Anime Review: School Rumble! – 1st season, 2nd Semester and 3rd Semester OVA

As a fan of You Tube reviewer Black Critic guy, I had heard about School Rumble numerous times from him. After all, it is apparently his favourite show. I have waited for a while to do this review because, to be honest, I have never been more infuriated with a series – especially an ending to a series – in my life. As the three series (I say three but 3rd semester is more of a poor attempt at wrapping up the first two seasons with an ending, and so is more of a two episode OVA) have been released for a long time now, and so I was, I’ll admit, holed up in my house marathoning them all like a damned hermit crab for a week or two. But wait—! Before you go elsewhere and assume that this is just gonna be a rant, think again. I have waited all of this time to let the rage simmer down so I can review the series for its good and bad points with a cool head. Enjoy 😉 .

So let me outline the premise of School Rumble. Now the cast is really too long to introduce one by one so I’ll introduce the two main protagonists. Tenma Tsukamoto is your typical air headed and clumsy but kind, who is just down right adorable in every way. I was literally unable to stop myself from laughing or chuckling fondly at her quirky and cute behaviours from episode one. Tenma is in love with the apparently good looking (its anime, but he looked pretty plain to me) quiet and unemotive guy Hirasawa. However, she too has an admirer. Enter Kenji Harima, our second main protagonist!

Kenji was by far my favourite character. Kenji is the local delinquent, feared by all as ‘that guy who you should never mess with, always be polite to and give adequate personal space at all times if you don’t want him to kill you’ if you get my drift. However, this character goes through a hell of a development throughout the series, and genuinely becomes a good, decent, guy.

Together with a host of well-developed characters (notably Tenma’s group of friends, the hot headed class rep and Tenma’s kind-hearted sister, Yakumo) the cast go on a series of crazy adventures and story arcs all filled with meaninglessly funny storylines and all solidifying and developing our main characters to some extent.

Now, BE WARNED: those who are still contemplating watching this, I have an important piece of advice for minimal disappointment.

If you, like me, watch all of the episodes of a romance/romantic comedy with a clear goal in sight to find out who ends up with who and the romantic journeys of these characters which ultimately end at the ‘heart-in-mouth, anxiety filled but ultimately satisfying confession’, don’t – just don’t – do it. Spoiler alert (if you call a spoiler ‘detailing what doesn’t happen’):
NOBODY ENDS UP WITH ANYBODY apart from one couple, and it isn’t particularly satisfying at all. And no, not Harima and Tenma. Now I apologise if this ruins the surprise, but this series had a huge problem of hinting heavily that people were going to end up with other people and teasing the viewer with potential romances between various characters. After all, they set up relationships so well between various characters that I was begging for at least some of them to end up together by the end with a satisfying conclusion.

I sincerely believe that, having said this, you can all go and watch the show and ENJOY it for the funny slice of life comedy that it really is. Romantic comedy? I’m not so sure. As mentioned, there should probably be a satisfying and romantic ending to it if that was really the case.

*Whew!* so, now that that’s out of the way.

Looking back, I enjoyed the heck out of some of these arcs. However I sometimes felt that the constant chaos of all of the characters distracted the central plot from actually progressing the relationships between said characters. In other words, I felt that the series performed better as a slice of life than a romance, and I would have enjoyed it far more had this been the case. This in itself led these great arcs to become kind of tedious after a while. The series was in no way short – adding up the episode of the first season, Second and Third Semester, there was a total of over 50 episodes. Now I know that is ridiculously long, but it’s enough of a time investment to begin to get frustrated to see some actual plot development.
This led to a desperately rushed final few episodes to give the watcher some semblance of closure. I’m not sure why, really. I mean, they do plan these things out beforehand, right? And they had two bloody seasons to do it, RIGHT?

As for the OST, I loved the OPs and EDs (especially the first ones) and there were a couple of really sweet sound tracks, but most of it was pretty forgettable. The animation was actually quite good, especially for the action scenes, which there were a lot of. It was fluid and clear, and really nice to watch. I really liked the way Tenma’s hair bounced up and down when she talked (she’s so adorable!) and the way she kept on switching into and out of chibi mode. They did a great job of changing the art style for the characters to suit the mood and situation.

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Overall, I found the characters endearing and funny and definitely very attachable, which is a hell of a feat for a cast as large as this one. The arcs were all entertaining and funny, and prove that principle applied to a lot of modern cartoons that you can put your well-developed characters in almost any setting and have them put on a good show. However I feel that School rumble set itself up to be something that it wasn’t and didn’t really follow through for its romantic elements, causing it to shoot itself in the foot with an unsatisfying and unromantic (for the most part) ending which left me contemplating the many other things I could have spent my time doing during the (roughly) 18 hours of life that I lost.

That’s why I’m giving School Rumble a:

8/10 for characters
4/10 for story (I know it’s the journey that matters, but the ending is paramount in giving it any meaning!)
5/10 for soundtrack
7/10 for art and animation

An overall 6/10 for personal enjoyment.

Sorry for the late review guys, I’ve been a bit busy lately with school exams and stuff! There’ll be another one next weekend!

I don’t own the pictures used in this post. All rights go to their respective owners. Please help support the official release.

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