Cromartie High School, volume one, by Eiji Nonaka

Like many other millennials, I read a weird amount of manga as a teen. It wasn’t a weird amount because it was a lot; it was a weird amount because it was a lot considering I don’t really like manga. I read Fruits Basket. I read Helsing. I read anything my brother was reading. I read anything my friend Josann was reading. I read anything my friend Jenny was reading.

Cromartie High School was one I found all on my own at my local library, and it’s a wild ride. After leaving the must-read-manga-peer-pressure zone of middle school, Cromartie was the only series I continued to read and love.

Premise: a middle school student in Japan has insanely good grades, and realizes he has sa choice to make. On one hand, he can get into the best high school and be a small fish in a big pond; on the other hand, he can get into the worst high school and be the biggest fish the small pond has ever seen.

He decides to be the big fish, and almost immediately regrets it. One of the students is an American professional wrestler. One is a gorilla. Others are gangsters or idiots. One is a robot. And no one – staff, teachers, other students – seems to bat an eye. Needless to say, new guy is in for a hell of a ride.

I just rescued this first volume from my collection of stored books across the country, alongside Soon I Will Be Invincible and a couple of others. I don’t think I’ll ever find another copy, so finding this one again was the best sort of surprise.

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