Sket Dance – 30

First half: Himeko is initially annoyed by Bossun and Switch’s mutual obsession with capsule toys depicting characters from half-baked hero shows, but is soon ensnared herself in the maddening struggle to “collect ’em all”. Second half: Momoka’s former gang comes to the Sket-dan to report a troubling development: Momoka’s many moe voice-acting roles have transformed her into a moe character called “Momotan”, whose verbal ticks and slang render her both sickeningly cute and nearly impossible to understand. By thwarting a paparazzo eager to expose her delinquent past, Himeko dispatches him, firing Momoka up. On a talk show, she comes out of the delinquent closet and quits the voice-acting business. Her moxie nets her a fresh gig as a TV actor.

Like the made-up sports and board games of previous episodes, the first half was a nice commentary on the nature of completing a collection of useless junk. It’s not really about the having, but the getting here. Himeko dismisses the guys as acting like dumb kids, but the first cute character she lays eyes on has her sold on the idea. The first ones the machine spits out for her are totally unexpected and repulsive “Anthonys”, but the trio spend thousands of yen collecting everything, and trade with a very sweet lil’ kid to get the one they were missing, only to descend into “abject emptiness” upon returning to school. They got too caught up in the moment.

On to the second half, it’s a Momoka sketch. It actually makes sense that her character has changed, as we haven’t seen her in so long, combined with her need to become the cutesy characters she voices in order to be successful. Bossun is smitten, Switch is talking like she does, but Himeko doesn’t want Momoka true self cast aside – along with her friends – as the price of success, or as she said it “bury her past and replace it with sci-fi” (which sounds so cool we wanna try that as soon as we’re done typing this!) She’s unsavory; she has to be loud and proud. And lo and behold, doing so nets her a new, more fitting job that lets her be herself. Everybody wins…though she doesn’t gain a persona or a pair of shades…

Rating: 3.5

Persona 4: The Animation – 04

Chie and the guys’ search for Yukiko leads them to her other self. She is torn between two psyches: the girl like the bird she rescued and lovingly cared for, heir to an inn that is also her cage, waiting for a prince to come and rescue her, and the side that wants to break out of that cage and fly away, like her bird eventually had the courage to do. When Yukiko rejects her other self, she only makes matters worse, but as keep the shadows at bay, Chie confesses the jealousy she felt for her that kept her from seeing her problems. That everyone has a dark side, but one can only acknowledge it and move forward, which Yukiko does, gaining a persona in the process.

And so, the last member of the quartet graduates to persona-hood. The group may have gained strength after each received a persona, but the foes within got stronger too. After all, these are themselves they’re battling. It does no good to cover your ears and yell “la-La-LA-i’m-not-listening”; that’s a surefire way of letting the other self take over, and no one wants that, because frankly, they’re all bitches. But all they’re ever capable of telling is half-truths, as they’re only half of a whole themselves. Harmonious union is required if one wants themselves a persona. And not die.

This episode really taught us a lot about Yukiko (the second inn-heir this season) and her inner struggle. We like what we learned, too. We feel like we’d previously seen her through her “prince” Chie’s rose-tinted, somewhat envious lenses, because she’s more socially anxious than we’d thought, being more inclined to save an adorable baby bird than prattle on about irrelevant crap like most of her peers. Living seemingly only for the inn and family started to weigh upon her, and that birdy was always there as a kind of mirror to her predicament (btw, we’re also glad the birdy didn’t die, but just flew away ^_^).

Rating: 3.5