Reviewby Christopher Macdonald, May 7th 2004
DVD: A New World
Ever wondered how doujinshi are made? Kazuki never did, but much to his chagrin his oddball friend Taishi knows all about them and plans to use doujinshi over the world. Even worse, he's decided that Kazuki will create the comics for him. What follows is an amusing plunge into the world of the “fan-comic”.
Much like anime's other great mockumentary, Otaku no Video, Comic Party is a sort of in-joke, a hilarious, self-defacing look at a certain aspect of Otaku culture. Comic Party will undoubtedly be enjoyed by any comedy fan who has a healthy interest in manga, especially if the interest covers the doujinshi-side of things. One doesn't need to be a complete and utter devotee of doujinshi to enjoy this show, but some interest is a pre-requisite.
Comic Party doesn't have a great plot, but it's still very entertaining. After delivering a long-winded speech about challenging oneself, Taichi drags his friends Kazuki and Mizuki to a doujinshi convention. Kazuki's experience, although not quite enjoyable, is just enough to leave him curious enough to look further into the world of doujinshi. Mizuki, on the other hand, can't get beyond the smelly, crowded and noisy atmosphere, all of which compels her to stay far away from anything that's even remotely related to doujinshi. As you can imagine, she isn't very supportive of Kazuki's further exploration of doujinshi. But of course, the story must go on, and Kazuki ends up drawing his very own Doujin for an upcoming convention. Mizuki's grumbling about doujinshi, Taishi's oddbal antics, and a few of the other supporting characters provide the majority of the comedy relief as they interact with the relatively deadpan Kazuki. The result is an on-screen farce that entertains with its unlikely plot, physical comedy, and verbal humor.
Main characters are all well cast, although the casting of Yuu's voice is somewhat questionable. Yuu is a bit of a country girl, and she speaks with a noticeable accent. While the Japanese dub gives her a cute-squeaky girl voice, the English dub manages to show her “different-ness” well, but rather than giving her the squeaky voice, she's the exact opposite: low and gruff. It's not really a miscast, as there's nothing to her character that requires her to be squeaky-cute, but it certainly makes her seem like a completely different person. Unfortunately, the English dub features some complete miscasts for some of the minor characters. Mizuki's shopping friend sounds like she's in her 20s or 30s as opposed to being a teenager, and the shy, demure Aya Hasebe doesn't sound shy or demure at all. Most importantly however, Kazuki, Mizuki and Taishi are all appropriately cast, with actors that sound the part and act the part appropriately well. Although Kazuki is the main character, Taishi was perhaps TRSI's biggest opportunity to mess up one of the voices, and Liam O'Brian plays the part beautifully.
There's a lot of expository dialogue in Comic Party. Normally, this would be a bad thing, but luckily, most of it is delivered by Taishi. An overzealous fanboy that delivers impassioned speeches with flames in the background, he seems just like the type to do such a thing and pulls it off nicely. On the downside, the other characters don't seem to have this same explanatory knack, so the show's rather dull and strung out on these occasions.
For the most part the dub script does a good job of adequately “approximating” the original Japanese. It stays true to the meaning of the original without being stilted, stiff, or literal. However, in a few cases the dub script inaccurately conveys the original script's meaning. One of the more obvious examples of this is in the 3rd episode when Taishi is explaining that convention organizers could refuse a doujinshi based on its content. In the English dub it seems as if he's suggesting t they do this on a whim.
Comic Party is a visually pleasing show, with pleasant—though unoriginal—character designs, especially the female ones, which are particularly fine but also particularly unoriginal. Colors are rich and vibrant through out the series, but the animation isn't very advanced, relying heavily on “lazy animation” techniques like panning, looping, and completely static backgrounds. As long as you don't expect to be blown away, Comic Party is capably animated.
Extras on this disc are plentiful and good. My favorites are the translator's notes and the bonus episode. There's also an image gallery with some 25-odd sketches, Character Bios for Kazuki, Mizuki and Taishi, and a hilarious interview with their Japanese VAs.
Right Stuf's dedication to putting out quality DVDs is just as evident in Comic Party as with their previous series. From the well-made main menu and associated sound and animation to the great digital transfer, the production values are top notch. Combined with a fun story, a decent dub and tons of extras, Comic Party's a great disc to add to any Otaku's collection.
Overall (dub) : B
Overall (sub) : B+
Story : B+
Animation : B-
Art : B+
Music : A-
+ Certain to get a laugh out of any manga-otaku
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