Darling in the FranXX – 18 – All too Brittle a Home in which to Live

Everything Squad 13 does in the remains of Mistilteinn is being monitored, so you knew the first night Kokoro and Mitsuru spent together would probably be their last. We start with what could be the happiest morning of their lives, where the love they shared seems to paint everything around them in a more beautiful light. They are experiencing that which humanity has apparently given up.

Sure enough, Hachi informs Ichigo that the squad will soon be packing up and leaving Mistilteinn, leaving their distinctive, human birdcage for a far more sterile, antiseptic one where all the other, emotionless parasites live. Hiro thinks they should close out their days there with a wedding ceremony for the beaming new couple (and notably not for him and Zero Two).

Everyone is gung-ho about making it a celebration to remember; all but Ikuno, who lies in bed dejected. Ichigo thanks her for getting angry and sticking up for Kokoro and Mitsuru, but Ikuno tells her she didn’t do it for them, but because she agreed with a part of the lead Nine’s assertion about man-woman pairings.

Ever since Ichigo gave her her name (turning the number 6 on its side to make the “no” kana), Ikuno has had eyes only for her, and always cursed the boys who got to stand by her side simply because they were boys. Ichigo recognizes the pain from her own unrequited love for Hiro in Ikuno, but draws her into a comforting hug and tells her she doesn’t mind.

These are simply part in parcel of all the messy things they have to live through that makes them human. Left unsaid is the fact that virtually everyone outside of Mistilteinn no longer feels that way. They’ve shed that vital part of humanity, presumably in order to survive most efficiently.

As the preparations for tomorrow’s ceremony are completed, the squad and Zero Two take a group photo together, mimicking the photo of the previous squad that lived there. As they stand there, their joy and camaraderie frozen for posterity, I thought of two things.

First, how much everyone has grown as characters, from Hiro and Zero to Ichigo, Mitsuru and Kokoro, Ikuno, Goro and even Futoshi. Only Zerome and Miku have remained more or less static in their childlike naivete. And yet I’ve come to love each and every one of these characters, and become fully invested not just in their safety, but in grasping the humanity the rest of their people abandoned and finding genuine happiness.

Second: that there probably won’t be a squad that comes after 13 who will ever see that photo. It just feels like the wheel is breaking, not least of which because Mistilteinn itself is no longer a viable place to live, having been crippled by the Mega-Klaxosaur hand slap.

It’s that slap that Zero Two dreams of after nodding off while drawing her storybook illustrations. The dream also features a gang of partially injured soldiers grabbing her and preparing to drag her away. Hiro wakes her up and asks what’s wrong, but Zero Two doesn’t want to mar another lovely moment with her darling on the eve of such a blessed event with unpleasant portents.

The next day, Zero Two commits to living in the moment, sharing a playful frolick with Hiro through the blooming sakura trees, dressed in the same gray uniform as the other Squad 13 members, thus truly becoming one of them. She’s able to wear one of their unis because Kokoro has changed into her re-purposed curtain gown, looking every bit a bride as she descends the staircase to join her waiting groom.

Ikuno presents them with a bouquet and boutonniere and escorts them to the aisle, while the other assembled squadmates ring bells and toss petals. Futoshi decides to officiate the wedding, giving closure to his one-sided love for Kokoro by being the one to “give her away” to Mitsuru.

Everything is just lovely, until it isn’t. The Nines arrive aboard an APE assault ship with a squad of grunts and place everyone under arrest before Kokoro and Mitsuru can seal their bonds with a kiss. They fight; their squadmates fight; Zero Two attacks the Nines, her former comrades…but it’s all for naught.

Everything they carefully built crumbles like a stale old breadstick and an iffy Italian restaurant…or more appropriately, like the sakura blossoms falling from the tree. Like their lives on Mistilteinn, the wedding was only a passing dream; one everyone could happily live in only until it ended, and it couldn’t end more cruelly.

Hachi, while protesting the Nines’ actions, does nothing to stop them, and does nothing to comfort the rest of Squad 13 as Kokoro and Mitsuru are taken away for “reindoctrination” to remove the “dangerous” ideas they’ve developed.

As the rest of the squad defeatedly packs up to leave their home on the worst note ever, Hachi visits the similarly “defective” Nana in her cell and remembers the first time she was dragged away like Kokoro and Mitsuru, after her FranXX copilot (whom she must have loved) was killed she had an emotional outburst. Hachi, devoid of emotion then, as now, could only silently watch.

Here, he remarks that Nana “in her current state” could nonetheless better provide comfort to Squad 13 than he. It might not seem like much, but the mere fact he believes they need or deserve comfort means Hachi has gained back a slim measure of humanity simply buy observing the very emotional parasites.

Squad 13 and Zero Two sans Kokoro and Mitsuru arrive at the parasite camp  “Bird Nest”, and it’s a real downer of a place, reminding them of Garden and not in a good way (it also feels like they’ve been taken backwards in their development, which may well be Papa’s intention).

Weeks pass with no news until one day they are reunited with Kokoro and Mitsuru. Though they still wear the rings they so tenderly and lovingly presented to one another, their memories have been altered (like Hiro and Zero Two’s years before) to make them not only believe they are new members of the squad, but to make them forget they ever knew each other.

It’s a heartbreaking gut-punch to end the episode, and yet when Kokoro is on her own and spots the abstract “trees” in one of Bird Nest’s courtyards, she’s reminded of “sakura”, the blooming trees under which she and Mitsuru wed. She may not remember Mitsuru, or the wedding, or anything else, but she remembered the trees.

After watching what Papa and the adults and the Nines did to his squad, his home, and finally his two friends who truly and deeply loved one another, Hiro announces in voiceover that they are “at the end of their rope.” He’s done being ruled by a destiny that will only continue to pulverize the things they build into dust.

I’m eager to see how he’ll try to start fighting back, even if I’m dubious his efforts will net him anything but more cruel tragedy and loss.

Kino no Tabi – 10

Kino is the kind of person who wants to go to the country where everyone else who’s been there says the locals were very rude and treated them like crap. So imagine her disappointment when the country turns out not to be full of assholes, but full of the kindest, most hospitable townsfolk you could ask for, including the sickeningly twee innkeeper trainee and tour guide, Sakura.

Kino takes in an outdoor play chronicling the people’s proud history of having found a haven after escaping oppression. She dons an apron during a barbecue (with Hermes ensuring she only grills; no seasoning). She even gets her persuader serviced by the local, er, persuadersmith, who performs the task for free.

The smith knows the gun as the kind one of Master’s students would use (even if Kino denies knowing her), and decides to gift her another gun, “The Woodsman”, a gun he once carried for protection while traveling, but has no more use of now that he’s too old and frail to travel. He’d rather it be put to good use.

By the time Sakura shows Kino the most beautiful spot in the city during a gorgeous sunset, Kino is completely charmed and no longer disappointed the people of the country aren’t rude jerks. Unfortunately, the three days she promised she’d stay are up, and the soldiers insist she leave immediately.

The town seemed so cloyingly nice I was almost constantly keeping my eyes peeled for little clues that might indicate what the “catch” with the place was, and I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Turns out the answer was staring me right in the face in the opening moments of the episode as Kino and Hermes neared the country: it is positioned at the foot not of a mountain, but a volcano.

The night Kino leaves, the volcano unleashes a pyroclastic flow that wipes out the country, killing everyone in it instantly. Even the normally stoic Kino is upset by this sudden, shocking development, especially when Hermes calmly explains there’s absolutely nothing she can do.

But Sakura and her mother did give Kino two packages, and in them are some mementos, along with a letter explaining that the country knew of their impending doom, had the choice to abandon their lands or stay and die, and chose the latter.

The reason they were so kind to Kino is that they knew she’d be their last guest, and wanted to try to repair the reputation as rude jerks they’d built up over the years. Turns out they weren’t rude or kind country so much as a Country of Self-Destructive Stubbornness.

Another note written by Sakura accompanies the seed she caught at a wedding (the last wedding in the country, and the couple was younger than usual because, well, they were out of time), stating that she wouldn’t need it. Sakura must’ve known of her fate after all, but like her parents and the rest of the adults, decided to stay and face her fate. Pretty heartbreaking stuff.

Sansha Sanyou – 06

san61

This week the girls go to the beach, if only, at first, to work at Sonobe’s beach dessert cafe. It’s not your typical beach episode, because it’s really light on fanservice, but as everyone has such fair skin, it makes practical sense to cover up.

san62

Yu arrives at the beach aboard his yacht, the landing of which strains credulity in a more serious show. But he simply wants to make things easy for his “betrothed”, which means eating way too many desserts and leaving no room for real food. For the first half-day of work, Yoko is dressed like Yoko…Ono!

san63

When a shark sighting keeps the girls from finally relaxing, Yu invites them to a private resort pool, only to run into his nemesis Sakura and become hospitalized from the emotional and physical stresses that result from the encounter. Akiyama also appears, but runs off soon thereafter.

That doesn’t stop the girls from enjoying themselves at the pool, where they finally break out their swimsuits. But again, the male gaze is mostly avoided. A nice running gag is Futaba’s weird tan that never gets evened out, but otherwise not a ton going on here.

16ratings_6a

Sansha Sanyou – 05

san51

Sonobe adds to her collection of cute high school part-timers as Hayama and Futaba fill in for an exhausted Yoko-sama. In the process, Hayama learns her outwardly sweet personality works wonders for customer service, as does Futaba’s encyclopedic knowledge of pastries.

san52

When Hayama’s sister stops by wanting to bake sweets with her, she is politely shoo-ed off, but somehow gets one of her home remedies to the back room for Yoko to eat. The next day Yoko is full of energy, but perhaps too full, as she did not sleep last night and is still eerily alert, almost robotic. The mind boggles over what was in that purple sludge!

san53

The three friends learn they can work together at the cafe just as amicably, but when Kondou twists Nishiyama to come with her to the cafe, the Hayama-Nishiyama feud continues…something Sonobe tries to perpetuate for her own entertainment at every turn, invoking the wrath of Yamagi, who would prefer if she not play games with people’s lives in such a way.

The ensuing duel between Sonobe and Yamagi freaks out Nishiyama, but also creates an opening through which Hayama offers her pink-haired frenemy an olive branch: treats she made for her beloved cat.

san54

The next day, Nishiyama falls into Sonobe’s web, is put in a frilly pink maid uniform, and made to work a shift for the day; an experiment to see if she really can do everything Hayama can do better. Hayama does not revel in Nishiyama’s embarrassment, but when things get busy, she along with Futaba and Yoko, offer help with customers in their plainclothes.

Nishiyama leaves not quite sur ehow she ended up working at Sonobe’s cafe, but happy she has more treats for her kitty, and a little more money to go towards an SLR camera. As for Sonobe, she was able to collect many a photo of Nishiyama for use in promotional materials…or blackmail!

Another fine, breezy episode with some welcome sharp edges to the soft-focus pastel aesthetic, and a fairly genuine look at how frenemies are made and maintained.

16rating_7

Sansha Sanyou – 04

s341

Sansha Sanyou is proving a consistently enjoyable low-effort watch because just when you think it’s getting too cute and soft and fluffy, its sharper, more sardonic or absurd sides spring up.

One such absurdity is the cat photo rivalry between Serina and Teru, which is called off when they both admit their cats are cute. The thing is, both are only imagining the cats are there, so they’re only petting air!

s342

Another is Yamagi, who could easily turn into a nuisance, but his preternatural stick-fetching skills, combined with the fact you never know from what angle he’ll pop up from, creates an amusing tension between him and the girls, who really don’t like it when he goes all ninja on them.

s343

For all its cynical or buzz-killing moments, SanSan also has a few tender ones mixed in, like when Hayama and Futaba join Yoko for her first visit to a fast food joint, thus fulfilling one of her dreams, which includes sitting in the McD’s “talking endlessly about vague and silly things!”

The joke is, they end up talking about isn’t vague or silly at all, with Hayama and Futaba learning that Yoko’s mother is deceased and her Dad is out in the world somewhere trying to get back what he lost. They re-double their devotion to her, assuring her they’ll be there should she ever need anything. It’s very sweet and unexpected.

s344

We return to silliness when Yoko’s young “betrothed” Yu shows up to re-establish his intent to marry Yoko someday, even if there’s no official arrangement between their families and Yoko has moved on.

We also meet Futaba’s cousin Sakura, who is cute…and knows it, not being the slightest bit modest in the fact she’s in the upper percentiles and has planned out her entire life, including her post-idol career and overseas retirement (a dream brilliantly visualized as an isometric RPG, complete with the recently-ruined Yoko in a wasteland far below Sakura).

s345

Yu seems like a well-cultured, polite, kind young man, but informing Yoko & Co. he’s still loaded was a warning sign of another side to him, which we see when he cruelly mocks Yamagi for “pretending to still be her servant.”

The truth is, Yamagi still is her servant regardless of whether he’s paid. And there’s honor and nobility in that Yu clearly lacks. Which is why I’m glad Sakura gloms onto Yu when the two cross paths. Those two twerps deserve each other!

s346

Finally, in a segment that wouldn’t be out of place in Koufuku Graffiti, Futaba finally proves to a dubious Teru and an eager Yoko that she has legit cooking chops, and isn’t just an eater. Yoko attempts to cook the splendid Wagyu beef Yu gifted to her, but ends up ruining it.

Enter Futaba, who treats the beef with all due care and respect and flashes her home cooking skills. By the end of it, the previously skeptical Teru is calling her “mom”, and Yoko is over the moon for having had her first meal with friends at her house, which likely feels more like a home now. She also vows to improve her cooking skills, lest future quality ingredients make the ultimate sacrifice.

Lots of variety this week, with diverse sources of laughs, and a good balance between cutesiness, cynicism, and warm sentimentality.

16rating_7

Sakura Trick – 12 (Fin)

sak121

With Mitsuki about to graduate and move on to college, her window to tell Haruka how she feels is rapidly closing. She finds the right moment in her kitchen at her graduation party to confess and ask her out. After denying those feelings for so long, it was gratifying to see not only come to grips with them as a reality in her life, but actually try to do something about it.

sak122

To do so requires courage, but also selfishness, but Mitsuki finds her opening when Yuu tells her she and Haruka haven’t exchanged confessions of love yet. It’s pretty clear that any situation where Mitsuki would snatch Haruka away would hurt Yuu, but that’s a bridge she’ll cross when she comes to it, and in any case, she doesn’t know Haruka’s answer; asking to meet after the graduation ceremony to hear it.

sak123

The thing is, Haruka herself doesn’t really know how to respond. She hasn’t really given much thought to what it means to be doing all of the things she’s done with Yuu; the two have just been living in the moment and going for it. It isn’t until Mitsuki comes in talking about being “in love” and “going out” that Haruka starts to consider that that’s what she and Yuu are doing. She “loves” Mitsuki too, but it’s pretty clear it’s not the same as her love for Yuu.

sak124

So yeah, Mitsuki is pretty much rejected, but it’s not the end of the world (nothing on this show is); and she goes off to college with Rina, who holds a flame for Mitsuki but isn’t as forward about it as Mitsuki was with Haruka. Maybe down the road that will change. In any case, we close out the series with Haruka and Yuu still very much together and in love and having confessed to each other numerous times. As the new school term begins, their sakura-colored life goes on.

7_very_goodRating:7 (Very Good)
Average Rating: 6.583
MyAnimeList Score: 7.51

Sakura Trick – 11

sak111

In spite of Trick’s light, feathery, low-stress, non-confrontational tone throughout its run, we had a feeling it was waiting until the end to finally unveil a major conflict regarding Haruka and Yuu. The first half of this episode was almost suspiciously mundane, as we meet Mitsuki’s replacement SumiSumi (who talks like an old man) and everyone brainstorms an event to honor Mitsuki and Vice President Sakai.

It’s all pretty standard fare, complete with Haruka and Yuu making out near the end, until you realize they’re not hidden away somewhere, but in the school hall for any passersby to see. And Mitsuki and Rina do see; the lovers’ increasing boldness has gotten them caught. Mitsuki angrily scolds them, but directs it all at Haruka, forbidding her to kiss Yuu.To Rina or any other casual observer, this would seem like normal conservative big-sister behavior.

sak112a

But we know better what’s eating Mitsuki. The moment she chided Haruka to “wake up”, we knew there was the possibly she’d realize it was time she woke up herself about what she’s feeling. Scolding Haruka was less about protecting Yuu or upholding wholesome values, but about deep-rooted and repressed jealousy.

Subconsciously, she’s making it so if she can’t have Haruka, no one can, and certainly not Yuu. Despite her dalliances with Haruka, Yuu is still a “good girl” who respects her elder sister’s authority (not knowing about the jealousy influencing it) and keeps away from Haruka, but doesn’t like it.

sak112

We like how rather than despair and mope like she might in the past, Haruka stays positive and figures out she can still kiss Yuu if they’re sold as stumbles and trips; capitalizing on her reputation for clumsiness. But one can only keep that up for so long; and it doesn’t solve anything.

Still, it is notable that after getting away with everything for nearly a year, Haruka and Yuu’s sakura-colored relationship is in trouble, because they weren’t careful, but also because Mitsuki has ulterior motives. But it isn’t treated like the end of the world for them, only the potential start of a new world for Mitsuki, as she finally considers the fact she’s in love with Haruka too.

7_very_goodRating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Sumisumi is…kinda boring. Seems extraneous. We like her mustache insignia, though.
  • The upperclassmen look far more refined adult-like, but they’re all eating pudding in hopes of getting racks as big as their beloved ex-president Mitsuki’s.
  • While Mitsuki has been obsessing over Haruka, she hasn’t noticed that her Veep might just love her. We just met Sumisumi but we trust her intuition.
  • When Haruka admonishes Yuu for groping her, the theme that plays has shades of “Omen.”

 

Tamayura: More Aggressive – 05

tama5

Shimokamiyama-sensei informs Potte and Mitani of a sakura photography contest. They agree to enter and set out to snap photos, but all of the cherry trees they encounter have already shed most of their blossoms. They run into Kaoru’s sister Sayomi, who gathers everyone together for a trek up Mt. Asahi, home to a grand 250-year-old cherry tree in full bloom. Potte and Mitani snap up tons of photos, and even though Shimokamiyama got the deadline of the contest wrong, they still had fun.

Potte and Mitani Kanae may lack confidence in their photographic abilities while simultaneously revering one another. Mitani even credits Potte’s presence in her photo for winning the contest for her; she’s always been too nervous to take portraits of anyone, but something about Potte in that time and place affected Mitani so powerfully, she forgot to be shy or worry about failure and just snapped up a damn good picture.

As it turns out, there are many ways of being aggressive; perhaps no one is more aggressive than Sayomi, who wrangles everyone up for another one of her patented “death marches” that always pay off in the end. Not only does everyone end of having fun, but Mitani gets back that feeling she got when she snapped Potte; the ability to stop over-thinking everything, live in the moment, and not be afraid to document it. She’s even able to halt her tendency to delete photos that don’t come out perfectly. Part of being aggressive is not fearing failure and trusting in the world, and Mitani’s on her way.

8_great
Rating: 8 
(Great)

Tamayura: More Aggressive – 04

tama4

Potte and Kanae snap pictures all over school and town, but still haven’t decided on what to perform at the Cherry Blossom Festival. Dougou suggests they perform a dance as he plays the guitar, with the photos as a backdrop. They then visit the stage in the middle of the park, which contains one thousand cherry trees, each one planted in honor of someone. Potte and Kou’s mom tells them they have trees too, but they were planted somewhere secret. On the day of the festival Dougou is injured, but Potte and Kanae improvise, singing and dancing to a folk tune, and the crowd responds favorably. After the performance, Kou and Komachi show Potte and the others their trees, which Momoneko helped him locate.

In Bleach, Senbonzakura is the name for Kuchiki Byakuya’s bankai, a devastating cloud composed of millions of tiny petal-like blades. But here, it’s just the name of a cultivation project in Takehara’s public park. (Go figure.) One thousand trees were planted, each in honor of people the planters loved. In the case of Kaoru, Potte, and Kou, they were planted when they were born, and have grown larger and stronger as they did. Those trees are one more discovery that brings Potte closer to her dad, to the point where she even gets to “see through his eyes” by taking a photo of the tree from the same angle he did. The tree changed from photo to photo, but the sky and mountains remained the same.

They’ll be the same long after both Potte and the tree pass away, as well. But until then, Potte wants to return the love her father had for her and the town by making her mark on it as he did, through photography. When her performance hits a snag, President Potte refuses to give up, and she and Kanae put on a show not just to stir up interest in the club, but as thanks for everyone who pitched in with ideas, assistance, and emotional support. They didn’t bring the house down, nor did they perform beyond their abilities, suddenly turning into talented idols. They just hunkered down and did their honest best. We wouldn’t be surprised if they’re rewarded with more prospective members.\

7_very_good
Rating:7 (Very Good)

Tamako Market – 03

tamako3

Spring arrives, and with it a new school year. Tamako is interested in her new classmate Asagiri Shiori, but Shiori won’t give her the time of day. Mochimazzi gets lost and falls from the sky and is caught by Shiori, who takes him home to Tamako’s. She stays for dinner and goes to the bath with Tamako. The next day she can’t find the words to thank her, but she ends up back at Tamako’s anyway, helping her lost teacher make a home call. Over coffee and music at the cafe, Shiori is finally able to express her thanks to Tamako, and the two become friends.

This was a very pretty episode, that made us wish Spring were here already. It also makes the friendship of the devastatingly shy Shiori and the bubbly, friendly Tamako almost a matter of fate. After all, external forces (Mochimazzi and the teacher) drew Shiori to Tamako’s house both times, but she enjoyed herself both times. It was also nice to see how an “outsider” deals with all the generosity and friendliness of the shopping district as a whole. If you’re a friend of Tamako, you’re a friend of theirs, too.

While we’ll admit part of us wanted Shiori to finally blow her stack and verbally unload on Tamako, that wouldn’t quite fit the tone of this series thus far. Instead, she practices thanking her in the mirror, and after some strong coffee and a little music, she’s finally able to communicate her feelings. Tamako and the bird aren’t causing her trouble. On the contrary, she always wanted to be part of Tamako’s world. And now she is. Croquettes and sakuramochi for everyone!…Except Mochimazzi…bird need to lose some weight like yesterday.


Rating: 8 (Great)

Chihayafuru – 18

In her first Class A match Chihaya faces Sakura, a mother of two and 35-year veteran of karuta. Chihaya wants to win, but not with her speed, but lacking a plan or strategy, she gets flummoxed, and notices that Sakura is watching her play, analyzing and strategizing on the fly. Though she loses by six cards, she learns a lot. She then witnesses her four teammates face off against one another in the class B and D finals. Watching their intense play, she realizes she’s there not to cheer anyone on, but to learn from them.

Baseball is replete with failure. A .300 average – Failing to get a hit 70% of the time – is deemed tip-top. There isn’t a lot of room for failure in karuta. If you whiff too much, you’re going to get beaten. You have to be fast and right, not one or the other. And most importantly, you have to know who you’re playing, learn how they play, and devise a way to win. Don’t just play against the cards, play against the opponent. It’s a lot to take in. Rather than surging to queenhood, Chihaya is back in Karuta 101, a victim of her own phenomenal reflexes and hearing.

Suddenly losing those crutches and having to slow down and play a different kind of karuta is about as difficult for Chihaya as unscrewing a jar of pickles her mouth, predictably, but she can’t hope to beat Shinobu if she isn’t a complete, balanced player. That point is driven home by watching all her teammates advance to the finals to face one another – and it’s great to see Kana and Desktomu go at each other, no longer novices, but really finding their own respective niches.


Rating: 3.5

Sket Dance 7

This week Sket Dance crosses over with The World God Only Knows to fill the holes in a couple’s hearts! J/k, but the gang is on a mission to, well, if not reunite two soul mates, at least get them to catch a look at each other in passing. A large, burly man named Tetsu comes to the Sket-dan with a skeptical attitude, but after telling a tear-jerking story of his lost love and the guilt he lives with, Bossun, Himeko, and Switch take the job.

Some words about Tetsu: he looks at least thirty-five years old. I understand that some kids look older than their age, but this is ridiculous. If the animators were trying to be funny by casting an adult-looking high school character, they failed; it isn’t funny; it’s stupid. Same with the Samurai guy, he’s not a kid; he’s an adult; I call ’em like I see ’em. It calls into question the animators’ ability to actually draw a diverse array of high schoolers correctly. In short, Tetsu is too big and old-looking, and that definitely made it hard to take him seriously.

With that out of the way, I did like Tetsu’s reluctance to confront his frail true love, Misaki, after what happened in the past (he was careless, she went in a river and almost died) I really enjoyed Bossun cleaning up a bit and going undercover to meet her. But it was clear pretty early that Misaki knew Tetsu, not, Bossun was really her pen pal. The farewell of Tetsu running along the riverbank chasing the train in a cloud of paper sakura petals was definitely cheesy, but Sket-dan accomplished their mission: I believe Tetsu got the catharsis he wanted, and he was able to shout encouraging words at Misaki as she left for an operation in America. Rating: 3