Sket Dance – 75

Tsubaki and Unyuu try to defuse a victim of bullying who’s snapped, but Katou interferes and Unyuu is almost seriously hurt. Tsubaki gives him an ultimatum to shape up or turn in his armband. Having watched the argument, Himeko reaches out to Katou, who tells her about a horrible teacher who blamed a student for being bullied and drove him off. That same teacher, Kutsuwa Daijirou, just happens to be the new homeroom teacher. He runs down Himeko, making her cry; the last straw for Katou. He kidnaps Kutsuwa and ties him to a tree, putting him on live streaming video to answer for is crimes. Tsubaki and Bossun manage to defuse the situation, but another jab at Himeko by Kutsuwa earns him a punch by Bossun, who along with Katou, gets suspended for two weeks. Kutsuwa quits.

Like most school-based anime, Sket Dance rarely focuses on teachers – the only ones with any kind of screen time have been Chuuma-sensei (who’s more a mad scientist) and Remi-chan (who’s more of a kid-at-heart than many of the students). This week, we’re presented with a new teacher, who is a total asshole. He gets the job through connections, but he’s obsessed with blaming people for their own problems. That’s not a bad thing on its face, but he takes it to the extreme, intentionally pressing students’ buttons and making them feel ashamed and powerless. He has no business presiding over a class of already emotionally-fragile teenagers.

By foul contrivance, he just happens to be the same teacher Katou mentions to Himeko while explaining why he is the way he is. When Kutsuwa works his charm on Himeko, Katou is driven to action. He’s lucky the police didn’t get involved when he resorts to kidnapping, but it’s all thanks to friends he didn’t even know he had that he comes out alright, and the teacher is sent packing (having his sociopathic tirade broadcast live to the whole school helped with that). Bossun, initially a bystander, can’t stop himself from slugging a teacher when Himeko’s name is besmirched. Bossun’s usually a genial guy, but when his friends are being hurt, he’s as brutal and fierce as they come. And clearly, it was worth it. Dude really needed to be punched.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

 

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Tari Tari – 12

The Choir/Badminton Club continues preparing for their white festival musical drama, despite having their formal request denied by the student council. They reach out to the shopping district association, which agrees to distribute pamphlets for their show. Taichi continues to delegate to other, more skilled parties, and Konatsu secures Ueno for piano, despite Hirohata’s objections. Wakana bumps into Naoko while visiting her mom’s grave and lets her listen to her song. The principal tries to take a stand, but the developers are having none of it and institute a strict curfew for all students.

There are many at Shiro High who are ready and willing to lie down and listen to whomever seems most like being in charge; in this case, the developers who are replacing the school with condos. Konatsu isn’t one of those people, and she makes her voice heard whenever she can. As little as we’ve actually enjoyed her character throughout the run, we have to give it to her here, she’s not taking anything lying down. Her obstinancy is a rarity among her classmates, but her fellow club members are behind her 100%. In fact, it was Wakana, not Konatsu, who first insisted the show must go on. She goes to bat for the club by begging the shopping district to help with advertising, but this has the unhappy side effect of gaining the attention of the bad guys.

But one thing Konatsu did was inspire that pathetic wimp of a principal to at least try to stand up against the developers. He doesn’t succeed, but the weight of what he’s done is definitely still upon him, and we’ll look to him to step in and use whatever power authority he has left – little as it may be – to assist the likes of Konatsu and the Choir Club. At episode’s end, it’s raining the evening before the show. Without having peeked at the preview for the final episode, we suspect weather won’t be the problem. But we would hope those haughty developers get put in their place.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Mawaru Penguindrum – 13 (Retro Review)

Originally posted 7 Oct 2011 – “Dr.” Sanetoshi makes a deal with Kanba (somehow involving his heart) In order to administer a serum that restores her back to life. The episode deals with a host of flashbacks that document that fateful last day the Takakura children ever saw their parents. The police placed them in a hotel room as they searched their home for further evidence of their parents’ crimes, which resulted in deaths, including Momoka’s. Sanetoshi muses about fate, and whether it truly exists.The Tokyo Sky Metro celebrates its tenth anniversary. Ringo sends an email to her father stating she knows of his second family; she believes it was fate to encounter them.

Nothing in this world is pointless. Apparently, nothing in this series is pointless, either. The series continues to squeeze as much as it can out of every scene, every setting, every word…and every sign. Hints trickle down here and there, but like any good mystery, only enough to hold our interest; no more. This much is clear (which wasn’t earlier); the siblings’ parents did awful things. After all, they were “senior members” of something, for chrissake…that can’t be good. Also, the Metropolitan Police doesn’t send a battalion of detectives to your house on a whim.

While we’re piecing together more about the past, we’re wondering more and more how much longer Kanba can keep up whatever he’s doing to pay Sanetoshi to keep Himari alive, possibly tempting fate. Since the day their parents disappeared, the three “haven’t amounted to anything” by society’s standards, but they’ve stayed together as a family. The pain their parents caused to both Ringo, her family, and Tabuki through Momoka’s death is something Ringo always thought could be healed by becoming Momoka. I like how Tabuki seems to set her straight.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

Shiki – 14 (Retro Review)

Originally posted 13 Nov 2010 – Yowza…just when we think Toshio’s checked out emotionally, he springs into action once his wife rises. He even gets it all on tape. It must take an ungodly amount of dedication to treat one’s recently-deceased wife like, well, a fetal pig in biology class, and treat her arm like a pincushion. Toshio won’t let the risen corpse speak, even though she knows his name. As far as he’s concerned, his wife is dead. Whatever this is, it’s a golden opportunity to discover what makes the vamps tick.

Even so, you can’t help but sympathize with his corpse-wife: he’s doing these terrible things to her while she’s wide awake, listening and watching. Even for a vamp, this is clearly torture, which then leads to a staking, Toshio’s last resort to extinguish her. We all know staking and beheading vampires is the only way to get rid of them, but he had to be scientifically sure. With possession of this concrete knowledge, he’s perhaps the only one who can save the town.

Meanwhile, Megumi kills the Tanaka kids’ dad, and later expresses her concern that Yuuki hasn’t risen yet. We love how she still has the hots for him. It would be a shame if Yuuki ended up cremated in the “big city”, since the first half spent so much time on his character. When the creepy effeminate guy (bad with names) who did rise rubs it in Megumi’s face, she has a rock and Chuck Taylor ready for his face. We’ll admit a macabre satisfaction when this kid’s big mouth gets him in trouble.


Rating: 8 (Great)

AnoHana – 01 (Retro Review)

Originally posted 15 April 2011 – With yet another gorgeous, well-made series with a immediately appealing cast, this is shaping up to be a great Spring 2011 season. The only glaring flaw in Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Boku-tachi wa Mada Shiranai so far is that it has that obnoxiously long title…and everyone has an ordinary name and a nickname we need to remember. Everything else is solid.

“Jintan” used to be the “leader” of his group of six friends. Then one of them – “Menma”, a frail-looking girl with silver hair – died. With that hole in their collective hearts, they drifted apart. Now high school age, Jintan is a shut-in with social anxiety, and the only one who sees the “ghost” of Menma. He’s having trouble growing up, especially when she’s always whining and hanging off him.

The reason for his trauma is, he felt he wounded her deeply the last time he saw her, and never got the chance to apologize. She was also someone he was in love with, so her loss is something he hasn’t been able to recover from. His friends, while more mature on the surface, nevertheless still share his grief of losing Menma, in their own way.

These six characters are pretty diverse, and even though they’ve just been introduced, I’m already rooting for Jintan to re-unite the group. You want to hope their dormant friendships could weather the storm of – well, life – and all gain strength from the reunion. It doesn’t seem right that they’re apart and cool towards one another right now. And it certainly isn’t what Menma would have wanted.


Rating: 9 (Superior)