Harima Kenji, loner, biker, and all-around juvenile delinquent, has a big crush on Tsukamoto Tenma. High school junior Tenma, cute, friendly, and dim, has an even bigger crush on Karasuma Oji. Oji is — well, he’s just odd. Plus, he’s transferring to another school at the end of the year, so Tenma has just 365 days to work up the courage to tell him she loves him.

In this high school it seems that all love is unrequited and the antics of the characters, in their endless quest to gain the attentions of the objects of their respective desires, swing from the heartfelt to the ridiculous. Each short chapter serves as a snapshot of a particular event taking place during the school day as seen from the point of view of a different character. The plot, or what there is of one, develops slowly and most of volume one serves to introduce the characters and all the embarrassing things they are willing to do for love. While a plot does eventually reveal itself as the series progresses, it is the humor that pulls the reader along. The mangaka takes every opportunity to play each situation for laughs and sometimes uses fan service or innuendo to make the joke, but the humor never becomes crude.

This is a fun, silly, and addicting series that anyone who has ever felt the stirrings of a doomed love is sure to enjoy. In volume one, Tenma leaves a love letter in Oji’s locker, but forgets to sign her name, resulting in Tenma trying to find other ways to get Oji to notice her. In the meantime, Kenji is trying to figure out how to tell Tenma he’s in love with her, but Tenma’s natural cluelessness makes this impossible. By the second volume, Tenma brings lunch for Oji, only to discover that he will only eat curry. Just curry. Kenji finally figures out who his rival is for Tenma’s affections and he turns to writing manga as a form of release. When he goes to turn his book in for publication, Kenji discovers he has a rival there, too. In volume three, Tenma and her friends plan a summer trip to the beach, inviting Kenji to come along. Little did he know that a new rival would appear, one that Tenma seems already fond of.

School Rumble, vol. 1-3
by Jin Kobayashi
Volume 1 ISBN: 9780345491473
Volume 2 ISBN: 9780345491480
Volume 3 ISBN: 9780345491497
Del Rey, 2006

  • Eva

    | She/her Supervising Children’s Librarian, Alameda Free Library

    Editor and Review Coordinator

    Eva Volin is Supervising Children’s Librarian for the Alameda (CA) Free Library. She cowrote “Good Comics for Kids: Collecting Graphic Novels for Young Readers” for Children & Libraries and is a contributor to the forthcoming ALSC Popular Picks for Young Readers. She has served as a judge for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards and the Isotope Award for Excellence in Mini-Comics. She has also served on several YALSA committees, including Great Graphic Novels for Teens and the Michael L. Printz Award. Eva is a regular contributor to School Library Journal’s Good Comics for Kids blog and is an occasional reviewer for Booklist.

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