The Karuta club becomes official, with Taichi presiding and Chihaya as the Captain. She has lofty goals for her five-man team: to reach the national tournament. To that end, she plans on pushing the rookies Oe and Desktomu hard, facing them both herself in order to toughen them and give them valuable experience. They arrange a weekend camp at Taichi’s house, but his mom returns prematurely, and in any case the rooks are exhausted. Returning home guilty she pushed them so hard, Oe gets a text and races to a riverside park with Chihaya in tow for an impromptu celebration of her sweet sixteen.
Just an episode removed from finally becoming complete, the club Chihaya and Taichi have founded is already hummin’ along very nicely. Taichi is incredulous at first when Chihaya announces she’ll be the rookie’s first opponent, but having played her first game against Arata, she’s well aware of how valuable getting creamed is, as you get to see the person creaming you going all out, as she does. Oe and Desktomu are understandably dubious of their abilities, but by the time Oe snags her first card from Taichi, she’s addicted to playing and getting better.
Aside from getting the club up and running, the primary substory in play throughout is the increasing romantic tension between Taichi and Chihaya. Neither say anything to this effect, but the couple moments where they’re close or touch speak volumes, and are very well done. Chihaya could finally be starting to see Taichi as more than just that bratty little kid from her childhood. Taichi meanwhile is already quite far along in his longing, and of course a golden opportunity is snatched from him when Arata texts with birthday wishes for Chihaya. As for the birthday: while random at first, it was the perfect way to brighten Chihaya’s spirits. We don’t think it would have had as strong an effect if we’d known about it beforehand.
As Ades prepares to attack the isolationist stronghold of Gracies, Fam plans to swoop in and steal eight ships being transferred to the Federation from surrendered nations, thus completing her contract with Captain Wisla. When they approach the ships, the fleet from Kartoffel is there as well. Both parties took the Ades bait, as a huge fleet descends upon them and lays waste. Fam and Gisey manage to guide the remains of the fleet out of danger by making use of the shockwaves caused by ice falling into the sea, but the damage is done and the mission is a failure. Fam and Gisey return to the Sylvius, only to have been tailed by the first fleet, who demand they hand over Princess Millia or be sunk.
Hmm…something tells us “Your Princess Is In Another Castle” won’t work on these guys. Also, with all the Ades traps being sprung this week, we was looking for a certain Mon Calamari admiral to pop out of the woodwork and yell “It’s a TRAP!” (Wrong franchises; we know). Most importantly, it was about time things stopped being so easy for Fam and the sky pirates, and here they finally run into some serious trouble. The surprise attack on the pirates meant we were treated to a ginormous, epic sky battle in which the bad guys got to let out some of their frustrations. Fam and Gisey don’t crash, but they come about as close as you possibly can. And that water looked cold.
This whole episode, Gisey was down in the dumps and just…weary that they were about to five Ades just one too many pokes. Fam rushed into battle full of optimism like she usually does, and was totally blind to the possibility things wouldn’t all come up Fam Fan Fan. We wish Gisey learned to speak up for once, but as Fam’s Navi, she feels obligated to do whatever Fam wants, regardless of what she wants. She’ll probably blame herself for not sniffing out the trap, but the fact of the matter is she had A Bad Feeling about the operation before it even got started. Ah, no matter. We got to see absolutely fantastic sky combat…and birds! Grand Birds!
Yuki and Yuno start their first day at their new school, and much to Yuno’s irritation, Yuki almost instantly gains new friends: Hinata, Mao, and Kousaka. They set out in a group to survey crime scenes of a serial attacker, but Hinata runs off on her own and has her arm bitten off by a pack of feral dogs with metal jaws. The rest, along with another kid, Akise, seek refuge in a glass pavilion, where Yuki directs them on which windows to lean up upon to absorb the impact of the pouncing dogs. When the dogs give up, Mao puts a knife to Yuki’s throat, and a very alive and two-armed Hinata reveals she’s the holder of the Breeder’s Diary, and she’s after Akise’s Future Diary.
This is an episode full of…interesting choices. First of all, Hinata’s scheme to corner Akise seems awfully roundabout and random; you’d think there’d be a more elegant way than pretending to get your arm munched off then setting a pack of dogs on him. We’re to understand her grandfather is actually the diary holder, but passed it to her, and we assume she’s trying to win the game that will net her godhood. Of course, before we knew this, she just seemed like a cute, friendly, outgoing girl who has a moe friend, gets away with belly-baring shirts in school, and reacts very slowly to having her panties exposed. But just ’cause somebody pretends to like him for an afternoon, Yuki reveals his deepest secret? That’s idiotic even for him.
The episode tried tossing red herrings like Akise – who’s probably also a nutso killer too, just not as immediate a threat as Hinata – and Kousaka, who somewhat inexplicably gives Yuki a hard time for running from the school bombing, then makes nice later one. But as usual, Yuno’s suspicions are our suspicions. Anyone who is friendly to this little pipsqueak probably has unsavory plans for him. That includes Yuno, but Yuno’s never done anything but protect him so far, so we’re not ready to believe smiling moe faces over her judgement. Lastly, what the heck is up with Yuki’s get-up? He’s enough of a weenie as it is without dressing like some Oliver Twist muthaf***a…Yuno, get that boy some damn regular clothes.
At Souma’s sly suggestion and with Kyoko’s indifferent blessing, Sato comes with Yachiyo to get her a cell phone, something she’s never had before. Yohei and Mitsuki return to continue helping Kyoko, and Yohei gets snagged by Kozue, who’s lamenting another dumping. Takanashi is tired of Yamada’s lollygagging and tells her to write everything he tells her to do down, but she misses the point.
Mitsuki is quite correct; Yachiyo is cute, and always has been…but so shy, and as this episode indicates, hopeless in all non-work-related social situations. Still, the cell phone sales rep barely conceals her contempt for what looks to anyone like a couple in Sato and Yachiyo, and they would be one if Sato had the guts to set things in motion (and Yachiyo had only the slightest awareness. As things stand, she only has eyes for Kyoko).
As for Kozue, she may be drunk and loose, but her intuition isn’t wrong. Even if she is just teasing Mitsuki, Souma is in fact sadistic, Sato is sweet beneath his rough surface, and despite his oh-so-subtle gestures, he’s definitely into her, even if the crushing futility of ever attaining anything more than friendship weighs him down. When one can’t be direct in their like for someone, they typically tease or otherwise mess with them instead. Oh yeah, there was more Yamada Being Yamada, and for once Inami didn’t punch Takanashi (she was barely in this, though). That is all…
Mashiro is discharged and returns to the studio, but TRAP begins a precipitous drop in rankings, to the point that they are warned that they won’t be safe in the next meeting. Meanwhile, Miho continues to get anime roles, Niizuma’s Crow anime starts, and Takahama gets runner-up with a one-shot. In the end, both TRAP and hideout door are terminated, all but killing Muto’s confidence, until a text by Miho insisting they get married before she turns 40 re-energize’s Mashiro’s passion.
Granted, this series has never been one to pull punches or bring out ridiculous twists in fortune, but wow, that was kinda surprising. TRAP is dead. It never recovered from its hiatus and new stories that competed for detective readers. Now Mashiro and Takagi are back at Square One. Considering how high they flew all season, we finally got an episode with another huge, crushing setback that brought back similar feelings of apprehension and disappointment from last season’s many setbacks.
We knew Mashiro would get better. We knew TRAP would drop in rankings (the episode titles tend to be spoilers in and of themselves). But we weren’t sure if the series still wouldn’t turn things around with one final, amazing chapter. It just doesn’t work that way with Jack. They have a tried-and-true system for picking winners and losers, and Trap lost. Miho revising her promise to only wait for him only another couple decades and change provided sufficient incentive for Mashiro to break out of his pity party and start coming up with a new, better manga. Something called Bakuman, perhaps?
In the first half, Roman presents her guide to manga for newcomers to the Sket-dan for inspection. As per usual, her artistic skills are dubious, but all of the instructional knowledge is there. However, once Roman’s protege Fumi intensely studies the guide, her drawing becomes crappier.
In the second half, Remi puts on a klutz’s clinic, making countless mistakes in her lesson, then abusing and throwing out her beloved “Specter” doll by mistake. The Sket-dan helps her search for it, and in the process they bump into a group of preschoolers in trouble. Remi shows her strength in leading young children, suggesting she’s more cut out for teaching preschool than high school.
A somewhat pedestrian dual effort this week, as Sket Dance gives Roman and Remi more airtime. Unfortunately, we’ve seen funnier and generally better Roman episodes and Remi episodes in the past. The bombastic commentary of Bossun and Himeko as Roman gives her manga spiel is entertaining enough, but we’ve already been here. In the second half, Remi does her best to prove she’s too ditzy to live. It would’ve made more sense for her to quit as a high school teacher, but that never panned out here.
When Sen loses in quick succession to Shaga, Asebi, and You at Sega, she throws it out the window. You leaps out to catch it, but ends up in the hospital, covered in bandages. A pair of twins from Shaga’s school mistake You for the Ice Witch, whom they’re extremely interested in meeting. They disguise themselves as nurses and visit him one at a time. When one twin removes the bandages and sees what’s beneath, she races through the hospital yelling “freak”, unaware at the time that that boy is actually You, AKA Freak. They abort their mission, then hit up a supermarket and instantly dominate everyone else there.
The Bento Club’s normal operations are interrupted by a rather reckless – but very poetic – self-defenistration of You Satou, and much of the episode revolves around the exploits of the Sawagi sisters, whom he haven’t met before. By episode’s end, it would seem they’ll be more competition for Sen and her pack in the near future. The only Bento battle happened at the end, and we didn’t see it, but we saw all we needed to to get that these twins mean business. However, unlike the Monarch for instance, these twins seem to have a lot of esteem for the Witch, and would consider it an honor to fight her and an even greater honor to defeat her. Of course, they could just approach Sen and talk to her directly, but we guess that wouldn’t be as fun as all this subterfuge…
Though they look alike, one Sawagi twin (voiced by the higher-pitched Yukari Tamura) is impulsive and emotional (like Shaga), while the other (voiced by a lower-pitched Yui Horie) is more stoic and analytical (like Sen). You has the misfortune of wearing more bandages than he needs (Asebi’s family owns the hospital, and Shaga got them to overbandage him) when the twins descend upon him, albeit one at a time. His squirming and confusion with the dual personalities of who as far as he knows is only one hottie nurse, provides much of the episode’s comedy. His subsequent romp through the hospital corridors as his bandages unravel, and getting tangled up with Asebi and hot milk, only further justify his nom-de-guerre. The things we do for Sega.