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Cromartie High School, Volume 2

Another volume of Cromartie High School. We take a look at the latest volume of the OtakuBooty staff's favorite anime of the year.
See ThePirate's excellent review of the first volume of Cromartie here.

Cromartie High School is the story of a Japanese high school full of delinquents and thugs. They smoke, roll their r's like Yakuza when they speak, and talk about fighting and being badasses. A gorilla, a robot, and a Freddie Mercury look-alike all attend the school along with an assortment of squinty-eyed roughnecks and the clean-cut protagonist, Kamiyama.

Visually, this is a low budget parody of other anime and manga. The heavily crosshatched shading on their faces is an in-jokey reference to the standard manga method of drawing a "tough" or "violent" character. Overly dramatic cuts with static "action line" backgrounds pepper the scenes, often for no reason, adding to the parodic feel.

The crux of Cromartie's humor is that, despite the faux dramaticism, nothing ever happens. There are never actually any fights. The scenery rarely changes. It's the Japanese juvenile delinquent cousin to the brand of "nothing" humor we know from Seinfeld or Beavis and Butthead.

Cromartie High School's characters stumble through absurdly funny situations using nothing but clever dialogue and rudimentary animation. Surprisingly, this works as a result of the sublime and often suble humor. The sum of its meager parts is the funniest anime comedy in recent years. This style of humor won't work for everybody, but it's even remotely your "thing" Cromartieis laugh-out-loud funny.

ADV's release sports excellent production values. I'm typically no fan of dubs, but this one is excellent. Unlike most dub jobs, the English-speaking cast nails the comic timing necessarily for a dialogue-heavy production such as this. The package is rounded out with a set of cultural notes that explains many of the jokes and references. Dedicated fans will appreciate them, though the show is completely enjoyable without them.

The only stumbling block for Cromartieis ADV's suggested retail price of $30. There are six episodes on the disc but each episode is only five minutes long - seven minutes, if you count the credits. This fits the structure of the show well; it's the perfect duration for a dose of Cromartie. However, ADV is essentially asking for $30 for 30 minutes of entertainment and that's just too much.

You can find Cromartie High School Vol. 2 for as little as $20 at Best Buy, so the suggested retail price isn't necessarily a deal-breaker. This is absolutely a must-have title.

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