The first part is a satirical retelling of the Japanese folktale Saru Kani Gassen (The Quarrel of the Monkey and the Crab), with Himeko as the crab’s offspring, Bossun as the cow pie, and Switch as the Monkey. In the second part, Date has transformed into an Modern Enka singer, and his friend and bandmate Rodan insists they help change him back. The Sket-dan converts to the visual-kei asthetic, but it has no effect. Eventually, Bossun determines Date fell victim to sleep learning after falling asleep in front of the TV.
We keep watching Sket Dance because we never know what it’s going to throw at us next, and for mind-bending episodes like this, which exhibit the intense variegation of Japanese culture and society. Japanese folklore is not our strong suit, and there are certainly some who would consider this parody in poor taste, but we found it both educational and hilarious. Whether it’s Date still trying to make cool gestures as an usu, or Bossun’s turn as a literal piece of shit with no confidence (but all the good ideas), it was well-executed, self-contained little story.
We thought it would continue into the next half, but instead we’re treated to even more ridiculousness in the form of a visual-kei dilemma. The show is essentially turned over to Gackt, who puts on a clinic as a suddenly-transformed Date who has gone all the way to the other side of the musical and stylistic spectrum, all thanks to sleep learning. He can sing Enka with the best of them (like we’d actually know…), and is certainly better at belting out sentimental ballads than the Sket-dan are at coming up with cool interpretive phrases. However, perhaps the most bafflingly bizarre and uproarious moment was the Shiki-like visualization of Bossun’s creepy little poem about black roses and a “dilapidated princess”. How the hell do they come up with this stuff?
Rating: 8 (Great)
Sawa’s injuries are minor, but cause enough of a scare that she must withdraw from the tournament for liability reasons. He also tells her to step back from her dream of beinga jockey and go to college. Back at school, the club’s practice room has been stolen by the music majors; a pissed-off Sawa chews them out. They go to Wien’s house to practice, but his piano is out of tune. Sawa tells everyone what’s biting her, but Wakana echoes Sawa’s dad, and Sawa snaps at her. When the vice principal allows the club to audition for the main stage, Sawa is home sulking, but the rest of the club convinces her to come. With her bike at school, she must ride Sabure.
First of all, kudos to Tari Tari for not going the easy route of injuring Sawa to the extent she can’t continue; falling off the horse isn’t life- or limb-threatening, though it does expose her malnutrition to her father. Instead, this episode makes Sawa wrestle with trying to keep her dream alive when the facts of her life simply aren’t favorable to that dream. Even if she starves herself to the weight limit, she may grow too tall to be a jockey – and what’s the point of being light enough if you’re too weak to stay on your horse? Her dad isn’t the best at conveying his feelings to his teenage daughter, but he once again makes sense: it was naive for Sawa to simply press on without a backup plan, belieiving everything will turn out okay.
We like how Sawa’s realization is a weight that sours her usually pleasant disposition (we were pumping our fists when she unleashed a devastating tirade against the stuck-up music majors.) Another great moment is when Sawa hears her dad arguing her case on the phone with the equestrian school. This is after Sawa’s friends sang her a song over the phone to show they care about her and want her by their side. Fittingly, Sawa rides her horse to school, in a scene that’s equal parts heroic, redemptive, and absurd. We don’t even hear the last-minute audition, but considering what a stick-in-the-mud the vice principal is, we won’t speculate on whether they got a spot on the main stage. Sawa’s struggles aren’t over, but she’s not without hope – and she’s not alone.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
Car Cameos: Sawa and her father take a Toyota Comfort taxi home, and a Toyota Alphard can be seen just before the train to Wien’s house passes by. While riding her horse Sabure through town, Sawa encounters a Toyota Soarer, AKA Lexus SC430.