What They Say
Kazuki, Taishi, and all their crazy cohorts are back and getting into all kinds of misadventures. Manga and madness abound as these college students navigate the otaku subculture of doujinshi.
Life is a joke for this crew, but not every day can be a Comic Party. A break in the laughter spells trouble, and this gang of chuckle-heads passes the time with some hot springs action, a whacked out tennis tournament, and a camping trip that ends in a deadly duel!
It’s a good thing these manga-maniacs can depend on each other when things go from ridiculous to totally absurd!
Contains episodes 1-13.
The audio presentation for this release isn’t too much of a surprise as it retains the bilingual presentation from the ADV Films release by having a pair of stereo mixes encoded at 224kbps. Having been familiar with the voice cast from the previous series we wanted to keep with that. The Japanese mix is a fairly standard stereo presentation and comes across well. There is action of a sense in the show and those areas utilize the stereo channels well but for the most part this is a strong dialogue piece that uses the full soundstage to good effect. Music and some of the ambient effects handle the stereo channels and overall it’s a solid mix. We spot checked some of the English mix and didn’t find anything problematic there.
Originally airing in 2005, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. This collection is spread across two discs with seven episodes on the first disc and six on the second one. The first four episodes for this release are from the TV series release, not the OVA release. Like the previous release, the transfer for this show is one of the most inconsistent I’ve seen in a bit though the majority of the problems are in the source material and was the same for the Japanese release. The episodes are simply filled with a lot of dot crawl, causing a lot of scenes to look really bad. This seems to occur in each episode and shifts between being faintly noticeable to overtaking an entire scene. During the first episode, there’s a scene where the text “Mizuki’s Kitchen” is in the background and the text is covered in dot crawl. You can see this against characters, backgrounds and other text in various backgrounds throughout the show. There is also a fair bit of mosquito noise with the solid color areas, or lack of solid colors, most noticeably in the hair.
Eschewing some of what was done before by making it look like a manga cover, the complete collection actually manages to look better because of it. The clear single sized keepcase has a full cast shot for its front cover which is filled with lots of color and a decent level of detail as all the girls fight and pose, though Kazuki is absent from it as he’s likely hiding somewhere trying to get some work done. It’s appealing in that traditional harem way and the logo is still a favorite with the lined paper used for its background. The back cover has a bit more of a manga flair in the TOKYOPOP sense with the border along the side with the logo but that’s about the only nod towards it. The rest of it is laid out normally with a decent summary, a few shots from the show itself and a large cute picture of Chisa trying to race down the cart full of bound books for delivery. The production credits and technical grade flesh out the rest of it with a small font but it’s at least something you can read with black text on off white background. The release does get a good piece of artwork on the reverse side where it’s a two panel spread featuring most of the core girls in either their usual outfits or something else appealing. It’s got a lot here but it’s not crowded and it doesn’t feel like it’s too much. There’s also an inset which breaks down the episode numbers and titles for their respective volumes.
The menus for the release use the style found on the silkscreening of the DVDs which has character artwork of Mizuki to the left against a soft gray background while the right side has the purple strip going down it. It’s mostly close-up style with the artwork and because of the bright smiles and clean designs it has a very appealing look. The navigation along the right side is pretty minimal, which is to be expected, but it makes it quick and easy to get to the content and run with it. Submenus load very quickly and without problems, though I continue to be annoyed that FUNimation’s release do not check player presets for language options.
The only extras to survive this transition are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences, as none of the translation notes or other text oriented pieces made it here.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After an initial series that introduced young Kazuki to the world of doujinshi and got him on a roll as a creator alongside instigator Taishi, Comic Party Revolution advances the storyline a little bit, just barely. Taking place with Kazuki now in college and others have moved on to the workforce, those whose love is doujinshi find challenges in finding the time and energy to create such things while the real world moves in around them.
The original series was pretty fun as it did a fair number of parodies and cute looks at the world of manga and anime, but more so at the fans and the way they live and operate. It had its moments where you got a glimpse at some of the darker sides but for the most part it was something of a mild love letter towards the medium and didn’t stray too far from the usual routines. The setup of the show even made the fact that Kazuki was surrounded by a number of women something that didn’t seem completely out of the ordinary. The way that the circle he became involved in grew was fairly natural, as is the competition that it brought in the form of Eimi.
Revolution does carry on with most of that but with the mild twist of them now being a bit older and wiser in the ways of the selling markets as well as having a bit more popularity. Kazuki isn’t the biggest thing out there but he’s doing fairly well and has mastered the comic party events themselves all while balancing it against college. Unlike the first series though, these first five episodes don’t have any real driving force behind them. The original series had us along with Kazuki learning the ropes of this worlds doujinshi artists and the trials they face. This was mirrored with the storyline about Mizuki and her lack of understanding of all of it while trying to make sure she got into the relationship with Kazuki that she wanted. That was naturally stymied by there being so many girls near him, with reason to be, and their minor infatuations with him.
Here, the doujinshi side seems to take a bit more of a back seat to the groups’ antics and troubles. This isn’t all that surprising considering the way this series came to light. After the relative success of the first series, a two-episode OVA series was decided upon so that would just be short stories. Then it was expanded to four episodes which again kept to standalone stories. From there, those four OVAs were then edited slightly and turned into TV episodes and the series went up to the usual thirteen. So these opening episodes don’t have much in the way of a real story since they were never intended to. And to some extent, I think that hurts it a lot. There isn’t a lot of real continuity among them and they play out in such a way the characters aren’t really introduced properly since they assume you’re coming from the TV show.
A couple of episodes revolve around the doujinshi, such as the opening one where they hit up the latest Comic Party event to sell the books and we get slightly reacquainted with everyone in their new roles. Another episode later one has Aya helping out someone who wants to write and draw a romantic doujinshi but can’t do it since she’s never been on a date herself. The concept of experience being the best teacher is definitely understood though the execution of it is pretty weak. Aya sets her up on a date with Kazuki, complete with Mizuki’s reluctant permission, and the two head to a theme park for their date. It certainly lives up to the idea of a very innocent date but you have a hard time really thinking it’ll give the aspiring writer any real experience for her writing.
A lot of the show doesn’t revolve around the doujinshi but other group activities. One episode focuses on the obvious summer beach trip. It’s a problem for Eimi since her grades are so low that she’s going to have to do remedial classes. Kazuki’s intent on going to the beach with everyone but he doesn’t want her to either skip doing her work or lug it all over the place so she has to deal with that all while she sees everyone else getting in gear for it. It’s one of the lesser forms of a beach episode but it’s not uncommon. Another mostly doujinshi unrelated episode focuses around a sudden baseball match between Eimi’s team and Kazuki’s circle. Kazuki’s team is most definitely the underdogs as they at first don’t even have enough players and then just suck in those who came to help make the uniforms. Things do veer back a bit more when the first official TV episode plays out as it shifts into cosplay territory but overall it’s something of an uneven mix of content throughout the series as a whole.
If the overarching storyline to the entire animated franchise is Taishi’s world domination, it doesn’t really get dealt with in a meaningful way. The first series at least had the focus on learning the ropes of ComiPa and the basics of creating doujinshi as well as the culture that surrounds it. The shift to having the cast in the working field isn’t a bad one, but the creation of doujinshi and the trials within take a back seat for the most part. Essentially, for the core cast of characters who are making doujinshi, they’ve mastered it and we’re instead spending time focusing mostly on their lives.
Some of it plays into the doujinshi world a bit, such as the episode that deals with the printers and the trouble that Chisa and her father are going through with the shop. It does a nice segue into the history of printing and the importance of it, but it’s more focused on having everyone come together to help out. We’ve seen this done before in somewhat different ways in this series and the last one so it’s nothing too terribly new beyond trying to tie Chisa closer together with everyone else. Another episode just deals with the rivalries that the girls see between each other when Taishi operates as the judge in a series of tennis matches that they’re all involved in. Kazuki, like in a lot of things it seems lately, takes a back seat to everything and isn’t all that much of a presence in it. The main problem with it is that the show has grown the cast of girls so quickly now that the core ones you like the most initially get much less time and the new ones don’t get enough to differentiate themselves beyond their stereotypes.
Towards the end of the series, Comic Party Revolution feels like they managed to try and fix some of the issues that the series ended up having due to its origins. The final three episodes deals with keeping the cast small and much more manageable. With so many girls in the show over the course of the two series it gets to be rather unwieldy at times. What’s more, it gets beyond the believable that there are so many doujinshi related girls that are interested in Kazuki and form around him like this. Naturally, part of what the show is about is pure wish fulfillment so it’s no surprise but when all of them are on the screen at the same time it just pushes past a certain level of believability.
Where things start to get back on track with the whole manga thing is when Mizuki starts giving Kazuki grief about not thinking about his future career more. There are three more years until they’re out of college and he doesn’t have a plan yet! The horror! Between this and his general problems in getting his doujinshi done, he’s unsure of what to really do. Aya has an idea though and takes him to meet a friend of hers who is an editor at Comic Z magazine. Aya’s trying to be subtle by showing him how the professional side of things works and to inspire him to do more with his doujinshi first. The two have an interesting day together but at the same time we get to see Mizuki going through the day with an editor of the anime magazine and understanding how that world works. It seems a bit odd that she’d go that route considering she’s not entirely happy with what Kazuki’s doing but it shows her going the distance to be closer to him.
This growing closeness gets more of a spotlight in the final episode as she’s finding herself more interested in doing things for him and just making sure he’s all right. Kazuki’s in the midst of working hard on his latest project for the Summer ComiPa so he’s getting seriously distracted by things and forgetting to eat. The show takes a very unwelcome twist for me though in how it brings Kazuki and Mizuki together to grow their relationship. The two have been basically destined to be together since the beginning and regardless of how many other women are thrown at him, so seeing them finally starting to get there now that they’re in college was very positive. To see Mizuki starting to be proactive in her relationship with him even with all the challenges was another plus, but then the way they dealt the twist just ruined a lot of it. It does have some good growth to it in the long run but with the twist and the way it was telegraphed it just left the episode feeling like it didn’t fit within the established continuity of the show.
But then again, any show that has someone like Taishi in it doesn’t exactly have to play within the bounds of reality or continuity. Or physics.
Comic Party Revolution is a series that had a lot of potential but its genesis worked against it in terms of telling anything near a cohesive story. Instead, it turned into a typical harem show that ignored a lot of what made it special and unique, at least at the time, involving the doujinshi aspect. There were plenty of bits related to it, but as the driving focus of Kazuki it was out of the picture far too often and almost something of a joke. This is especially in comparison to the first series. If you want more basic silliness with lots of cute girls and some fun parodies at times, Comic Party Revolution provides for that in spades. If you were hoping to see the evolution of the characters and their hopes and dreams from the first series, you’ll get a touch of it here and there but that’s it. And that is disappointing.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: C
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: C
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: October 20th, 2009
Running Time: 317 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.