baseball team will lift his spirits - that is, if they can ever find their way out of the woods and onto an actual field.

Add a rival gang with hand puppet leaders, a crowd-phobic hijacker on their class field trip, and you have the sophomore volume of the crowd and critic-pleasing smash!

The Review!
More madness and mayhem from the boys at Cromartie High. Mechazawa's little brother has problems being noticed, another rival school tries to teach Cromartie a lesson, Takenouchi has a run-in with hijackers, and more besides...

Audio:
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:
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.

Packaging:
The cover this time is the Cromartie take on the Beatles' Red & Blue Albums, featuring the guys looking over the balcony of a tower block - although the Beatles never quite looked so serious. The rear features the usual promotional paragraph, technical information and screenshots, while inside there's another 8-page booklet of background information. All told, a nice package.

Menu:
Another live-action menu here, with a record store's security camera catching plenty of shoplifting going on. Submenus are provided for Extras and Languages - these use the same video clip but different pieces of music (until a banana gets in the way, anyway) - while a trailer for volume 2 is also selectable from the main screen.

Extras:
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), 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)
This volume of Cromartie High serves up another 6 short episodes of the show's unique brand of comedy, and dips into the surreal at one or two points, just for a little change of pace. I learnt my lesson from volume one and watched this in several sittings, and I have to say I enjoyed it a lot more as a result " although having a better idea of what to expect probably didn't do any harm, either.

Mechazawa gets a good outing this disc, first with the story of his little brother Beta (small enough to be stepped on, and getting smaller every time he's repaired), followed by another story where he refuses to get involved with Cromartie's battle with the rival Bass High " and instead opts to become a motorcycle. The first story is full of visual gags, mainly around the two robots being mistakenly used for everything from a mobile 'phone to a refrigerator, and definitely raises a few chuckles. The second story, though, is just downright weird " I had the scenes from the Revolutionary Girl Utena movie, where Anthy becomes a car, running through my head the entire time. It was the most surreal thing I've seen in quite a while, but any reference to Utena is always welcome with me. Whether that was intentional or all in my head is another thing.

Speaking of seeing other shows, the return of Hayashida has shades of Best Student Council about it, when the Destrade High #1 chooses a new second-in-command: Akira, and his two hand puppets. But is it Akira he's chosen, or one of the puppets? There are some quite bizarre moments here as the boys argue over who's really the new #2, which just go to show how no-one in this series could ever be described as normal.

Poor Takenouchi draws the short straw this volume, as the travel-sick one finds himself stuck in America after the flight he was on for the class trip to Kyushu is hijacked, while the hijacker steals his identity back at Cromartie. It's best not to ask how that worked out " as with most things in this series, it just happens, leaves you wondering "what the ....!?", and moves on to the next story. One thing this story did flag up, though, was Cromartie's consistency when things like this happen " it takes Takenouchi a few episodes to get back home, with the hijacker making several appearances in the meantime. There's no end-of-episode reset, which is quite surprising for this sort of show.

Baseball, birthdays and boredom provide the subject matter for the remaining episodes. There's no one episode on the disc that stands out as a real highlight " the quality is very consistent " but neither is there a real lemon in the batch, and that can only be a good thing.

In summary:
I definitely enjoyed this volume of Cromartie a lot more than I did the first volume, although there are a few possible explanations for that. It's still very strange, but there are plenty of good gags and as long as you don't think to hard about why things happen, it's easy enough to switch off and enjoy the mayhem. The key seems to be to just go with the flow " do that, and you'll get a good bit back from the series.

Features
Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 5.1,Cultural Notes and Comments,Clean Opening & Closing Animations,Original Japanese TV Warnings,Production Booklet

Review Equipment
Panasonic TX-W28R30P 28" widescreen TV; Pioneer DV-626D player; Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.

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