School Rumble Vol. #3 (of 6) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, November 09, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, November 13, 2007
What They Say
One's a lonely number, two's company and three's a crowd... But this gang sucks at math and I lost count long ago! It's uncharted territory as summer vacation heats things up beach-style! We've got new players, new crushes, new takes on old crushes... and nudity?! (Not quite, but close! Real close!)
Move over Ahab, Harima's got you beat hands down - though Tenma might not appreciate the comparison! It's not like the girl would even notice...
Contains episodes 11-14.
It says a lot when one of the best lines in the series is Harima saying, "Thank god I was born stupid."
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 Sawachikaartwork from the Japanese volume but unlike previous ones doesn't have her at an angle. It does provides a series of shots from the show through a green filter as the background at an angle though. 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 green 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 in swimsuits 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 their swimsuits from the reverse side cover, all of which is set to some simple instrumental music. The design overall is colorful 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.
This round 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 Akira and Sara's voice actresses and they contain the standard light chit chat 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 Rumbles moves on up to the midway point in the series and continues to play havoc with the lives of stupid people. Very stupid people. People stupid enough to realize they're stupid and be thankful for it since it gets them where they want. In most series, the stupid people are so incredibly annoying that they can ruin an otherwise good show. School Rumble manages to take the village idiots from several villages and make them entertaining.
The series peculiar story structure continues to be a point that makes the show difficult to talk about since it works through a fair amount of material and comedy in short order. Rather than run a gag into the ground for an entire episode, it breaks it all up and tackles different aspects along the way. The arrival of summer vacation is prime opportunity for a lot of fanservice and the design of the series allows for plenty of that. While School Rumble does run through many of the standard formulas when it comes to the stories themselves, it really is the characters that manage to sell it so completely.
The summer vacation is something that gets off to an amusing start even before it begins as the girls are down at the local pool getting some sun and end up getting more than that. A trio of guys start hitting on them and even Tenma finds herself innocently hooking up with their fourth, a young man named Nara who is actually in their class but often overlooked. They all get along well enough, or rather, they compete about everything and the girls want nothing to do with them, but Tenma's earnest and friendly nature keeps bringing them together. An overnight trip to the beach is planned after the first meeting that goes awry and that gets brought up in school as the semester is about to end.
The show being populated by idiots like it is, it is little surprise that both Tenma and Harima are doing summer classes. Harima is completely happy with this, even with Akira providing some instruction, since it keeps him close to Tenma. But it also reveals to him the plans for the overnight trip and that someone within that group is keenly interested in Tenma. That leads him to getting a bit more involved than he normally would and to start acting like a regular guy. Harima continues to be the real draw of the series and he completely cements here as if he hasn't already. The scene of him flexing his body completely naked and then searching for his swim trunks is priceless. The way he tries to subdue Sawachika while being naked is even more hilarious and leads to many wonderful scenes from then on regarding that incident.
The interpersonal relationships of the characters get stronger with these episodes, particularly that of Harima and Tenma. Harima has continued to work hard getting closer to Tenma and those around her but he gets further than ever before when Tenma realizes he's got a crush on someone. She uses her oblivious manner to start telling him how to tell the girl he likes that he does like her, not realizing that it's her. The best part is that she changes her appearance to look like him which must really throw him off more than he expected. Especially as it comes at the same time she wants him to profess his love to her since she's pretending to be the girl he likes. It's simple yet convoluted which almost stresses him out more than he can bear.
Several other characters get some good face time during all of this as well. Hanai has some back story given to him that deals with the way he and Mikoto have competed for years. He's actually a rather strong romantic but he doesn't know how to express it properly without coming across badly. Mikoto for her part starts to feel uncomfortable when Imadori begins to focus on her more, mostly because the two are trapped out on an island with no way to swim back to shore. Imadori is certainly a one note character but the note is quite a lot of fun as he's so brazen. Having him staring at her breasts in her two piece swimsuit and actually guess out loud her cup size is certainly not normal for most high school boys. The one who is missing from all of this outside of one very strange short sequence is Karasuma. Tenma is still very much interested in him and is doing her best to win him back but he's thankfully mostly absent from these episodes.
While School Rumble may be an ensemble cast series, it's really all about Harima for me. I enjoy just about all of the characters on some level, be it the fun of Hanai and Yakumo's relationship, watching Mikoto fend off the various interests or even Tenma's simply absurdities. Seeing her set her pigtails to nine o'clock so she remembers to watch a show is beyond weird. But I keep coming back to Harima as the real heart and soul of the series as he simply puts himself out there in so many ways and so directly at times. He's the one that will go and do anything in order to be close to the woman he loves. Tenma is almost the same way and both of them share an obliviousness to the world around them. Though it's very standard in its stories, the cast of the series elevate the material to something more. This is just a lot of fun and left me smiling practically the whole time.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Japanese Cast Interviews,Clean Opening,Clean Closing
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: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: School Rumble