Sket Dance – 55

Part 1: While cleaning Chuu’s classroom, Bossun drinks from a Coke bottle containing a potion that mixes up his feelings and expressions: he laughs when angry, cries when bored, looks cool when he’s crying and looks angry when embarrassed. Remi messes up Chuu’s antidote, so Bossun’s expression becomes frozen in anger.

Part 2: When doing origami, Himeko discovers Bossun is an origami virtuoso: not only able to make any common form one-handed, but can make a realistic paper sculpture of anything on demand. When Switch tells him about a contest with a one-million yen prize, Bossun holes up in the clubroom and creates a fantastic pegasus, but accidentally uses the paper he wrote the directions to the contest on.

We consider episodes involving Chuu-san’s crazy concoctions to be among the most consistently hilarious of the series, including perhaps the best non-serious Sket Dance episode, number 9 – when Bossun becomes tiny. It was just as hilarious on the second watch, with a breakneck pace and rapid-fire gags that simply never quit. This newest potion mixes up all of Bossun’s expressions, and the result is some truly strange, absurd interactions. As veteran viewers of anime, it’s ingrained within us to expect certain tones of voice to be accompanied by the appropriate expressions. This segment turned that on its head, taking us out of that comfort zone, which was definitely interesting and different.

Far less surreal was the discovery of Bossun’s innate talent for origami mastery, which along with his powers of concentration, dinky slingshot, and “servile” personality, only add to his oddness among shounen characters. The ease with which he makes amazing paper creations is milked for all it’s worth, and by episode’s end he’s acting like some kind of zen master dishing out wisdom. One really nice touch: he replaces his hat and armband with paper facsimilies, but no mention of this is made whatsoever; it’s a subtle gag that works very well, as does his ultimate undoing. Next time pin those directions to the wall or something, Boss.

Rating: 3.5

Medaka Box – 04

With Medaka insisting he win for her, Zenkichi defeats Akune in their Judo match by scoring a point before he could score ten. His victory is short-lived when Akune is cut from the team and joins the student council as secretary. Medaka puts Akune to work immediately, tasking him with assisting third-year tomboy Yatsushiro with writing a love letter. When he brings his first attempt to Medaka for approval, it is summarily rejected. Akune changes his strategy and tutors Yatsushiro so she can write the letter herself. For this, Medaka gives him a pat on the head, and the flowers start to extend past the council room.

We’re definitely noticing similarities between Medaka Box and Sket Dance: obviously, both are about small but spirited organizations that help anyone with anything they might require. The difference so far is that Sket Dance’s comedy is typically centered around how they’re often totally unprepared for their missions, and the difficulties and frustrations they face. Medaka Box, which we like just as much at this point, is about people who are very good at many things. There’s rarely any doubt that a mission will be accomplished, it’s just a matter of how it’s done. Even so, Medaka would never call herself perfect or a prodigy, even if she kinda is; she believes everyone is the same and has equal potential for greatness.

Also unlike Sket Dance, we have a love triangle of sorts in play that really isn’t there between Bossun, Himeko and Switch. Sure, Zenkichi isn’t about to ask Medaka out, but nor will he allow anyone else to take his place by her side, even if it’s a platonic side. Enter Akune, who very much wants to win her heart, even though she’s stated categorically “she can never belong to one person”, which is a little haughty of her. But that’s what we love about Medaka: she’s perfect in somethings, and not perfect in others, but gets away with it. We look forward to the council of three swelling to four, as the opening and ending foretell a second girl in the works.

Rating: 6 (Good)

Shining Hearts: Shiawase no Pan – 02

Rana warns Madera, who warns Rick and the baker girls that a powerful storm is coming. As they get up early to prepare and throughout the bread-selling day, they warn everyone they can. Airy helps a lonely girl whose mother is off shielding the orchards from the impending wind. When the storm hits, the weather is too rough, so Rick spends the night at the bakery. The next day the clouds disappear and Rick and the girls give Rana and her brother bread as thanks. A mysterious girl has washed up on the shore.

One thing this series has down is that it makes running a bakery seem like the most enjoyable, rewarding, noble profession one can have. If you make bread and you make it well, you’re going to make lots of money and friends. Especially friends, if you give the bread away, which they do a lot (the little kid gets free bread three times!) That said, it’s hard work and requires a vigorous schedule; Rick (voiced by a very chipper Mr. Despair) and the ladies are typically up before dawn and working until sundown. But it would seem to be worth it; their bakery is the talk of the town, all the more impressive considering Rick is relatively new to the trade.

One thing that irked us somewhat was how there was this constant dread of the coming storm hanging over the island – which we liked, especially as the skies got darker and drearier – but the storm itself really doesn’t seem like that big a deal. The rain and wind just look like a typical summer rainstorm to us, and there certainly wasn’t any damage done. It just feels like the storm hand was overplayed, and didn’t turn out to be the unprecedented calamity Rana warned about. However, it did do one thing: deposit a young lady on the beach who will undoubtedly shake things up next week.

Rating: 4 (Fair)