In the first half, Chiaki brings a student to the Sket-dan who has fallen victim to a dastardly pickpocket known as Kagerou or “Shadow Wolf.” They seek to apprehend him using Himeko as a decoy, but they find themselves outmatched, until ninja descendant freshman Katou Kiri intervenes. In the second half, the student council’s new treasurer Usami Hani is introduced. In her normal state, she hates men so much she completely ignores Tsubaki. When he touches her, her sexy, boy-crazy alter ego Bunny-chan emerges. After getting a headache, Tsubaki insists the final concil slot will be filled by a male – enter Katou Kiri.
Sket Dance’s policy regarding characters seems to be “the more, the merrier”, and in the case of the two new characters introduced this week, there’s no reason to change that policy. Both Katou Kiri and Usami Hani leave underwhelming first impressions early in their respective segments, but then they show an entirely different side of their characters. In Kiri’s case, he feigns slow reflexes to hide his ninja skills, but uses them to bail Himeko out of a serious situation (one of the only times we can recall she’s at knifepoint; while Bossun is unconscious).
Katou Kiri is okay, but of the two, we preferred Usami Hani (voiced by Yuka Iguchi), who has the extemely bizarre quality of totally changing personalities based on which gender touched her last. The relay system she sets up with Minorin tests Tsubaki’s patience, as does her jumping to conclusions when he’s direct with her. Fourth Wall expert Saotome Roman chimes in at a couple opportune times to give her assessment, which was much like ours: uninspiring at first, but turns out to be very quirky and not without potential.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
Tsubaki and Urabe double-date with Ueno and Oka at the Kazami Shrine’s Summer Festival. Oka drags Ueno away to let Urabe be alone with Tsubaki, but when the signal for the fireworks goes up, they are separated. While searching, Tsubaki comes across a strange “freak show” tent; inside he finds Urabe tied to a string high above the ground. A boy and girl in fox masks warn him he can only pull one of the pile of strings on the ground to save her. Urabe sucks on the string, and her saliva lights it up for Tsubaki, thanks to their bond. The fox kids thank them, and the tent disappears. They turn out to be fox spirits, a boy and girl in love, who exchange the bottle and cup on Urabe’s yukata in exchange for a love charm bracelet she puts on Tsubaki.
This was a pleasant revisiting to our favorite series of the Spring, which serves to further validate Tsubaki and Urabe’s bond as they come afoul of supernatural beings who give Tsubaki a test of sorts. Ueno remains unaware that Tsubaki and Urabe are an item, but it doesn’t matter, as he has his own designs on “scoring” with Oka this night. Tsubaki and Urabe are a little shy with each other at first when faced with the prospect of being alone on a date, but after the fox spirits put them through their paces, there’s no doubt that they were meant for each other, and will be back at the festival next year – just the two of them.
Rating: 8 (Great)
Kirito and Asuna take a quick look at the boss, Gleam Eyes, but they quickly withdraw and then have lunch. Klein and his Fuurinkazen guild show up, and are excited to see the legendary Asuna in person. A squadron from the Aincrad Liberation Army also appears, and their commander gets the dungeon map from Kirito. When Asuna hears the cries of his men, she, Kirito, and Klein hurry to the boss room, where the army is getting decimated by the boss and teleport crystals are useless. Asuna rushes in, but is overwhelmed by Gleam Eyes’ power; Kirito has to bail her out. Kirito utilizes his secret dual sword-wielding skill to barely defeat the boss, with only a sliver of HP left. When he wakes up, a concerned Asuna embraces him. Later, the Knights of the Blood Oath Commander Heathcliff challenges Kirito to a duel; if Kirito loses, he must join the guild.
Kirito wasn’t fooling anyone when he said he wouldn’t engage the boss. They were fighting that boss, one way or another. Turns out, they did it to relieve a bunch of foolhardy guild members who rushed headlong at the boss with no strategy and no hope of victory. And surprisingly, it’s Asuna – not Kirito – who rushes in first to save them. Her innate decency won’t allow her to stand in the doorway and let weaker players get slaughtered. It’s a ballsy move, as she and Kirito run out of the boss room screaming in the beginning of the episode, with no interest whatsoever in engaging the guy alone. When the chips are down and lives are at stake, however, they’re more than willing to stick their necks out for their fellow players.
It’s nice to see Kirito actually break a sweat as he does this week. He even has to whip out his secret weapon, a heretofore unheard-of ability to wield two swords at once – including the one Lisbeth made him. Speaking of ladies: Asuna’s showing signs of seriously falling for Kirito. When he’s almost killed delivering the coup-de-grace to Gleam Eyes, she’s almost in hysterics. Far from indifferent to Kirito’s existence, she comes out and says she doesn’t know what she’d do if she lost him. When news of his victory gets to Blood Oath HQ, both he and Asuna are in trouble with the commander. Apparently they won’t allow him to poach Asuna, and he’s going to fight him for her. One wonders why Asuna doesn’t have a choice in the matter…
Rating: 8 (Great)
Taichi meets with Iori to apologize for hurting her and to voice his dedication to sticking with the group no matter what; she accepts. He and Aoki also apologize to one another, while Iori tries to work on Inaba, with little effect. Aoki then gets an idea, and he and Taichi visit Yui and finally successfully convince her to come back to school, promising to “protect her” from her urges should she lose control. Heartseed pays a visit to Inaba, telling her she hasn’t been entertaining, and notifying her he’s “shaking things up” by forcing Inaba’s hidden feelings for Taichi to the surface.
Things were getting quite grim by last week, but a talk between Fujishima inspired Taichi to reignite his efforts to keep the group together, person by person. He starts by listing all his flaws and apologizing for the wrongs he’s done to both Iori and Aoki of late. Both are receptive to his contriteness and reciprocate in kind. And finally, the tough cookie that is Yui was finally worn down into returning to society after some very logical (and brave) propositioning from Aoki combined with perceptive “gibberish” from Taichi, who after hurting Iori, understands how Yui feels. In the case of Taichi, Iori, Yui and Aoki, it’s a matter of making sure their desire to not hurt each other is stronger than their other, more dangerous desires. We particularly like Taichi’s point about Yui never experiencing the pain of hurting someone until the episodes began, since she’d really only done so in karate. The looks on their faces when they thought Yui was agreeing to a night in a love hotel with Aoki? Priceless.
Yui may have seemed like the obvious choice for Heartseed to visit last week, but now that she’s out of her room and fighting over food with the others, it’s Inaba, the final holdout, whom he visits. She may not be literally hiding in her room, but she is hiding something; he knows it (he knows everything). He’s hoping he’ll get maximum entertainment out of the experiment by making Inaba reveal her love of Taichi, which will break the group up, at which point he thinks she’ll try to “destroy the world.” Whatever that entails, it indeed sounds more entertaining than teens moping in their dark bedrooms. When Inaba shows up the morning ofthe field trip, she looked like a bomb ready to go off, ruining all her friends’ progress.
Rating: 9 (Superior)