School Rumble Vol. #1 (also w/box) -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
  • MSRP: 29.98/39.98
  • Running time: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: School Rumble

School Rumble Vol. #1 (also w/box)

By Chris Beveridge     August 28, 2007
Release Date: August 28, 2007

School Rumble Vol. #1 (also w/box)
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.

What They Say
High school can be hard enough with just academics alone, but when love enters into the picture, it can unravel into a comedy of errors. Tenma has fallen for her oblivious classmate but hasn't worked up the courage to express her feelings to him. She continually tries unorthodox ploys to confess with a frustrating lack of success.

Meanwhile, the class delinquent has fallen for Tenma and is making similar attempts. While this unlikely trio winds their way through the pitfalls of love and high school life, their friends and classmates become caught up in the chaos.

The Review!
Teenage romance goes awry when several of the leads are essentially stupid, something that they're called out on within the first few frames of the first episode. How can you not love that honesty?

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 takes 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 Tenma artwork from the first Japanese volume but puts her at an angle, cuts off her legs and then provides a series of shots from the show through a red 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 red 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.

In addition to the disc only release, FUNimation has put out another beautiful special edition release. Though I may not agree with the bright garish yellow color, the design of it as a school locker fits beautifully. Even better is the way it's completely filled with doodles and character artwork on the sides which adds to its charm. One side is a full cast shot which has all sorts of text on it, including some intentionally scratched out, while the other side is made up of the main romantic "trio" done to Harima's manipulations. Also included for this release from the keepcase is a set of colorform style stickies that you can apply and re-apply to the box. It's made up of various characters from the show so you can have fun putting them where you want. Don't want to see Karusama anymore? Put a Tenma over him! She'd appreciate that.

Something that's included in this release that I really like is the student year book. While it has just a couple of short pages of character artwork with their names, it includes an autograph page. What better way to promote the voice actors " Japanese or English " than by including this. Hopefully there will be School Rumble related autograph sessions at various conventions. People who have this autographed by the voice actors should get a bonus of some sort. And at least the voice actors know that the person getting the autograph likely actually purchased the show.

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 red 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 from the first few episodes, 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. In addition to a series of TV spots, there are two interviews with the Japanese voice actresses. Separate interview sessions run about six or seven minutes for Tenma and Yakumo'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)
Based on the manga series by Jin Kobayashi, School Rumble is a romantic comedy involving a group of stupid people. Well, stupid may be too strong of a word even if they use that as a description in the show itself. It's more that they're just simple and fairly oblivious to a lot of things while still being good natured at heart. Having read the first five volumes of the manga, I wasn't sure how the anime would be since I found the books to be hit or miss with the short form stories.

Like most any school based romantic comedy, School Rumble features a lot of the usual plot devices early on. We've got the cute and bubbly lead in the form of Tenma Tsukamoto who is very interested in Oji Karasuma. She's super excited that her chance is getting closer to being able to reveal how she feels about him. It's a new school year and there's a good chance they'll be in the same class. All of it would go according to plan if not for the fact that Karasuma is intending to transfer out in a few days. At the same time, a well known juvenile delinquent is making a return to school, better known as Kenji Harima. Harima has the kind of free wheeling lifestyle where he views himself as a real man who can handle whatever comes his way. Through circumstances that are revealed later in the volume, we find out exactly why he's such a pushover for Tenma. Despite being kept back a grade, his intensity keeps him focused solely on getting closer to her.

School Rumble is designed to mirror the manga in many ways which means multiple short stories tied together into a single episode. This provides for some awkward pacing at time since they do an eye-catch in between each piece, which can be disconcerting at first when there are three stories in an episode. Though they aren't always tied heavily together, the transition between all of them does feel natural once you adjust to the rhythm of it all. The mixture of standard half length episode stories with shorter ones does let them play with the format a bit in hitting up the humor angle. While they don't have the same appeal as the four panel strips in between chapters of the manga, the end result is the same and that is that the show is rather amusing.

A lot of the humor in the series is situational but it's also heavily colored by perception. We see the world through particular characters eyes which influences how events play out. Shifting typically between Tenma and Harima, they both tend to think up the same things to do in order to gain the affections of the one they want. Seeing Tenma play out a scheme in regards to Karasuma and then to see Harima doing the same to get Tenma " often within the same breadth " provides for plenty of laughs. Tenma's perception of Karasuma is quite different than that of Harima's view of him, but both of them do see Karasuma in an odd way. It's hard to see why Tenma would be interested in him since he's slightly weird and doesn't talk all that much. He seems rather disconnected from the world in a way that's hard to put your finger on. Never mind that he's rather plain and simple looking.

As a situational comedy, School Rumble does provide a good number of laugh as it gets rolling. Everyone has their own shtick to them that sets them apart without standing out too much. Harima's self image is reflected many times throughout and you can't help but both laugh and admire his self confidence. Tenma's timid nature combined with the way she deals with the stress has her freaking out over the simplest of things while doing outlandish things to get through it. When she doesn't want Karasuma to see her coming out of the bathroom, she proceeds to use plungers to scale down from the third floor outside the building. Naturally, Karasuma is instantly there and remarks how dangerous that was. Karasuma is really an enigma in all of this but is seemingly used more as a foil than an actual character that's going to be fleshed out.

Hajime Watanabe, who has worked on several series I rather enjoy, has done an admirable job of translating Kobayashi's original character designs into anime form. All of them have a great fluidity and life to them while keeping to the kinds of wild takes that are so often used. Tenma's hair moves around on its own frequently, lots of characters have big white eyed moments and Harima just stands out in the way he shifts between so many different forms. I'm eagerly awaiting his bearded days. The production values of the show in general are quite good with lots of solid backgrounds that don't distract heavily while still providing plenty of detail. There aren't too many obvious moments of cutting corners throughout either, though some will say that much of the show is like that considering the kinds of wild takes the characters do at times.

In Summary:
As seems to be the case with just about every comedy, there are things that click and things that don't. School Rumble wasn't an instant hit with me when it came to the manga, nor is it to this day even after five volumes. Yet something keeps me coming back to it. When it comes to the anime, it feels far more accessible while still retaining the quirky nature of the book. The first five episodes of this series have some great laughs to it while introducing us to the weird cast of characters. Though it's not terribly polite, the show does nail things right from the start by talking about the lead characters intelligence level. That kind of up front honesty makes the show all the more fun because you know exactly where everyone is coming from. School Rumble is just good clean fun.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles, Interview with Japanese Voice Actresses, Original Japanese TV Spots,Clean Opening,Clean Closing

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 480p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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