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Cromartie High School Volume 4
posted February 13, 2006


Creator: Eiji Nonaka
Publishing Information: ADV Manga, 2005
Ordering Numbers: 141390260X (ISBN)

Probably the fussiest of the four volumes thus far, the latest Cromartie High School book continues to find new ways to spin off of the basic concept introduced in volume one: take the structure of one of those high school fighting stories and subvert the crap out of it at every turn, everything from thwarting the release one might get through fight scenes or by ending a chapter on the kind of stupid, unsatisfying joke that makes characters in other comics flip backwards out of their chairs. The best sequences here tend to be the ones that build tension through frustrating the release of physical violence, like a story at the end where Fujimoto solves problems in the real world through physical intimidation but for some reason finds himself terribly invested in the nuances of responding to Internet flame wars, with spillover in both directions. I also noticed that Nonaka seemed to revisit some initial themes here, with Kamiyama's labored, largely idiotic solutions extending basic sequences and the very simple central gag to the Takenouchi, a gang leader who gets car sick. One chapter in particular, with a doctor examining the various odder students like Mechazawa and the gorilla, could have run in Volume One. It helps that the execution, the doctor's panicked inner monologue where he tries to find some rational way to deal with the idiocy of what's in front of him, remains quite funny.