Cromartie High School Vol. #4 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • 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: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Cromartie High School

Cromartie High School Vol. #4

By Chris Beveridge     August 10, 2005
Release Date: August 16, 2005


Cromartie High School Vol. #4
© ADV Films


What They Say
A monumental high school comedy.

Time for the graduate volume of Japan’s campus comedy Cromartie High School! This time, your finals include: Biology - where the delinquents of CHS bring their own pets to school; Geography - get lost on the annual high school field trip; Economics - silent Freddie becomes head of a powerful corporation; Lunch - Gorilla serves up sushi; and everyone’s favorite subject - co-ed visit the girls' school of delinquents where the young ladies look strangely...familiar. And, frankly, very unattractive.

The Review!
Coming to a close, the series ends with some of its best material yet.

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:
Going for the another album parody, it's the Mount Rushmore look with several of the main characters being used across it which just looks very amusing, especially with the rough paper edges used for it. The back cover continues the old feeling to it with a blue background and provides one image that has four of the leads together via headshots 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 menus for this series have been creative to be sure, though the last one proved to be more annoying than anything else out there after the first few minutes, but this final menu is the simplest of them all as it goes with just a shot of a building exterior where there's a spraypainted outline of the Pootan people, a crumbling desk and bits of junk laying about. I honestly have no idea what it's all supposed to mean but it's not the menu from the third volume so I'm happy with it. 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:
A good selection of extras are included for the show where you wouldn't imagine there being too many. 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. The main new extra included in this volume is the "Special Video Clips" section that looks to be mostly bumper clips and the like for promoting the show or the double-episodes that were aired.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Cromartie High School has ended up like a lot of the comedy releases I've seen in the last couple of years in that what I find amusing in a volume or an entire series is just all over the map. The show unfortunately didn't end up being consistently funny but it did have some really good moments throughout it that made us laugh – once we got past the first volume. That one just left us cold but as we got further into things it started to get us with more and more bits. With the final volume we get some of the best material yet.

The general oblivious nature of the guys continues to be one of the best points. The opening episode plays this up nicely with the entire bathroom incident on board the train. Before we even get there though it's already humorous in that Takenouchi is finally back in the picture after being flown off in an earlier episode only to return when the group goes out for another field trip, this time on the train. The motion sickness is getting to him again but he can't use the bathroom since Kamiyama is beholden to it for other reasons. Everyone else needs to get in there as well and they have some amusing ways of passing the time or trying to get an order in which to go in. The rest of the cast gets involved in their own ruminations and even Hokuto provides plenty of amusement by getting on the wrong train. That actually works out for him since it gives him some peace and quiet with which to plan world domination.

It's interesting to hear the conversations that these guys have at times and one of the best ones to have near the end of the series is how they all are looking to the future. Some don't and some do, and with them all being delinquents it puts them in different perspectives about it. What's surprising is that Kamiyama, the one who had a future until he came to this school, is the one with the least interest in the future. As they go back and forth about it he keeps pointing out the oddities of the school itself in showing just how things make little sense in life, from a gorilla being in the school to the entire Mechazawa existence thing. It's an interesting take on personal philosophy that's hard to top once Hayashida reveals he wanted to be a frog when he grew up.

Probably the best part of the series in total is the episode where the school is re-imagined as an all girls princess school. All of the same characters are there except they're in standard school girl outfits and have the appropriate hair for it. Hayashida gets a great full blonde piece with a single tuff of purple floating up in the middle. It's a priceless episode as they all go on talking about what kind of princess they are just like in the first episode where they talked about what kind of level of boss that they were. It's a twisted re-enactment of the early episodes as they go through the motions here of showcasing the various classes and people in them, from Freddy with a full schoolgirl outfit to the surprisingly attractive female Mechazawa. It's all simply ever so wrong yet so right.

In Summary:
While I've been enjoying Cromartie High School more and more with each volume, I can't say that I'm sad to see it end like I do a lot of other series. There reaches a point where the comedy just gets to be too much and it starts to wobble under the weight of its own premise. Looking at it from this point of view, it's easy to see them going out on a high note here at the end and leaving fans to go to the manga or to look forward to the live action movie, which looks to be hysterical. Cromartie is unlike a lot of other comedies out there and depending on how much you put into it, it determines how much you got out of it. It just wanted a bit too much for me.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Cultural notes & comments,Original Japanese TV warning,Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation,Special Video Clips

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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