School Rumble Manga Volumes 14, 15, and 16 (Review)

School Rumble Manga Volumes 14, 15, and 16 (Review)
School Rumble Manga 14-16 Omnibus

–> Not available from RAKUTEN.COM (formerly BUY.COM)

I’d been waiting a while for the next installment of School Rumble from Del Rey. Fortunately, getting three volumes worth at once helps fill the spot. (Update: 07-APR-2014 — sadly, this was the end of School Rumble in the US as we get a nice big “F-U” from the licensor.

SPOILER Summary/Synopsis:

School Rumble Manga Volumes 14, 15, and 16Things start with a ski trip for Eri, Tenma, Akira, and Mikoto with Tenma showing unexpected skills while in Central America, Harima finds a village full of people who look like his schoolmates. Next up is Valentine’s day with the usual hijinks and Eri deciding to give Harima chocolates.

The trip to England somehow becomes a trip to Kyoto. The classes of 2-C and 2-D encounter a class from Great Britain. One, named Max, knows Eri and after Hanai takes a beating, Harima ends up getting roped into things when his love proclamation for Tenma “charm” gets taken by one of the Brits. Things get more nutty when at the Toei Movie Land, Harima takes on the role of a samurai defending Eri against the British students. Things are further complicated by Eri’s growing feelings for Harima and her own charm proclaiming her love for Harima. Thanks to an actor who looks like an older Harima, things between Eri and Harima are pushed further to make them seem like a couple.

After some small stories, including one with some of Yakumo’s classmates hooking up with Tenma, Akira, Mikoto, and Eri in a karaoke session, it is time for the 2nd year students to start thinking about their futures. Tenma decides to be a teacher and naturally Harima decides to tag along. Meanwhile, Mikoto ends up breaking things off with Aso.

It is time to put the class photo album together and since Eri and Harima were elected leaders for the school trip, it falls to them to make the album happen. Harima doesn’t want to be involved, especially since he has been given a job to create a new manga for a publication. After accidentally ruining Eri’s umbrella, Harima decides to help her. During the course of this, he finds a picture of himself in the samurai outfit along with Eri, which he doesn’t want to have appear in the album.

Because they are so far behind, Eri has Harima come over to her home and her butler and “maid” decide to help Eri’s relationship with Harima advance. She finds the photo and ends up asking him to spend the night to work on the album. Everything that happens makes Eri fall more for Harima, who isn’t meaning any of it to be romantic. When Harima leaves, he sends Eri a text to express the fun he had, leading her to be more confused.

After Class 2-D puts out a trailer for their photo album, Eri invites Harima to her birthday party. Since Tenma will be attending, Harima is excited, leading Eri to think that Harima is excited because Harima wants to be at Eri’s party. As the only male at the party, the other girls go into overdrive, even setting up heart-shaped cake slices for Harima and Eri. However, Eri happens to see Harima and Tenma on the terrace and since Harima is attracted to Tenma (who still doesn’t realize this), their conversation does not please Eri.

Thoughts/Review: The central focus of these three volumes were Eri and Harima’s odd relationship. I have to say that I loved every minute of it though I was a bit disappointed that the class didn’t actually go to England. That aside, having some English students come to Japan, one of whom knew Eri, does work with how Kobayashi-sensei lays things out. Having the studio lot as the basis for some of the story reminded me of when something similar happened in Negima!

Anyway, I can completely understand Eri’s attraction to Harima. Yeah, he’s a punk and a thug, but he’s also a softy in many regards. He’s strong and has shown that he can protect Eri, both from those who might do her harm but also from the weather. How many times has he performed an act of compassion for Eri with an umbrella or the like, yet still had no interest in her?

Therein lies the root of Eri’s attraction for Harima. As she notes in the manga, there isn’t a guy out there who wouldn’t go out of their way to do things for Eri. A simple smile from her sends them jumping. That’s understandable seeing how we guys like a hot babe. ^_~ However, since Harima is not interested in Eri, his acts of kindness don’t come with the normal male hope for something more from Eri. Indeed, for every time that Harima has done something kind for Eri, how often has he been rude to her? How many times has he put her off?

So, Harima is an anomaly among the males that Eri comes in contact with. There are plenty of guys with courage to ask Eri out but only Harima is not affected by her charms. Thus, Harima is a challenge to Eri and the more he’s not interested in her, the more determined she is to “win” and make him interested. Along the way, she ends up falling for Harima even though he frustrates her and he’s not the kind of guy that she would have picked.

One wonders if Kobayashi-sensei is trying to relay a message to the males in his audience that fawning all over a girl likely won’t get her but being indifferent might. ^_^

Asou and Mikoto’s odd relationship came to an end. I can see why Asou liked Mikoto so much and certainly she had nothing against Asou, but it was clear from the start that they weren’t a good couple. Again, Kobayashi-sensei taps into that very real element (which is mostly during the teen years but can happen beyond) where a boy and girl start going out but one party is only casual about the relationship and the other is more into it.

Because Eri has so much screen time, Yakumo doesn’t get as much. That said, the one side story chapter of Sarah’s sleepover did catch my eye. I know there have been a lot of shippers on a Sarah x Yakumo thing and I never really saw it until this chapter. Sarah’s whole being in this chapter was one of a girl who loves Yakumo romantically but knows that Yakumo doesn’t swing that way and so she settles for the role of best friend for life. Then again, maybe I’m just being influenced and reading too much into things.

On the Del Rey side, I don’t have a problem with the notion of them switching to an omnibus format. The result is more manga for less costs. I am disappointed that the color cover art of all three volumes is not included. What you see on the cover is the artwork for volume 14. I would have included the Japanese cover art for volume 15 and 16, but the only decent scans I could find also included the advertisement band that often comes with Japanese books. Instead, I’ll use the German covers, which are published by TokyoPop.

Now, I realize that publishing this artwork would slightly add to the costs, but I’d still like to have had it.

The omnibus is separated by volume, so the end of each volume has William Flanagan’s excellent translator notes. The start of the new volume is easily denoted by the inside by the standard black-and-white front page art.

One of the reasons that I’ve always liked William Flanagan as a translator is that he explains in detail when he has to rewrite a joke. I loathe rewriting (as I’ve noted whenever the subject of those early volumes of Negima! comes up) but I can be bought off in a case like this where the translator takes the time to say, “OK, this is what it was in the original Japanese and why I felt compelled to change it to fit in English.” So I get the original joke, learn a bit more about Japanese and the culture, and I’m then OK with the modification.

Of course, there are some things that can’t be forced into English. Indeed, the first chapter kills the argument of those who say there is NOTHING that can’t be ramrodded into some English equivalent. That’s because various characters in the chapter visually spelled out Japanese words with their ski jumps using the Katakana alphabet. The only way to avoid using the Japanese jokes and words is to redraw the entire chapter or trash it. I feel an evil laugh coming on, but I shall refrain. ^_~

I don’t remember if I’ve ever mentioned this before (I’m in a hurry as I write and so can’t take the time to look back through old posts) but I sorta wish that the term “ojousama” was used when Eri’s staff address her and that Harima’s use of “Ojou” to address Eri was retained. It wasn’t from the start and likely isn’t going to now. I guess after reading and enjoying the term’s usage in manga like Del Rey’s Negima! or Viz’s Hayate the Combat Butler, I now like it and sorta wish it was there. Yeah, I know, I can replace the “young miss” with “ojousama” and “princess” with “ojou.” It isn’t a complaint as such per se, just a wish on my part. ^_^

I do wish Del Rey would get a move on and publish more. The final volume of School Rumble (#22) was published in Japan two years ago! Unfortunately, Del Rey has nothing else on the docket for the rest of the year, which suggests that they may decide to not release another omnibus until December at the very earliest. Also, we’ve had no word on whether or not Del Rey will pick up School Rumble Z (which they should).

So, another good three volumes of School Rumble.

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2 Responses to “School Rumble Manga Volumes 14, 15, and 16 (Review)”

  1. Flippy says:

    It also bothered me that they didn’t even include the black and white versions of the covers. I mean, it doesn’t interrupt the flow of the story in the volume, so it could have been intentional, but it would’ve been nice. Wow, has it been 2 years since the last volume of School Rumble has been published? Wow, I remember reading the announcement for that when it happened. And Del Rey took so long getting these out that they ended up publishing them as an omnibus. It’s a shame, because I recall School Rumble being quite popular while Del Rey was publishing it, so the fact that they’re pulling back so much must mean that its popularity has declined enough that they don’t really want to risk money on it.

  2. AstroNerdBoy says:

    I don’t think the popularity of the manga has declined. It was a way for Del Rey to lower their licensing costs (and I think other costs as well).

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