on July 8, 2007
One of 2003's biggest surprises for Anime on both sides of the Atlantic was a laugh-out-loud hilarious, 45-minute little gem called ANIMATION RUNNER KUROMI, a zany romp about the trials and tribulations of a young woman taking a job at --you guessed it-- an animation studio. Given the success of this OVA, it's almost no surprise that a sequel would follow three years later. "Sequel" is a term that many viewers dread, as it often translates to "inferior follow-up." This does not include ANIMATION RUNNER KUROMI 2; all the eye-popping gags, fast-forward paced wackiness, and sidesplitting humor that made the original so much fun are back. (So are the same voice actors in the dub, but more on that later.) Equally pleasing is that the glossy production values courtesy of Akitaroh Daichi and his studio have returned, maintaining a sense of consistency. I love it when follow-ups retain consistency.
While this bodes well for an immensely entertaining sequel, all is not well for the workaholic Kuromi and her charges at Studio Petite. Shortly after the cancellation of their successful show "Time Journeys", the small facility finds itself juggling three different shows at a time; they even seem to be falling behind on schedule. The situation takes a turn for the worse with the arrival of Rei Takashimadaira, a self-proclaimed professional. Unlike Kuromi and company, he is obsessed with meeting deadlines rather than doing a quality job. What ensues is a hilarious clash of wills as our heroes struggle with his pushy, snobbish ways. In the end, how will their shows turn out?
Finding out is only part of the entertainment value. Equally pleasing is Central Park Media's treatment of this sequel: the video and audio quality is on par with the original release, with a few new extras to boot. In what may probably be the best bonus (not that it has to be), all the voice actors from the top-notch English version of KUROMI are back. Well, most of them anyway--Suzy Prue is replaced by Carol Jacobanis, and the president is voiced by Mike Pollack, but both match the original voices so closely it's hard to know the difference. The link behind the whole dub, is a bang-up performance by one of New York's most popular voice actresses, Lisa Ortiz as the overworked Kuromi herself. Ortiz has always been a favorite voice actress of mine ever since I heard her as Deedlit in RECORD OF LODOSS WAR, and I have since heard her voice in many other roles (and yes, that includes Lina Inverse from SLAYERS!). Hearing her voice in anything just makes my heart throb. As such, it is very pleasing to hear her return--she even improves from the first time around, as well. When Kuromi finally cracks down into hilariously exaggerated frustration, it's obvious Ortiz is having a blast.
Wayne Grayson, Dan Green, Eric Stuart, Angora Deb, and Rachael Lillis reprise their roles as Kuromi's staff, and are just as fun the second time around. However, Green steals the show as the snobbish producer Takashimadaira. Typically I have heard him do serious roles in productions such as JUNGLE EMPEROR LEO and NOW AND THEN, HERE AND THERE, but this is one of his most FUN performances to date. Major kudos to Tom Wayland and Tripwire Productions for pulling off a dub every bit the equivalent of the original, and besting it.
As for the sequel itself, it's hard to imagine even the most picky of Anime fans passing up ANIMATION RUNNER KUROMI 2. Crammed with more laughs and entertainment, it delivers as a worthy follow-up... although the only negative is that it's all over after 45 minutes. Perhaps we'll see a third installment in the near future?
I really enjoyed the first OAV and getting a chance to see the behind-the-scenes of an anime studio from the animated parody and the abundant of special features featured on the first DVD.
With this second OAV series, "Fruits Basket!" director Daichi Akitaroh, Watanabe Hajime and Itami Aki are back together for round II of the adventures of Studio Petit. And again, the OAV was a winner at the 2005 Tokyo Anime Fair.
This time, Kuromi's boss decides to have the staff work not on just one series but three series.
For Kuromi, in her mind, more anime series means more staffing but not for Studio Petit. It's more of everyone shifting their to different priorities and working on three anime series all at once.
Of course, with the staff being pushed to their limits and having to work on three series that are so different from each other, there is worry that the episodes for the series will not be completed in time.
Kuromi tries at first but everyone continues to have their excuses and leave work early.
But things change when the boss of Studio Petit brings in a veteran producer who will do what it takes to make sure the staff completes their deadlines in time, even if that means sacrificing quality. Even if it means firing the staff.
After watching this series, I actually had the same impression of Kuromi that anime studios, when they work on multiple series, more staff is brought in. But after watching this series, I can see how difficult things are if there are no staff hirings and the same staff have to work on multiple series.
This would probably answer why we have seen quality differences in animation (ie. the beginning half of "Ranma 1/2' and the latter half) why a series was not as good as it use to be.
But all in all, how this is handled on this latest "Animation Runner Kuromi 2' is hilarious, fun and enjoyable.
The original OAV series was released back in 2004 and unlike the last series which kept switching from animation to character sketches, this one doesn't do that. And I didn't mind that one bit.
I watched the OAV series both in English and Japanese and both are well done. There is no true action and if anything, it's more or less an anime that is full of dialogue. But audio for the voice work and music came clear and found no problems.
Central Park Media/US Manga Corps really delivered in terms of special features on the first OAV DVD release. The same with this second DVD.
Included are alternate angles, storyboard features, interview with Daichi Akitaroh, A segment titled "A Day in the Life of Kuromi", art gallery, sketch gallery, Kuromi trailers and more.
The intervew with Daichi Akitaroh is around eight minutes long and he goes into why a sequel was created and how he wanted to tie up a few loose ends left from the first. How he also wanted to go deeper by adding a rival for Kuromi for this episode.
My favorite was a 10 minute feature with Japanese voice actress Asoh Kaori (Kuromi) having to work as an animation runner for a day at an anime studio.
In this featurette, Asoh goes to the residences of the animators to pick up completed pieces and just running back and forth from the office. Also, a message from the staff behind the second OAV series. This was very fun to watch and although everyone was in a lively mood for this feature, I can only imagine how things are during deadline week at an anime studio.
But again, CPM delivered on the special features for this second DVD.