School Rumble Vol. #4 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • 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

School Rumble Vol. #4

By Chris Beveridge     December 18, 2007
Release Date: December 18, 2007


School Rumble Vol. #4
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.


What They Say
Summer's in full swing, crazy wild with camp fires and midnight capers... There's even a giraffe in the gym?! Tenma's busy spinning tales, keeping the girls tangled in frenzied feuds while Harima still can't get his tongue to work! And Imadori? Well, this guy just can't stop himself from hittin' on anything that moves... And even though Karasuma doesn't get much action this time around, not to worry: there's still plenty of curry!

The Review!
The relationship drama continues to be wonderfully mixed into simple comedy as well as physical aspects that keep the series quickly paced and very enjoyable.

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. 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, which take 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.

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 Yakumo character art from the Japanese volume but unlike previous ones doesn't have her at an angle. It does provide 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. 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 purple 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 in their summer kimonos 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 yellow 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 swimsuits 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. There are two interviews with the Japanese voice actresses once again with this volume. Separate interview sessions run about five or seven minutes for Karen and Itou's voice actresses and they contain the standard light chit chat 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)
School Rumble moves past its halfway mark with this volume but really doesn't show any sign of slowing down. The series is keeping to the pace established in the first half and continues to expand the cast of characters in terms of what we know about many of the seemingly secondary members. While the show does play up to familiar themes, such as club camping trips and events that you find there, it introduces some good fun and wackiness to it that fits the characters perfectly.

The four episodes spread across this volume continue to poke fun at the way Harima and Tenma are so completely out of synch. It doesn't dominate the show which helps a lot as it spreads its focus across the growing cast of weird characters. Even when it does focus on the leads, they often find good ways of keeping the others involved. Harima's efforts to become a manga author have him trying some new styles that's working well for him. The downside is that he's paranoid about it and coming across anyone he knows puts him in the mindset that he's writing and drawing will be known to people. When Sawachika stumbles across him, still sore from previous issues with him, Harima bolts like crazy only to end up with Suou instead. That of course sets off Hanai when he finds out and it leads to predictable yet amusing turns. But it also provides for some good insights as we start to see more of Suou's past and she gets nicely explored, albeit briefly, which really works well in explaining why she's so disinterested in men at the moment.

When School Rumble does delve into familiar territory, such as the rather open "tea club" going to a mountain camping experience, it still manages to find a good deal of fun. It's an all girls trip since some of them didn't tell the guys what they were doing, but that doesn't last long since Hanai figures it out quickly and even Harima and Imadori get in on it. Harima continues to be concerned that Tenma thinks the worst of him but he doesn't know how to find out what's really going on and that leads to the usual miscommunications that the two do so well. Even worse, Yakumo gets wrapped up in it and Tenma continues to think of Harima as a player, berating him at every turn until they invariably end up stuck in a cabin by themselves in the middle of a huge downpour. Events play out predictably, but the characters are just so blazingly stupid at times that you can't help but laugh at the situations.

The brisk pacing of the show continues to work in its favor as the sometimes shorter stories that lead into other events keep it flowing quite well. School Rumble also isn't adverse to really playing with different ideas in order to do something fun. When the kids return from summer break, we get to see what Akira did during that time in what's basically a video game cut scene. It's hilarious watching it play out as she does up the James Bond kind of role and gets into it. Another episode, which focuses on the strange relationship between Ichijo and Imadori, provides a lot of CG as well as we see the sentai team that Imadori has an affection for get into things, both in movie form and as a special full on opening sequence. The creative team really put in some solid effort in these and they stand out strongly.

When it comes to the core cast of characters, School Rumble really does work quite well. Though Karasuma is kept off stage for the bulk of this, he's still present in some ways as Tenma continues to think of him as her main goal. Harima still hasn't figured out what she sees in him and is still confused by how she reacts around him. The weird signals he gets from everyone else isn't helping either, but at least he's not continually retreating to his animal friends anymore. Harima really is quite a good guy though, at least since his interest in Tenma has changed how he deals with everything in his life. In some ways, I'd rather not see him hook up with Tenma but realize that he has some better prospects with others, but the way he and Tenma interact with each other just provides so much entertainment.

In Summary:
School Rumble still isn't really breaking new ground but it has really mastered the form it wants to take in telling its story. After reading the original manga, I wasn't sure how well it could be adapted into the standard episode length without really changing the entire structure of it all. They pulled it of wonderfully though by using that structure to their advantage and barreling through numerous stories and short skits that tell so many tales in addition to the central one. This volume just builds upon things more and more, leaving me smiling and laughing the entire way. It's really never been quite so much fun to watch stupid kids going through their school lives.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening,Clean Closing,Voice Actor Interviews

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.

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