School Rumble Vol
What They Say
Harima Kenji has never lost a fight, but his love for the clueless Tsukamoto Tenma is proving to be his greatest challenge. After catching his cherished Tenmachan and an unexpected rival in a lunchtime tryst, Kenji spirals into the deepest pit of high school Hades plummeting so low that there’s only one thing left to do: draw a manga. When Kenji hits bottom, whom will he find there?
Meanwhile, Tenma is determined to learn how to cook this time preferably without setting the house on fire!
The ReviewOnce again I am highly impressed by Del Rey’s handling of this title. If it were not for the tall B6 trim (digest size) I would have thought this was a Japanese book. My reasoning was that basically all I was seeing was the Japanese cover. The logo was exactly the same. The ever popular younger Tsukamoto, Yakumo, poses on the cover of this volume just like the Kodansha version. Even the volume number was formatted the same. If Del Rey did not translate the mangaka’s name from Kanji to English it would be exactly the same. There is no standard Del Rey trim dress (the funky ovals) on the cover; instead they left that for the spine where it doesn’t hurt the eyes too much. The opposite cover has a summer influenced collage with the main ladies of Class 2C in their light summer wear on a pink polkadot background. Very nice!
Inside is where this volume really excels. First the printing is solid. You can really look at the fine screen tone and not see any distortion at all. This is a great improvement on what has been Del Rey’s biggest weakness. They kept all of the headers volume and chapter. They included all of the bumper art; this time character sketches of members of the secondary cast. At the end of the book, there are three omake chapters focusing on Yakumo. And then they provide a short mangaka bio and 10 pages of translator notes. The character designs show very little originality. Outside of Harimakun and his bosozoku looks sunglasses, facial hair, slicked back hair, the rest of the cast is actually pretty generic. Eyes tend to be huge, jawlines are sharp and noses are rarely drawn in. For the most part all of his characters are on the long side, looking a bit longer than their range of 5’1″ (Tenma) to 5’7″ (Mikoto). Uniform designs are interesting though not very functional. Kobayashi tries to add some variety through hair styles and height, but his best work comes from his casual wear. When not at school, the girls look great. Kobayashi does it all from oshare to sporty.
Backgrounds are stale, but that is to be expected from shonen comedies. I will say that these picked up a bit from the first volume. That was definitely appreciated as the sports elements really needed this to improve. The layout is what is important here. Kobayashi is really able to create a sense of being right there in the school room with these characters. The perspective is great and it really helps set up the humor well. This manga is a tough one to work on with all of the aside text, all the puns and all of the cultural references. William Flannagan did a fine job maintaining all of that, and what he could not properly translate he explained in the 12 pages of notes which followed the manga. I did notic one problem though and it came in the size conversions that were in the character bios. At least one set was not converted properly (the rest were rounded off kinda funny but were at least in the right ballpark).
As is Del Rey’s policy, SFX are subbed. Their subs tend to be of a small font usually placed below the original SFX. Because of the font size, original art is not compromised. I appreciate the effort and the more I see this done the more I find myself liking it (font size and placement can make a big difference, especially in a manpu filled manga like this).
Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Ladies and gentlemen, sports fans of all ages! Welcome to the School Rumble Undoukai! In this special edition of the Undoukai, we will take you to four venues were our young athletes are competing with their hearts, bodies and minds in high stakes games of romance. The battles are intense, risking health and sanity but no one involved would rather be anywhere else.
In the school pool, youth battle for love in the dangerous game of pool hockey. Push brooms shoot pucks of soap rapidly across empty tiled ponds in the summer. Teams of 5 sacrifice it all in these pools to get those pucks past goaltenders in route to victory. Hockey in all forms is a game of speed, power and selfsacrifice. Bodies are used to block pucks and to congest passing lanes. Body checks and punches are just as much a part of the game as slap shots. But these coed teams play in a very different way. Generally the ultimate team game, this version of hockey is about individuals. Stars that shoot better pictures than pucks slide and dive for the perfect camera shot! The goal in the view finder has cameltoes and etchi moments that bring applause and attention out of the field of play. This is also a game for glory, where every goal could cost someone else the affection of a potential sweetheart.
Baseball is a pure romance sport. On the surface it appears to be a team sport but it is very much and individual game where personal stats can out weight team accomplishments. At its core baseball is really a game between pitcher and batter. If either one has a big day the results will be seen on the scoreboard. Actually, even if one batter can dominate a pitcher that could be enough for victory. Today, the game is tight. In a very National League style of play, small ball has been key and pitching has been strong. Regular players allow for their bench to come up big in the end. Sometimes this turns into a coaches game, but this time the coaching ended up hurting the team in the end.
Sports just seem to be on everyone’s minds. At the local pub, fans discuss their most vivid judo memories over Chinese alcohol. The everyone can agree that the build up to that final moment in competition is really where the excitement lies in this sport. Young athletes might seem comfortable, maybe too calm at times, before the fight. However, as the competition ors draw near and the fighters begin to look for weaknesses there is a moment right at the start where someone is vulnerable. That moment could mean love or hate, victory or misery. Harima knows this feeling. It is one he would never likely live through again. But like all these other contests he understands that love was at the core and their passion is there true strength and beauty.
School Rumble is about battling for love whenever possible. The time might be right on the ball field or it could be in the cafeteria. Sometimes the games are played at the karoke bar over songs and cool drinks. Wherever and whenever, these young people looking for love understand that love never comes without a fight. Yeah it is only volume two but with the chapters in this series generally clocking in at around ten pages each, I was getting a little bit of repetition already in the first volume. Well, volume two takes the charming humor and nonsensical romance to another level.
Okay, I went overboard with the sports references in the content area, but I did that on purpose. Like many comedies time and logic is rarely a part of the formula but Kobayashi does have his moments where he drops some continuity. Three chapters were dedicated to pool hockey with titles like “Love is War” and “Duel”. A few chapters were dedicated to cooking and the battles that always tend to revolve around the kitchen. So as you can see there is more to this title now than just visual gags and rehashed romance stereotypes. And I was very impressed by how Kobayashi has begun to ability to introduce new themes giving his little world plenty of variety while exploring the relationships his characters are working on. Sure practically all of the concepts are derivative (I see influences of Urusei Yatsura and Love Hina in more than a couple vignettes) but just breaking the pattern was a good idea.
But if you are looking for Kobayashi’s true strength it is in his Yakumo extras. Yakumo is by far the most intriguing characters in this title. Her personality is charming. Her beauty is subtle as it lies in her maturity. When Kobayshi decides to focus on her the writing style changes entirely. The jokes are not have heavy handed and there is a sense of mysticism around one of Yakumo’s unique talents her ability to read people’s feelings. She is a girl that is looking for love but is not ready for it and just having a character like that in a series like this is refreshing.
No sophomore jinx for School Rumble, as this latest volume is stronger than the first. Showing more range and expanding on the role of school life in these relationships, School Rumble is able to roll with the punches and mix things up as well with solid art, fun stories and a cute cast.