November 29, 2010

Bento Bako Weekly: Cromartie High School

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Written by: Kristin
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Title: Cromartie High School
Director: Hiroaki Sakurai
Studio: Production I.G., licensed by ADV Films (now Section 23)
Episodes: 26 (about 10 minutes each)
Vintage: October 2003-March 2004, licensed in 2004 (the most recent release I found was a complete set in 2008, on 3 discs, for $44.98; this review is of a different collection, the original 4 disc release)
Genre: Comedy, comedy, and more comedy

Sakigake! Cromartie High! Cromartie High from Production I.G. and Bandai Visual, is licensed domestically by ADV Films. A 26 episodes series on 4 discs. Don’t let that fool you, though; each episode only runs about 10 minutes. But that’s all you really need. Extras include: clean credits, official Japanese trailers, inventive DVD menus, and some excellent cultural notes provided by ADV. You’ll need them if you want to understand the jokes fully (or at all, in some cases).

Which, I would say, is the only problem with Cromartie. The series relies very heavily on Japanese culture jokes, baseball references (for character names and school names), and American pop culture for its time (2003). That doesn’t mean it won’t be funny even if you don’t know the references. When every episode of a show opens up with the main character nonchalantly informing you not to repeat actions you see in the show, as the characters are all delinquents and you could end up in jail, you know it’s going to be amusing at least. Throw in a gorilla, Freddie Mercury, and a robot (or two) as normal students attending high school, and this high school comedy is sure to elicit some laughs.

The main character (if it could really be said that there is one) is transfer student Takashi Kamiyama. Suspected by his fellow class delinquents to be the toughest guy in school (because only the toughest rabbit would go into the lions’ den), Kamiyama becomes a class leader. He also secretly sends in joke to a radio show. He becomes fast friends with the other Cromartie boys, who are quite the collection of bizarre characters.

There’s not a whole lot to be said about the show, as it’s mostly nonsensical in nature, and there isn’t a really firm plot line. There are a couple of themes that pop up in multiple episodes, like Cromartie leader Takenouchi’s motion sickness, the fact that no one seems to realize that fellow student Mechazawa is actually a robot (including Mechazawa himself), Destrade school leader Yamaguchi’s quest for the perfect joke, and the fact that Hokuto’s Lackey doesn’t have any other name other than Hokuto’s Lackey.

Most of the Cromartie High boys, including Freddie, Gorilla, Shinjiro Hayashida, Takeshi Hokuto, and Kamiyama.

Still not convinced? How about noting that the Japanese voice for Mechazawa is Norio Wakamoto? If you don’t recognize the name, you’ll definitely recognize his fantastic voice. How about an episode where all of the characters suddenly become females? A gorilla that makes and serves sushi? Incompetent delinquents who always manage to make a 10 minute journey take more like 10 hours (even when they’re in a hurry to save poor, abduction prone Maeda)?

The animation is pretty crude, but it works to great effect. A mohawk with a mind of its own, an afro that grows larger as time passes, nose hairs that jump from one nostril to another. Simple effects, but they work. There is one other problem with the series, along with the occasional obscure reference; there are some instances where the show refers you to the manga it is based on for certain background information. Don’t let that be a deterrent, however, as it’s really not necessary for the enjoyment of the show. And that’s really all there is to it: the show is entertaining and very funny. One other thing I’ll add, and that is that while the English dub is decent enough, the show is somehow funnier in its original Japanese. The timing is a little better, I think, and the voices just work better as well. They talk pretty fast, but the subtitles aren’t too hard to keep up with.

Check this one out. It looks strange and sounds totally bizarre, and it is. So if you want a show you don’t really have to think about, and you just want to be entertained, then this is a good choice. It will have you rolling on the couch in laughter. Perfect indoor activity for a cold weekend. The manga is 17 volumes, also published by ADV (though I’m not sure if it was entirely published here), and there is also a live action film (Cromartie High: The Movie from Tokyo Shock).




  1. Drew

    LOVE-THIS-SHOW: Period

  2. Kristin

    Me. Too. 🙂

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by John Mulder and Comic Attack, Kristin Bomba. Kristin Bomba said: New #anime review: the hilarious Cromartie High School: […]

  4. Jade

    Wow, I should check this out. I was watching 2×2 Shinobuden the other night and wishing for some other oddball titles. Thank you, magical anime fairy!

    Why four discs for a bunch of ten minute episodes though? That seems a little ridiculous.

  5. Kristin

    It is a little odd in terms of episode spacing, but I’m not sure how expensive it was per disc. And that may be 10 mins not including opening/ending sequences. It’s been a while since I watched it and I can’t quite remember. They were VERY short, though.

    But it’s HILARIOUS.

  6. […] about rape, death, and darkness. DMC walks on the line of being the most brilliant gag-manga since Cromartie High School, and being the most offensive manga out there today. In its defense, for those who think DMC is […]

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