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School Rumble

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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 roles 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.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Despite its title, this is not a manga in the "fighting high school" genre, but a wacky comedy. High schooler Tenma is in love with her classmate Oji but can't bring herself to tell him. After much deliberation, she leaves a love letter (a lengthy scroll, actually) in his locker at school-but she forgets to sign it. Meanwhile, class delinquent and tough guy Kenji is in love with Tenma but is likewise unable to declare his feelings. While Tenma secretly hatches a variety of unsuccessful, gag-filled romance-starting schemes-angling to sit next to Oji in class or delivering a love note to him tied to an arrow-Kenji's equally secret pursuit of Tenma also goes comically awry. In an amusing contrast, Kenji's scenes are drawn in the rough, realistic style of action manga, while Tenma's are in a simpler style. Two less frantic and more heartfelt chapters focus on Tenma's younger but more mature sister Yakumo. Less bizarre than Cromartie High School and less racy than Love Hina, this still may appeal to fans (both male and female) of either. For larger collections, and ages 13+. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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