Sket Dance – 66

In the first half, Switch announces his new invention: a device that reads and plays back the thoughts of animals like Hoosuke, who teaches them the importance of friendship. In the second half, Momoka asks Himeko to participate in a Tsukkomi battle show on TV that she’s co-hosting. Himeko excels at the movie-riffing, then selects Bossun from the audience to pick him apart and beat the professional comedian she was up against.

Sket Dance returns to it’s two-part format, with stories that don’t involve who likes whom. Instead, both parts of this episode are about Bossun and Himeko playing off of things. Actually, this is what much of the series is about: these two reacting and offering more than their two cents about a character, situation, drug, game, or an invention, like Switch’s animal translator that starts reading everyones’ minds, leading to much ardor about who’s thinking what, and they’re surprised more often than not (and Roman inadvertently providing Hoosuke’s thoughts is a nice touch at the end).

The second part was a nice showcase of Himeko’s talent for picking things apart, and proves she can beat a professional when the variables align. I imagine no matter what film or TV show or video game or whatever you sit Himeko down in front of, she’ll offer funny commentary, pointing out whatever’s out of place and expressing her frustration with said anomalies. She also makes clever use of Bossun by knowing full well he’ll melt under the lights. Thus she makes him her mark/straight man, bouncing things off him she knows will make him act funnier. It’s a skit that makes good use of the characters we know so well.

Rating: 5 (Average)

Car Cameos: In the “police documentary” Himeko and her opponent watch, there are four very identifiable drive-bys: a Prius, a first-gen Nissan Fuga, a second-gen Toyota Alphard, a third-gen Honda Stepwgn.

Natsuyuki Rendezvous – 02

A week after their ramen date, Hazuki has had difficulty talking to Rokka due to Atsushi’s constant presence at the shop. Finally, he looks through Atsushi and asks her out to dinner. Afterwards she invites him in and things are about to get frisky when Atsushi interenes again; Hazuki blurts out an insult at him that upsets Rokka. She kicks him out, sleeps on the table, and wakes up with a fever, collapsing on the floor. Atsushi cries out and somehow, Hazuki hears him and comes to the rescue. Rokka calls out to Atsushi, apologizing to him.

As their vows stipulated “as long as they both shall live,” why does Shimao Atsushi haunt his former wife, Rokka? Glad you asked! It’s simple: she begged him not to go…so he didn’t; he stayed. And still he stays. Rokka can’t see or hear him, but whenever she’s home or in the shop, he’s there. Does he even have a choice in the matter, or does Rokka keep him there? Ever the practical fellow, he offered her signed divorce papers so she could marry someone she could have a child with. She promptly tore them up in a heartwrenching scene. Now, Rokka is at a crossroads: a cute guy eight years younger than her seems  to want her, at a time when she’s nearly forgotten how to want or be wanted. Is there room in her heart for a living man along with her dead husband?

We like how quickly Hazuki moves with Rokka…it’s very adult. Once he finds his nerve, Hazuki is not one to hesitate. Their chemistry is very nice too – we like the detail about Garlic Breath, Bane of Dates. Rokka, self-conscious about her age and widow status, is being tugged and pulled every which way by her emotions in the midst of this new courtship. Her practical side wants to give in to the advances (while she still can), yet she finds herself pushing him away. Of course, Hazuki hardly help matters by falling for Atsushi’s trap and getting him to open a wound not easily closed. Perhaps next time he should invite Rokka to his place…if there is a next time.

Rating: 9 (Superior)

Binbougami ga! – 02

Momiji enrolls in Sakura’s school and harasses her all day. On the way home, Sakura is grabbed by a starving travelling monk, but ignores his pleas. Back at her home, Momiji is squatting in her closet, and the monk followed her home; her positive energy and Momiji’s negative energy drew him there. He equips her with “robes” and a weapon called the Souin Shourai, and she picks a fight with Momiji, who is surprised to learn Sakura can manifest her fortune into summoned animal allies. Sakura wins the fight and kicks Momiji out, but is left with the priest, her animals, and Momiji’s lazy samurai allies occupying her place.

We’re still impressed with the sheer volume of comedic material this series has dished out in its first two weeks, and were even able to discern some of the anime it spoofs in mere blinks of the eye. This week lost none of the manic energy and verve of the first episode, and it’s a pleasure to listen to Hanazawa Kawa firing with both barrels. Momiji’s Uchiyam Yumi is no slouch; with not one but dozens of different voices. The new kid on the block, Bobby the priest, is a welcome and hilarious addition to the cast, coming on too strong for Sakura’s taste, but actually aiding her in her battle against misfortune incarnate, Momiji. We especially like how he kind of fades into the background during the climactic battle…as if the series sensed that he’s better in moderation.

This episode eschews drama with more action and parody, and it isn’t boring even for a moment. The series points out in the omake that they’re only arround for one cour, so they’re clearly making the most of what they’ve got. Sakura and Momiji truly are two sides of the same coin. You’d think the god has an advantage here, but Sakura proves she won’t let her take her misfortune without a fight. Momiji’s direct approach has only made Sakura bolder and more cognizant of her powers. Momiji faces an uphill battle.

Rating: 6 (Good)