published in Empire No.65, Sydney
Certainly, Cromartie High School is as wild and wacky as they come. A completely anarchic comedy TV series based on the famous manga, it's portrayal of a high school completely peopled by riotously savage delinquents runs rings around any American depiction of 'High School hell' in teen movies. Newly-transferred Kamiyama - the only non-delinquent in the school - gives rise to all other delinquents to ponder if indeed he is the toughest there because he is not a delinquent. All gags proceed from this Beckett-like premise.
For those already attuned to anime and manga, there are numerous in-jokes that poke fun at the otaku audience. Time and again, the idea of sophisticated movement through the craft of animation is ridiculed. Those seeking a higher expression of the art of animation will be disappointed: Cromartie High School flaunts its disregard for such artistry, in place providing an amazingly inanimate anime. This, of course, is part of its humour, as many conventions of the TV anime series are parodied and disregarded. Ultimately, Cromartie High School is an affectionate mockery of the whole sub-genre of delinquent manga - particularly as the key delinquents include a toy robot, a gorilla and a mute Freddie Mercury. For no reason at all.