With the second season of School Rumble seeing the return of Class 2-C and their accompanying high school hilarity and romantic misunderstandings, fans of the series were certain that this could only mean more of the top quality entertainment they had come to expect. Unfortunately, despite a promising start, Nigakki soon proved itself to be far from perfect, and the bad aftertaste it came to leave would adversely affect the standing of the franchise as a whole.
From its earliest episodes, Nigakki set a different tone to its first season. Arcs like the season opening battle royale demonstrated that this time around, School Rumble would be a crazier experience. Once, Yakumo’s ESP and the talking giraffe seemed about the extent of the series’ reality stretching, but now it seemed as if no situation was too outlandish if it had the chance of provoking a laugh.
Alongside the new, wackier humour, Nigakki initiated another change- that of expanding the show’s focus to encompass ever an increasing number of characters. School Rumble was hardly a series with a small cast to begin with, but in the early days the spotlight was always kept on the leads; the second season preferred a new regime, however, turning into more of an ensemble affair even as it flung more characters at us faster than we could hope to even learn their names. Favourites such as Mikoto, Eri and Akira slowly slipped away from the spotlight, giving lesser personalities like the shallow Tougou and the dislikeable Yoshidayama far more screen time than they could ever possibly need.
These problems may have been inherent from the start of the season, but nonetheless, for a time, School Rumble was still a worthy series. True, it never quite seemed as satisfying as the first season, but even so the release of an episode was one of the highlights of the anime week, promising a fresh dose of hilarity beyond what most other comedies could hope to deliver.
Unfortunately, it was a situation that couldn’t last, and in due course, the rot began to creep in. As the series moved into its second half, ‘dud’ segments became increasingly common, with at least one of any given episode’s three parts proving to be exceptionally pointless or dull. With each passing week, it was the weak side stories and filler material that were coming to dominate, and by episode 21, it truly had hit rock bottom, offering up an unfunny Magical Girl Mai parody with a completely SR-unrelated basketball section tacked on the end.
Between the filler, the craziness and the extended cast, it was no wonder that the decay began to spread to the very core of the series, turning what had once been its strengths into critical weaknesses. The Harima -> Tenma -> Karasuma tangle that had once characterised the heart of the series now became a source of annoyance; Karasuma was now an inscrutable presence who barely appeared onscreen, Harima seemed completely blind to Eri and Yakumo’s developing feelings for him, whilst Tenma was not only equally blind to Harima’s feelings, but she seemed to have lost what few brain cells she had left. No longer amusingly idiotic, Tenma now fell into the category of annoyingly stupid, repeatedly chasing after Karasuma and misunderstanding Harima’s actions in a tediously repetitive Love Hina-esque fashion. With such an incapable sibling, poor Yakumo could not help but suffer as well, losing all personality and development of her own in favour of becoming her sister’s live-in carer.
In the end, a second season was more than the School Rumble anime could take- as fresh ideas slowed to a trickle, the series became mired in repetitive jokes and eternally dull filler. Worse yet, however, is the prospect that the series will run to a third series, for with the second season having damaged my opinion of this once-great series so much, further episodes could see it thrown on the discard pile and abandoned entirely.