Serving up six more episodes of school bound silliness the third volume of Cromartie High offers viewers another generous helping of surreal laughs and off the wall comedy hi-jinks. There are giggles aplenty as our hapless gang of ne’er-do-wells find themselves implicated in an array of increasingly bizarre situations that involve everything from alien invasions to flying motor cycles. If you like your comedy weird and with more than a touch of the surreal, start clearing a space on your DVD shelf because Cromartie High is the series for you.
After witnessing the second volume in this stupidly stupendous series I didn’t think it could get any weirder. Of course, I was wrong. Hopelessly, hopelessly wrong, and much to my delight, Cromartie High continues to get more and more bizarre with every passing episode. It’s a testament to the overall quality of this disc that it is so hard to pick a highlight; every episode contains at least one moment that is bound to raise an appreciative smirk and in the rare instance that a gag doesn’t hit home the quick fire, ten minute episode format ensures a good giggle is always just around the corner.
Of course, the appeal of the series depends entirely on your tolerance for comedy of the more offbeat variety, and the show’s inherent weirdness will no doubt be too much for some viewers to stomach – my brother, for example, found it all a bit much and did naught but shake his head and look perplexed for the entire 75-min running time. If, however, you consider yourself a graduate of the Excel Saga/Parody school of anime comedy you should not find Cromartie too much of a challenge, and the mix of razor sharp satire and broad comedy should be enough to convince any unbelievers still out there.
For all its comedy prowess, though, Cromartie just wouldn’t be the same without its exquisite visuals that gleefully lampoon the look and style of classic “tough guy’ anime. Sure, it may not boast the liveliest animation, but what it lacks in visual oomph it more than makes up for with sheer attention to detail – just check out Hayashida’s ceaselessly flapping Mohawk – and the judicious use of crazy effects and creative camera angles ensure proceedings never look too drab.
It’s not often I find myself foaming at the mouth over an anime comedy, yet I can’t sing Cromartie High’s praises enough. For a series that derives much of its humour from stupidity it is one of the sharpest comedies on the market, and while it may be a bit too wacky for some, those craving something that little bit different will find it impossible to resist the series’ inimitable charms. If only real school life had been this much fun.