Sket Dance 26

The three-person main cast of Gintama crosses over to Sket Dance, using a strange interdimensional device that then shorts out. As Switch works to repair it, the two casts trade barbs, pointing out the similarities in their characters and their voices. When they activate the device again, it takes the two casts back in time to the first episode of Sket Dance. Eventually, the Gintama club returns to whence it came.

Sket Dance is apparently going on another 13 episodes, if not more, but I believe I’ve had my fill; it’s time to say goodbye. Update: due to the poor debut of C³, we’ll be dropping that and continuing to watch this for the time being. I must admit, I have never watched a single episode of Gintama and know nothing about it or its characters, nor the understanding that Sket Dance is, at its core, Gintama in a school setting, what with all the gags and parody. Ah well, you learn something new everyday! And the fact the core trio was essentially doubled gave this episode an immense amount of energy.

Despite not knowing anything about Gintama, I could still appreciate virtually an entire episode of breaking the fourth wall, though I’ll admit it seemed a bit overdone at times – fourth wallbreaking is best when used sparingly, lest it get tired. I did recognize Rie Kugimiya as the voice of the red Chun Li, and the fact that Switch and Gin had the same voice, and the harking back to Teppei – the red herring for the main character in the first episode – was a nice touch. If nothing else, pointing out its blatant similarities to the obviously very popular Gintama franchise – obviously done to cash in on its success – is a nice bit of self-depricating humor.


Rating: 3

Hanasaku Iroha 26 (Fin)

The Bonbori festival is a magical evening when people all over the prefecture converge and bring fresh vitality to Yusonagi. Everyone strings up their wish planks, all of them reinforcing their character arcs. Ohana wishes to be like her grandmother, Sui, who herself believes she should “fest it up” more often as Ohana does. Ohana seeks out Ko and finally confesses to him. Beanman announces his retirement. Enishi, realizing he has a lot to learn about running an inn, agrees with his mother to close Kissuiso, but only temporarily, so that he can train.

The staff pledges to return to work there when it reopens, and can live up to its name of “A place to make Sui happy.” Ko wants to “find his place” as he sees Ohana has, and if it’s the same place of her, all the better. Minko dreams to be Kissuiso’s next chef. Sui gives us one last tour of the inn where dreams are born. The series finishes with a montage of the staff in their new places, and in Ohana’s case, back in Tokyo with her mom and Ko.

It’s been a hell of a ride, with its share of bumps, but IMO Hanasaku Iroha couldn’t have had a better finale. It ties up all the loose ends, doesn’t cheat by keeping everything the same, gives everyone a solid goodbye and dream to follow, and, of course, Ohana gets the guy by finally speaking up. Even better, she gets that out of the way in the first minutes, before the suspense grows excessive, and moves on to other things. Just about everything worked here, from the utterly gorgeous visuals to the not-too-cheesy soundtrack.

I really liked Angel Beats!, but I think I have to consider this P.A. Works’ finesst work yet, which is encouraging, because it’s also their latest, and I can’t wait to watch their next one. After AnoHana wrapped, this has been the series with the most involving, likeable, fun-to-watch characters, as well as the prettiest setting and some of the best animation values. The inn itself was a character, and given no less fitting a sendoff. When it was populated, it was hard to sit back and admire just how beautiful a building it is, inside and out. I’m glad that the series was able to take its time and say a decent goodbye that left me wanting for nothing.



Rating: 4 ~series elevated to favorites ~