The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

School Rumble

Title: School Rumble
Genre: Comedy
Company: Media Factory
Format: 26 episodes
Dates: 5 Oct 2004 – 29 Mar 2005

Synopsis: Entering her second year of high school, Tsukamoto Tenma, is—except for her incompetence in sports, academia, cooking and… well… pretty much everything—an average student. Like many students her age, she has fallen in love with a fellow classmate, Karasuma Ooji. Little does she know, she’s not the only student in her class who’s been infected by the love bug. The class delinquent, Harima Kenji, also has someone he admires from afar. And ironically, it’s Tenma.

The Highlights
Music: Fitting soundtrack for a comedic anime.
Comedy: Numerous hits, but a significant fraction of misses.
Characters: Large cast of mostly interesting and well-developed characters…with unfortunately prominent exceptions.
Story: Hindered by characters; plays second fiddle to comedy.
Ending: There was an ending?

Hype is an unusual phenomenon, one that is sometimes unavoidable, but often detrimental. The hype surrounding School Rumble when it first appeared was that it was the second coming of Azumanga Daioh. Even after viewing just the first episode of School Rumble, I realized this was dead wrong. But then I was left with an odd question: if I’m not watching AzuDa II, what exactly am I watching? Unbelievably, it took me ten episodes to figure out for myself what School Rumble really was: a comedy about the romantic misunderstandings of high school students.

Only after this epiphany did I begin to truly appreciate and subsequently enjoy School Rumble. As a comedy, it had a lot going for it. The jokes, whether a play on words or jabs at Tenma or Harima’s oblivious nature, in general, hit their desired mark. Having a sizeable but interesting cast of characters (whom, for the most part, made the most of their time while under the spotlight) is one of the main reasons why School Rumble can claim itself among the better comedies in anime. But the comedy itself wasn’t without its misses. There were far too many attempts to appeal to the lowest common denominator, too many low brow “jokes” that, unlike their highly irreverent counterparts in the recent comedy, 2×2=Shinobuden, just completely missed the mark and left me unimpressed. And don’t even get me started on the P.E. festival episodes.

School Rumble’s cast of characters did have a few kinks in its armour. Unfortunately, one of them was the lead character. Tenma’s oblivious nature did make for some great jokes, but it was used far too often as a device to stall any chance of a relationship developing with any of the characters, and the story advancing. It became especially annoying towards the end of the series, when the jokes had become long stale. An attempt to actually deal some sort of resolution for our characters should have been made. But, right to the end, School Rumble was far too focused on drawing fun at the humorous, but frustrating equilibrium it had established.

With a topnotch soundtrack for an anime comedy and excellent animation (ignoring some rather blemishing CG…), School Rumble is as good aesthetically as it is funny. Unfortunately the price it paid for its humour was a largely unfinished story with numerous unresolved characters. Considering its immense popularity and the incomplete nature of its story, it would hardly surprise me if we saw a sequel in the not too distant future.

The Rating: 7

Reviewed by: Sorrow-kun

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