Takashi Kamiyama is your typical mild-mannered high school student—polite, aloof, and pacifistic, with a slightly above-average IQ. But would your average high school student really enroll himself at the infamous Cromartie High School, known as a breeding ground for the toughest delinquents out there?
Apparently so, as that is exactly what Takashi does, though for reasons he'd rather leave unmentioned. However, one thing is for sure: the "hard-boiled rabbit in a den full of hungry lions" is never going to have another dull day. And how could he, now that he's surrounded by mohawked punks, obnoxious robots, and... gorillas? And was that Freddie Mercury riding a horse down the corridor? Follow Takashi as he earnestly dedicates his new high school life to better his school's reputation while his classmates are hellbent on wreaking havoc.
Each episode is only, like, 12 minutes long... and the whole series is incredibly worth it... if you've ever seen anything that has a "delinquent" in it (i.e. anyone with a hairstyle like John Travolta in Grease ;) ) or even if you haven't... this was just so surprisingly funny that it became almost an instant favorite.
...Am I hyping it up too much?
The first episode, I kind of chuckled/smiled a few times... and then as the series goes on, I found myself just dying of laughter. It's incredibly clever and witty...
The show follows a bunch of hoodlums in their
and their ...non-traditional concerns. One badass boss has severe problems with motion sickness, another is a comedy snob, and well... one's a robot. It's wacky in the best way -- a little light on plot but heavy on the funny. It kind of reminds me of The Tick (the animated series, not the live action) in the way that it's kind of campy and over the top and oh-so-original.
The show does such a good job of turning the typical delinquent devices on their heads. It starts off like something that seems familiar... something that feels normal for the genre... and all of a sudden it's like you're in bizarro-land and this hilarious joke comes out of nowhere. And it's even more surprising and even funnier because you know they knew you were expecting the generic follow-through and they gave you a spoonful of crazy instead. (Does that make sense?) ...It's like watching a pitcher in baseball go through a windup, but at the very last second, instead of pitching the ball to you, his feet turn into ducks.
It's like that... only funny. ;) Really, really funny.
I always find it hard to actually LIKE a comedy. Sure, it's fun and all that, but that doesn't mean it's good. So what's a good comedy like? Well, I've never been a real fan of slapstick humor because it's just too easy. When I was introduced to Cromartie High school (thumbs up for Danny), I gave it a shot right away. After several episodes, I put it away as it didn't seem interesting. When I gave it another shot weeks later, I was proven wrong.
The anime starts off with the main character's - Takashi Kamiyama - first day at the Cromartie High school
for delinquents. From there on the story spirals down a maze of odd events and insane situations. Though he's the only non-delinquent person on the school, Takashi claims the title of class boss - and later the 'boss of japan' title. And that's only the beginning of the madness.
Story: Naturally, there isn't much of a story to mention. However, following a nice, intelligent person on a school filled with delinquents should be interesting enough. You get to see other schools as well. They're always planning to attack Cromartie, but never succeed. You could say this a delinquent slice of life(!), driven by activities done by the characters rather than a main storyline.
Art: Although there is remarkably little movement in this anime, the art makes up for it. The roughly sketched faces really make the characters look like badasses. And that's what's also improving the fun factor.
Sound: With great power comes great responsibility. And with little movement, comes little sound. If you catch my drift. The sound in general doesn't really stand out, except for the kickass voice acting of Mechazawa. Although the sound doesn't stand it, it's still a main part of the whole thing, and therefore gets a high score.
Character: A gorilla. A Freddie Mercury copy. A robot. And his son. A tough, strong boss with motion sickness. A silent boss with a wish to become a known comedian. A man with fake hair (No spoilers, duh). A servant without a name. The anime introduces a wide selection of characters, each with their own unique personality. Cromartie wouldn't be Cromartie without its characters.
Enjoyment: I'll admit it. Cromartie starts off a bit slow. If you survive the first five, six episodes, you will find it hard to not watch the rest right away. Every episode tells a different story, usually following one person or a group through the episode. It's impossible to forsee what's about to happen, and that's definitly a good thing in a comedy. A good example of this is when they hold a competition to decide who gets the 'Boss of Japan' title. All contestants have to answer the question: "Is it milk in yoghurt?" Hundreds of delinquents are present, but, naturally, Takashi's the ONLY ONE who gets it right. And even if you won't laugh when you watch, you'll laugh later. Sometimes it just needs to sink in.
Overall The unique thing about Cromartie is that it takes two quite different elements and put them together. In this case, that would be 'delinquents' and 'FUN'. If you're not used to seeing serious-looking gangsters in hillarious situations, it might take some time before you get used to it. All in all, Cromartie is one of the funniest and smartest comedies I've ever seen.
Comedy is an art. Throughout human existence comedy has existed. It is a way to bring humans together in fun and merriment. It can also be used to make light of serious issues. There have been many historical landmarks in comedy.
1900 BC: The first joke is told in Sumeria
446 BC: The first comedic playwright, Aristophanes, is born.
1475 AD: Geoffrey Chaucer begins his epic quest for universal comedy with The Canterbury Tales but ultimately never finishes.
1605 AD: Miguel de Cervantes releases the novel Don Quixote de la Mancha, a piece of literature still hailed to this day as one of the funniest things
1895 AD: L'Arroseur arrosé, the first comedy film, is released.
1926 AD: Buster Keaton releases the film The General, and slapstick comedy is created.
1974 AD: Blazing Saddles, what I consider the funniest film ever made, is released.
2004 AD: Cromartie High School, what I consider the funniest TV series ever made, is released.
No anime has made me laugh harder than Cromartie High School. The misadventures of Kamiyama and his gang of juvenile delinquents are ones that I could experience over and over again and just laugh harder. Is the story some avant garde masterpiece? No, in fact it is non-existent. Cromartie High School is episodic in nature. It has no real plot, no resolution, and little to no character arcs. The series works as showcasing six months of a Sophomore year in what is both the best and worst school in fiction. At Cromartie, there's no teachers or faculty, just delinquents left to their own devices. This allows the series to go into truly bizarre territory, and it does so on an episodic basis.
It is not a perfect set-up, however. While it's fun not knowing what to expect every episode, that feeling of aimless wanderlust starts to diminish as the series come to a close and is replaced with a feeling of pointlessness. If you're watching this for a story, the final episode may be the worst you've ever seen. But if you buy into the hilarity of the premise, you'll know what to expect. You may not know what exactly, you just know it will be funny.
The art in Cromartie is, well, terrible, and there's very little of it. This is used however to the anime's benefit and results in some of the funniest sight gags the viewer will ever witness. Every character has the same exact face with just a few alterations, adding to the satire of the educational system being a factory pumping out identical products. Don't expect some flashy stuff to happen; the anime is mostly just people standing around. However, even this is made interesting and hilarious due to the gags and quirks found in the animation style.
When one of your characters is Freddy Mercury, you know your soundtrack should be good. And as the cover suggests, much of the music in Cromartie High is a love letter to rock n' roll like Queen. The opening is fantastic and memorable, being oddly melancholic despite the sheer hilarity of the opening sequence, resulting in a laugh being heard upon each viewing. The ending theme is equally as bizarre and random as the series itself. The voice acting for the Japanese version is inferior, anyone who says otherwise is wrong. If you are to watch this anime, which I highly advise you do, go with the English Dub. It is without a doubt one of the most hilarious dubs ever made, and an objective improvement over the original Japanese.
Without a doubt the anime's strongest field are its rich and diverse characters. Takashi Kamiyama is the main protagonist. He was an exceptionally good natured student until he went to the longest domino chain in Japan and glued the last piece to the floor. Because of that, he is banished to Cromartie High School for Delinquents. It's assumed he's the toughest guy in school because he is such a wimpy figure in such a tough environment. Kamiyama goes through some truly hilarious revelations as the series progresses, and his letters to his mom (read during the preview to the next episode) are comedy gold.
Next up is Kamiyama's right hand man, Shinjiro Hayashida. Hayashida is the dumbest man alive and sports a pink mowhawk with a mind of its own. I would say he's comedy foil, but everyone is. Every single character in this anime is bafflingly stupid in some way. Because of that, I like to call it "Japan's Beavis and Butthead". If the anime was just Kamiyama and Hayashida, they'd be a perfect comparison to Beavis and Butthead. Thankfully, the cast is shockingly massive for such a short series, and every single character steals the show in concept and comedy.
Just to rattle some students at Cromartie off, there's a gorilla, Freddie Mercury, a robot named Mechazawa, the only semi-competent physical foil named Maeda (Who is kidnapped on a frequent basis and is apathetic to it), a massive beast of a man named Takenouchi who is cripplingly chronologically motion sick, a rich elitist named Hokuto (Who goes to a different school and accidentally shows up at Cromartie and stays there for some reason, hence his different uniform), Hokuto's lackey (A nameless character who follows Hokuto around and tries to let people know his name but is always interrupted), a terrorist pretending to be Takenouchi named Masked Takenouchi, a gang leader named Noboru Yamaguchi who is a connoisseur of sophisticated humor and constantly criticizes the show's humor, and many more. Somehow, they all get ample screen time and each one is perfectly hilarious. The cast in Cromartie is one of the best I've ever seen. Unique, memorable, hilarious, and somehow compelling, they're the friends I wish I had. And they're all somehow 16. Yes that includes Freddie.
If it wasn't clear yet, I cherish Cromartie High School. It is one of my most quoted and rewatched anime. I often like to watch it with friends as we laugh heartily at the hilarity of the show and the bizarre resemblance to our own lives. Juvenile delinquent genre is a genre I never knew I loved until I watched Cromartie, which helped me fuel my love for my 2nd favorite part of Jojo, Diamond in Unbreakable (Very, very similar series). I wish I could give this a 10 in Enjoyment, but alas the series does lose some steam in the final few episodes, especially one serious episode that just is not interesting (The only joke is that there was suddenly a serious episode of Cromartie). Even then though, this series always shocks and surprises me, and it ended in a way I never could have seen coming but at the same time should have expected. The series deserved to go on longer than twenty six 11 minute long episodes.
Cromartie High School begins bizarre and only get increasingly so. I will admit it is an acquired taste. It is very likely you will only be increasingly annoyed at the sheer stupidity and brain cell killing cast and atmosphere, but then again that's how school feels. Cromartie is a near perfect satire of Japanese school lifestyle with clear cut references that even strike American school lifestyle. It is a series that only seems to get better upon each rewatch. Like the slogan of another juvenile delinquent anime AKIRA, Cromartie High School is good for health but bad for education. You will learn absolutely nothing watching Cromartie High School, but they say laughter is the best medicine. If that's the case, Cromartie High School will keep you alive forever.
Usually the words 'Comedy anime' invoke in me images of immensely overdone slapstick, cheesy running gags repeated ad nauseum, annoying catchprases and all kinds of accidental groping of voluptuous teenage girls. Given how frequently said tropes appear in a lot of comedy anime and the rather disturbing amount of them it comes as no surprise that I don't consider them one of my favorite genres.
'Cromartie High School' (which will be referred to as 'CHS' for the rest of the review) can be faulted a lot of things; but it's certainly a whole different beast from the things I described earlier on. Cromartie isn't about
fluffy cute girls and awkward young men; but about manly high schoolers who assert themselves as proudly as possible.
The series is mostly set in and around a rather special high school called Cromartie (surprising, huh?), and by 'special' I mean that EVERY SINGLE STUDENT ATTENDING IT IS A DELINQUENT. Yep, you read that right. At the center of it all is newcomer Takashi Kamiyama who is trying his best to survive in an environment filled with agressive thugs, robots, a gorilla, and a mute who resembles Freddie Mercury.
Think that sounds absurd? Well absurdity (correction: MANLY absurdity) is the name of the game in CHS. Each of its 26 episodes is a 10-minute barrage of absurdity. Most of them star out on a fairly normal note (e.g.: a certain character wants to go somewhere) but events usually take a turn for the strange fairly quickly as characters think and act in such incredibly skewed ways that it makes you wonder how they ever get anything done.
Therein lies the biggest problem with CHS: it's simply too fascinated with being quirky and bizarre. None of the characters have any personality to them aside from a single quirk that's used to get them or those around them in trouble, a lot of situations situations are simply too absurd to be funny (especially since there's no real context) and the whole affair ends up feeling rather predictable when you realize that a character's wish to eat an ice cream will end up in him doing anything but that. The biggest irony here is that the series eventually becomes predictable simply because it always tries so hard to be surprising and off-beat.
There's not much in the audiovisual department either. The character-design's aren't very detailed and the animation is rather bad. I've been told that this is because the series is throwback to a so-called 'delinquent' subgenre where the quality of the animation was always poor and I have no trouble believing this seeing as the production studio at hand (Production I.G.) has produced several anime-series that are among the most visually stunning the medium has to offer. Fact is that animation, deliberate as it may be, is unattractive to look at and fails to give an otherwise dull series a tiny bit of redeeming value. Background music is also nothing to write home about and seeing as I don't speak Japanese I can't really judge the quality of the voice acting but I do find Takahiro Sakurai and Norio Wakamoto pleasant to listen to at all times, that's something at least.
Ultimately I feel that CHS' hook isn't interesting enough to captivate for 26 episodes. None of the episodes aside from one downright hilarious scene that makes fun of internet trolls made me laugh out loud. Making me crack a smile was the best it could manage aside from the aforementioned bit about internet trolls). Manliness be damned.
Some characters are funny because of all the crazy antics they get up to. But others just have the right kind of physiognomy, which make them prone to pulling off some funny anime faces - intentionally or unintentionally.