School Rumble Volume 3

It’s summer break – and time to hit the beach!

Well, I realize that it’s winter over here in the UK and, as I write this review, it’s cold, dreary and grey… but at Yagami High, school’s out and the guys and gals of Class 2-C are soaking up the rays, first at the Water Park, then heading off for a trip to the beach. Of course Harima is desperate to go too to be close to his adored Tenma, but due to his intimidating aura, he’s not exactly the gang’s number one choice. Another classmate, Nara, is also keen on Tenma and planning to use the trip to get closer to her too. Exactly how Harima gets to tag along – and what comes of his and Nara’s rivalry over Tenma, results in some amusing moments.

One of the delights of ‘School Rumble’ is watching how class delinquent Harima’s tough guy act crumbles every time he finds himself in the presence of the object of his frustrated affections: the sweet-natured but utterly air-headed Tenma Tsukamoto. And she, bless her, has no idea that he is in love with her; oh no, quite the contrary – she is convinced that he has fallen for their classmate Mikoto. She even goes so far, out of the goodness of her heart, to coach him to declare his love, utterly unaware as he stutters through the role play session, unable to say the three simple words, “I love you,” that she is the one who’s making him so tongue-tied. It hasn’t helped that earlier on, blonde Eri has inadvertently walked in on Harima just as he’s finished exercising in the buff and is searching for his swimming trunks. Does he swiftly cover himself up or retreat hastily into the bathroom? No; this is Harima. His brain doesn’t work that logically. As she starts to scream, he panics. He gets her in an armlock, covers her mouth with his hand, and whispers menacingly in that gravelly voice of his, “You keep quiet.” 

But it’s not just Harima who’s unable to confess to the girl he loves. Upstanding class rep Hanai has fallen for Tsukamoto’s younger sister Yakomo, but is constantly frustrated in his efforts to get closer to her. However, his childhood friend and fellow martial arts enthusiast is Mikoto, and there is a delightful character-revealing section looking back at their friendship when they were in elementary school. But block your ears if you can’t stand the sound of descant recorder practice!

In episode 14 , the Tsukamoto sisters are waiting for the engineer to turn up and fix the AC on a boiling hot day. Tenma is studying with her girlfriends and Eri, still disturbed by her unexpected encounter with Harima, asks her if she’s ever seen a man’s body. Tenma, being who she is, has no idea what Eri is referring to and blithely replies, “I’ve seen men’s bodies – hasn’t everyone already?” Of course, what she is innocently thinking of is seeing wrestlers at a live match…but Eri has no idea and assumes otherwise, leading to yet more misunderstandings. And when the engineer turns up to mend the AC, who should his part-time assistant be but…Harima? 

The US dub continues to work extremely well, with Luci Christian capturing Tenma’s sweet yet off-the-wall nature perfectly. And if the odd line here and there has been changed to make the script funnier (and more accessible) for a Western audience, it really doesn’t matter; what the script editors have captured is the spirit  of ‘School Rumble’. And, echoing the manga (which develops the story in short, bite-sized chapters,) there are plenty of little extras to keep the viewer amused.
In Summary

Light-hearted and full of comedic confusion, this third disc of ‘School Rumble’ is the ideal antidote to winter weather blues. It’s impossible not to feel sympathy with Kenji Harima as he stumbles his way through the minefield of falling in love for the first time.

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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