Himari is getting better thanks to Sanetoshi’s medicene, but the Penguin hat possesses her once more to reiterate that if they neglect the penguin drum, her bros will lose “what they treasure most” – but hesitates when asked whether the diary is the drum. Meanwhile, Yuri and Tabuki’s grudge against the Takekuras for their loss of Momoka comes to a head when both prepare an assault against Himari. Masako intercepts Yuri, wanting the other half of the diary for Mario, and they duel with words and weapons. Tabuki isolates Himari and Ringo, and makes his intentions known.
Wait…what is this? There’s too many episodes left, there can’t be a showdown! And yet, that’s exactly what we get, on multiple fronts, too. All the players and motives and vendettas continue to intertwine like strings of yarn in a sweater or subway lines on a map. Everythings, like, connectin’, man. This episode gives us the warm highs of a happy, reunited group of siblings, and all the while the wolves wait at their door, wanting blood as payment for their parents’ crimes. It give just about everyone a little bit of screen time too, evoking a real feeling of…penultimateness.
The Penguin hat wants the drum, for what reason we still don’t know. Misaka wants the diary to save Mario at any cost. Yuri wants it to transfer fate; for revenge. But most (and least) surprising is Tabuki, who we’ve hardly seen at all recently. Even after playing the Devil’s Advocate with Yuri, he turns out to be no less dead set on punishing the Takekuras. And then there’s Sanetoshi, whose minions warn Himari better hightail it back to the hospital, or they’ll punish her. As for Kanba, it’s hinted that his heart – the thing he’s using as currency to keep Himari alive – is the penguin drum. Well, both have a beat. Why not?
With Yukiko safe and sound, Chie notices Yu isn’t worn out from all the exertion, and so shanghais him into the basketball club, led by a guy called Ichijo and managed by Ebihara Ai, who falls in love with Ichijo. However, Ichijo loves Chie, so Yu is shanghai’d into service as Ai’s backup boyfriend, which angers Chie. The team loses what’s to be Ichijo’s last game, but he decides not to quit after all. Inspired by his performance and drive, Ai dumps/releases Yu and decides to try harder at being manager.
And so here’s our first Persona episode with no Midnight Channel, no walking through the TV, no battles, no summoning, and (thankfully) no Teddy with his awful not-puns. And while Yu can control more than one Persona, more than one lady is another story, amarite? Haha, but seriously, even though we’ve dived deep into the subconscious of the core quartet and seen their dark sides, here we have a character who has the good person hidden inside, at first. She’s bratty, selfish, vain, and impulsive (we like her!), and leads Yu around by the nose. Yu, for his part, really was the ultimate pushover this week. Why don’t the personas control him?
But Yu’s a Nice Guy, so he goes along with it, and his kindness and that of Ichijo’s eventually brings out her better side: the same one that has previously worked so hard to transform herself from a taunted fat kid to an undeniable beauty. (A somewhat cathartic cat fight with Chie probably doesn’t hurt, either ;). It’s no big deal for Yu the Yenta twhen she cuts him loose, having gotten over her stuff; after all, he and the rest of the PerScooby gang still have that mystery to solve. Romance can wait, right?
Kadoka starts making lunch for Maria, garnering the suspicions of his sister. An idol wish by Sena for the whole world to be a game results in Rika breaking out head-mounted VR game systems that let the club participate in an RPG, taking on various jobs. Kadoka’s job is a useless ‘wizard’, and when the first boss they come across wipes everyone out, but not before Kobato makes a brief appearance, having taken a sleeping Maria’s headset. She came to investigate Kadoka’s lateness, and Yozora allows her to join the club to be with her brother more.
The club’s first episode as a complete group (not counting episode 00) turns out to be a rather pedestrian affair, brimming with brazen though tame fanservice and lots of little kids bickering at each other. This was our first “RPG episode” since Sket Dance (though that was in their imaginations, this was actually technology), and it was a little less clever and a little more liberal with the skin. The ultimate lesson learned was that the group hasn’t quite pulled together yet, but they’re steadily working on it.
Another overarching theme was siblings; either real or imagined. Yukimura wants Kadoka to be her brother, and so does Maria when he starts cooking for her. But in all the time he’s spending at club with his new, well, friends, his little sister gets neglected. Not being good at making friends is a Hasegawa famly trait, it would seem, so the most logical place for her to be is by his side in the club…leaving aside the fact that lil’ runts like Maria and Kobato have no business being in a high school…
First half: Shinzo beseeches the Sket-dan to help him come up with an up-to-date, snappy outfit to meet his penpal. After many unsuccessful attempts, they finally get him looking good, only to find the girl meets is actually a friend of his brother Shinpei, waiting for him, and his penpal has an identical face but freakishly huge body. Second half: The Sket-dan recieves a workout DVD called “Biney’s Mute Amp”, which Himeko jumps right into. The initially irritating, disorganized, and ridiculous workout session slowly wins her over, and by the end, she and Switch are true believers. Then Bossun borrows it…
We don’t read Shonen Jump, but we are watching two anime adapted from Jump manga: Bakuman and this. In Bakuman 2’s last episode, we got a sneak peak at the first half of this episode, where Shinzo meets Megumi, voiced by the Bakuman character Miho (in reality, both are the voice of Hayami Saori, who though only 20, has shown up in at least a dozen series we’ve watched, most memorably Tsuruko in AnoHana and Ayase in Oreimo). In one of Shinzo’s many wardrobe malfunctions, Bossun dresses him up like Niizuma Eiji, and he even uses the same voice inflections.
We personally like these little cross-references, since they’re nice wink and nod to those who are watching (unsubtle though they may be). It’s also funny how Bakuman considers Sket Dance a fictional construct in which one of its characters lends her voice, while in the often very meta Sket Dance, Bakuman is the manga/anime. One thing is for certain: between Shinzo’s odyssey to look cool (and the predictable shootdown with the hulk-Megumi) and the totally whacked-out workout video, Sket Dance is replete with variety.