School Rumble by Jin Kobayashi

This is a manga that really makes me not envy the translator – the whole thing is a series of misunderstandings, puns, and very silly situations. Much of it is tied in to Japanese culture – which means that the explanations/notes at the back are invaluable to understanding nearly every panel. In fact, the manga is worth a purchase for the culture notes alone – they go a long way to understanding manga in general and the quirkiness of life in Japan in specific.

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Story: Tenma has a crush on a completely oblivious and kind of boring guy. Meanwhile, gangster student Kenji has a crush on Tenma. Many hijinks ensue as they create elaborate situations in order to be with their loves.

Whether your like this manga or not really depends on your tolerance for silliness. There’s not an honest bone in the entire series – it’s played out for laughs. The laughs are clever, though, in nearly every instance. But you’ll want to be in a Monty Python frame of mind. As well, this is clearly geared toward older teens and adults in that it has a very nostalgic look at high school life.

Yes, it is very over the top. But there is some genuine humor in there, as well as a great cultural learning experience.

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