School Rumble Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B

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  • Art Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: Del Rey
  • MSRP: 10.99
  • Pages: 178
  • ISBN: 0-345-49147-5
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: School Rumble

School Rumble Vol. #01

By Eduardo M. Chavez     March 07, 2006
Release Date: March 28, 2006

School Rumble Vol.#01
© Del Rey

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Kobayashi Jin
Translated by:William Flanagan
Adapted by:

What They Say
She is a second-year high school student with a single all-consuming question: Will the boy she likes ever really notice her?

He is the school's most notorious juvenile delinquent and he's suddenly come to a shocking realization: He's got a huge crush, and now he must tell her how he feels.

Life-changing obsessions, colossal foul-ups, grand schemes, deep-seated anxieties, and raging hormones - School Rumble portrays high school as it really is: over-the-top comedy!

The Review
After originally reviewing the galley of School Rumble I finally got my hands on the final product and it is like nothing I have seen from Del Rey. Actually, when I first saw images of the cover art, I thought those had to be conceptual designs. My reasoning was that basically all I was seeing was the Japanese cover. The logo was exactly the same. The SD version of Tenma was in the exact same location. Even the volume number was formatted the same. If Del Rey did not translate the mangaka's name from Kanji to English it would be the Kodansha version - basically a super-close up on Tsukamoto Tenma's face!. There is no standard Del Rey trim dress (the funky ovals) on the cover; that is left for the spine where it doesn't hurt the eyes too much. The opposite cover has a sensual image of Tsukamoto Yakumo with sweater falling of her revealing some cleavage on a pink polka-dot background. Very nice!

Inside is where this volume really excels. First the printing is solid. You can really look at the fine screen tone and not see any distortion at all. This is a great improvement on what has been Del Rey's biggest weakness. They kept all of the headers - volume and chapter. They included all of the bumper art; bascially character bios after most chapters. At the end of the book, there are two omake chapters focusing on Yakumo. And then they provide a short mangaka bio and 12 pages of translator notes.

Very good job from Del Rey.

Kobayashi's art is pretty simple and does not impress me much. The character designs show very little originality. Outside of Harima-kun and his bosozoku looks - sunglasses, facial hair, slicked back hair, the rest of the cast is actually pretty generic. Eyes tend to be huge, jaw-lines are sharp and noses are rarely drawn in. For the most part all of his characters are on the long side, looking a bit longer than their range of 5'1" (Tenma) to 5'7" (Mikoto). Uniform designs are interesting though not very functional. Kobayashi tries to add some variety through hair styles and height, but his best work comes from his casual wear. When not at school, the girls look great. Kobayashi does it all from oshare to sporty.

Backgrounds are very stale, but that is to be expected from shonen comedies. The layout is what is important here. Kobayashi is really able to create a sense of being right there in the school room with these characters. The perspective is great and it really helps set up the humor well. Kobayashi also mixes up the panel sizes and placement a bit making a very simple looking title some variety.

Overall, the translation sounds good and really does a fine job distinguishing the unique personalities of the characters. This manga is a tough one to work on with all of the aside text, all the puns and all of the cultural references. William Flannagan did a fine job maintaining all of that, and what he could not properly translate he explained in the 12 pages of notes which followed the manga. I did notic one problem though and it came in the size conversions that were in the character bios. At least one set was not converted properly (the rest were rounded off kinda funny but were at least in the right ballpark).

As is Del Rey's policy, SFX are subbed. Their subs tend to be of a small font usually placed below the original SFX. Because of the font size, original art is not compromised. I appreciate the effort and the more I see this done the more I find myself liking it (font size and placement can make a big difference, especially in a manpu filled manga like this).

Tsukamoto Tenma is set on making this school year be the year that she gets what she wants. And what she wants is.... What she wants is... What she wants is to finally confess her feelings towards Karasuma Ooji... However, fate just always seems to get in the way. Nothing is going to stop her though. She has to make this happen no matter how long it takes. She will write thesis and scrolls as long as it takes. She will use psychic powers if she to, but she will have her dream finally come true. So, whether she has to work on her cycling skills or master the best Old Maid face, she will ready herself for the biggest fight of her love life!

Harima Kenji is set on making this school year be the year that he finally gets what he wants. And what he wants is.... What he wants is... What he wants is to finally confess his feelings to the girl of his dreams... Tsukamoto Tenma. However, fate just always seems to get in the way. Nothing is going to stop him, though. No matter how long it takes, or how many heads he has to crack he is going to make this happen. Even if this means he will have to go to school everyday he will let her know. So, whether he has to work on his cosplay skills or he has to do illegal voluntary community service, he will ready herself for the biggest fight of his love life!

School has turned into a metaphorical battlefield for these two classmates. Each of them is fighting a similar battle, and each one losing quite a bit of strength with every new confrontation. Fighting against all the odds, they have to find the strength within themselves to do something that seems so simple yet so unattainable. If only saying those infamous three words were easier to share. Life would be not be filled with heartache, fear and confusion that has driven the two high school juniors to the bottom of the class. Then again, would we appreciate love if it was that simple give and obtain? These two warriors of love will exhaust themselves as they push their lines closer to their objective destinations. Every salvo and counter ends up making the heart race, so there is no serious harm done. Nevertheless, time is running out with every school day they do not take advantage of. The question is how can these two, um dimwits, overcome their own ineptitudes to finally get the final battle started?

When I was initially introduced to School Rumble a few years back I have to say I put off reading the series because of the title. Yeah, that really does not sound fair of me. At the time, I could not go through another koukou kakudou (high school fighting) manga. School Rumble conjured memories of around a dozen other titles I was reading at the time (still reading my share of those). And since I generally avoid reading Kodansha's Weekly Shonen Magazine, I never really got a chance to really experience the title.

A few years and half a dozen volumes later, I took a chance and flipped through the title. I was surprised. School Rumble is a battle manga all right, but of a completely different type of battle. I am not sure if Sun Tsu's book Art of War ever really covered the war described in this series, even if this conflict has been going on for centuries. Fighting for love is a common occurrence in and out of high school. Kobayashi seems to understand that this particular battlefield is not only significant for the players but it can be equally significant to everyone who has gone through those 3-4 years of life.

High school with its different personalities and its familiar moments is a perfect setting for a battle like this. The timing is also perfect, as the warriors are often inexperienced and anxious. Main characters Tsukamoto Tenma and Harima Kenji are on the opposite ends of the student body spectrum but they have love troubles in common. They are two sides of a dysfunctional romance triangle, which despite their differences tends to usually come together and cross on equal planes.

With these two main characters, a completely generic Karasuma-kun (the other side of the triangle) and a large cast of classmates and teachers, Kobayashi is able to create a variety of fresh gag vignettes that are sweet and easy to relate to. Most of the gags are pulled from manga stereotypes but the timing and short format for each chapter makes them a little more manageable.

School Rumble is a fun conventional title that does its best by making fun of something most people go through. Sure, it helps if the main characters are a little lacking in smarts and that the characters are caricatures often seen in manga but the execution and randomness is perfect. Readers can literally pick up this title, select a chapter and enjoy. Comedy like that is universal making it a must for readers from all demographics.


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