Wednesdays Watching Anime – Cromartie High School
March 19, 2015 § 1 Comment
We’re a day late, but this week, we’re talking about the OP for Cromartie High School, “Jun” by Yoshida Takuro!
Ben: I don’t really like Cromartie High School as an anime, but I love it as an OP. With the anime, I have to put up with the idiosyncratic pacing of Japanese gag comedy. Oftentimes, the setup of the joke itself gives away its punchline, but I’m expected to wait thirty or forty-five seconds until the show is ready to acknowledge that. It’s not necessarily bad, but it’s an exhausting way to enjoy what is supposed to be humor.
On the other hand, the OP asks almost nothing from me. I just watch it and let the absurdities flow over me. “Hey, there are robots in school uniforms and men in rabbit suits. Is that Freddie Mercury? Man, that guy’s afro is hilariously large.” There’s none of the anime’s groundwork that’s laid using the stereotypes of juvenile delinquents in fiction. The OP just relies on the power of the art to convey that Kamiyama is a serious student attending a school full of violent and eccentric assholes. In that respect, it somewhat anticipates the format of micro-anime comedies like Plastic Nee-San and Teekyuu. It’s not hard to see how something like that would take off when ADV Films licensed it for the American market in the mid-2000s. At that time, truly great anime like Azumanga Daioh, Excel Saga, and FLCL were being sold, at least to me, on the strength of how random and wacky they were. Cromartie acquits itself just fine on that count, even though it’s not quite of the same caliber elsewhere.
Really, the music for the OP conveys that wackiness almost as much as it conveys any actual meaning from the anime. Yoshida’s “Jun” sounds very much like a protest song, a catchy one at that, but its lyrics about overcoming the moral decay of modern society through just and upright brotherhood are totally at odds with a show that revels in the absurd and self-defeating posturing of its characters. It’s almost like the song is begging them to follow its advice, to no avail. Blindly, they strut through the halls of Cromartie High, in the best .gif there ever was.
Katie: I am almost disappointed that Ben noticed the Freddie Mercury guy in the OP. That was the one observation I had. No, the other observation is that despite the show not being that old, the art style is very ’80s. According to my source of choice, Wikipedia, that’s intentional: “The series is a parody of Japanese yankii (juvenile delinquent) manga of the 1970s and 1980s.”
This show looks fun. Terribly serious-looking juvenile deliquents not reacting to things (covered wagons?). I may actually watch this.
Oh, the Freddie Mercury guy is named “Freddie.” Okay. And the gorilla is a major character.
Ben: I’m not actually sure if Freddie is supposed to be Freddie Mercury or just look like him. The distinction really isn’t important to the other characters. Did Freddie Mercury ever own a horse? Freddie in Cromartie owns a horse.
Actually, now that I’m watching the OP again, it does push the one-trick characters like Freddie really hard. That goes back to my initial statement about how the OP forces the show to sell its gags at a pace more familiar to Western audiences. There’s no real effort made to relate how everyone’s a little scared of Kamiyama for being so normal, or how Kamiyama wants to be a comedian despite his extremely tame sense of humor, or how Hokuto wants all the students to submit to him as their ruler but doesn’t really know how to make them.
I actually like Hokuto a lot, but I think I just like “ojou-sama” characters with odd facial features in any show. I mean, looking for better versions of the above .gif, I found this image on Tumblr and I can’t resist posting it, because Kiryuin Satsuki from KILL la KILL is also great.
Yeah! Wake up, America!