Chihayafuru – 11

Team Mizusawa moves on to the Regional Finals, and must face Hokuo High, who can claim two Class-A players. Porky’s opponent is someone he remembers from years ago, but unlike him, he never stopped playing. Taichi has to play Retro-kun, and Chihaya has to play Sudo, who immediately proceeds to play mind games to throw her off. Oe and Desktomu lose first, putting the others on the spot, but by supporting one another and concentrating on their strengths and not weaknesses, Porky, Taichi, and Chihaya defeat their opponents and the team moves on to the Nationals.

More brilliant, suspenseful drama this week, far more than we could have expected from a game we only barely understand. It’s good to see the team gel so well after a rough start last week. They work out the best layout, with Taichi in the middle to keep the team focused and motivated with his words, Porky and Chihaya at the ends where they can concentrate, and the noobs in between. It works, as the center and bookends managed to take wins from very tough opponents. This episode underscored that a win was important for Hokuo too…but they’re not the focus of this series, so we didn’t expect Chihaya’s team to be tripped up by failure so soon, and they weren’t.

We really didn’t care for Chihaya’s opponent Sudo for the majority of the match, but even he was softened and humanized by the end…not to mention humbled by Chihaya’s innate skill at grabbing her Chihaya card, no matter where it is or when it’s called. Hell, she grabs it before a whole syllable is uttered. It’s literally her trump card; and she’s drawn to it like a magnet. She owes that connection to the card to her name, but also to the games she played with Arata, who makes an appearence this week, but is stuck at work and can’t go watch. We have a feeling he’ll show up for the nationals.

Rating: 4

Bakuman 2 – 11

Mashiro and Takagi are working on two different works, the humorous TEN and the serious Future Watch. They want the latter to beat the other out, though Miura wants them to do a gag manga. The editors leave it up to the readers, who choose Future Watch by ranking it 9th after TEN was 10th. Takahama warns them about Miura’s changes lowering his rank, so their doubts about their editor only increase. Nakai gets over Aoki’s rejection right quick upon meeting Kato.

It’s a pretty tough week for Ashirogi Muto. Not only to they have to at least make an appearance at college, but they also have to work on two series as if they’ll both be serialized, despite having chosen a clear favorite. Worse still, they’re at odds with Miura, and get outside criticism of his editing that may lead to them dropping him in the future. After all, they expected both of their works to rank at least fifth, and neither got close.

Regardless of their percieved lack of quick success, they’re in pretty good shape. Every episode they’re not serialized feels like an episode they get further behind the eight ball, and at least they had their work published, and it ranked fairly high for new material. But their lack of faith in Miura could prove poisonous. By the end of their manuscript, they weren’t even sure themselves what was funny or not, and relying on Miura’s sense of humor proved harmful. It’s telling that Mashiro, Niizuma, Fukuda are all on the same wavelength as far as what Ashirogi should be doing.

Rating: 3.5

Mirai Nikki – 10

Minene tries to take out the Third, holder of the Murder Diary, but his suit is impervious to gunfire and bombs. She’s cuffed by Detective Nishijima, but manages to escape his custody by getting on his good side and shooting him. Meanwhile, Akise sets Yuki up with Yuno for a day at a wedding rehersal, which only makes it harder for him to confess to her that he’s not really in love with her. When night falls, Yuki takes her to her house, where Akise has been snooping around. The room full of corpses is gone, as are her memories of Yuki’s first visit.

Yuno may be whacked out of her gourd to the point of burying memories – and whole rooms of her house, but she’s not half as annoying as Yukiteru Amano. Seriously, his inner monologues are like nails on a chalkboard. Are we really supposed to hate him this much? Because we do. You’d think he’d realize by now the only reason Yuno is remotely lucid and under control is because she thinks he loves him. Why in the name of all that is holy would he go back on those words? Forget that she’d be crushed, she’d crush him.

At least he briefly enjoys a day of pretending to get married – which is frankly a pretty odd yet effective diversion while Akise checks out Yuno’s creepy, powerless house. At this point, the house is almost like a silly set for a horror movie. It’s dark, dirty, and threatening. But there are some practical issues that vex us; like how Yuno manages to stay so clean in a house like that, and how she shows no signs of physical stress from digging such a humongous hole out back. But it definitely helps her crazy cred.

Rating: 3

Sket Dance – Our 10 Favorite Episodes

As the longest series we’ve ever reviewed here on RABUJOI, we’ve really enjoyed Sket Dance, as it has found a unique niche in each of the last three seasons. Few shows that have run have managed to match its energy or balance such a huge cast so expertly. Last week was one of its best episodes yet, beginning the story of how Himeko became the fiery girl we know and love.

We’re hopeful the conclusion to this arc is as good as its beginning, but for now, here’s a list of our ten favorite Sket Dance episodes, listed chronologically (two of our favorite stories straddle two separate episodes). It’s telling from the distribution that the series has been very consistent throughout its long run.

Sket Dance 3
“It’s taken three eps, but I’ve finally warmed up to Sket Dance…It has a cheekiness, spunk, and energy all its own this season…their chemistry and devotion to one another elevates this above your usual high school comedies”

Sket Dance 6
“[The Sket-dan core] are as spot-on as ever, with their usual excellent chemistry and immediate retorts, and the play premise was a great way to bring in all the misfit characters they had helped in past episodes”

Sket Dance 9
“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”

Sket Dance 10
“After a hilarious cold open in which the Sket-dan enacts a parody of Kimi ni Todoke, the balance of the episode is dedicated to one client, Yagi…once again, the dynamic trio of Bossun’s concentration, Himeko’s feminine sensibilities, and Switch’s technical know-how solve yet another problem”

Sket Dance 16/17
“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 is funny when he’s trying to be, but showed good range this week”

Sket Dance 24/25
“I’m not sure why what was a consistently zany, over-the-top comedy would want to try straight-up serious drama, but Sket Dance really hit it out of the park with this Switch arc, totally changing gears from its usual fare”

Sket Dance 27
“Remi-onee-san is quietly evaluating the Sket-dan, and it looks pretty bad, when all of a sudden all that random crap is put to practical use rescuing a kindergartener falling out the window. Ridiculous? Yes…but in the best way”

Sket Dance 30
“Bossun is smitten, Switch is talking like she does, but Himeko doesn’t want Momoka’s 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”…she’s unsavory; she has to be loud and proud”

Sket Dance 33
“Weren’t we just talking last week about how we never know what’s coming with this series? Yeah, that continues to ring true this week, as we get a pretty clever and competent drama-mystery played more-or-less straight as an arrow, which we don’t mind at all”

Sket Dance 36
“This episode’s first half was a pleasant enough diversion (Himeko’s intricate knowledge of hockey sticks was pretty funny), but we’re really suckers for Serious Sket Dance… This week it’s Himeko’s turn to get some flashbacks”