Hmm... these posts are getting out of control in size. Perhaps we should agree to disagree after this exchange? Shipping debates inevitably approach the point of two sides repeating their own arguments ad infinitum, and we are getting close to that point.
Also, perhaps I should clarify my position. I'm not necessarily arguing for the pairings I like the most or the ones that have been most consistently developed; I'm trying to figure out which ones will actually happen by solving what the mangaka truly intends.
Eri's developing feelings for Harima are not pointless. Eri's greatest desire was to feel real love, and sometimes that means having your heart broken a bit. She does have Max to fall back upon, as I'll elaborate on later. Harima's change in attitude towards Eri is not pointless, as it has let them become real friends.
Originally Posted by ultraness
Harima's feelings for Tenma haven't developed much because there isn't much room to grow from 100%. However, he has learned to be unselfish, and he has truly changed as a person in a profound way because of Tenma.
In the Flag path, not even Harimaís obsession with Tenma is ďfor naughtď, since it serves as a good source of tension and Harima hasnít shown any real development in his feelings for Tenma, anyways. From a plot perspective, it doesnít make sense for Kobayashi to have an Odou ending if heís going for a happy ending since it will make many of his charactersí development pointless in hindsight.
Harima won't develop much through the Flag path. He'll just switch his affections from Tenma to Eri. Harima isn't pursuing the same "perfect vision" of Tenma; he has seen her flaws since Volume 1, recognizes them and accepts them.
Itís true Eri has changed dramatically since the beginning of the series. Harima, on the other hand, has not developed dramatically with his one-sided relationship. Heís still pursuing the perfect vision of Tenma heís had since the beginning of the series and makes no effort to get to know the real Tenma. Thereís massive room for character development left for Harima, and a great way for Harima to develop would be through the Flag path.
Even with Worker-san, Eri was moved by Harima's apparent desire to help her break the marriage when he was really thinking of Tenma.
Eri fell in love with Harima again while he was Worker-san, making the statement Eri fell for him because she misbelieved he had an intense love for her invalid. In case you forgot, Harima started liking Tenma after he heard a ďconfessionĒ from Tenma. However, Harima has not fallen in love with Tenma a second time without realizing it was her. This post reeks of a double-standard.
I agree that Max would be a convenient way to get Eri out of the way and that it wouldn't be the most satisfying way to end the story, but I think that it is still a likely outcome. It is very probable that both Shawn and Max will return in a final arc, with Shawn as the evil contender for Eri and final boss for Harima. With Max's defeat by Harima (which in shonen manga tradition will convert him to a good guy) and his suggested feelings for and past with Eri, I expect him to turn on Shawn and fight him for Eri.
Also, this doesnít serve as proof that Max would be better suited for Eri. We know almost nothing about Maxís character, and have no idea why he likes Eri... if he even does like her.
How do you know that Max loves Eri on a level with Eriís love for Harima? Also, why is it okay for Max to end up with Eri by your standards? Remember, if what you say is true about Maxís feelings, Max attacked Harima because Max misunderstood Harima was dating Eri and became jealous. Youíve condemned Eri in previous posts for simply giving Tenma a cold shoulder after Eri became jealous. There seems to be another double-standard in you reasoning here.
Anyways, Iíll start thinking a Max/Eri pairing is in hand after the two show some solid feelings for each other, not when Max is just a convenient excuse to get Eri out of the way for an Odou ending.
It has become more important recently, but that has been to build up to the grand showdown of Flag vs. Oudou. Eri, not Karasuma, is the biggest threat to Oudou because she is a developed character instead of a glorified plot device. Flag needed a lot of development to push Eri to the point where she is willing to fight for Harima even after she learned that Harima loves someone else.
Eriís love for Harima has been the center of the story for a while now, in case you didnít read the last sixty chapters or so.
Harima didn't selfishly impose himself onto Tenma. He was truly sorry for what he had done and tried to comfort Tenma in an instinctive way. You make it sound like he deliberately took advantage of her saddened state. And I trust Yakumo's perceptions of Harima and Tenma more than any other character. Her "ideal view" of Harima is like Tenma's ideal view of Eri; if Harima fails to live up to it, that is a Bad Thing and will hopefully be corrected. So Harima may waver in his feelings in the future only to return to Tenma in the end, just as Eri is really a good person even if she is treating Tenma terribly right now.
Iíd feel more sympathy for Harima in Chapter 158 if he didnít selfishly impose himself onto Tenma after he made her sad by destroyed her gift for Karasuma. As for Chapter 159, Iíd take Yakumoís opinion with a grain of salt; Chapter 206 shows that she has an ideal vision of Harima that sheíll go out of her way to preserve.
Harima acts unnaturally around Tenma when he is trying too hard to impress her. However, he usually acts normal around her.
Harima acts unnaturally around Tenma; read Chapter 205 again.
I'm not certain that Max will end up with Eri. I'm completely positive that Tougou won't pair off with Tenma because he's a distant third behind Harima and Karasuma.
How are you so positive Tougou will not pair off with Tenma, yet so certain Max will end up with Eri?
But Eri hasn't made Harima the focus of her life in the way that Harima has done with Tenma. Until recently, she's been very hesitant to pursue him.
What? Every major arc involving Eri has resolved around her feelings for Harima since he confessed to her way back in Volume 3.
That would be a very boring way to resolve the story. Stories thrive on conflict. Flag is necessary because it is the only pairing that really threatens Oudou (and vice versa). Usually at the ends of stories of unrequited love, there is a period of role reversal when the target person finally starts to return feelings when it seems that it is too late. So for a satisfactory resolution, there should be a period when either Tenma starts to fall for Harima while Harima seems to have moved on (with Eri) or Harima starts to fall for Eri while Eri seems to have moved on (with Shawn?).
Ah, those misunderstandings are just signs that Flag is fated to happen.
Seriously, though, why is Kobayashi constantly reviving Flag with these misunderstandings if he isnít aiming for a Flag ending? Itíd make more sense if heís planning an Odou ending to just make Eri lose interest in him already, and have more chapters that focus on Tenma losing interest in Karasuma, which is most critical in order for Odou to occur, and have Tenma spend way more time with Harima.
It would be a huge stretch. The buildup of Flag has been too uneven. Harima should be showing increasing signs of attraction to Eri, but his behavior has been static for a long time. If Harima suddenly changed, it would be a copout. I would also dislike it if Tenma suddenly changed. There needs to be a transition period after Harima and Tenma learn the truth.
Harimaís side being neglected makes me think Flag is more likely to happen, not less likely. Letís say in Chapter 210, Harima does something that makes it obvious heís going to end up with Eri. Then weíll all know how the series is going to end, and then the remaining chapters will lose suspense. Authors of effective romance stories, where the chase is the point, keep one side of a main relationship vague on purpose so that readers donít know the ending right away. If Harima changes his feelings for Eri, itís going to be quick and near the end of the series. Kobayashi has already had Eri crack his tunnel-vision slightly, so it wonít be too much of a stretch for Harima to suddenly realize he loves her.
Well, I'm pretty sure that the album movie and Shawn will be important, but I agree that predicting anything is very difficult in a manga as random as School Rumble.
Other than Tenma making things explode, I donít think anything else there is going to happen. The situation you make sounds like a story Iíd find in fan fiction.
That's just terrible. The whole point of having a rival completely out of the hero's league is to make the hero's triumph all the greater when he finally wins. The point of Harima having another rival is to allow for amusing situations and character development; see Hanai and Harima's rivalry with him. And Eri's rivalry with Tenma is only a problem because Eri is taking it very personally even though Tenma is her best friend; Harima has become quite friendly with Karasuma in comparison.
Harima being so out of Karasumaís league illustrates how futile his goal of ending up with Tenma is, and whatís the point of Harima having a rival that isnít his true rival, Karasuma? Also, you criticize Eri for starting a rivalry with Tenma, so why is it all right for Harima to have rivalries? Heís started a one-sided rivalry with Karasuma who did nothing against him, much like Eri did with Tenma.