Tiger & Bunny 9

Finally, Dragon Kid has some lines! Or, I should say, Pao-Lin. She gets a decent introduction, as this episode is centered heavily on the idea of family, with a particular emphasis on symbols or mementos that express love in absentia. The Kill Bill-style tracksuited Dragon Kid is a hardcore tomboy, who doesn’t want to be cute, even if she actually is. She’s young, she’s gifted, she’s Chinese…and apparently, she’s great with babies.

A babysitting episode could have been dreadful, but this series made it work, by having the baby be a telekinetic NEXT, and putting Tiger in charge. He’s a father and a widower (something that bemuses and confounds Blue Rose), with a loved but rarely-seen 9-year-old daugher, after all, while the other heroes at Apollon are all seemingly single and childless. Alas, Tiger & Bunny drink all night, and when Kid and the baby kidnapped. The mayor’s baby.

As for the kidnappers: a crack team of flamboyant, cool-looking NEXT sisters with an Elgrand Motorhome and senses of smell that can detect money, lies, and danger. Those are useful skills if you’re serial kidnappers, but as villans they were underused. Unfortunately those senses can’t do much against three full-fledged heroes, and the baby is recovered. Meanwhile, Bunny continues to remember his dark past and even hallucinates about it, keeping the pressure on him even in this otherwise non-ouroboros episode. Heck, that’s probably why he was up all night drinking!. Rating: 3.5

Sket Dance 9

By gum, that was a fan-bloody-tastic episode of Sket Dance, which embodies everything that works with the series, and has a little bit of everything. A mangaka named Hinohara Enta visits the Sket-Dan looking for ideas. Initially, it becomes a critique of Bossun’s merits of leadership (or lack thereof). When Enta leaves, Bossun drinks a soda that’s actually a potion that makes his body three years old. Hilarity ensues.

And by hilarity, I mean virtually non-stop laughs. Both Himeko and Switch take on the roles of doting parents, annoying Bossun to no end. Paritcularly Himeko’s manic maternal energy is a sight to see, as is Switch’s creepy, bawdy “dad”. Then they bump into pretty much every character they’ve interacted with, and he wins over everyone (save one student council member who scolds him for not getting permission to shrink). As Enta notes, the school is a “garden of characters”, and a lush one, as they’re all so dramatically different and neurotic in their own ways.

But what made this episode truly genius is that it forgets nothing from this or any previous episodes and doesn’t treat the manga or shrinking story as throwaways, but brings everything to a rousing conclusion, complete with a tight little bow. Bossun, returned to normal, and the Sket-dan prove their worth, leaping straight into action when Enta’s bag is snatched (the original mission Bossun wanted to take on in the beginning), which completes a tale Enta draws a manga for. It’s a good one from where we’re standing, but in the very end, it turns out Enta wrote about everyone but Sket-dan…

In any case, this was a surprisingly complex web of little moments and stories all mixed together and played back at seemingly 1.5 times the speed of the average anime. There are tons of painterly, nicely-textured stills and really diverse and interesting animation throughout. It was hilarious and very well-done, I daresay Sket-dan’s finest moment yet. If there’s a second season that can maintain this level of quality comedy, I shall watch. Rating: 4