Year Released: 2001
Distributor: Discotek Media
Running Time: TV series, 13 episodes, 24 minutes each
Rating/Recommended Audience: 13+
Related Films/Series: Comic Party Revolution (OVA), Comic Party Revolution (TV Series)
For Fans Of: Otaku no Video, Genshiken, Antime-Gataris, Bakuman, To Heart, Dojin Work, Cosplay Complex
-The original Right Stuf DVDs were used for this review.
-The English dub was used for this review.
-Comic Party is based on a dating sim. It was originally released as a hentai game, but it was re-released in an edited format in Japan. Don’t worry, the anime itself has no pornographic content.
-There are noticeable cameos from To Heart and Wedding Peach which makes sense considering that Leaf/Aquaplus created the former and studio KSS animated both anime series. Shoot, the first scene in the debut episode involves a dream where Kazuki is in To Heart in a dream and is addressed as Hiroyuki (the main character).
-Hilarious in Hindsight: Looks like Brother 2 exists in real life, but in podcast form since both Sam Riegel (Kazuki) and Liam O’Brian (Taishi) co-founded All Work No Play and still operate it to this day. Granted it’s not a dojin circle, but it’s still funny that both respective voice actors are creating something together.
-Hey, Pokemon fans! Do you recognize Mizuki’s English dub voice? That’s none other than Misty herself. Funny how both characters have a side ponytail and have bad tempers.
-The Comic Party event is based on a real-life event called Comic Market or Comiket for short. It takes place in the Tokyo Big Sight which is seen during those scenes.
It’s anime re-discovering time once again. I guess after watching Otaku no Video, I wanted to immerse myself in an anime I remember watching a long time ago. Seeing an anime that’s about anime fans back then was certainly interesting a while ago and it’s just crazy how common of a backdrop it is nowadays. Then again, I’m going to be taking on the first anime I saw in my life that dealt with that topic back when Newtype USA was a thing.
Let’s party in Iridium Eye. This party involves talking about anime, manga, and unique fans in that subculture.
Comic Party is about the life of Kazuki Sendo. He’s just your average teenager who’s close to graduating and being accepted into college. He is a talented artist as he draws very well, but he never had any direction with his skill set. This changes drastically as he and his friend with benefits Mizuki Takase get dragged by their mutual friend Taishi Kuhonbutsu to the biannual Comic Party. Said friend is also one of the most hardcore otaku in the galaxy while having the tendency to act like an over-the-top anime character, randomly appearing from out of nowhere, and having the funds to buy a library full of dojinshi. Kazuki finds some purpose as he meets fellow dojinshi authors, cosplayers, various fans, and artists as he does his best to write some manga while teaming with Taishi in their Brother 2 collective. Will they take over the dojin scene with their projects? Will Mizuki find an understanding with Kazuki despite her intense antipathy against otaku-kind?
This was certainly a unique blast from the past as some of my memories were rekindled after discovering this little-known anime. I know this came out in the 00s when anime series started to be adapted from dating sims, but there are redeemable things in this one, so don’t worry here. So many of the characters do make this thing work and there’s a legitimate story going on. Kazuki is certainly the most normal character, but it’s serviceable here. His ups and downs revolving around his talents in drawing are certainly believable and quite relatable. I wanted him to find that drive doing something he loves while also dealing with the craziness around him. Mizuki certainly starts out as the typical anime fan hater at first, but she does develop into a more reasonable character later on in a reasonable way later on. While it was slightly predictable, I do like how it was done. Yuu Inagawa was a good supporting character as she has a passion for her work, but she struggles to be the only one in her dojin circle while also having to deal with her bratty rival Eimi Ouba who constantly brags about how she always sells out her manga stash. The main highlight is bar none Taishi. He’s just delightfully overdramatic and hammy while also providing most of the comedy in whatever scene he’s in. Liam O’Brian just freaking nails it as this character in the English dub with such bravado and comedic timing. I also didn’t expect him to make a Dune reference of all things during one episode: “He who controls the muffin controls the world!”. Yeah, you wish you had context in that scene. Besides the characters, there were other things I enjoyed. The ending theme “Katachi no Nai Machi wo Mezashite” by visual kei singer Kaya was a nice mid-tempo J-rock number that was pleasant to listen to. The story itself had a nice balance of comedy with some needed seriousness without feeling like a mood whiplash. It was also interesting seeing the different aspects of otaku-dom like cosplaying, manga, anime, and the business aspect of these up-and-coming dojin artists.
I hate to be a party pooper, but it’s going to be time for that part of the review involving negative aspects of Comic Party. It’s animated by KSS which is such a low-budget studio and it really shows. The animation is dated and doesn’t have much movement besides the more comedic scenes. The presentation about the different aspects of anime can be quite didactic for people who are more seasoned anime fans. The concept isn’t all that original (see: Otaku no Video), but I do appreciate avoiding the rip-off territory as the emphasis is on dojinshi and the conventions. The English dub has some major issues. Sure, the voice acting is adequate, but the rampant Americanization of things was very obnoxious. They refer to yen as dollars despite Japanese coins and bills being on full display and calling kimonos Versace is very cut-rate. What? Do they seriously think Americans don’t know the difference between those articles of clothing? Also, when Kazuki is being educated by Yuu and Taishi about different anime terms, they use the term “exciting” instead of the Japanese word “moe” which newer anime fans already know what that means and it clashes with an obvious language joke that was lost in translation with Kazuki against a burning background. The opening theme was very mediocre as the production sounded really cheap and the J-pop aesthetics just scream “We were a dating sim once!” instead of putting more effort into the musicality and lyrics. I certainly was skipping that theme each time a new episode showed up.
Comic Party is a fun series, but it has been hampered by age much like Otaku no Video. The characters were certainly quirky and fun which kept me invested in re-watching this anime. The story is certainly more on the slice-of-life side, but at least it is inoffensive (ironic, given its eroge origins). The animation was the worst aspect and I wished the presentation of some of the anime terminology wouldn’t be dumbed down. Comic Party did bring some smiles regardless, but it may not have been as good as it was back in the 00s.
Adjustable Point System:
Add 1-2 points if you like anime series involving anime fans.
Add 1 point if you like Leaf/Aquaplus works.
Subtract 1-3 points if you want flawless animation.
-Good comedy (especially Taishi’s antics)
-A good amount of effort with the characters
-Mediocre animation and dated aspects
-Unnecessary cultural changes in the English dub
-Didactic presentation of anime glossary terms
Final Score: 6/10 points
Content Warning: Comic Party is best suited for teens and up. There’s some profanity here and there, but it’s nothing major. There’s some fanservice that shows up occasionally, and there’s one scene where one cosplayer character is being harassed by some sketchy otaku which is very awkward to watch. They do get punished for peeping on that character though.
All photos property of their respective owners and used under US “Fair Use” laws. Comic Party is property of Discotek Media. The DVD box set picture is from Amazon and is property of Right Stuf.