Reviewby Theron Martin, Oct 15th 2006
Comic Party Revolution
DVD 1: Let's Get this Party Started!
Foray once again into the world of doujinshi as we rejoin Kazuki and Mizuki in their college years. Kazuki seems to be spending much of his time with shy fellow doujin Aya, whose books just aren't selling well at ComiPa (aka Comic Party, the series' version of the real-world Comiket conventions). Advice and mentoring is sought from their fellow doujinshi enthusiasts, who are all too eager to lend their assistance. Though Taishi frets over her plans for world domination, Eimi's greatest concerns are actually sparring with “Hot Springs Panda” Yu and making sure that no one knows that she has to take remedial summer school, which she's convinced could prevent her from making a summer trip to the beach. When scheduling conflict between her and Yu concerning the next ComiPa cannot be resolved any other way, a baseball game involving the whole group is proposed to settle the issue.
Comic Party Revolution (hereafter CPR) was originally made as a four-episode OVA, but those four episodes were later edited and reused as the first four episodes of the CPR TV series. The original Comic Party TV series invited comparisons to the classic fandom parody Otaku No Video, but this follow-up series, with its focus on the crazy world of doujinshi and the people who make them, is more likely to be compared to the much more recent Genshiken. That's unfortunate for CPR, as based on its first volume it is by far the inferior title of the two.
Both Genshiken and CPR share a focus on elements of otakudom, but the approaches they take are entirely different. Whereas Genshiken samples from a broad swath of fandom and takes an introspective and loving look at the nature and philosophy of fandom, CPR focuses specifically on doujinshi and structures itself more like a quasi-harem romantic comedy – in other words, the doujinshi elements are more the setting or gimmick than the actual focus. It also depends on zany characters, parodies, slapstick, and other typical anime comedic elements in its attempts to be funny, while Genshiken took a more realistic look at otaku and usually derived its more mild humor from the eccentricities inherent in fandom. Basically, Genshiken took the high road and CPR took the low road, and through the first three episodes that low road is looking mighty muddy.
CPR starts off assuming that the viewer is already familiar with the cast from the original series, although a newcomer should be able to work out the basic character relationships within an episode or two. It also starts off really bad, with a mind-numbingly stupid episode of overblown gags about participating in ComiPa and giving Aya coaching on her doujinshi to help her actually make some sales. (We're not talking Green Green-level badness here, but it's truly not good.) It's followed by an equally stupid episode which is mostly about Eimi's brainless efforts to keep her summer school participation a secret. Things do pick up in the baseball-contest episode, which actually achieves a moderate level of funny, but one respectable episode out of the first three doesn't cut it.
CPR also suffers from a lack of distinction in its artistry and music. All the character designs are completely stereotypical for anime romantic comedies, although in some cases that is doubtless intentional for parody purposes. The cosplay outfits which pop up at various points get a little more distinctive, and the background art is decent, but the amount of fan service is surprisingly low given the girl-heavy cast. The opening and closing themes are equally bland, and the background music in between is also run-of-the-mill except for some interesting sound effects.
The English VAs, which are a mix of long-time ADV regulars and newcomers, try to compensate for the substandard material by really hamming up the performances, including the use of pronounced accents to reflect the odd speech patterns some of the characters have in Japanese. Most went at least a little overboard, resulting in a dub that often sounds too brash and is likely to annoy fans of the original seiyuu. Some roles are fine (especially Taishi's bluster), but Tiffany Grant's attempt at portraying Yu with a Brooklyn accent and attitude is hideous, and hers isn't the only miscue. It's also an entirely different English cast than the original series, as the first was done by Right Stuf but this one was picked up by ADV. The script stays as tight as one could reasonably expect for a comedy series, even retaining the heavily-used "hot springs panda" insult despite the fact that it makes no sense in English. Overall it's not a disastrously bad dub, but it's not one of ADV's better ones.
The highlights of the volume are its packaging and extras. In a clever play on the series' subject matter, the cover is printed traditional manga-style, so that the case seems to be opening on the left rather than the right. The back of the reversible cover includes text interviews with the seiyuu for Mizuki and Aya, while a healthy set of Extras can also be found on the disk itself. Among these are clean opener and closer, additional seiyuu text interviews, profiles of the seiyuu (no pictures, unfortunately), and background information and timeline on the Comic Party franchise. Also included is a breakdown of doujinshi-related terms which come up throughout the series.
The third episode of this five-episode first volume shows that CPR has at least the potential to be entertaining, but with two episodes of stupidity preceding it the first volume is more of a miss than a hit.
Overall (dub) : C-
Overall (sub) : C
Story : C-
Animation : C+
Art : B-
Music : C+
+ Shows flashes of solid humor, good extras.
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