School Rumble OVA: Extra Class (of 1) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, June 13, 2008
Release Date: Tuesday, June 17, 2008
What They Say
New faces and old faves pepper this random assortment of odds and ends, a behind-the-scenes peek at the first season of School Rumble! And you simply won't believe the absurd antics that got left out the first time around... (Though crazy does seem to be the theme of this show!) It's a dog eat dog world as Yoshidayama takes on Harima, and lil' sis Yakumo discovers she's not the only one who's barking mad! Poor Imadori just might have met his match.. Looks like he's about to find out that Lara's bark is no where near as bad as her bite! There's even a history lesson as Class 2-C goes Neanderthal... Too bad for Karasuma that curry hasn't been invented yet! School Rumble The absolutely funniest show you'll ever see that's not about anything that rumbles... Ever!
Bridging the first season and the second season, a pair of "Extra Class" OVAs bring a little bit more silly into the School Rumble universe.
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.
Originally released in late 2005, the transfer for this two part OVA release is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The changes made in the authoring of the TV series releases carries through here and this by and large looks like a good release. The specials mirror the TV series in terms of animation style so it isn't higher quality animation but it comes across well. The show doesn't have a lot of high motion scenes so it works out fairly well as the softness and background noise have diminished quite a lot. Colors in general look good, especially with character animation and the blacks hold up quite well. If you liked how the series looked towards the end, this release is more of that.
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 release was done with white backgrounds that a cast shot of a few of the girls while some small sized versions of the guys are around them. This one uses the same artwork which is a plus and it provides a series of shots from the show through a 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. 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 guys in their pre-historic outfits from the second OVA cover while the back panel features the same thing in a pencil sketch version of it.
The menu design is similar to previous installments as it has the cover artwork, this time from the reverse side, as its main piece of artwork which is set against an oversized purple logo from the series as the background. 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.
With only two episodes on the disc, it's not unusual to try and make up for the time with some extras. This release does just that by including a lengthy 30 minute interview with the Japanese voice actresses behind the Tsukamoto sisters. The two are certainly personable enough and the lengthy session where they chat with each other in a fairly informal way is a lot of fun. Both are certainly talkative enough about the characters and the show itself to make it an interesting enough viewing at least once.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the first season of the series and before the second one got underway, the decision to fill in some small stories within the larger "narrative" was used to create a pair of OVAs to keep the buzz and interest alive. Essentially little more than another pair of TV episodes but without the "continuity" that we've come to know, it hits up mostly for the laughs but it doesn't always quite succeed. In fact, the first episode just feels a bit forced while the second one runs more to flights of fancy than anything else.
Much like it says on the back cover, this OVA series is made up of odds and ends. The first episode is generally filled with rather uninteresting material, material that reminded me of the early volumes of the manga which I just couldn't get into. The shorts, which have little connection to each other, mostly deal with characters that aren't all that fun to watch. There are some amusing moments as Yakumo deals with something that seems like an out of body experience, but she always seems a little disconnected from everything to begin with so that isn't saying much. The best part of the first episode, and the only truly memorable one, involves the class getting new seating assignments and the kind of things they do to get what they want. It's all very grade school as Tenma tries to sit next to Karasuma while Harima does the same in regards to Tenma. Everyone else suffers for it and they all go through a few travails as well, Karasuma excepted of course.
The second episodes has a bit more humor to it but it goes for something rather different for a good chunk of it. There's a very amusing short story that involves Lala as she works at Was Hamburger alongside Ichijou. Lala's personality is very much unsuited to work like this which means her line is empty while everyone else is overly busy. That doesn't deter her nor does it deter Imadori who decides to mess with her. When she asks him what he wants in her particular manner, he just has this great look as he tells her he wants a smile from her because it's free. That just pushes her completely over the edge and causes much fun as she beats the tar out of him repeatedly behind the counter and in front of the customers.
The second OVA has a rather strange story in it as well, one that runs the bulk of the episode. The framework is unimportant as it's all designed to showcase the characters in prehistoric times as they deal with the trouble caused by a wooly mammoth that's tearing up the place. There are a few cute gags about the translation at the beginning - with narration by the manga creator apparently - before it delves into having everyone in skimpy outfits with the same kind of relationships. Harima is cast off because of how he is but he's actually going to save the day when he comes up with a way to deal with the mammoth. It's surreal but amusing watching caveman-Harima lust of cavewoman-Tenma as well as seeing the kind of relationships that crop up here. On the plus side, this episode does round out with a great little piece that shows the continuing growth of a relationship between Harima and Yakumo that just feels right. The time they spend together is almost the sweetest of all since he's so oblivious to things and she's trying to figure out if she's reading too much into all of it.
It's hard to put my finger on exactly what feels off about this release, but something just doesn't seem right. Perhaps it's just the adjustment of going from four episodes to two and there not being enough "funny" to compensate, making it more obvious. Or it's just that the stories, which are the kind designed to fill in some of the gaps, just don't work that well and not having the progressive narrative - however slight it may be - impacts it more than I had expected. There are good moments to be found here, but it feels like you have to work a bit more to get them. The things that does make the TV series enjoyable are certainly present here, they just feel weaker. Not exactly a ringing endorsement, but it does put me in the mood for more of the TV series as quickly as possible.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Voice Actress Chat,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: TV PG
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
Running time: 60
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: School Rumble