School Rumble Vol. #2 (of 6) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, October 02, 2007
What They Say
Tenma and friends continue to muck things up the only way they know how, from survival fights against sporting equipment to salty balls and comic books to fisticuffs and fortune telling! But while Karasuma may still be clueless, the animals always speak the truth!
Contains episodes 6-10.
The ups and downs of unrequited love plays heavily in these episodes as the silly and oblivious folks mill about in their daily lives.
School rumble is presented in a standard bilingual format here with a pair of stereo mixes that are both encoded at 256 kbps. The audio on this disc feels kind of off to begin with, starting with a far too loud and bass heavy Kodocha front loaded trailer. The main show itself is really just a dialogue based piece with music as there isn't much in the way of big sound effects. It's a good track in that it's problem free when it comes to clarity and the lack of dropouts or distortions but it feels like it's too low. This may be partially from coming from the Kodocha opening as they was just dialed up too high.
Originally airing in late 2004, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The series is authored in seemingly the same way as most everything else from FUNimation today with an average bitrate in the fives with a few brief peaks into the sixes. The series doesn't have a lot of high motion scenes so it works out fairly well but there is a general softness to the look which mostly affects backgrounds. There is often enough noticeable noise in them, generally in the greens, that take away from what should be a smooth solid look. There isn't much in the way of noticeable blocking in these areas but it does shift regularly. Colors in general look good, especially with character animation, but some of the blacks just can't hold. One scene features a character at doorway where the interior goes white and the rest of the screen goes black. The lower left corner shows a lot of blocking going on there.
FUNimation usually does a good job in bringing over the original covers for its series and this one is only a little different. The Japanese releases were all done with white backgrounds that featured a single character on it. This release uses the Akira artwork from the Japanese volume but puts her at an angle, cuts off her legs and then provides a series of shots from the show through a yellow filter as the background. It's certainly very busy looking and provides more to look at but I generally keep coming back to preferring the Japanese style of the character standing out on their own. This is certainly an appealing cover overall and it likely fits better for this market than the other does. The back cover is just as busy with a yellow border that contains lots of small shots of the characters and lots of angled text to heighten the hyper aspect of the series. It's all rather clean when you step back and look at it but it is incredibly busy. No insert is included but there is a reversible cover. The main panel features a group shot of the lead girls while the back panel features the same thing in a pencil sketch version of it.
School Rumble works off of the main colors in the logo by having a white background with shadowed versions of the navigation spread across it in a soft yellow color. The actual navigation strip uses a similar color layout to the logo while to the right of it is a cast shot of the main women in nurses uniforms as well as a maid, all of which is set to some simple instrumental music. The design overall is colorful, though a bit strong on reds, while maintaining a light and bouncy feeling to it. Access times are solid in moving to submenus and as usual we avoided the language presets issues due to needing to make selections based on the angle of the video we wanted.
The opening salvo of extras is small but definitely more interesting than just a clean version of the opening and closing, which is included as well. There are two interviews with the Japanese voice actresses once again with this volume. Separate interview sessions run about six or seven minutes for Mikoto and Eri's voice actresses and they're the usual simple fluff but it's cute and fun to see them talk about their roles.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
School Rumble was something of a surprise in its first volume as I found that it worked far better than the manga did. While there was an appeal to aspects of the manga, it simply didn't click too well even after five volumes worth of it. The anime incarnation has a bit more to it that lets it flow even with the shorter story arcs within each individual episode. The end result is that the first volume had us laughing more than normal and very much looking forward to the second installment. This volume is more of the same with some small bits of growth along the way that keeps it quite enjoyable.
The crux of the series, at least so far, still revolves around the unrequited love triangle of Harima, Tenma and Karasuma. Everyone has their sights focused on someone, though Karasuma has his set on someone he doesn't even know who they are, and are oblivious to those that are showing an actual interest in them. Alongside a fairly large cast of supporting characters that do their best to help out everyone but that never goes according to plan. What is really nice is that the supporting cast really does start to get dealt with more here so that they're not just supporting the leads. They have lives of their own that intersect with the leads but also their own relationships and issues. Following the lives of those such as Sachikawa who is doing her best to please her father is interesting enough considering her personality. But they also bring her directly into Harima's line of sight when he accidentally confesses to her.
One character that's becoming increasingly fun to watch is that of Hanai. A childhood friend of sorts of Suou's, his outgoing style and over the top interest in Yakumo has him creating an intense presence wherever he goes. It's typically strong to begin with but when Yakumo is involved it's practically overpowering. Hanai has a good deal of involvement during these episodes and causes plenty of things to happen. One of the best revolves around the pool hockey game that gets started after he volunteers the class to clean the pool after Yakumo's class gets assigned it. Everyone gets involved over time with the game that starts up among a few and it really forms some interesting bonds as they all take sides and go at it. It's this kind of school days interaction that really strengthens the class in general.
My favorite character in the series continues to be Harima however. His sense of style and how he carries himself is just too much fun to watch, especially as it leads him to all manner of awkward situations. His goal of becoming a manga artist has led him to a publisher wherein he learns a startling secret about his favorite author. This pushes him over the edge, so much so that he actually ends up living with a young woman who has taken him in for a time. Between his encounters with her and her mildly provocative manners and becoming a fortune teller with a god-like look to him, Harima really struggles with his lot in life and his feelings for Tenma. Harima is all about expressing what's going on as he wears his emotions on his sleeve and that makes him easily sympathetic. It doesn't hurt that he's also got some awful luck which makes everything harder for him.
What really strikes me about this series, and it's something that's a real credit to it, is that it doesn't rely on overt sexuality or fanservice to carry the comedy. There are certainly "attractive" characters to be found here, but we're not inundated with panty shots, slow pans along their body or poorly designed uniforms and swimsuits to showcase them with. There are hundreds of opportunities across these five episodes but it's practically non-existent. There are a few series recently that have been like this and it's a hugely welcome trend in my opinion. When you do something constantly, it begins to lose its value. School Rumble is a better show for the lack of it as it lets us focus on the characters and the situations they're in rather than waiting for the next awkward panty-shot..
School Rumble really excels in a number of ways and helps to rebuild the overdone comedy genre of the last several years. Through the filter of what we get here in North America, it had become so similar and indistinguishable from each other that you could practically substitute one show for another without too much trouble. School Rumble brings us interesting characters, relatively realistic situations taken to a mild extreme and tosses it all up in the air. It manages to use its cuteness to good effect without overdoing it and providing excellent short form stories that move things along rather than full episodes that feel too drawn out. These first ten episodes have been wonderful to watch and it has me very eager to see more and fill out that locker that came with the first volume. Very recommended.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Interviews with Japanese Voice Actresses for Mikoto and Eri, Textless Songs
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: TV PG
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
Running time: 125
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: School Rumble