Reviewby Theron Martin, Aug 21st 2008
School Rumble-Extra Class
The gang's all back for a new wave of fill-in-the-gap stories! Yoshidayama reflects on his problematic middle school past, aborted plans for the future, and sucking-up to Harima, while a transfer student from Britain tries to strike up a friendship with Yakumo, who is troubled over her sleep-prone behavior, psychic ability, and later strange encounters with a ghostly girl. Various cast members fret over the possibilities offered by a new seating arrangement, followed by a hot springs trip offering opportunities for romantic hijinks. Imadori's attempts to soften Lara go less than well, even with his dog involved, while Yakumo's nighttime assistance of Harima on a pressing manga deadline provides her with some surprising insight. The fun doesn't stop until the whole gang has transplanted back to 10,000 B.C. and taken roles in the struggle for survival of a primitive tribe.
Didn't get enough of the stupid fun centered on Tenma, Harima, and crew from the TV series? Fear not! This pair of OVA episodes offers the functional equivalent of the deleted scenes sometimes added as extras on DVD release of live-action TV and movies, little vignettes which slip into gaps in story content and help flesh out some of the backstories of the supporting characters. While the approach may invite comparisons to the relationship of Full Metal Panic! Fumoffu? to its original series, these are not purely comedic side features. They are, instead, a “random assortment of odds and ends” (as Funimation's flavor text puts it) scattered across the length and breadth of the series, pieces that typically serve as supplements or extensions to established scenes. Because of references made in these clips, and the abrupt way some of them end, a thorough familiarity with the original series content is required to fully understand and appreciate them all. Those who have at least a basic familiarity with the essential characters and relationships which populate the series may be able to understand the stand-alone bits and some of the humor, but will be lost elsewhere.
The content here is not even entirely comedic; most of the scenes involving Yakumo actually play straight and at least semi-serious. Others bits are not funny simply because the pathetic attempt at humor fails; a scene can only be so stupid and still be funny. The eight bits strewn across the two normal-length episodes do at least occasionally generate a genuine laugh, though, and amongst them are a couple of gems, like the seat-changing sequence or one particular scene involving Eri and Harima in the bath house bit. Even the patently stupid prehistoric bit (where, despite everyone wearing animal skins, some characters still wear glasses) has its moments, and the Yakumo/Sara scenes are actually rather sweet. Enough of these moments present themselves to sustain casual fans through the less interesting content, while devoted School Rumble fans should have a ball.
The other reason to watch is, of course, for the much-advertised fan service, but in actuality it is mostly limited to the hot springs piece and not much of it can be found even there; the DVD cover art gives probably the biggest single dose of it. Fan service was rarely emphasized in the main series, however, so that should not come as much of a surprise.
Despite being an OVA, the artistic and especially animation efforts show little evidence of the higher production values generally brought on by more time and a bigger budget. The animation is as sparse and unimpressive as ever, with even the involved scene concerning the human/mammoth battle in the prehistoric bit, which probably required as much effort as the rest of these two episodes combined, looking remarkably crude and mechanical in comparison to similar examples seen elsewhere. (Those wanting to be nice might claim that its crudeness fits the spirit of the content, but that's a stretch.) Character designs are still typically pleasing, the texture on the mammoth is actually a fairly impressive work of CG, and various visual stylistic gimmicks mostly work. Background art rarely impresses but is never the focus anyway.
The soundtrack offers much stronger merits in always seeming to find the right sound for a given scene. Both episodes use the original super-peppy TV series opener “Scramble,” and the second episode does revive the original closer “Girls Boys,” but the first episode instead uses the song “Ginga Ensen '05” set to cute visuals of Harima and Tenma together on a train. English dub performances maintain the standards set in the regular series by providing satisfyingly close English interpretations of the Japanese voices, while the script generally stays a bit tighter than the norm for Funimation dub jobs. A general lack of tricky language-based jokes deserves at least some of the credit for that, however.
Extras on this volume include clean opener and closer and an interview with the seiyuu who voice the Tsukamoto sisters, who discuss the OVA content in this installment. The reversible cover features a fan service-ish shot of the girls normally and a shot focusing on the guys when flipped. Given that several of the bits seem directly lined up with regular episode content, some kind of guide as to which bit fits where in the regular series would have been appreciated as an insert.
“Extra Class” will probably be a worthy purchase or rental for devoted fans of School Rumble, and the content gives a good enough feel for the style of the series to be a nice sampler for those wanting to decide if the entire series is worth checking out, but it lacks sufficient punch to be much of a draw otherwise.
Overall (dub) : B-
Overall (sub) : B-
Story : B-
Animation : B-
Art : B
Music : B+
+ Occasional good laughs, nice bonus scenes for fans of the TV series.
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