School Rumble: 1st Semester – Review
School Rumble: 1st Semester:
Original Air Dates: October 5th, 2004 – March 29th, 2005
Synopsis: Harima Kenji is a young delinquent, struggling to adjust to the life of an average high school student. The reason he’s even bothering with school? His heart has been captured by the beautiful Tenma Tsukamoto. Due to his infatuation with her, Kenji’s begun attending school again, taking his classes, at least sort of, seriously. It’s all in an effort to work up the courage to confess his love for Tenma. Meanwhile Tenma herself, with a dim light bulb for a brain, is instead obsessed with a quiet and mysterious classmate named Karasuma. Can Harima confess his love for Tenma? And even if he does will it get him anywhere?
Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: School Rumble’s central plot is more of a guiding promise, rarely dictating anymore than the basic motivation for our principal characters. Many of the episodes deal less directly with Kenji’s infatuation for Tenma, or her infatuation for Karasuma, but rather one off events centered around misunderstandings that lead to outrageous comedy. Besides a few ongoing plot strands, School Rumble mainly consists of a few comedic shorts per episode. When focusing on the one off approach School Rumble is at its best, delivering perfect doses of its more unhinged comedy. The longer story lines can also be enjoyable, but sometimes feel stretched, outstaying their welcome as they drag to their eventual conclusion. School Rumble has a large cast that extends far beyond Tenma or Kenji and when the series decides to focus on some of the less developed characters it becomes difficult to maintain interest. School Rumble’s biggest asset is its ability to change in tone, one minute believable and grounded in teen high school drama/antics, and the next brimming with insanity that extends far beyond the norm of possibility.
Linny: The story of young love, ahhh! While this may make it sound like one for the girls, School Rumble adds sooo much insane comedy into its romance that it successfully becomes an appealing show for all viewers instead of those seeking romance. The cliché love triangle remains cliché and if you’ve watched enough anime you might already have a good idea of how it’s all going to end. However School Rumble does some refreshing takes on it by adding in a lot of parodies and maxing out on eccentric gags of the perils of young love.
Tom: Tenma and Harima remain the best the series has to offer, these two love struck fools acting as the perfect centerpieces to the bizarre everyday school life of the series. Beyond Tenma and Harima, School Rumble boasts an abundance of additional cast members. From the blonde, stuck up girl Eri, to the busty martial arts babe, Mikoto. The sheer number of characters are just too many to describe, but many remain nearly as entertaining as our principals. But in an effort to give every character some screen time, this means we’re periodically treated to stories focusing on a few background characters who should’ve remained just that– in the background. It’s in these few instances, when the series strays too far from its stars, that School Rumble really suffers. It’s a problem that extends into the OVAs and 2nd season (to be discussed at a later date), but otherwise the first season manages to keep itself focused where it should be: On Tenma, Harima and their immediate group of friends.
Linny: The show is indeed its best when it remains focused on the smaller and close circle of Harima, Tenma and their friends and family. There’s an intimidating number of cast members and a lot of them surprisingly manage to get their own little side stories. More often than not, these stories were amusing and did add to the insanity and entertainment but obviously not all of them are going to be of equal appeal. It will depend on how interesting you find the character in the limelight and how much you like them. If they are someone you don’t particularly enjoy or wished would remain a side character, then you’re going to want to skip their episodes. The show does do a somewhat decent job of shifting the spotlight between cast members and though it would be impossible to expect every single character in the show to get equal airtime, whenever a lesser character gets a story, these stories feel well paced..at least to the standard that the show has for its other characters. They might act as a nice change of pace for anyone who’s tiring of all the Tenma or Harima centric stories.
Tom: I ended up jumping between the English and Japanese tracks during my time with the series. I can safely say that the dub does a great job of capturing the same personalities brought to life by the hard work of the Japanese’ VAs. Some of the minor characters diverge heavily from their Japanese counterparts, but the primary and secondary characters are spot on and translate faithfully between the two vocal tracks.
Linny: I, on the other hand, am more familiar with the Japanese dub and the cast does a stellar job of bringing the characters’ personalities alive. I especially love the passion in Harima’s voice when he gets all fueled up by his devotion to Tenma. The voice actors really excelled at bringing out their characters’ emotions and landing every punchline effortlessly. However, they also sound extremely ‘classic’ in the sense that fans of older shows may have heard these voices or similarly toned characters before but given the premise and the characters, it all still works very well.
Tom: School Rumble’s animation is often competent, but rarely stands out. Characters rarely appear off-model, but never move with the fluidity required to impress. On the opposite end it also never dips in quality, maintaining a consistency that never enthralls or impresses, but rarely disappoints either.
Linny: A lot of the character designs are drawn to stand out, and I really appreciated that. It helped to distinguish them and also highlight their eccentricities like Tenma’s wiggly, tiny pony tails on the side of her head which aid in showing off her personality and emotions. However, a lot of the time the backgrounds were poorly drawn but since all the action is happening in the foreground, it doesn’t detract or take you out of the moment.
Tom: School Rumble is a series for everyone, not just those who enjoy the more Asian influences of anime or the more quirky, bordering sexual presentation of otaku centric anime. Rather School Rumble could act as a semi-decent introduction for less anime loving individuals, offering a wide range of humor that helps to keep its appeal open for a more general audience. It manages to avoid hefty amounts of fan service, making it a much more appealing product for individuals less comfortable with fan service heavy material.
Linny: School Rumble season one is my most beloved anime from the ones Tom’s introduced me to. Fair warning, you may not get ALL the jokes in it due to language-based gags, or if you’re new to anime but don’t worry about missing out a ton. It is still bursting with laughs and is accessible to all kinds of viewers. If you think an over-the-top take on school romances sounds fun, this is a classic.