Hmm... the curse of setting a bar to high to hurdle. Ni Gakki certainly illustrates this point.
To be fair, School Rumble was probably the funniest show I'd ever seen. To add to that, it was done in such an original way, with such a great cast, it was already going to be hard to top.
Where our 1st series maintained a noticable progression of relationships and story material, this is not the case in Ni Gakki. I can count on one hand how many episodes actually progressed the underlying 'plot' of the School Rumble universe.
More than anything, Ni Gakki was a random series of episodes, with extremely slight things linking even a few of the episodes together. There was a couple events that took place over the course of 2 episodes, but then the events of that episode either seemed forgotten, or irrelevant.
The biggest problem in this shows story, it's nothing but a tease. In a few select instances, it seems that the major relationships will have some kind of breakthrough, either negative or positive, but that doesn't happen.
Credit to the the story is due for advancing some of the relationships between lesser characters, but our major ones remain unchanged, even throughout a 26-episode trek.
The improvement here is obvious. The diversity of situations the zany cast go through is mind boggling. (Litterally, but more on that later.)
Everything from their typical day of school life, to their adventures through prehistoric villages, cruise ships, school plays, and even an intense hand of poker animated in a musky 'gangster' style.
The Opening theme: "Sentimental Generation" by Ami Tokito follows the trend of a cheerful and upbeat intro to the show.
The Ending theme: "Kono Namida ga Arukara Tsugi no Ippo to Naru" also by Ami Tokito was less cheerful, more heartfelt, but still retained an upbeat feeling.
The second Ending theme: "Futari wa Wasurechau" by Ami Koshimizu & Mamiko Noto (The voice actresses for Tenma and Yakumo Tsukamoto) is a cute and happy go lucky tune. The illustration of the two girls over Harima at the end was a good way to lead out.
The voice cast remained the same, so no changes there.
The personalities and appearences of all our favorites from the original are back and intact. The interactions between characters are as fun as they ever were, they just don't develop much beyond the first season.
The new characters (Sagano and Satsuki) play very minor roles, but there is focus more on other characters in this series. Primarily: Yakumo, Imadori, Ichijou, Asou and Lala.
Overall Rating: (7/10)
A weakened story with hit-or-miss comedy, but in essence, it is still School Rumble fun, and that in itself is enough to watch this show.