School Rumble Vol. #1 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: A-
  • Extras Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: All
  • Region: 2 - Japan
  • Released By: MMV
  • MSRP: �3800
  • Running time: 46
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: School Rumble

School Rumble Vol. #1

    March 18, 2005
Release Date: January 25, 2005


School Rumble Vol. #1
© MMV


What They Say
Tenma Tsukamoto is a second year high school student, and like other girls her age, she falls in love. The object of her affection is classmate Ooji Karasuma, but unfortunately she hasn't confessed her feelings to him. Time is running out because he's transferring soon! With help from her friends and younger sister Yakumo, Tenma tries things to get his attention like dressing up as a nurse and sending a love letter. What she doesn't know is that another guy, Kenji Harima, has feelings for her. He gets depressed because she doesn't notice him, and becomes even more of a delinquent.

The Review!
Audio:
The only audio track available is a Dolby Digital 2.0 Japanese track encoded at 448 kbps, and it's pretty nice. Dialogue and music are very clear and easily audible, though there were a couple of spots where the music was noticeably louder than the rest of the mix when it started, causing a quick reach for the remote.

Video:
We get the original full frame transfer, which looks great. Everything is bright and colorful, and there's few visual problems aside from some slight artifacting and smearing during fast action. Linework is razor-sharp, and you can even read the text the characters write down quite easily. Very nice work in this department.

Packaging:
The front cover features a nice group shot of Tenma front and center surrounded by her sister and friends. This same shot is also used on the picture-labeled disc. The back cover has your standard screenshots and episode summaries along with a listing of the extras.

First edition bonuses include two small posters and a cute postcard of Tenma in a nurse's outfit. There's also a nice sturdy cardboard slipcover with a glossy embossed illustration of Tenma by School Rumble mangaka Jin Kobayashi.

Menu:
The main menu is very simple, featuring the illustration from the cover as the background and no animation or music. You can just hit "Play All" or access the chapter stop and extras menus, which are just as simple. The menus are clean and easy identifiable, and access times are nice and quick.

Extras:
For a relatively inexpensive release, it's nice to see the extras weren't skimped on. There's an interview with Ami Koshimizu (Tenma's seiyuu), clean opening and ending sequences, two TV promotional spots for the show, a small production art gallery, and a small promotional art gallery.

Content: (may contain spoilers)
Based on a popular ongoing manga by Jin Kobayashi, School Rumble tells a story of high school love and all the crazy things that happen along with it. The result is a school comedy series that reminds some of Azumanga Daioh due to the setting, somewhat similar character designs, and overall wackiness. School Rumble features a good number of cultural references, homages, and puns sprinkled throughout, and there's always a nagging thought that something went way over my head.

Cute and energetic, Tenma Tsukamoto is our main gal, and adding to her cuteness are little parts of her hair that stick out to the side and twitch just like Mahoro's from Mahoromatic. She has a crush on classmate Ooji Karasuma, or "Karasuma-kun," as she dreamily refers to him. We're also introduced to Kenji Harima, a delinquent who has just finished beating up several guys in an alley before heading to school. He likes Tenma, though she doesn't know it and possibly never will. Both Tenma and Kenji can be a little slow and thickheaded at times, which works for comedic effect and occasionally to frustrate the viewer. The resolve both have to confess their feelings to the one they like is admirable though. Get used to squishy faces, Tenma and Kenji seem to pop into one every few seconds. Other characters we meet include Tenma's sister Yakumo and friends Eri, Mikoto, and Akira.

Kenji obviously wants to be in the same class as Tenma, and there's a nutty little sequence where he manages to punch a fellow student twice, yell a lot, and find out he isn't on any of the class lists. It's over the top, but very amusing. On Tenma's end, she wants to be in the same class as her Karasuma-kun, and much to her delight he is. That's promptly crushed a few seconds later when he says that he's transferring out shortly. This is a big problem for Tenma, but she decides to let him know how she feels rather than regret not trying. All she wants to do is write him a note saying she likes him, but gets nervous and messes it up all night long. Finally she decided to write everything down, and it ends up so long that the love note ends up as more of a love scroll. He spends hours reading it, but it turns out Tenma forgot to sign the note! At this point you either want to feel sorry for her or smack her. Amusingly enough, Ooji decides to stay for the year because of the note, much to Tenma's happiness.

As established early on, Tenma's not the sharpest tool in the shed. Looking for some love tips, she picks up Sun Tzu's The Art of War and attempts to make some sense of it. Her reading comprehension is laughably bad though, and the things going on in her head are off-the-wall crazy.

The show then moves on to Kenji, who manages to get into Tenma's class with some hardcore groveling. He leaves her a love note asking her to meet him behind the gym, but when he gets there he sees a guy waiting to fight him. The ruffian then takes Kenji's sappy note from Tenma and starts reading it aloud, making Kenji furious. It turns out he also forgot to sign his note, and he takes his anger out on the challenger.

The final segment of the first episode has Tenma and Kenji thinking alike of how to spend some time with the one they like. They both decide riding to school with their person of choice is the way to go, and put their plan into action. Ooji is a fast rider though, leading to a great chase scene with the three of them that goes all over the place, even popping into the world of Initial D for a brief instant.

Moving on to the second episode, Kenji and Tenma are taking an English test, which of course Kenji is wholly unprepared for. In a shocking moment, he looks over and sees she forgot to put her name on her test. Despite various attempts to let her know, he's unsuccessful due to Tenma's idiocy. With another love fantasy dancing in his head, Kenji decides to write Tenma's name on his test paper. When the scores are handed back, the test scores a big fat zero and Kenji realizes his foolishness.

After the commercial break, Tenma's got a serious hangup: Ooji is in the hallway, and she doesn't want him to see her coming out of the bathroom. After many failed attempts, she gets out in an unconventional way to only to run into him anyway. What bad luck for Tenma!

Wrapping things up, we find out there's physical exams the next day. Tenma decides to dress up as a nurse to get some personal information about Ooji. Walking into the office, she greets the doctor, who turns around to reveal he's Kenji, who's faking it with the same intentions as Tenma. Sometimes it's eerie how in sync these two are. Due to the exams being cancelled, Tenma's plan bombs and Ooji rides away on his bike.

A lot of humor is packed into each episode, and though not everything works, the show is successful in its exuberance and getting laughs. There's a good combination of puns, sight gags, and physical humor, with a pace that clicks along nicely. Nevertheless, I still twitch as much as Tenma's hair while alternating between liking and hating the characters. Despite that, I know I'm in for a good time when the disc goes into the player, and will be looking forward to both the amusement and accompanying annoyance in future volumes.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,Interview with Ami Koshimizu,Clean opening and ending,TV promotional spots,Production art gallery,Promotional art gallery

Review Equipment
Sony KLV-23M1 23" LCD HDTV, Toshiba SD-4900 progressive region-free player via Acoustic Research component cables, Sony STR-DE897/S receiver, Sony SA-VE367T 7.1 channel speaker system.

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