Wednesday, August 11, 2010

First Impressions: Comic Party

Comic Party

Company/Studio: Oriental Light and Magic
TV Station: Television Kanagawa
Licensed By: The Right Stuf International

Main Characters (Of the Episode):
• Kazuki Sendo (Sam Riegal)
• Mizuki Takase (Rachael Lillis)
• Taishi Kuhonbutsu (Liam O’Brien)
• Yu Inagawa (Georgette Reilly)

Comic Party was based off a dating sim with Hentai themes to it back in 1999 for the PC. The game would be later released onto the Dreamcast and PSP with the adult content cut out. Before the anime debuted, a few months earlier a manga based off the game would be released in 2001. There was one final anime created in 2005 that was worked on by two different companies and two different directors. Also, the title would be licensed in America like the original, but with a completely new voice cast.

The episode begins with our main character, Kazuki Sendo, making a run for his school, late as can be. Once he gets into his class, he realizes something is off. Everyone is completely different and everyone is confusing with someone else. The thing is that he is somehow stuck inside of the world of To Heart. This horrifying revelation is enough to wake up from his sleep and back into reality where his friend, Mizuki Takase is standing next to him, waiting for him to wake up.

After the opening, the two of them head out and end up running into the overly dramatic and spontaneous Taishi Kuhonbutsu near the train station. They try sneaking away from them, but he catches them and drags them along to take them to their true destinies as he calls it. He takes them to a large convention center in Odaiba where the ultimate fan comic convention is happening and nerds of all kinds have packed the place.

In the raging and stampeding crowds, Mizuki disappears, leaving Taishi to take Kazuki all over the place and buy tons of fan comics, has he calls it, part one of their destinies. They end up getting separated (though I suspect Taishi to have ditched him on purpose), leaving Kazuki by himself. Frustrated by everything, he decides to find an exit out, while running into little girls on runaway carts and convention traffic control members.

Eventually and through a strange mishap, Taishi finds getting help by a young fan comic writer called Yu Inagawa. He comments to himself about how anyone can enjoy themselves here with the noisiness and the hot temperature going on at the place. Annoyed by his attitude, Yu hands him one of her comics to read and finds that he likes her work. She then has him work with her to get an idea of a fan comic convention and understand a little more about why people like coming to these events or buying fan comics.

After helping her out and seeing her costumers, Kazuki has a bit of a better understanding and appreciation for what all of this means to the people and creators. When the whole event is over, he meets up with Taishi and Mizuki again, who is completely out of it after being lost for so long from her friends. After dropping Mizuki off at home, Taishi starts questioning Kazuki about the event and if he learned anything from it. Kazuki says while he at first found the place to be weird, he soon enjoyed himself and noticed how much fun everyone was having. Taishi then breaks out into a large and epic speech point out declaring that fan comics will be the new media to overtake world and they should get in on it, trying to escape from the mundane lives. In all honesty, it was hard to follow everything the guy said, but I’ll be damn if I wasn’t inspired by all of his speech.

Summing up his epic speech, he wants Kazuki and himself to create the ultimate fan comic that’ll ‘overtake’ the entire world. As you can imagine, Kazuki is completely lost by this speech of epic proportions but agrees to check out one more convention. The following day, their high school senior career begins and a new student has transferred in, who happens to be Yu! Our episode then ends with Taishi declaring out loud (In the middle class by the way) that all the key players are now all here and now it is time for Kazuki to draw fan comics. Of course, this revelation leaves Mizuki horrified that her friend will be getting more involved in this world.

The Good, The Bad, and Everything Else in Between:
Starting things off, let’s take a look at the animation for the show. Most of the characters look fine and all, but they are bit on the bland side with how similar it looks to a lot of other shows. No real animation failures or any editing errors as well. Though the most notable thing here is that a lot of the characters do a lot of super-deformed, face faults, or large over exaggerations that can be a bit distracting. This is most notable when Yu’s rival, Eimi Ooba, appears for the first time.

The music is quite forgettable and really does nothing to stand out grab your attention. Can’t even say if it helped added to the atmosphere or mood in the show. The opening and closing songs are pretty good though, with the opening being the best of the two of them.

I think the story is pretty good and starts off nicely being about the world of fan comics. We are introduced to the subject that we are probably not familiar with, but become interested in as the characters talk a bit about it. I also find the subject matter pretty original since there aren’t any animes out there to my knowledge that focuses on just the fandom around fan comics in Japan and what they mean to some people.

The voice work is, however, a bit of a very mixed bag I find. Kazuki sounds good, but Sam Riegel for the character makes a goof or does bad line read occasionally. Now Mizuki’s voice is just great. Rachel Lillis nails this role well by getting all of her emotions very well, especially when she is angry (Hey, she did Misty in Pok√©mon so I know she can do that great). The side characters… are where we hit a few problems. Characters that I didn’t mention in the review, like Eimi and Chisa Tsukamoto, have some annoying high pitch voices, especially with Chisa. Eimi can easily drive someone nuts when she starts yelling at Yu and calling her a panda, but I can deal with her. Speaking of which, Yu’s voice is strange. She does not sound like a high school student at all and she sounds like she has a bit of a cold as well.

However, there is one performance that can easily make you forgive these problems. That is Liam O’Brien as Taishi. Damn, this guy was just awesome! He got every point and pitch about Taishi perfectly. He got his over enthusiasm, his dramatic side, and what makes him just a blast to watch. I just love the way the guy says ‘comrade!’ or ‘my brother’ which a big emphasis on the brother. This is what I call, a perfect performance.

There is one final thing to note with this dub and that is that there a couple of edits. A few things were Americanized to be more accessible for people. I noticed this when they talking about money where the prices were in American instead of Japanese Yen. This was very noticeable since a character handed Kazuki a 500 Yen coin and the camera focused on it. It really doesn’t detract or hurt the show, but purists may have a large problem with this.

Overall Impression:
The first episode did open up the series quite well with establishing cast of the characters quite well and opening us up into the world fan comics. The animation and the music are forgettable while the voice acting is a bit annoying for a bunch of characters. This could turn you off the series or make you watch it in subtitles. I recommend giving the show at least a try though to see if you are into it. Heck, I recommend trying the dub over the sub just for the fact that Liam O’Brien is just so awesome.

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