School Rumble

School Rumble is a high school romantic comedy. To be frank, I don't think it has many merits. Jay, you probably shouldn't read this one; I may be about to rip it a new one and I know it's one of your favorites.

It's not a total failure. It does have some funny moments, though most are at the risk of complete absurdity. In fact, as the show goes on, it gets increasingly more absurd. I know it's difficult to discuss anime in the realm of reality, but School Rumble is a realistic show as far as anime is concerned (no magical girls, demon hunters, robots, or ninjas), but it also strays from reality so often that the show doesn't even make any sense for the most part.

The basic storyline is a series of love triangles (and quadrangles) involving the main characters. Tenma (the hyperactive ditzy heroine) is in love with Karasuma (a quiet mysterious boy), Harima is in love with Tenma (the "hero" of the show and a delinquent), Tenma's close friend Eri (a rich girl and, to be honest, a real bitch) is in love with Harima, Yakumo (Tenma's younger sister, a quiet girl who can read people's surface thoughts...or something) who also likes Harima, and Hanai (a hotheaded martial arts expert) who is in love with Yakumo. There's also Mikoto (a friend of Tenma's and another martial artist) and Akira (another friend of Tenma's with little going on). There are other characters with less focus, though they also add to the love triangles, as if there weren't enough (another boy in love with Tenma, a girl in love with a boy who loves Mikoto, and some crazy Mexican wrestling girl).

For a girl who holds the interest of two guys (one of them obsessively), Tenma has no special qualities to speak of. In fact she has no redeeming qualities at all, really. She's unintelligent (which is a nice way of saying she's a moron), one of the worst older sisters I've ever seen, a ditz, a klutz, completely dense, mostly useless, very plain, and unfortunately meddlesome. At least she's a decent friend (in that she cares about them). It's hard to see what the other guys see in her, though to best honest Harima isn't exactly a catch himself. He's a delinquent, gets into fights all the time, has a short temper, jumps to conclusions easily, gets caught in way too many unfortunate situations, and fulfills his fantasies with Tenma by drawing them out in a comic book instead of growing a backbone and just confessing to her already.

The story in School Rumble follows these characters through their day-to-day lives. Mostly it deals with unrequited love, incomplete confessions, great misunderstandings, school functions (like festivals and field trips).... Well mostly Harima's attempts to convey his feelings to Tenma, and Tenma's attempts to gain Karasuma's attentions. The rest of the show sort of revolves around the consequences of the actions (or inactions) the two main characters perpetrate.

26 episodes and nothing freaking happens. Relationships don't progress, no one confesses anything, story lines don't wrap up. Things just get more ridiculous and more complicated. Which is why, I assume, there are 2 more seasons. Though there's no reason it couldn't all have been resolved in a single season considering all the useless stuff that's in there that wouldn't be missed if it was removed (meaning it wouldn't really affect the story). There's no way I could sit through 2 more seasons of this stuff though, so I have no idea what ends up happening to everyone. Although looking over it...the third season is unanimated? Except for a couple of OVA episodes, it seems.

I'm willing to believe that part of the reason I have such a great dislike for this show is that I was only able to watch it in English on the Funimation channel. Because they don't hard sub their shows for television (I don't mean the dialog but the kanji and hiragana onscreen), I miss out on a lot of the Japanese characters that are scattered frequently throughout the series (like the thoughts Yakumo sees, or random word bubbles). On top of that the English dubbing is considerably less than spectacular, specifically for Tenma. At least they left the songs in Japanese. If you're interested, Funimation is hosting some of the episodes (including the first 8 of S1) from the first and second seasons on their website. They started releasing the second season of School Rumble on DVD late last year.

As for me, I'll stick with Azumanga Daioh.


xJAYMANx said...

@Kris: Haha, true to your word. But if the characters and interactions are lovable, hilarious yet touching, that's worthy enough for me. With or without a storytelling destination.

I loved "Azumanga" too (my Blog 021, max 4 of 5 stars for short season), but it was just too short, lol.

Kris said...

Yeah, but I didn't find them lovable, hilarious, OR touching. :)
So it was pretty much a failure for me.

As for Azumanga being short...it's as long as any other normal anime at 26 episodes.

xJAYMANx said...

@Kris: Oh, you're right, 26 episodes not 13! I guess I gave it 4 stars because it was missing some drama. Okay, that makes sense now. Sorry about that. >_<

P.S. Since u won't see S2 or S3, the best episodes (I think) of "Rumble" were the all-night survival game within the school, and the school play where Harima plays Sleeping Beauty, lol. The two-episode S3 finally reveals Karasuma's condition and emotion, and gives a resolution to Harima's and Tenma's relationship.

Kris said...

Hm, I read something that said Karasuma (they pronounce it Kurasuma in the English version, and I thought that was his name the whole time) lost his memory and had to move back to the US, and that Tenma follows him to become a nurse or something so she can take care of him.

I think one of the reasons I loved Azumanga so much was because it reminded me a lot of HS, and I was in college at the time, really missing my HS years. That and I think it's hilarious, and the characters are super adorable. I caught a bit of it in an anime store and fell in love with it instantly, which is kind of rare for me.

Anyway, I'll probably review Moonphase soon. I don't think you should read that one, either. ^_^ Though I'll likely be a bit nicer since there were more things I liked.

Stier said...

T_T finally a person thinks like me.

This show is so overrated, it has nothing special at all.

And yes, Azumanga does rock

xJAYMANx said...

@Kris: I'll skim over it, lol. >.<

Anonymous said...

Yay, School Rumble, haha. 26 episodes and nothing happened? Make that about um, 54, taking into account both seasons and the OVA. There was some closure at the end (In the OVA), if thats what you want, although not everyone agreed with it.

SR is fine if you weren't expecting anything serious. I took it as a 'ridiculously insane school romance-comedy' and that worked well. Yup, Tenma is a moron. How could anyone fall for her? I hoped that Harima would end up with Yakumo, but... blablabala, I could end up typing reams of pairings if I go on. Schtopppp.

For what it's worth, I've been reading the original Japanese manga, and it's certainly better than the anime, which just pales in comparison.

xJAYMANx said...

@A20-man: Uh-oh, man, now you've done it, lol. I did warn you!

Kris said...

Lol, why? I think he was basically agreeing with me.

I wasn't expecting anything serious. I mean, I've seen Lucky Star, Hayate no Gotoku, and other equally goofy shows (and Hayate I just adore). But I still thought it was crap. I don't think it's wrong to want the heroines in the shows I watch to actually be worth the attention they're getting. When you put the Tenma's and the Riiko's (Absolute Boyfriend) up against the Tohru's (Fruits Basket) and the Kyoko's (Skip Beat); you're not even going to look twice at the shallow, selfish, or moronic girls.

Anonymous said...

True, true. I don't know why Harima likes Tenma. Up until the point where Harima saw Tenma having an onigiri-lunch with Karasuma and was heartbroken, I was in support of the Harima x Tenma pairing only because I liked Harima. He may be a dimwit, but he's really a nice, socially awkward guy. After that episode, I started thinking "Oh forget about her, let her have the weird alien kid".

I think I like SR because I got what I expected from it. Well, most of it, haha.

Ah, Tohru- the supreme nice girl, from what I remember of her from the anime. Tenma doesn't stand a chance against anyone else, but as I mentioned earlier, I don't really care anymore, being in support of the Harima x Yakumo pairing:)