Anime Programming in the US
Making a Living in Manga in Japan with Felipe Smith
Lost in Translation
Kazuki's life as a doujin artist bent on world domination continues unabated, even if the whole world-conquest thing is now the sole responsibility of his unhinged “brother” and business partner Taishi. One might think that life as a doujin artist would be dull drudgery with no one but unshaven, sleep-deprived obsessives for company, but no! It's actually a lively, fulfilling existence filled with lonely, needy beauties who love nothing more than drawing ecchi manga and reading your work and just generally idolizing you. Wackiness like deep forest survival games versus real soldiers and magical girl battles versus greasy, panty-peeping otaku are daily occurrences, as are tender moments during which you help grateful cosplaying or doujin-creating girls. What a wonderful existence. No wonder Kazuki keeps refusing those offers of fame and regular income that the real manga companies toss his way. I mean, who needs financial stability when you have violent tennis games and doujin-hating doppelgangers to keep you busy?
I think Comic Party: Revolution is a comedy. The manic hijinks and atonal clown music mark it as such. but it's hard to say with any certainty. After all, aren't comedies supposed to be funny? Revolution's one overriding trait is its complete unfunniness. It is a single, five-plus hour desert of hyperactive nothingness. You can tell by the caricatured stooges, wonky situations and pure obnoxious energy that it thinks it's being funny, but it simply isn't. There isn't a chuckle, giggle or laugh of any stripe to be had in the whole juiced-up, idiotic mess. Heck, it's entirely possible to mainline the whole thing without so much as cracking a smile. It's idea of humor is to mash together a couple of characters in some contrived situation and let them run willy-nilly doing their painfully limited shtick. No clever dialogue, no amusing escalation, not even any good pratfalls or sight gags (the grotesque toothed penguin that occasionally shows up doesn't count); just a bunch of one-note (or less) characters bouncing off of each other like pool balls played by a crackhead with a jackhammer.
Then it slows down and things get really bad. If the characters are too flimsy to support even character-based humor, you can imagine what happens when they're called upon to actually emote. And called they are, vigorously and frequently; much to viewers' torment. Watching Kazuki, the epitome of male-lead blandness, smarmily dispensing comfort to a series of single-trait girls who are in turn clumsily plying the audience with their nonexistent charms, trying desperately to make their inconsequential troubles affecting…well, that's a very special kind of torture. These “heartfelt” sequences are long, aggressively obvious, and mortifyingly fake. Never are the series' roots as an adult game more obvious than when in this contemplative mode. The only possible way interactions of such overpowering phoniness could ever fly is if they were quickly followed by pornographic content. By comparison the frantic ministrations of the show's attempted comedy are pure bliss.
And how do the animators choose to deliver this parade of comedic and dramatic failures? With complete apathy, of course. With the exception of the tin-eared music, nothing about the series' technical execution is bad per se; just…undistinguished. The character designs are standard AQUAPLUS—watery-eyed and attractive in an effacing, weak-willed kind of way—and the background artistry is serviceable and no more. Movement is standard-issue anime: emphasis on static compositions and frequent shortcuts, with occasional bursts of action (often parodically inclined). In a word, boring. The only thing that shows any care (aside from that very distinctive toothy penguin thing that occasionally pops in to give advice) is the fan-service. When boobs or butts claim the frame, detail levels rise, frame rates increase, and quality-control goes through the roof. No variable features or off-model body parts here. The jiggly and oft-repeated magical-girl transformation sequence (why, you ask, does a show about manga artists have a transformation sequence? I too would like to know) is about the only redeeming feature the entire series has.
Funimation has merely packed ADV's original releases onto two discs for this box set, so the blame for the dub goes to ADV. Though perhaps blame is too strong a word; after all it isn't their fault that this sloppy patchwork of parody, dating-sim romance, and otaku-culture overview saps their cast of any enthusiasm. Or that the dialogue, which they preserve with all the fidelity they can muster, is limp and stilted. And it isn't their fault, for the most part, that the helium-inhaling conventions of Japanese voice-acting are so ill-suited to the English language (and English actors). But that doesn't change the fact that the English version is far more painful even than the Japanese. It's lumpy, forced, and perfunctorily acted. That ADV goes to the extra trouble of preserving the odd honorifics and replacing Japanese accents with (admittedly bad) American ones does nothing to change that.
Comic Party's first season, while rather too preachy and definitely less hilarious than it thought it was, was at the very least educational. Not so Revolution. There is an episode late in the running that has some inside info on the workings of the manga industry (professional, not doujin), but its pedagogic tidbits are too few and too late. If you want to learn about the big, scary world of fan comics, watch the infinitely superior Genshiken. Or even the insanely insubstantial Doujin Work. It may have been lighter than Twiggy on a hunger strike, but at least it was funny.
Overall (dub) : D-
Overall (sub) : D
Story : D-
Animation : C
Art : C+
Music : D-
+ Scraps of information about the manga industry and doujin culture; doesn't cause migraines all of the time.
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