Cromartie High School v1

Cromartie High School Volume 1

Story and art by Eiji Nonaka
Translation by Brendan Frayne

I'd originally intended to write about Appleseed Book 3 today, but I figured I'd write this review while everything was still fresh in my mind...

Tokyo Metropolitan Cromartie High School is, quite frankly, the worst high school in Japan. The entrance standards are low, the student body is composed entirely of juvenile delinquents straight from the pages of a bad shonen manga, and every day is an orgy of gang violence. Enter Takashi Kamiyama, age 16, who is determined to prove that a dedicated student can learn in any environment...

Of course, this is all played for laughs.

Cromartie's student body is strange beyond measure - the "ordinary" students are outrageously colorful gang toughs, and the more unusual ones include gorillas, robots, and Freddy Mercury. Kamiyama seems to be the only normal one in the bunch - but he adapts rather quickly to the situation, perhaps too quickly. Each episode starts out with a familiar situation grounded in manga cliche - rescuing kidnapped classmates, confronting transfer students, and figuring out who's the strongest of all. But each story is to pushed into ever-stranger territory by a combination of extreme personalities and bizarre reasoning. Here's brief excerpt from chapter four, where the bookish Kamiyama is inexplicably identified as one of the toughest guys in his class... (This is an unflopped manga, so this reads right to left.)

Cromartie High School v1, p. 25Cromartie High School, p. 25

Cromartie High School is illustrated in a stiff, Ryoichi Ikegami-esque style that instantly evokes the atmosphere of a gritty, ultraviolent high school. It's not great - the drawing is only s-so at best, the storytelling is nothing to speak of, and Nonaka has a very limited range of facial expressions and poses - but it's entirely appropriate for the stories he's trying to tell.

This is funny stuff, folks. Check it out.

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