Sket Dance – 29

In the first half, the Sket-dan assists Dante in the case of a stolen love spell. It turns out, it was mistakenly stolen by his crush, who thought it belonged to her crush. In the second half, Bossun is defeated by a ramen-eating challenge, but when Chiaki stops by the clubroom, they learn she is a champion eater due to her athletic activities. Using teen drama terms, Bossun motivates her to finish the last morsel of ramen – a boiled egg, which she hates. She wins the challenge but has to puke in the end.

As we continue with Sket Dance, it occurs to us that a show like this is not for everyone. It was an acquired taste for us (though we have definitely acquired it), but some might be turned off by the references, frequent breaking of the fourth wall, and everybody typically yelling at the top of their lungs. But all of that appeals to is. This season needs a lark – a frolic – something that’s all ludicrous comedy with no baggage. Although it’s proven it can do serious drama too, Sket Dance’s greatest strength is making us laugh out loud with consistency, through its rapid-fire pace and incredible energy.

This week marked a return to the two-stories-in-one format, and both stories were equally engaging and hilarious. Dante (Gackt) is always good for laughs, especially the way he irritates Bossun and Himeko while Switch calmly translates his sparse, cryptic words. We also love how everything was building up for two lovebirds to unite in harmony, but it turned out to be a misunderstanding. The second story, all about Captain’s amazing eating skills, simpler but no less funny, particularly how the melodramatic buildup almost reaches critical mass. Most admirably, the episode dusted off several characters who’d been on the shelf for some time and breathed new life into them. Well done all round.

Rating: 3.5

Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai – 03

(UPDATE: We’ve decided to upgrade this episode’s rating from 3 to 3.5.) Sena gets immersed in an eroge, much to the disdain of Kodaka and Yozoro. Sena then asks Kodaka to teach her to swim, and they have a de facto date at a swim park. He protects her from a group of boys, using his air of delinquency. He then dreams about his best friend from twelve years ago, and remembers something he said to him about quality being more important than quantity with friends. Unbeknownst to him, that he was actually a she…

The club remains only three this week, but we learn more about Kodaka’s past and meet his anime-obsesed sister. I’m glad she’s just cosplaying and not some kind of supernatural being, and his sister and not another harem member. She seems to be extremely dependent on him, so it doesn’t bode well for her that he’s spending more and more time with the club. (Perhaps she’ll start hanging around there?) After a first act in which Yozoro chastizes Sena and makes her read the eroge dialogue aloud, the two girls were basically seperate this week, which was refreshing.

While I find Sena’s request to Kodaka to teach her how to swim was a bit contrived, their day together itself wasn’t that bad. Lots of service, sure, but also lots of characterization and bonding. And even though he’s not the delinquent most of his school makes him out to be, he’s no weakling either, something his childhood friend from the past instilled in him. As to that: Yozoro was that best friend of his, and she’s remembered him all along. Which begs the question: will Kodaka ever figure this out? Considering he thought his friend was a boy and Yozoro is a girl…doubtful. Which is a shame.

Rating: 3.5

Persona 4: The Animation – 03

Yukiko goes missing after appearing on the Midnight Channel very much out of character. Chie races into the otherworld after her, followed close behind by Yu and Yosuke. Once there, Chie is confronted by her doppleganger, who is full of jealosy and resentment for Yukiko, and is content to use her as a doormat. After a battle, the foe morphs into Chie’s first persona, but Yukiko remains at large.

So, we kinda knew this episode would be about Chie gaining her Persona, and we kinda knew that her relationship with Yukiko was not all smiles and sunshine beneath the surface. Chie is a bit of a tomboy, and Yukiko is far more popular with the lads, it would seem. There’s a dark side to us all, and even strong, kind Chie has hers. Unfortunately, her entire battle with that dark side and the monster it turned into was a bit of a dawdle. It was strangling Yosuke far longer than was needed to kill him, for instance, and once Yu summoned the right Persona, dispatching her was, well, really easy.

But then, Persona is a game-based anime, and things start out easy, so it’s understandable. The execution of Chie’s confrontation with herself was fine, although the dopplegangers come off as petty, arrogant assholes more than dire threats to one’s self. And as always, the chemistry between Chie, Yu and Yosuke remains strong; they’re gelling well as both friends and comrades in battle, and are fun to watch. And there’s still a Yukiko to be saved, though lord knows where she is. Her performance on the Midnight Channel was downright bizarre, and we couldn’t make heads nor tails about it. Ah well, next week. Till then, don’t brandish swords in public places!

Rating: 3.5