Review: School Rumble (2004)

Never again will I watch something on the title alone. When I put my hand up to review this title I was thinking “oh joy another beat ’em up show that will slowly atrophy my brain with each punch and round house kick”. I wish it had been a beat ’em up show; instead I got lumped with this ‘romantic comedy’. I now long for what in comparison is the cerebral brilliance that is Baki The Grappler. However I concede this in the show’s defence; I’m probably not the target demographic.

Tenma is a young high school girl who has a really huge crush on Ooji, a fellow that makes androids and computers look they’re over-emoting. She really wants to be his girlfriend but just can’t get the words out of her mouth to ask even simple questions. To make matters worse, Ooji is completely blind to the advances of Tenma. Much like how Tenma is completely blind to the attempts of Harima — school delinquent and street fighter — to try and woo her. So what you’ve got here is not really a love triangle but more of a love arrow or V in that the love is only going in one direction and not being reciprocated. Why Tenma likes Ooji so much was completely lost on me. Where is the sex appeal in a guy that makes The Terminator look like that loud-mouthed speed talker Chris Tucker?

I mentioned before the confusion I had in the title and thinking it was going to be a brawler kind of show. I wasn’t completely wrong. There a couple of fights courtesy of Harima beating up a few people because he’s supposed to be a bad ass. Enemies challenge him to get honour or some such but that rarely figures into more than one or two of the stories included on the disc. Each episode is broken into three short stories usually involving attempts by Tenma, Harima or both to try and woo their object of desire or to try and avoid the object of their desire finding them out in an embarrassing situation. So I suppose that if a story fell flat with a viewer they only had to wait five minutes and they’d be onto a different plot. That would be the case but every single story just feels like a rehash of the story before it, like Wile E Coyote and the Road Runner and the various traps that always fail, the only difference being the Coyote was funny. Tenma isn’t.

That’s the biggest crime here, the show is really just not that funny. All the scenes that could have some grounding in reality seem to so blown out of proportion and drawn in that super deformed state to denote comedy that it just feels like it’s trying too hard. In an attempt to get close to Ooji, Tenma is just about to take the bus seat next to him when one of her friends takes the seat for herself. To get her friend out of the way Tenma starts to hit the back of the seat in an attempt to make her carsick. It does work but it also makes Tenma sick from all of the banging of her head on the seat back. It could have been funnier if I had bothered to remove the language barrier of watching it subbed but I really don’t want to watch this again subbed or dubbed. The only time I remember laughing or even smiling was when Tenma ate the food of the anime convention gods that we all know and love: Pocky (will sell a kidney for lifetime supply of pocky).

It became a real chore to watch this show towards the end. The show’s short story format could have worked for it better in small doses but in a back to back marathon brains will start melting from stupidity and non-funniness. If you desperately need to watch romantic stuff by all means give it a go but people that prefer more grunt in their anime should definitely look elsewhere.

3.5 Android-like love interests out of 10.
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