School Rumble, Volume 1

Jin Kobayashi, Author, William Flanagan, Translator
Jin Kobayashi, Author, William Flanagan, Translator . Del Rey $10.95 (177p) ISBN 978-0-345-49147-3
Reviewed on: 03/27/2006
Release date: 02/01/2006

Unrequited puppy love fuels many laughs in newcomer Kobayashi's romantic comedy debut. Second-year high school student Tsukamoto Tenma has a crush on Karasuma Oji. There's just one problem: Oji is transferring schools in two days. So Tenma leaves a heartfelt love letter in his locker, which she forgets to sign. Oji is intrigued enough to persuade his parents to let him stay at the school for a year while he figures out who his secret admirer is. Plenty of time, right? Not for Tenma. Crippled by her own lack of common sense, and oblivious to juvenile delinquent Harima Kenji's equally unrequited pursuit of her, Tenma makes with the meet cutes in an escalating series of attempts to get Oji to notice her. Kobayashi has obvious affection for his characters (even supporting rolÇes like Tenma's mildly telepathic younger sister), which helps keep the hijinks funny even when they reach their most embarrassing—and with bird costumes, Machiavellian seating schemes, and cases of mistaken identity, embarrassment abounds. Kobayashi shows his versatility by, keeping Tenma's scenes cleanly rendered, while using looser cross-hatching to give Kenji's scenes a grittier, crime-story feel. Occasional references to unseen rapists may push the tone a little too dark, but otherwise, this series should hold much amusement for teens. (Mar.)