Sep 19, 2020
In our next episode of Shonen Flop, we’ll be covering Mashle: Magic and Muscles, a satirical comedy manga making fun of Harry Potter and the growing trend of magical high school anime like Little Witch Academia or The Irregular at Magic High School. The latter is a random anime I’ve never heard of that I found by googling “magical high school anime.” Since I’m too lazy to come up with a proper segue, this seems like a good excuse to talk about Cromartie High School, which is a surrealist comedy series that also takes place in high school. Cromartie is a weird show. Well, maybe that’s not totally accurate. Cromartie is a silly show.
Cromartie High School is mostly an ensemble cast and it doesn’t really have a “plot,” but the main character is Takashi Kamiyama, a straight-laced average student who transfers to the school of delinquent gangsters in order to seem smart by comparison. The students of Cromartie High are aggressive laconic punks who secretly have hearts of gold. They all have strong chins, intense furrowed brows, and look at least 35 (despite being 16). Notable attendees include a robot that no one seems to notice is mechanical - even though he’s clearly a robot, a gorilla who plays acoustic guitar, and Freddy Mercury. No, there isn’t any explanation for why the late great singer of Queen is a Japanese high school student and frankly, if you need one then Cromartie High School may not be the anime for you.
The secret to Cromartie’s success comes from how the characters play everything as straight as an arrow, reacting to each silly thing that happens with the gravity of a terminal illness. Trying to figure out the name of a song that’s stuck in a character’s head is treated like a school-wide crisis, and concludes with the entire student body humming it in a performance in the auditorium. Why? Don’t worry about it, it’s great.
If you’re not sure whether or not the show is for you, watch this clip. It’s the first gag in the first episode, and it does an amazing job of laying out the kind of humor this show has. If that style of humor appeals to you as much as it does to me then you’ll probably enjoy the rest of Cromartie High School.
Cromartie High School is based on a manga created by Eiji Nonaka. You can watch it subbed or dubbed on Crunchyroll.