School Rumble Volume 2

It’s a high school story of unrequited love as old as time: tough guy Harima has a crush on the charming yet utterly air-headed Tenma, but she has a crush on the distant Karasuma and he only seems to care about…curry.

‘School Rumble’ is a lively school comedy series with a heart. Harima, for all his tough guy exterior (motor bike, shades and constant scowl) is really a softy when it comes to his adored Tenma. And these five episodes are a veritable catalogue of disasters as the lovelorn Harima’s feelings land him in more and more trouble. Every time he tries to impress Tenma, something goes amiss. There’s the love confession that goes horribly wrong (the wrong girl), then the love letter that gets mixed up with another letter. Oh – and did I mention that Harima is also a would-be mangaka, secretly pouring out his feelings into his drawing?

In true high school story style, we’re entertained to a pool-cleaning session that soon splits the class into two teams competing in an impromptu hockey match with mops and a bar of soap for a puck. The theme of what boys like to eat best (curry or meat and potato stew) dominates the girls’ thoughts in ‘The First Shopping Trip! The First Box Lunch! The First Heartbreak! Huh!?’  (yes, it’s that traditional). But the action centres mostly on lovelorn Harima whose increasingly desperate (and hilarious) efforts to get Tenma to notice him eventually land him in hospital. Despair ultimately brings about a startling change in Harima’s personality as he reappears as a new age fortune-teller, surrounded by animals who have been drawn to his peaceful aura,

We also get to meet some of Harima’s schoolmates: upstanding (and uptight) class rep, Hanai who has a crush on Yakumo, Tenma’s younger sister; blonde Eri whose businessman father is too busy to pay her enough attention, and Mikoto, the martial arts expert. There’s Fuyuki the class photographer, always snapping away whenever the girls are not paying attention and selling his photos to the eager boys. And in spite of all the gags, there’s character development too, especially when we glimpse pretty rich girl Eri, who seems to have everything, secret feelings about being neglected by her busy businessman father. 

I really love Jin Kobayashi’s manga and so I was keen to see how much of his quirky humour had been preserved in the animated TV series. I needn’t have worried; the five episodes in Volume 2 are pretty close to the original. One of the features of the manga is the constant references to film and television series (every chapter has a film title, such as ‘Last Action Hero’, ‘La Belle Noiseuse’ or ‘The Towering Inferno’). In this volume there’s a lovely parody of a certain shonen fighting classic, as Harima and Karasuma transform to face off against each other (in Harima’s tortured imagination) over Tenma’s affections. 

The US dub (from FUNimation) works really well; Brandon Potter finds just the right mixture of hard-bitten street punk and vulnerable teen in love for the ex-delinquent hero, while Luci Christian is perfect as ditsy Tenma. And Eric Vale captures Karasuma’s otherworldly weirdness. (Though the original cast, Hiroki Takahashi, Ami Koshimizu, and Hiroki Konishi, are equally good in the main roles.) And five episodes on a disc always make this reviewer happy; it gives the chance to really get into a series and not feel short-changed. Extras include interviews with the Japanese seiyuu for Mikoto and Eri.

A word on the opening and closing songs; the first ‘Scramble’ (sung by Yui Horie, who plays Eri) is an upbeat sax and rock n’roll number that’s just right for a high school show, whereas the closing song ‘Onna no Ko♥Otoko no Ko’ is a dry commentary on the hopelessness of boys when it comes to…anything really, but especially timing, ending in a chorus of derisive ‘la la la’s.’   

In Summary
‘School Rumble’ is fun. If you’re looking for a light-hearted look at first love and high school days, laced with plenty of gags, then you’ve found it! 

8 / 10


Sarah's been writing about her love of manga and anime since Whenever - and first started watching via Le Club Dorothée in France...

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