Hanasaku Iroha 19

Whenever this series has gone off on a high school drama tangent, it can sometimes feel like a distraction from the primary inn setting. I mean, there are a lot of stories left to tell there, why deviate by doing a school festival two-parter? Alas, this is what we got, and to be fair, it isn’t bad. It just isn’t quite up to par. I found myself uninterested in chunks of this episode, which is never good.

Ohana, Minko and Yuina’s class decide to run a “princess cafe.” The class chooses Minko to be in charge of the food and Ohana in charge of the waitressing. This enables both of them to ply their craft in a new and less serious setting. Minko gets quite into it, but quickly runs into logistical issues – personnel – issues. If this is a dry run for running her own restaurant – something that’s no doubt one of her dreams – it’s not off to a good start. But it’s sure to build character.

Ohana and Yuina have fewer issues coordinating the waitresses, but Ohana manages to have a very bizarre dream featuring Kou in drag. The episode ends with a lot of uncertainty about how everything will turn out – particularly for Minko. Nako, meanwhile, is the only one helping a girl set up an art gallery. Probably not the best time to turn off her politeness filter…

Rating: 3

Sket Dance 11

With this episode, Sket Dance is the third series to go with a cooking story, joining Blue Exorcist and Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko (though not including Hanasaku Iroha, since that’s a show about an inn and food is an intregal part of it.) In this case, it’s a huge and rather silly challenge that reveals that the tomboyish Himeko is actually really good at housework. I always find it interesting that even teens in Japan consider being good at housework a big plus (at least in the anime world). Being a good housewife a fundamental skill. That isn’t something kids of the same age in America usually look for in girls (or guys, in the case of Toradora).

But while this cooking challenge adds a new feather to Himeko’s cap, it’s still kind of a ridiculous situation. For one thing, it’s being held in what seems to be an Olympic stadium, packed to the gills. I’m sure this is for dramatic effect, or perhaps all the POV characters are hallucinating. Anyway, this is a strict Student Council vs. Sket-dan challenge, which involves all manner of skills. It’s complete with your typical TV commentator along with two very distracting Mascot Girls who end every sentence with the suffix “biba-ge”

This is also Sket-dan’s first two-parter, as the challenge jsut ends halfway into the second challenge, a combat duel between the Samurai dude and Tsubaki. At one point I knew this story wouldn’t end this week, but I didn’t understand why it had to continue, and wasn’t simply wrapped up. What are the stakes? Interestingly, not the existence of the Sket-dan. Just a “3” mouth for the fat girl’s phone’s avatar. Now if that isn’t totally random and inconsequential, I don’t know what is. Rating: 3

Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko 7

This week, Mako gets his adolescence on, by sharing awkward silences with Erio and Ryuushi; enjoying girls’ home cooking; having an impromptu sleepover with Ryuushi, Maekawa, and Erio; seeing Ryuushi and Maekawa in bathtowels; talking with Ryuushi alone under the stars; and helping someone else with their adolescence points. What I thought would be a Maekawacentric episode (it was at first, at least) incorporated everyone except Meme, including the businessman with the odd ear tag, who is so into bottle rockets.

Ryuushi is also quite active, believing she needs to compete with Maekawa and Erio for Mako’s affections. While Maekawa seems pretty content and uninterested in being a rival, Erio is more competitive, in her own passive, sheepish way. As for Mako, he’s just going with the flow. It’s worked so far and there’s no reason to believe it won’t keep working out. He’s fine with letting life sweep him along for the ride; after all, it’s how he came to be in a new town in a new home with a new family in the first place. Rating: 3.5

Ao no Exorcist 6

So, five episodes in, and we get filler? Oh dear. Focusing an entire episode on cooking and food was a misstep, IMO, and I like cooking and food. And while it’s great that Rin loves cooking, it certainly wasn’t mentioned or came into play until this episode. Frankly, even with 26 episodes to play with, this was not the time or place for this.

Everyone’s behaviour is a bit baffling: I understand if you’re shy around girls, but why would Yukio repeatedly turn down lunches made especially for him by his admirers? He doesn’t have to eat them; he could accept them with gratitude, then give them to his starving half-demon brother. And why do they never question who cooks their meals in their dorm? They’re the only ones there. You’d think the fact they never had to pay for those meals (since Ukobach doesn’t need money) would be a dead giveaway that something was amiss.

Furthermore, when Rin trespasses in the kitchen and Ukobach goes on strike, why doesn’t Mephisto just let Rin handle the cooking as both he and Yukio would prefer? Doesn’t the headmaster of an enormous academy have other things to do? I could write more on the silliness of this episode, but I won’t. It was silly, period. Ao no Exorcist: if you’re going to go off on a tangent, do a better job next time. I know you canRating: 2.5