School Rumble Vol. #6 (of 6) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Monday, March 31, 2008
Release Date: Tuesday, March 18, 2008



What They Say
Love triangles become squares as Eri gets involved. And it looks like little sis' might be dating Harima, too. What?!? The competition's picking up on all fronts, and tough guy (a.k.a. comic artist) just hopes to get his submission in on time! Space aliens and whacked out dreams, flights of fancy and flights from reality... You're never gonna believe all this stuff!

But don't worry, the curry's back. Even if it is tuna curry - yuck!

Contains episodes 23-26:
Women's Battle! Men's Battle! After the Battle!
Irritation. Indecision. Wandering.
[Boat] [Train] [Guitar]
School Rumble Forever!

The Review!
Which is more believable? Karasuma is an alien from another world or a human being?

Audio:
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 its 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.

Video:
Originally airing in late 2004, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Unlike earlier volumes in the series, School Rumble makes out better with this installment due to authoring changes that has the bitrate going into the nines. The series doesn't have a lot of high motion scenes so it works out fairly well as the softness and background noise has diminished quite a lot. Colors in general look good, especially with character animation and the blacks hold up a lot better now. While the show generally looked good before, it looks much better now and gives hope for a much better looking second season.

Packaging:
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 Harima character art from the Japanese volume but unlike some of the first volumes, it doesn't have him at much of an angle. It does provide a series of shots from the show through an purple filter as the background is at various angles. 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 an orange 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 several of the girls in their school uniforms while the back panel features the same thing in a pencil sketch version of it.

Menu:
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 pale blue 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 cheerleader uniforms 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.

Extras:
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. This installment features two voice actor interviews which are amusing to watch as we have Harima and Karasuma's actors talking about their roles and experiences on the show. Harima's runs just under nine minutes while Karasuma's hits just under six.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The end of the first season of School Rumble in a way feels like the weakest set of episodes to date. There are some moments of sheer brilliance which had me laughing but it comes across in general as the least memorable of the twenty six episodes that it ran. The outlandish comedic elements are reduced in favor of dealing with a bit more of the simple romantic comedy entanglements but without the kind of flair that we'd seen before. At least there's a pig though.

While no real resolution is expected with the show since there's more to come and the manga is ongoing, School Rumble does tweak the relationships a bit and throws in some nice shallow curves that adds some appeal. The twisted way things have progressed due to the miscommunications and lack of clarity is amusing. These episodes takes up a few notches by strengthening the relationship between Harima and Sawachika without Harima even really realizing it. After the sports festival event where he and Sawachika had worked so well, she's finding herself concerned about him even when she's mildly injured and somewhat distraught after finding out about his odd relationship with the school nurse. The two come together surprisingly well as the festivities kick off later in the night and it's something that was very heartwarming in that simple way.

Sawachika's realization that she may actually like him more than she ever could have believed isn't without problems though. For her mindset and personality, it's not something she can come to grips with easily and she becomes unsure of how to proceed. Harima is on her mind a lot and she even goes so far as to do some special sewing for him. That turns into a far too predictable scenario where Yakumo ends up involved by fixing that sewing project for Harima as she didn't realize it was something Sawachika had done. Yakumo's denseness about Harima and who he's really interested in comes into play with how the two of them get along but it goes out to left field when Tenma blurts out at a group gathering that Yakumo and Harima are dating each other. The interpersonal relationships seemingly go splat in front of everyone and nothing is clear since every is generally pretty dense.

Where School Rumble takes an odd turn is that Harima finds himself completely dejected over how things are going with him and Tenma and ends up setting out to sea on board a fishing boat. This subplot really slows down the show a great deal as it tries to reinvigorate him after being crushed by everything but it just doesn't work. The main intent of it is to get him back into the game with his manga with renewed vigor but there feels like many other ways it could be done that would have worked better. The sea storyline with the weird and unfunny characters that results in a new pen for him to draw with just wasn't funny. There were some very mildly amusing moments but as a whole piece you felt like you could just fast forward throughout it.

Where the main payoff for this volume comes in is during the last episode. Essentially filled with a lot of "Dallas" dream moments, you're left wondering just how much of it is really reality and how much is just the creators messing with you. The opening piece that has us believing that Karasuma is an alien from another world just has such a ring of truth to it that you can't dismiss it out of hand. There are some great little moments in it included a beautiful reference to Close Encounters of the Third Kind that you just never see in anime shows. The second half of the show is a bit weaker as Tenma takes on the personality of a cat but it has so many similar things to it that feels like it could work that you can't be sure. School Rumble has played well by staying within the realm of reality that's only slightly exaggerated but there's enough of a chance that they may go further at the end of a season that you can't be too sure where the gag really is here.

In Summary:
Considering my lukewarm feelings at best towards the manga, School Rumble really surprised me in its anime incarnation with how much fun it was. Just about everything with the show clicked right with me and even the weaker aspects of it like this volume was still a great deal of fun. These episodes worked through some things that made sense to do at this point and the relationships aren't as unclear as they were - for the viewer at least - in the past but it'll be interesting to see how much more convoluted they can become in future episodes and where it will all go. In the end however, the simplicity of who belongs with who isn't the same as it was in the start and the potential match-ups are actually a lot more interesting now. The next season can't come fast enough and hopefully it will be part of FUNimation's season set plans.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Interview with Japanese Voice Actors, Textless Songs

Review Equipment
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.
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: School Rumble