Chances are very good by now that you have heard of School Rumble. FUNimation finished releasing the complete first season not too long ago, and it was fairly well received by American audiences. The off-brand of humor and energized characters played well with viewers and convention goers alike. If for any reason you haven't seen the show, by all means check it out, it's funny stuff. At any rate, the second season has been licensed and finally released, but this time some things are a little different with the packaging.
So with the second season FUNimation is trying something new. Most likely because of the fact that only people who bought into the first season will buy into this one, the second release has come out with the remaining thirteen episodes. Once again, if you followed the first season and picked up part one of the second, then you're in for more School Rumble in a nice meaty package.
Now, if by chance you're coming to this review having no idea what School Rumble is, I'm not really going to get into the details of the series. After all, this is the second season. Basically all you need to know is that there is a girl named Tenma who has a crush on a boy named Karasuma. Another boy, named Harima, is crushing on Tenma, but is kind of being wedged together with her younger sister Yakumo. It's a bizarre love triangle with a school setting, a whole cast of eclectic characters, over-the-top situations, and a whacky sense of humor. If you appreciate four panel comic style shows then you'll probably enjoy what's going on here.
The second half of the second season doesn't really see a lot of change to the formula, but I suppose you weren't really expecting that if you're coming to this review after seeing the rest of the series. Basically everything is the same as it was though there are some more, longer lasting storylines included with this batch of episodes. The last time around we saw Harima and Yakumo wedged together again, Harima's younger brother got involved, and a Cultural Festival took up most of the remaining time. The best part about that was the school's play, but up to the end of the episodes in the first half of the season the rest of the material just wasn't strong enough to keep up or stand out.
With the second half of the season things are looking up slightly due to the focus on Harima and his pursuit of a manga career. The dolt actually gets his work accepted by a publisher of sorts and he's commissioned for another somewhat sizeable manga shortly thereafter. It should be easy for Harima, but with the deadline fast approaching he's locked out of his house when his family goes away on a ski trip and he's forced to find other people to stay with. If you're at all familiar with the show then I'm sure you know where this is going. While it goes down some predictable paths with regards to the School Rumble brand of humor, there is actually some enjoyable time between Harima and Eri.
Across a decent spread of episodes, with the backdrop of winter and Christmas, Harima burns the midnight oil and eventually gets to a point where he's ready to turn the manga over. Of course you know that can't happen easily and there are some funny moments as he contemplates his work to someone special. After that, and in between, there are tons of random moments and off-the-wall jokes presented as only this show could. Towards the end of the season there's a breakdown of sorts and the show really goes bonkers with spin-offs of other shows, comic books, and such. It's all relatively amusing, but if you're looking for any kind of character development during this stint you're going to be disappointed.
All around the second season of School Rumble held up well and right towards the end of this collection there are some nice moments with Harima and the girls. I must say though, I don't know if it's the sheer volume of episodes all at once or the fact that the series hasn't really changed since it began, but it's just not as funny as it used to be. The brand of humor has grown rather stale by this point and though the show tries some different things with expanded plotlines and whatnot, it's just not quite enough to hold interest. I suppose it's one of those things where if you come loving and expecting what the show has to offer you'll be pleased enough, but if you're hoping for the series to evolve or try new things you'll feel bored. I would still consider the series as a whole a recommendation, but it's not a super high one at this point in its run.
The second season of School Rumble originally aired in 2006 and is presented on DVD with the full screen aspect ratio it was produced with, much like the first season. FUNimation's transfer here is very similar to the job done with the first season. The picture quality is overall very good with some nicely defined animation, clean moments, and vibrant colors. There are some flaws here and there though as flashes of aliasing occur from time to time, compression artifacts pop up occasionally, and grain can be spotted as well. All of these nitpicks occur in small patches throughout both discs, but they aren't really distracting unless you are watching the show on a larger set.
With 2.0 English and Japanese stereo tracks School Rumble is not an audio powerhouse. There isn't a lot of action here and most everything is dialogue based so I suppose a surround mix was unnecessary; though it would have helped matters a lot. For the most part things sound good with a fine presence on the soundstage but I do have to say that the volume felt a tad unbalanced. Some scenes were quieter than others and music tended to drown out the dubs. Speaking of which both languages do offer competent voice actors and fine dubbing quality all around.
Part two of the second season has some standard bonus features such as textless animation, trailers, and reversible covers, but the inclusion of a brief interview with creator Jin Kobayashi is a welcome addition. A commentary or something of the like would have been nice, but with the space limitations due to the sardine-like packing of episodes on two discs that's really not an option. Then again, if you have been following the show to this point you probably weren't expecting much in terms of an array of supplemental features.
The first season of School Rumble was a fun watch. The characters were lively, the humor was gonzo, and each episode had something unique to offer. The exact same formula returns for the second season, but along with all of its strength we get its weakness as well. Like the first part of the second season the brand of humor here is VERY tired. It's amusing in small doses and the larger storylines help somewhat, but all around this is the same show in the second year as it was in the first. With that being said if you really liked what you've seen already you'll undoubtedly appreciate these episodes as well. I was hoping for something more with the second season but in the end I was entertained enough to recommend it only to people who loved the first season.
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