Sket Dance 16

What a weird episode…for Sket Dance, anyway. What starts out as just another slapstick fest where the hilarious voice-acting really carries the day, turns into a more conventional school romance drama by the end. Bossun feels left out when Himeko and Switch join bands for the upcoming school rock fesitval (the origins of which are steeped in rich historical bunk).

However, once he picks up a guitar (later a bass), he turns out to have a knack for it, even though something as basic as tuning initially escapes him. Frustrated with the conditions in the club room, he “escapes” to the school’s music room, where Sugisaki Ayano bumps into him. She’s a very cute, earnest, friendly violin prodigy who helps him practice. The two establish an immediate rapport, and find it very easy to open up and discuss things with one other.

When their session wraps up with the promise of another one tomorrow, Bossun returns to the club room to find a very uncharacteristically serious Himeko on the phone with Yabasawa (we don’t quite learn what she’s on about). So what’s going on here? What’s with the sudden shift to playing the show straight? I don’t know, but it was deftly handled. Bossun is funny when he’s trying to be, but showed good range this week.

Rating: 3.5

Tiger & Bunny 17

To quote the Zissou, that was a goddamn tearjerker. It was also perhaps the best episode of Tiger & Bunny to date. This is pure character work; no silly villains or schemes. With his powers continuing to dwindle, Kotetsu returns to his hometown for some time off and soul-searching. It’s the first time in three years he’s been there. He goes not knowing what comes next. Right from the get-go, I knew what he should do, which is retire from superherodom and move back.

He’s in the twilight of his career anyway, so there’s little pressure in that area; he doesn’t have any of the character flaws that led to Mr. Legend’s downfall; and most importantly, he can get back to being a father to his estranged daughter Kaede. I didn’t think Kotetsu would consider retiring, since he promised his wife on her deathbed he’d never stop being a hero. But I don’t think she meant abandon Kaede to do so. He can be a hero to her. And as his awesome older brother said, the end of his powers doesn’t mean the end of his life. 

And he is this week, as a freak storm traps her in a crumbling temple and he has to save her, which definitely helps his standing with her. Most Fortuitous! But the kicker has to be the revelation that Kaede is herself becoming a NEXT. While I’m doubtful his days as Wild Tiger are yet full, I wouldn’t complain one bit if they were. Kaede needs him now more than ever.

Rating: 4

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Harry Potter is not anime. But I’ve read all the books and now seen all the films. On occasion, I’ll put a non-anime review up here. It wouldn’t be surprising if anime fans also happened to like the HP franchise. I’m among them. This last film was very good. Combined with Part 1, I consider it better than the book on which it’s based. I am one of those who watched HP1 (Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone) before reading the book, and I have to say, I’m glad I did. It led me to read the rest of the books before the films came out.

Back to HP7 Part 2 – it wasn’t a perfect “theater” film. What I mean by that is, there was too much silence. Silence can be a good tool for building suspense (or suddenly arresting it). But a movie theater is full of little annoying sounds that have nothing to do with the film being presented. Sounds like people mumbling, chewing popcorn, sipping soda, and making all manner of incidental bodily sounds. During the many scenes in HP7P2 of little or no sound, these sounds all conspired to pull me out of the fantasy. A film should immerse; I found it hard to stay immersed at times. Of course, watching a movie like this at home, it’s not really an issue.

The awkward epilogue from the book declaring “19 years later” was this film’s other major flaw. The same actors were used, but the effects used to age them fell far short, to the point of hilarity. My companion to the film couldn’t help laughing at the notion that particularly Ginny and Hermione looked pretty much the same even though their ages have doubled. I’m not saying different actors should have been used; I’m saying if there wasn’t a way to do this scene properly, it shouldn’t have been done. This didn’t look like 19 years later; it looked five years later.

Silence issues and hoaky aging effects aside, this was an excellent film, and a fitting end to the franchise. I particularly enjoyed how brief and succinct this film was – a scant two hours and change. Now that the HP film franchise is over (a long-running television – or anime! – series might’ve served it better; I can’t imagine ratings ever dropping as long as it stayed good), one wonders if anything will ever come close to matching it in popularity – or profitability.