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Sakigake! Cromartie High School: The Movie
  |     review    |     availability     |


DVD (Japan)
Region 2 NTSC
King Records
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Japanese Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English subtitles
Various Extras

Year: 2005
Director: Yudai Yamaguchi
Writer: Eiji Nonaka (original manga), Itsuji Itao, Shoichiro Masumoto
Cast: Takamasa Suga, Mitsuki Koga, Hiroshi Yamamoto, Watanabe Hiroyuki, Toshihiro Takayama, Itshji Itao, Noboru Kaneko, Shinji Takeda, Shoichiro Masumoto, Kai Ato
The Skinny: Fans of the Cromartie High School manga should find this movie version to be a gas, as it suitably captures the spirit - if not the wannabe-Crying Freeman visual style of the manga. This is fun stuff for fans, though the uninitated may be understandably unimpressed.
by Kozo:

     Get ready for weirdness. Sakigake! Cromartie High School: The Movie is not for everyone, nor does it pretend to be. Based on the hit manga from Eiji Nonaka, the film posits a wacky high school full of delinquents who simply can't seem to get a clue. Aside from your standard faceless wannabe toughs, Cromartie High is home to a gorilla, a Freddie Mercury-wannabe, and a robot that doesn't know he's a robot. The toughest guy in the school has the same name as a gorgeous heartthrob idol AND is afflicted with an incredibly embarrassing penchant for motion sickness. There are also aliens who look like gorillas, and are intent on taking over the world. The key to their conquest: start at Cromartie High. Yeah, this is one screwed up movie.
     Thankfully, there's one normal guy: Takashi Kamiyama (Takamasa Suga), who applied to Cromartie to accompany his slowwitted pal Yamamoto. Sadly, Yamamoto didn't get in, meaning Kamiyama is stuck among Cromartie's weird denizens all by his lonesome. Still, Kamiyama's normalcy is completely relative, as he's a few quarts shy himself. When overacting wannabe boss Hokuto (Noboru Kaneko) claims he's out to stop some grand evil, Kamiyama buys in and forms a completely ineffective "self-defense force" consisting of himself, pals Hayashida (Mitsuki Koga) and Maeda (Hiroshi Yamamoto), and the other misfits of Cromartie. Then the group walks around in uniforms and pontificates on how to stop the unnamed encroaching evil, though they apparently have no idea what the hell that evil really is. They also wonder aloud if robot Mechazawa is really a robot, and generally do nothing that makes any sense. When the alien gorillas do show up, the bottom completely drops out. Random characters show up out of nowhere, as well as a tag-team comedy duo known as "Pootan". Consisting of two guys in ridiculous white or pink padded outfits, Pootan is supposed to be all the rage on television. If your reaction to that is "What the Hell?", then congratulations: you're sane.
     But if you're lost or confused, then you probably have no business watching this film. Sakigake! Cromartie High School is pretty much for fans, a point made clear by the big cameo of afro-sporting Noboru Yamaguchi (Shoichiro Matsumoto), a gang boss at rival Destrade High. Yamaguchi can't understand what the deal is with Pootan, especially since he's an aspiring comedian himself. Yes, he's a gang boss who wants to be a comedian, and his appearance will mean nothing to the audience unless they happen to follow the Cromartie High School manga or anime - in which case Yamaguchi's cameo may be accompanied by hooting, hollering, or some other sign of blind fanaticism. Pretending that Sakigake! Cromartie High School is accessible or for mass audiences would be folly of epic proportions. Basically, if you're not already a fan of Cromartie High School, then this movie will likely not convert you. It's that esoteric.
     And if you do happen to be a fan of Cromartie High School? Well, then you're in luck, because the live-action movie can amuse in very much the same deadpan silly way. It's nowhere near as successful as the manga, as part of the manga's success is with its medium. Author Eiji Nonaka illustrates his Cromartie misfits in a cool, tough-looking style reminiscent of manga artist Ryoichi Ikegami (Crying Freeman). The characters' stiff, stalwart appearance makes them seem like serious badasses - which is one reason why their off-the-wall antics can be so hilarious. Cromartie spoofs its actual medium (manga) with its outlandish characters and even more odd humor. The live-action film is hard-pressed to accomplish that, as the actors look like cartoony wannabe thugs anyway, and not dangerous tough guys out of a serious youth gang picture. With that little bit of satire gone, Sakigake! Cromartie High School can only succeed as some sort of bizarre Valentine to the manga's devout fanbase - which it does rather effectively. Director Yudai Yamaguchi (Battlefield Baseball) has a fine talent for staging deadpan silliness, and the majority of the jokes have been proven twice before, in both the manga and the anime. As sophomoric and cheap-looking as it is, Sakigake! Cromartie High School is also good, clean, impenetrable fun. Just make sure that you're a fan. (Kozo 2006)

images courtesy of Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen