Sunday, September 9, 2012

Manga review: "School Rumble"

After some two weeks of reading, I have finished with "School Rumble" manga. I have watched the anime adaptation several years ago - it was one of the first anime I watched, and I still consider it as one of my favorite anime. This actually applies for the first two seasons - third one was composed of two episodes and left a bad aftertaste. So I had some great expectations from this manga, but at the same time I was dreading it would leave prove my memories false and diminish my experience of "School Rumble".

I can't say that "School Rumble" has any real plot. It is a love-polygon slapstick comedy following member of one class during their second high-school year. Two main characters are Tsukamoto Tenma and Harima Kenji: Tenma is a childish, clueless and not so good looking girl, while Harima is notorious and one of the toughest delinquents around - and he is hopelessly in love in Tenma. But Tenma herself is in love with Karasuma, a strange and expressionless boy from their class. He lead us to the second level of main-characters, which include him, Suou (one of three Tenma's best friend, beautiful and popular), Sawachika (another of Tenma's best friends, half-Japanese, blonde and also beautiful), Takano (yet another of Tenma's best friends, capable and elegant), Hanai (class leader, all proper and strict, but altogether a good guy) and Yakumo (Tenma's younger sister, one of the most popular girls in school, shy and capable). I won't list more characters because I would need several pages to mention all few dozen of recurring characters...

Main topic of the first several volumes are Harima's efforts while he try to express his love to Tenmna, while Tenma tries the same to Karasuma. Later focus changes more to the Tenma's misunderstanding (and she is full of those) where she belives Harima in love with Suou, Sawachika, Yakumo, Itoko (their teacher but at the same time Harima's cousin), Tae (a girl Harima meet during one of his frequent giving ups of life). All, all this is crisscrossed with love-problems of other girls (which may or may not include Harima) and other characters, and with short gags. Structure of the manga is such that every now and then there is a longer arc which describe a typical event like trip to beach (where Sawachika will see Harima naked), school sport festival (where Sawachika and Harima will save the reputation of their class), school culture festival (where Harima will be found in bed with Yakumo) and so on....

As for characters, there is really bunch of them. Since this is a shounen slapstick comedy, one cannot expect any real depth and complexity of them, but you can expect much hilarity. They usually have few distinctive characteristics that are used to draw laughter: Imadori like breast and Dojibiron (something like Power Rangers); Hanai is proper but can be challenged to extreme actions; Tougo is all extreme, Sawachika is a typical rich Princess, but has a surprising gentle side, and so on.

Appeal of "School Rumble" is coming from play between rooting that a guy finally gets a girl and rooting against him because you know that it's funny and if he ever catches it, then everything is over. The trick is in doing this but keep the originality and not irritating the reader - and it can't be said that "School Rumble" always succeeds in this. There are irritating parts (for me, most of the Tenma-Karasuma thing was irritating), but I liked most of it. I didn't like "trip to England" arc and found it really not funny. Also, I kept hoping for a different ending - I would be more satisfied if mange ended one or few chapters earlier. There are lots of slapstick jokes, misunderstandings, puns - I would usually snort at least once during the better chapters. And Harima can always cause an outright laugh ("Miko-chan...").

The art in manga is not really impressive, and the color covers were especially poor. But for such manga where its strength is in gags and dialog this is not so important. Dialog is often nonsensical and plot inconsistent, but they are hilarious. I had few occasions that I really couldn't follow the plot, like there were pages missing, but they are not often. Also, I noticed few differences from anime: like missing the explanation why Harima is in love with Tenma, although there is one in anime.

I really liked "School Rumble" mange and had a very good time with it. But all in all, I wouldn't recommend it - I would recommend the anime adaptation, and only first two seasons ("School Rumble" and "School Rumble: Nii Gakki"). Anime perfectly filters only the best parts of mange (the most it), it has a better art and it gives characters voices. But if you have watched anime and now are wondering what mange is like - it is good.

1 comment:

  1. I still love the series. Can't really find anything like it

    Close stuff I can think off are ToraDora but that's a little too heavy on the drama and have too few characters.

    I guess this genre (RomCom w/ very light fan service) will be stuck in the "13 Episode Syndrome" for a while. as of recent.