Sket Dance 10

After a hilarious cold open in which the Sket-dan enacts a parody of Kimi ni Todoke for no good reason, the balance of the episode is dedicated to one client, Yagi. Her friend Kuramoto wants Sket to cheer her up, but they end up unraveling a DVD-cheating mystery/name-clearing mission. Still fresh off her impression of Sawako, she’s afraid Sawako will jump out of a “cursed” DVD they find, Bossun thinks it’s an embarrassing video of Yagi cosplaying, while Switch has…dirtier thoughts.

It turns out to be midterm math problems filmed with night vision in the teacher’s office. Yagi’s possession of such video would seem to suggest cheating, but she is innocent, and the circumstances are extenuating. It turns out, a rogue teacher who sells test info to students misplaced the disc, and subsequently tries to frame Yagi, who was the prior victim of unfounded cheating rumors, and hence kept quiet. Naturally, nothing about Sket-dan is quiet, and they soon make her spill the beans.

This leads to a gut-busting confrontation with the teacher, who defies Sket-dan to uncover evidence of his malfecsence, on pain of explusion. They not only catch his visage in a mirror on-camera, but get him to literally broadcast his confession to the entire school (it being the broadcasting club they’re in). Once again, the dynamic trio of Bossun’s concentration, Himeko’s feminine sensibilities, and Switch’s technical know-how solve yet another problem. If they charged more than mere smiles, they could make a mint. Rating: 3.5

Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season 10

This seemed more like an episode for Kazehaya and Sawako than for us, the audience. We are already very much up to speed about where both parties stand in the feelings department, yet the show decided they needed to embellish this by having the two lovebirds confirm it several times in various exchanges during seemingly the umpteenth school festival (seriously, where do they get the money to hold so many?)

It wasn’t totally redundant, however: for the first time…bascially ever, Sadako actually says what’s on her mind; something heartfelt, not cobbled together and laced with stammering. She almost sounds confident, bless ‘er! This is huge, because so much of what she says that has any significance is heard by no one but us; this is a notable change of form.

Also, Kazehaya finally has the pelotas to call out to Sawako (after strategically letting her walk away to the ideal distance), telling her he likes her in public; in front of dozens of classmates. Granted, many of these classmates are so thick and grotesquely stupid, they probably still don’t understand, but there you are. He also, thank god, tells Joe to fuck off (firmly, yet politely, mind you) so he can keep talking to his girl. Attaboy…Progress~ you makes it. Rating: 3

Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season 9

Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about! Well, mostly. Sawako finally summons the balls to confess to Kazehaya relatively properly. Of course, he wouldn’t be Kazehaya if he didn’t say something that frikkin ruins everything before she can get a word in edgewise; he doesn’t disappoint here. “No matter what you say, my feelings won’t change” is just an awful line to say when a girl who isn’t sure about your feelings for her is trying to confess. Boy need to shaddap.

Worse, the awfully-drawn ginger classmate barges in, tearing the embracing couple apart before Kazehaya can respond. So there’s mutual bliss between Sawako and Kazehaya – for a grand total of sixty seconds. For an episode that was pretty much all about this, you’d think they would both be able to confess to one another and fully understand each other’s intentions, if that’s ever possible. This is nothing new; the series has always milked moments like these; but the barging-in-friend is so done to death it felt utterly cheap and tacky here.

It’s kind of a cop-out to put these two together and start making progress and then yank them away for no good reason: that is, not because of anything either one of them said or did, but rather some stupid extra. If anything else had happened in this episode, it would’ve been less jarring, but again, the confession was prety much it. Pin devolved back to his obnoxious self, and no one else had any lines of note. So this seems like a wasted opportunity. I already hated that ginger kid who barged in; now I loathe him. Rating: 3.5

Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season 8

For some reason, parts of this episode felt like a recap, but despite this, or rather because of the revisiting of encounters Sadako (sorry, Sawako) has had regarding her relationship (or lack thereof), she seems to finally turn a corner. By episode’s end (a cliffhanger, dammit), it seems she may end up the one to reach out to Kazehaya, not the other way round.

The episode is titled “I don’t care anymore”, which is what Sadako proclaims after school – somewhat confusing her friends – but also signaling something may have finally clicked that will end this excruciating situation for her and Kazehaya. She isn’t going to worry about being selfish or embarrassed or making the wrong impression or causing a misunderstanding.

She knows what she wants, and always has, and the only way to get it is to move beyond all that. Here’s hoping she does…it’s about frikkin’ time. Rating: 3.5

Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season 1

After a semi-recap as told by Ume, this first episode was precisely what I feared: syrupy slow pacing, way too much time spent inside Sawako’s head, and overall simply too much like last season. Sawako was going to give Kazehaya chocolates, but chickens out. This was an episode in which absolutely nothing happened. After this, perhaps I may have been harboring unrealistic expectations for this second season. It certainly isn’t a start that inspires confidence in the future.

Sawako just bugged me the whole way through. Her obsessive-compulsive preparation of food and her constant self-introspection, over-thinking, lack of confidence and self-worth came off stale and excruciating. I saw nothing of her I didn’t already see last season. There’s nothing new here, and so nothing interesting. Her constant descent into chibi-mode has also long since lost its novelty. Kazehaya remains a wooden husk of a character. He’s a decent guy, sure, but Sawako still barely knows who he is, and neither do we.

His generic-ness  makes her overwrought obsession over him all the more absurd. Only Ume’s teasing breathes any life into this episode, along with Pin, who’s just creepy this week, asking Kazehaya for an after-school private backrub. You know you’re in trouble when your core couple, unable or unwilling to grow or change, becomes overshadowed by side characters. In short, this was a snoozefest that I felt I had already watched before. Rating: 2

Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season – First Impressions

The first season definitely had its faults. To say the relationship between Sawako and Kazehaya developed at a casual pace would be ludicrously understating matters. Also, Kurumi – the wedge between them – was a bit of a distraction at a crucial point in the story.

Still, this first episode of the second season (labeled “Episode 0”) reminded me why I watched all of the first: I really enjoy the character design. Along with the watercolor backgrounds, this series has always been a feast for the eyes. This episode still way overuses chibi-cuts, but it’s a small price to pay IMO.

This first episode was like easing into a warm bath: it was half-recap of the Kurumi triangle arc, but with new narration from Kurumi’s perspective. I’m a fan of both Aya Hirano’s and Mamiko Noto’s performances as Kurumi and Sawako, respectively. Their vocal versatility combined with the excellent facial animation really brings the characters to life.

I’m hoping this season will not be more of the same wheel-spinning and actually depict Sawako and Kazehaya actually making progress with their mutual courtship..though that may just be blind optimism. I’m not just looking for more of the same…I want to see improvement this season. Rating: 2.5