In the first half, Switch announces his new invention: a device that reads and plays back the thoughts of animals like Hoosuke, who teaches them the importance of friendship. In the second half, Momoka asks Himeko to participate in a Tsukkomi battle show on TV that she’s co-hosting. Himeko excels at the movie-riffing, then selects Bossun from the audience to pick him apart and beat the professional comedian she was up against.
Sket Dance returns to it’s two-part format, with stories that don’t involve who likes whom. Instead, both parts of this episode are about Bossun and Himeko playing off of things. Actually, this is what much of the series is about: these two reacting and offering more than their two cents about a character, situation, drug, game, or an invention, like Switch’s animal translator that starts reading everyones’ minds, leading to much ardor about who’s thinking what, and they’re surprised more often than not (and Roman inadvertently providing Hoosuke’s thoughts is a nice touch at the end).
The second part was a nice showcase of Himeko’s talent for picking things apart, and proves she can beat a professional when the variables align. I imagine no matter what film or TV show or video game or whatever you sit Himeko down in front of, she’ll offer funny commentary, pointing out whatever’s out of place and expressing her frustration with said anomalies. She also makes clever use of Bossun by knowing full well he’ll melt under the lights. Thus she makes him her mark/straight man, bouncing things off him she knows will make him act funnier. It’s a skit that makes good use of the characters we know so well.
Rating: 5 (Average)
Car Cameos: In the “police documentary” Himeko and her opponent watch, there are four very identifiable drive-bys: a Prius, a first-gen Nissan Fuga, a second-gen Toyota Alphard, a third-gen Honda Stepwgn.
Bossun and Himeko switch personalities. Tsubaki is hypnotized into believing he’s a cat. The only person who can help them has no motivation. Saaya is thinking about confessing to Bossun. Switch, who encouraged Saaya, now has to keep her away from Bossun, who is actually Himeko, who has to keep Himeko, who is actually Bossun, away from her body and other girls. Roman, who is omniscient, knows Bossun’s secret, because it’s how she’d write a high school trip anime. Enough going on for ya?
These situations, on their own, would make for pretty thin episodes (or half-episodes). But all of these things are going on in one episode, making for a dense, multifaceted episode with a manic pace. There’s so much going on here, all of which matches the established lore of the characters thus far. It’s no surprise to us that both Himeko and Bossun would think it would be easy to imitate one another, and not think further ahead to all of the awkward situations they’d get themselves into. Something as mundane as bathing with her fellow female classmates suddenly becomes a big deal. Things are chaotic.
Switch’s clandestine role to ensure Saaya won’t speak to Bossun when Himeko’s in his body – despite having prodded her to do just that last week – works well. Saaya’s own constant insistence that Bossun’s a “kind creep” hits fever pitch, and Bossun (with Himeko’s personality within) only fuels the fire. We also like how the generic student extras check off many of the things the Sket-dan has done (mentioning the events of previous episodes) and it’s true, to the mis- or under-informed, it might look like the club screws around more than it helps. But those extras respresent how dull the school would be without the Sket-dan, or their legion of eccentric friends and the student council, for that matter. Such a school would carry no interest for us.
Class 2’s ski trip to Niigata nears, but the various classes must compete in a group jump rope competition in order to go. Saaya, who is bad at sports, is weary of letting her class down, and her classmate Horii lets her know about it. Saaya practices with the Sket-dan, and the next day her class comes within a skip of the record. Saaya says she was the one who missed a skip, covering for the real culprit Horii.
In the second part, the trip is underway, with the Sket-dan’s class sharing a bus with Tsubaki’s. Saaya, in another bus considers telling Bossun how she feels on the trip, after getting advice from Switch at a rest stop. When the journey continues Himeko gets motion sickness, and Chuu-san is ready with a galaxy of pills, many of which Bossun had already tried previously. Himeko, Bossun and Tsubaki end up taking the wrong pills, the result of which Bossun and Himeko switch personalities and Tsubaki is hypnotized into thinking he’s Bossun.
This week we’re presented with one fairly unexcceptional and one fairly enjoyable outings, both of which set up the two-part class trip episode that may mark the end of the series (though we’re 0-for-everything on predicting the end of the series.) The first part is fairly Saaya-heavy, and as your ironically-typical tsundere, she’s not all that compelling and can’t carry a half-episode all on her own. The second half was better, with the Sket-dan and Tsubaki falling victim to Chuu’s ridiculous drugs. You would have thought they’d learned their lesson by now, but no. Now the dynamic of the class trip will have a whole new meaning, with their personalities being screwed up for three whole days.
Shinzou borrow’s Bossun’s phone when his runs out of juice, and under Saaya’s insistence, Bossun innocently answers a question posed by one “Pudding-chan”, and gets instantly hooked on her e-mails. In actuality, Himeko is Pudding, having helped Koma respond to an e-mail with her phone after hers was smashed. Pudding and Samurai continue exchanging e-mails, learning more about one another, until they agree to meet. When Bossun and Himeko arrive at the meeting spot, it takes them a long time to realize they are one another’s e-mail pals, much to the curiousity and confusion of Saaya, who is hanging out with her big brother in the vicinity.
It’s true: getting into e-mail exchanges with someone can be extremely addictive, and even two people who have no interest whatsoever in engaging in one – namely Bossun and Himeko – find the experience irresistable once circumstances force them to. And while both you and we both know that Himeko and Bossun will never get into a romantic relationship, no matter how well they usually get along, there are always going to be close calls like this one that accentuate just how ridiculous they both are when it comes to matters of their dating. Romances never work out in Sket Dance…unless you count Switch and Yuuko, which we don’t.
We love how Bossun and Himeko never notice they’re e-mailing each other even when they’re in the same room (Switch thankfully notices, and nudges them into proposing a meeting after saying it’s the norm). We also like just how oblivious they are to the fact that they arranged to meet each other: even with detailed descriptions of their clothes and hair, they look right past one another looking for someone who will never come. There were many instances of Bossun and Himeko yelling that unsettled bystanders, which is always hilarious. They yell like that all the time in their club, and apparently have no qualms about yelling in public, either. They’re just a couple of unapologetically passionate, bombastic people.
Part 1: While cleaning Chuu’s classroom, Bossun drinks from a Coke bottle containing a potion that mixes up his feelings and expressions: he laughs when angry, cries when bored, looks cool when he’s crying and looks angry when embarrassed. Remi messes up Chuu’s antidote, so Bossun’s expression becomes frozen in anger.
Part 2: When doing origami, Himeko discovers Bossun is an origami virtuoso: not only able to make any common form one-handed, but can make a realistic paper sculpture of anything on demand. When Switch tells him about a contest with a one-million yen prize, Bossun holes up in the clubroom and creates a fantastic pegasus, but accidentally uses the paper he wrote the directions to the contest on.
We consider episodes involving Chuu-san’s crazy concoctions to be among the most consistently hilarious of the series, including perhaps the best non-serious Sket Dance episode, number 9 – when Bossun becomes tiny. It was just as hilarious on the second watch, with a breakneck pace and rapid-fire gags that simply never quit. This newest potion mixes up all of Bossun’s expressions, and the result is some truly strange, absurd interactions. As veteran viewers of anime, it’s ingrained within us to expect certain tones of voice to be accompanied by the appropriate expressions. This segment turned that on its head, taking us out of that comfort zone, which was definitely interesting and different.
Far less surreal was the discovery of Bossun’s innate talent for origami mastery, which along with his powers of concentration, dinky slingshot, and “servile” personality, only add to his oddness among shounen characters. The ease with which he makes amazing paper creations is milked for all it’s worth, and by episode’s end he’s acting like some kind of zen master dishing out wisdom. One really nice touch: he replaces his hat and armband with paper facsimilies, but no mention of this is made whatsoever; it’s a subtle gag that works very well, as does his ultimate undoing. Next time pin those directions to the wall or something, Boss.
When Himeko goes to have her fortune told by Yuuki, Bossun, Switch and Saaya tag along, and learn that Yuuki is selling cheap talismans for her divination mentor, the famous Minakami Himiko. They confront Minakami in person, who challenges Bossun to a fortune-reading in front of a seminar of her followers. Bossun leaves the strategy to Switch.
When the date arrives, and Minakami refutes Switch’s claims that she’s fraudulent, then correctly decribes Bossun’s past, including the realization he has a twin. However, Bossun is actually Tsubaki in disguise. The student council discovered she’d sent her men to investigate Bossun prior to the telling, and she is exposed as a fraud.
It’s an almost Scooby-Doo type episode this week, as the meddling schoolkids go up against a powerful, haughty old fortuneteller who resembles a well-fed Cruella De Vil with a butch haircut. But it isn’t just an arbitrary challenge: Switch thinks Yuuki’s taking-in of all the woman’s BS will dull her as a sparring partner, and he feels it’s his responsibility to prove to Yuuki that her mentor is no good.
Switch deftly explains how Minakami employs the Barnum effect and both cold and hot reading to make her subjects believe she’s reading their aura. Using Tsubaki was a clever twist. The resulting showdown at her seminar makes for an entertaining show, especially if I was a spectator not expecting Minakami to be so thoroughly and publically debunked. This episode also continues the idea that Saaya actually likes Bossun, but because she’s a tsundere, nothing will ever come of it.