Prepare yourselves for another trip into the weird and wonderful world of Cromartie High, home to the toughest, meanest and downright stupidest students in all of Japan. If you were lucky enough to catch the first instalment in the series you’ll know more or less what to expect. Basically, what we have here, is a loosely connected series of comic vignettes chronicling the lives of a bunch of badasses as they struggle with the day-to-day demands of life as a delinquent at, Cro-High. Unlike most high schools, however, Cromartie isn’t exactly normal, far, far from it in fact. I mean, where else would you find a school that counts Freddie Mercury (well a look-alike at least), a balding gorilla and, my personal favourite, a robot among its student body?
At first glance Cromartie High looks like a tough sell. The animation, intentionally so may I add, is outdated, the character designs unashamedly fugly, and the plot bounces from skit-to-skit with little regard to such trivialities as narrative and pacing. Once you get over the initial shock of the visuals and begin to get a taste for the atypical humour, however, such quibbles soon fly out of the window. Whether it’s watching two students bemoaning the lack of excitement in their school whilst flying saucers buzz overhead and gorillas and robots patrol the playground, or a badass squirming at the sight of a renegade nose hair, a good laugh is never far away.
As with the first volume, much of the show’s entertainment comes from the assortment of thugs and badasses that make up Cro-High and its neighbouring schools. Old favourites such as Takenouchi and Yamaguchi make a welcome return, but it’s the new faces that get the biggest laughs. The pick of the new bunch is undoubtedly Mechazawa’s little brother Beta Mechazawa, who is identical to his older sibling save for the fact he’s the size of a soup can. Then there’s the introduction of Destrade High’s newest second in command, a guy with a puppet on each arm. What follows is a sidesplitting scene in which the other gang members, much to their dismay, attempt to figure out if their new no.2 is one of the puppets or the guy controlling them.
Spoofing the tough-guy look of 70s and 80s manga heavyweights such as Crying Freeman and, of course, Fist Of The North Star the visuals in Cromartie High are an integral part of the series’ comedy assault. Seeing these tough guys -all bulging muscles and ridiculous hair-dos – indulging in such bizarre behaviour never fails to raise a smile.
They don’t come much weirder than this, folks, not that I’m complaining mind, Cromartie is one of the most refreshing and original anime comedies to hit our shores in sometime. You’d be a fool to miss it.