The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

School Rumble 3rd Term

Title: School Rumble 3rd Term aka School Rumble San Gakki
Genre: Romance/Comedy
Company: Studio Comet
Format: 2 OVA
Dates: 17 Jul 2008 – 17 Sep 2008

Synopsis: Harima Kenji is again frustrated by the fact that every attempt to confess his feelings to Tsukamoto Tenma ends in failure.  But Harima isn’t the only one whose feeling can’t reach their loved ones, as Karasuma Ooji continues to evade Tenma’s confessions just before he is to leave for the United States.  However, Harima resolves to make Tenma happy, and tries to create one last chance for her to make her feelings clear to Karasuma.

The Highlights
Characters: Occasionally show the depth that made them so likable.
Adaptation: Skips a boatload of chapters from the manga to fast-forward to an ending.
Ending: Limp and unrewarding; leaves the important love triangle unresolved.
Story: An ultimately disappointing waste of potential.

I have what can only be described as a love-hate relationship with School Rumble, in that I love the characters, but I hate the poorly-paced, constantly-reset tease of a plot.  But there was once a time when I thought that School Rumble had the potential to be a modern-day romance dramedy classic, and that it had a chance to stand head and shoulders along the likes of Maison Ikkoku, Kimagure Orange Road and Honey and Clover (unlike when H&C first aired, it’s almost, almost accepted as a classic now).  The writers, particularly the original manga-ka, Kobayashi Jin (the anime series are essentially loyal to the source, except for a major chunk that was cut) deserve credit for achieving the most important requisite of an excellent romance series by putting together a cast of strong, fascinating, sympathetic characters, but the story that they’re involved is frustratingly drawn out and ultimately unrewarding.

School Rumble has always been carried on the strength of its characters, and it’s thanks to these strong characters that a few glimpses of the masterpiece this could have been still shine through cracks of an otherwise mediocre story, even during these final two episodes.  Harima still persists with the courage and selflessness that makes him such a magnetic lead and even Karasuma and Tenma, arguably the flattest characters in this anime, show depth beyond not just what is generally let on, but also beyond what one typically gets of characters in this genre.

And, while the characters and their actions mark the best of School Rumble, the ill-developed plot yet again makes for its worst.  This OVA series basically gives anime-only watchers the bird by skipping something like eighty chapters worth of manga material with only a brief recap to compensate.  It basically takes about ten minutes of the first OVA to recover enough to actually understand what’s going on.  But, worse than this, when it becomes clear that the series is building towards a finale, the series decides it would rather deal with a subplot surrounding Karasuma that pops up out of nowhere than resolve the love triangle between Harima, Eri and Yakumo, the single plotline which has made this show’s hook pretty much from the beginning.  The only scene that even addressed the love triangle is a poorly executed, naively overwrought slap session which is so enthusiastic that it comes off as more silly and awkward than emotionally affecting.

I honestly wonder if it’s not melodramatic to suggest that School Rumble is the biggest waste of potential in anime/manga this decade.  The series has amazing characters that are, in most cases, strong, sympathetic and multi-dimensional, yet the plot, particularly the ending, is limp and gutless and resolves almost nothing.  I find it ironic that Kobayashi is currently working on a manga called School Rumble Z, since the parallels between School Rumble and Dragonball within their respective genres are profound.  While both are built on stable premises and have fun, enjoyable characters that are capable of showing depth, they’re both hampered by inane, repetitive plotlines that have no sense of direction and are frustratingly poorly paced.  However, in Dragonball Z, at least they eventually leave Namek…

The Rating: 5

Reviewed by: Sorrow-kun

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