Cromartie high school is one of those anime's, in fact, one of those shows that only comes around once in a life time. I myself rarely find Japanese comedy appealing due to cultural differences, however, this anime breaks through those barriers delivering something that is truly unique and brilliant.
Based on a 1980’s Japanese manga, this anime is a parody of yankii, or juvenile delinquents. Cromartie is especially known for it's badass students. The classrooms are filled with badasses who, being badass, follow no ones rules but the own. However there is one man among the plethora of thugs who doesn't belong: the incredibly un-thuggish Takashi Kamiyama. Kamiyama is an above average (intellectually speaking) student who applied to this school of delinquents. He is the main character and plot revolves mostly around him and the friends he makes at Cromartie, going about their daily lives in high school.
The catch, of course, is that this school is anything but normal. There is no faculty and no women (no, Maeda’s mother does not count). There’s a man in a class who looks like Freddy Mercury. A gorilla. And last, but not least, Mecka-zawa, the robot. Seriously.
Each episode seems, and pretty much is, completely disconnected from the last. To put it bluntly continuity is this anime's bitch. However, this is done on purpose and is a part of Cromartie High School's comedic tactics. Example: in one episode the robot is completely destroyed then in the next episode he is magically whole again, without any mention as to how. Once and awhile the show will make mention of this lack of continuity, however, more often than not, the event is left hanging, adding to the show’s WTF factor.
Each episode seems to revolve around two things. First is a main character developing well... character. Second is a slice of life moment such as a song stuck in your head or playing sports, aka everyday activities. Of course each of these scenarios are taken to new extremes like "a guy is trying to tell us his name but we got distracted because an meteor hit the school and aliens came out" extremes. Each episode the characters argue, and while, on one side (the minority) the characters will convey extremely well rounded ideologies, on the other side (the majority) those ideas are construed over completely ridiculous notions. Kind of like real life politics. If your brain hasn’t fried yet and you can breach through the insanity, there is a moral lesson to be had at the end of each episode.
This anime is truly unique in the way that its comedy is delivered. It will poke fun at it's own lack of continuity, plot (and plot holes), even it's jokes. It often utilizes non-sequiturs and will even break the fourth wall here and there. Its randomness is on par with shows like FLCL and Hyate the Combat Butler. In one scene the characters will be having a prolific conversation about life and two seconds later someone will be hit with a fish! The randomness and plot holes may be confusing at times but the over the top reactions and hilarious situations will have milk shooting out your nose indefinitely.
I find the animation in Cromartie High School, while, not as grand and visually pleasing as others, completely appropriate for this anime. Each character is easily distinguishable, even the background characters have unique faces. Not once did I think "man, that guy looks just like that chick over there, minus the neon blue hair". In fact the art work follows closely with the original manga, the character designs look almost exactly alike. The angles and shots of this anime are also very unique. Characters’ faces sometimes morph and the angles at which characters are seen isn't like the typical anime. Often times the animation even looks like South Park but like South Park this only helps accentuate the anime as a comedy.
As far as the sound goes, other than the fact that the into and outro are surprisingly catchy, this anime has average sound. The backdrops do an adequate job of implying exaggeration and the music helps set the mood. However like the animation the sound fits the anime's personality but there is nothing masterful about it. There is never a point where the music clashes with the scenario and is never annoying or unbearable. Now that I’ve said that, the voice acting for this anime is amazing. Especially the English dub. That’s right. English. Dubbed. Not only does each of the voices match the character flawlessly, but the mouths are even in sync. Thats right people, an English dub where the animation is actually in sync with the voice acting. That alone should give this anime an 8.5.
This is where this anime really, REALLY, REALLY, shines. All of the characters mesh together beautifully, as if they were a well-rehearsed symphony. Not only does each one of them make you laugh, but even though they are profoundly different (I mean ones a gorilla) you can't help but like them all.
Takashi Kamiyama, whom I introduced earlier, is the main character. Although he is introduced as an above average student he doesn't often play the part. He instead acts, if not as stupid, stupider than many of the other characters in the show. From time to time, however, there will be glimpses, tiny, tiny glimpses, of his brilliance.
Shinjiro Hayashida, Kamiyama's first friend at Cromartie, and perhaps the stupidest of all the main characters, wears a purple mohawk and will often say and do things that, even in a school of delinquents, seem dim.
Akira Maeda talks allot of smack but never really seems to back it up (he often gets kidnapped and held hostage). Although he asserts himself often and appears to be the only person with common sense, he is frequently ignored and disrespected.
Their interactions with one another are distinctive to each character. Each character has his own little catch phrase type dealio, and while some are over done (I'm talking about you, Takanuchi) it seems so abnormal, comedically speaking, it's hilarious. As the series progresses the characters learn about each other and themselves and, while they never really change throughout the series, I wouldn't have it any other way.
I would recommend this anime to almost anyone. The laughs are endless, the story, although seemingly non-existent, is engaging. The characters are unique, edgy, fun and will have you loving each of them. My only complaint is that each episode is only ten minutes long. If you really hate non-sequiturs and random stupidity mixed together with profound philosophy then this anime may not be for you. However even if that’s the case I would still urge you to give this anime a shot. Who knows it may inspire you to make your school or work place more spontaneous, although, maybe just not that spontaneous.