Sket Dance 14

Click here to read more reviews of Sket Dance, including the first thirteen episodes.

It’s poll time in Class C, and students will vote for the most popular, smartest, strongest, biggest otaku, sexiest, et cetera. One quiet, shy, nervous-looking kid named Uchida approaches the Sket-dan with a challenge: to make him popular. What follows is a series of ridiculous attempts to make him only appear strong (a rigged kendo match with Shinzou) or knowledgeable in anime (a radio show where Usui and a third guest don’t let him get a word in edgewise).

These failures only lead to more self-loathing on Uchida’s part. Meanwhile, the real reason for wanting an award is revealed: he has a mom in the hospital and doesn’t want her to worry. So he lies; tells her he has gobs of friends. But it turns out, he wins an award without any of the play-acting: most of the class voted him the most kind, due to all the little things he does to make life better for others. They may have been quiet about it, but they did notice his kindness, and he gets acknowledgement. This was a nice resolution, true to his character and not manufactured.

This is another episode that makes me glad Sket Dance doesn’t star a kid like Uchida (or Teppei from the first episode, who has a cameo here). Guys like Uchida are fine for one episode, two tops. Sket Dance’s primary strength is the chemistry between the members of Sket-dan (and the diverse array of colorful supporting characters); it isn’t anchored by a single character. The episode is conscious of this, as Bossun fails to win any awards, while Switch and Himeko both win (with Usui winning two, including most popular). You can’t win ’em all. Rating: 3

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Oreimo 14

I really enjoyed Oreimo as a whole, but would have enjoyed it so much more if the multi-talented, cute-as-a-button Kuroneko/Ruri Goko was the focus, rather than Kirino and Kyousuke. These extra episodes have given Ruri the screen time she deserved, and she doesn’t disappoint. Her character’s growth is even more apparent when comparing her to Sena Akagi, who is more or less a nerdier, more perverted version of Kirino and simply not as interesting.

While last week she resented Kyousuke’s doting, this week she is much more receptive to it. Is Kyousuke supporting her simply because his real little sister is absent? That isn’t the whole picture. Even when Kirino was around, the two of them had their own independent rapport. The fact that Ruri can now comfortably hang out in his bedroom and even profess her affection for him (in a manner of speaking) suggests she’s no longer hung up on the belief she’s filling in for Kirino. Kyousuke would prefer he call her senpai, not nii-san.

Ruri is a finisher; when she sets her mind to something, she won’t back down or give up until that something is achieved. She swallows her pride and asks Sena to help with debugging her game. The game even wins an award, albeit for “Most Shitty Game”, but what matters is she got it done, and didn’t compromise her creative vision. The powerful, passionate speech she gives to the game club in her initial bid is one of Ruri’s finest moments. At this point, Ruri is also probably my favorite Kana Hanazawa character. Rather than simply ditzy or cutesy, she really gets to explore the full range of her voice. Rating: 4