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The denizens of Cromartie are all about looking tough, acting tough, rumbles, fights and all that gangster stuff. Mostly, they just talk a good game, and the action centers on Seinfeldian Conversations, (very) weird stuff happening, and a plot about as coherent and logical as Excel Saga played backwards.
The art style is cribbed heavily from classic fighting Manga such as Fist of the North Star and Crying Freeman. Characters often have inner monologues held in a Tableau, as they look off into the distance, only to be interrupted by yet another crazy situation.
Even stranger than the delinquents themselves are the oddball creatures that wander the halls. There's Mechazawa, who is a trashcan-like robot, but neither he nor his friends even seem to realize it; the protagonist hasn't worked up the courage to ask about it directly. Cromartie's other students include aliens, monkeys, and some dude who is very obviously Freddie Mercury on a horse.
The series runs in ten-minute episodes. Thirteen volumes of the original manga, and a box set of 26 anime episodes, have been released in America as of this writing, as has the Live Action Adaptation film (which makes about as much sense as the original material).
See The Ping Pong Club for a similar series.
This series contains examples of:
- Absurdly Powerful Student Council: The Four Great Ones of Cromartie (all five of them). Subverted by the fact that the only things they do is maintain their fusion of rock and badass by keeping their Kiss makeup on 24/7 (except for one of them, obviously) and talk about trivial things.
- The Ace: Hideki Takahashi in the manga, with those...things on top of his head. How perfect is he? For starters, he always carries both his cell phone and TV remote around with him.
- Affectionate Parody: The manga is a very broad spoof of Sakigake!! Otokojuku!"
- Art Shift: Whenever one of Kamiyama's old friends show up.
- Art Style Dissonance: The show is a lot goofier than the realistic art style would imply.
- Ascended Extra: The manga-ka lampshades this by noting how most characters who were intended to be one-offs ended up becoming more prominent than the so-called protagonist, Kamiyama. Though considering the nature of the series, this was probably completely intentional.
- Author Avatar: Eiji Nonaka stars in separate, non-related comics (usually titled "LOVE NONA" or otherwise) that deal with his own life and other manga-related stuff.
- Badass Biker: Kamiyama and Moto-Mechazawa.
- Badass Nickname: Akira Maeda decides on the "Dragon of Razors" and Hokuto's lackey decides on "The American Dream", but since they have no presence at all, well, no one calls them by those names.
- There's also "Fireball of Junior No. 2", "Hospitalizer of Junior No. 3", and "Masa (Victory by default)".
- Badass on Paper: Comically applied when the guys are trying to decide who was the most badass (they don't just duke it out - they never just duke it out). One of the guys has a reputation based entirely on guys being too scared of him to try him out. (Their 'jury' remains out as to whether that was impressive or not by the time the plot moves on).
- Blue with Shock: Pictured above. Also happens to Kamiyama and Hayashida when everyone fails to realize that Mechazawa is a robot, as well as many other instances.
- The Cameo: Episode 25 features Maeda receiving advice on how to be a cat from Dijiko of Di Gi Charat.
Maeda: Now, what else can I do to be a cat?
Dijiko: Put on a bow, nyo~!
Maeda: I'll add "nya" to the end of my sentences.
Dijiko: "Nyo" is a gazillion times better than "nya" is, nyo~!
- And then Puchiko shows up at the end of the show, too.
Dijiko: I recommend adding "nyo" to the ends of sentences, nyo~!
Puhiko: "Nyu" is good too, nyu~!
- Cast Full of Pretty Boys: Hilariously Subverted, with an (almost) all-male cast full of extremely unattractive 'high-schoolers' who look way too old and masculine for their age. Justified because no woman in her right mind would work at Cromartie. Inverted for the last episode in a manner that is either hilarious or nauseating.
- Cat Boy: Poor Maeda... Also, in the pseudo-Gender Bender sequence in episode 26, Mechazawa appears with cat ears.
- Class Trip: ranging from a bus trip to Nikko, to an attempted flight to Kyushuu, to a bullet train headed for Kyoto. Besides the fact that it's unusual for a High School to have three class trips, Takenouchi also has to overcome his motion sickness in these areas. Hilarity ensues.
- Comically Missing the Point: The characters tend to do this often, especially considering grave situations they would be in.
- Cool Bike: Moto-Mechazawa.
- Creator Cameo
- Cut Short: The English release of the manga, due to ADV's collapse.
- Don't Try This At Home: "The guys that appear in this anime are delinquents. Please, do not under any circumstances, imitate anything they do. Don't do it man, I'm serious, it's a bad idea!" (The last line is from in the English version only.)
- Though this itself is really more of a joke. Of the few possible things that happen, most of it is harmless.
- Dramatic Unmask: Inverted - someone shows up to Cromartie High School, saying and proving that he's a changed man and is tired of playing it safe. Of course, nobody seems to know who he is despite his good advice. His name? Masked Takenouchi, of course! "I FORGOT TO PUT ON THE MASK!"
- Dream Sequence: Hokuto has a bunch of these, but there are plenty to go around.
- Ear Worm: In-Universe. The entire premise of one episode, in which Hayashida (and later Kamiyama as well) tries to remember where a particular tune he heard Mechazawa hum came from. No one else can remember it either. This culminates in the entire school standing up and humming it at the end of the episode, for about as long as it's possible to get away with in a ten-minute episode.
- For those of you who have watched the episode, the song was Ningen Nante by Yoshida Takuro, who also wrote the show's theme.
- Elephant in the Living Room: Mechazawa being a robot.
- Enemy Eats Your Lunch: Parodied like no tomorrow. Don't drop your pencil, or the fat guy will eat it while you watch.
- Epistolary Novel: Some episodes and chapters begin with Kamiyama writing a letter to his mother.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Quite a few characters (Maeda's mom, the Masked Takenouchi, Pootan's friend), but especially Hokuto's Lackey, who gets several episodes' worth of The Un-Reveal for it. They eventually decide not to care for knowing his name after all, because if they did, that would ruin all the personality he's acquired among them.
- Everything's Better with Monkeys:
- Everything's Better with Princesses: The first half of episode 26 recycles most of the Running Gags transposed in a girl's school where the (barely disguised) cast obsesses over being princesses instead of being tough.
- Expressive Hair: Noboru Yamaguchi with the Funny Afro and Hayashida's mohawk.
- Expy: From the manga, the Manuel High School student named Shimada ("Call me... Shimada.") is good with computers, and looks like a very young Dr. Eggman, complete with mustache and dark glasses, minus the fat.
- Extreme Omnivore: Sometimes the delinquents will make a point to be as obstructive or menacing as possible. One such point is one of them eating an entire case worth of pencils. In one bite. Granted, he threw up afterwards, but it disturbed the victim to no end.
- Fan Disillusionment: Osamu Kido is Pootan's biggest fan, and when he learns that someone else is in Pootan's place signing autographs...
- Gag Series
- Genius Bonus: When Mechazawa is feeling depressed over a girl and expresses he wants to start over, the book he is reading is by Goethe (the author of The Sorrows of Young Werther).
- Hand Puppet: Akira Nakao and Mick.
- Hey, It's That Voice!: The Japanese voice actor for Shinichi Mechazawa is Chiyo's dad, who also plays Cell, Johnny, and Emperor Charles zi Britannia. His English voice actor played complete loser Watanabe and the King of France, among other roles. No matter what, his voice actors all lend him that Badass flavor!
- The English voice actor for Chiyo-Dad plays Hokuto in this series.
- High School: Duh.
- Hostage Situation: Takenouchi accidentally encourages a bunch of hijackers to carry out a plane hijacking. Also, any time that Akira Maeda gets kidnapped by Bass High.
- Hypocritical Humor: Early on with Mechazawa, and somewhat apparent in the situations Fujimoto gets in.
- Identical Stranger:
- Hokuto's butler happens to look exactly like an older version of Hayashida. At first, Hokuto thought he was Hayashida's grandfather, but when the two met neither had any idea who the other one was.
- During Takenouchi's unfortunate detour to Russia (USA in the Manga) during a school trip, he meets a mafioso who looks exactly like Freddie, named Mr. Mercury. The two have never heard of each other. And in the Manga, when Takenouchi wonders if he's ever been to Japan, Mr. Mercury proclaims that he's never been to Japan and he doesn't even like Japan at all.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: It's always a rock song or album ("OK Computer", for example).
- Laser-Guided Karma: Fujimoto punching out Tanaka, who had been trolling him on the Internet without either knowing who the other was.
- Lemony Narrator: At the end of every manga chapter the narrator snarks at the characters. This happens in the anime as well.
- Limited Animation: Done deliberately and spoofed like the series does with many other tropes. As Kamiyama puts it at the beginning of episode 2:
"I'm getting sick of this. If you have any complaints, then watch the anime a thousand times over. [gets suddenly shocked] WHAT ANIME?! It's not even moving!!! [his pencil falls to the ground] Ah! It moved!!"
- Live Action Adaptation: The 2005 movie.
- Local Hangout: The South Wind Cafe.
- Measuring Day
- Megumi Hayashibara: Maeda's Mom, if you can believe it.
- Made even funnier given that Maeda's Mom never speaks a word or even makes a sound.
- She does make a sound, although it's just an annoyed moan.
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Cromartie's students include robots, aliens, monkeys, and some dude who is very obviously Freddie Mercury.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Freddie is clearly (somehow) Freddie Mercury, the plainly deceased frontman of the band Queen. Several other characters share names with famous Japanese people.
- No Fourth Wall: Viewers are advised to read the manga if they are lost due to the plot.
- Norio Wakamoto: Mechazawa.
"Such a sober voice!"
- No Smoking: Smoking is prevalent in the manga, but in the anime the delinquents smoke CG blobs instead. Like everything else this is played for laughs as the blobs bounce when the smoker is talking, along with other physics defying feats. Smoke rises from them instead of the ends of the 'cigarettes'.
- Only Sane Man: Kamiyama has elements of this at the start, but it gets shared between him and others (Takenouchi in the fifth episode). Maeda tends to fill this role more than anyone else once Kamiayma's straight-laced tendencies begin to grow a little extreme, especially in the manga.
- Hokuto and Hokuto's Lackey both show some signs of this, especially Hokuto's Lackey.
- Out of Focus: Kamiyama was originally the unequivocal star of the series, but became less prominent as time went on. This is endlessly and explicitly referred to in the character bios present in each volume. It seems in later volumes that the main characters are essentially Hayashida, Maeda, Hokuto's Henchman, Masked Takenouchi, the Gorilla, and then Kamiyama.
- The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Lampshaded in episode 22, when the gangsters try recruiting Freddie and Gorilla to take on the Bass High students. While they acknowledge their toughness and scariness, they also point out that they never do anything.
- Pose of Supplication
- Quarter Hour Short
- Running Gag: Several
- Nobody (including Mechazawa himself!) except the main characters realizing that Mechazawa is robot.
- Hokuto's Lackey being interrupted before he can tell someone his name.
- Talking about the basball team and some one saying, "Hokuto still sucks at bunting".
- Takenouchi having an inner monologue where he introduces himself, states his status as leader of the first year students, and talking about his secret motion sickness issues.
- School Uniforms Are the New Black: Kamiyama wears his school uniform even when going out for shopping and stopping local gangsters with his super powered Mechazawa Motorcycle.
- Seinfeldian Conversation
- Shout-Out: By the boatloads.
- Freddie, who's a direct tribute to Freddie Mercury of Queen.
- His Cool Horse, Kokuryuu, riffed straight from Raoh's steed Koku-oh.
- In the anime, to director Hiroaki Sakurai's other productions --at one point, Kamiyama temporarily morphs into a shojo character with sparkling eyes during his introspection.
- Also in the anime, Dejiko makes a bit appearance, to advice Maeda on his Cat Boy impression.
- Show Within a Show: "Pootan".
- Sitting on the Roof
- Something Completely Different: Episode 24 has a "Gorilla works in a sushi bar" story with none of the regular cast.
- Spam Attack: Mechazawa does it in movie.
- Stock Footage: Kamiyama and Hayashida's Reaction Shot in episode 2 of the anime.
- Strange Minds Think Alike
- Strong Family Resemblance: Maeda and his mom (and dad in the manga).
- Stylistic Suck:
- Pootan is just terrible. And it's supposed to be awful, but for some mysterious reason is incredibly popular in-universe.
- The entire anime itself. Refer to Limited Animation above, plus the odd animation quirks (characters doing random things on the background, the different movements of Hayashida's mohawk, the camera distortions on close-ups on the characters...) One episode, for example, had a sequence of Hayashida and Kamiyama talking as they walk - but, instead of them moving normally, the background stays static while they walk back and forth across the screen as if everyone did that!
- Surreal Theme Tune: The opening tune is pretty mellow. The imagery... not so much.
- Take That: Episode 2 opens with the protagonist ranting about fans that complain when their favorite manga is made into an anime... only to lampshade anime's money-saving habits, like showing a character thinking to himself while sitting still.
- Theme Naming: All of the schools are named after foreigners playing for Japanese baseball teams, most notably Warren Cromartie, who was also a minor star for the Montreal Expos in the 1970s.
- There's also the other high school names that are after other foreign players who have played in NPB including Randy Bass, Orestes Destrade, Andy Bernazard, and current Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel.
- Theme Tune Cameo: Subverted HARD in Episode 3: Hmm hmm hm-hm-hmm hmm-hmm hm-hm-hm-hmmm-hm-hm. It's Ningen Nante by Yoshida Takuro, who also wrote and sang the show's theme.
- There Are No Adults: Or, more accurately, there are no teachers. Or responsible adults in an actual position of authority.
- Averted in the manga. There are actual teachers in Cromartie (three of them so far), and even they wonder why the hell they're letting a gorilla wander around in the school.
- This Is Reality: One of the most frequently used forms of Lampshade Hanging in the series, with lines like "They don't even put that kind of crap in manga nowadays!"
- Transfer Student Uniforms: Hokuto, who transferred to the wrong school.
- Troll: Fujimoto encounters several of these in his time on the internet.
- Two-Teacher School: Taken to the extreme, as no teachers are introduced until volume 11 of the manga (and none of them show up in the anime).
- The Un-Reveal: Hokuto's henchman tries to reveal his name to the others.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Lots. Sometimes subverted as the unusual sight get noticed, but is shrugged off as normal since nobody else seems to be affected by it.
- Vomit Discretion Shot: When Takenouchi throws up in the intro, Kamiyama emerges from his mouth instead of his lunch.
- Wacky Homeroom
- Weaksauce Weakness: Takenouchi is a fearsome fighter and a respected leader. The problem? He gets motion sickness just by climbing on any kind of vehicle.
- What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?
- What Do You Mean It's Not Heinous?: Kamiyama gains a reputation as an extremely "bad dude" when he tells his classmates of the time he sabotaged a domino-toppling world record attempt.
- What If: The guys like to pop off a lot of "What if..." scenarios that are sometimes relevant to the case/situation/dilemma at hand.
- Why Am I Ticking?: One story has Mechazawa with a bomb strapped to his head, but the students give up in disarming him because they aren't professional enough to do so.
- World of Badass