Sket Dance – 53

In the first half, Fumi introduces the Sket-dan to the incredibly soft-spoken Morishita Koma, a very tall and healthy young woman who has a problem: a boy likes her, but he’s worried he’ll bail if he learns about her immense strength, which becomes hard to control when she gets embarrassed, as Bossun find out on many occasions. Ultimately, she scares off the boy in question, but he was a bad apple anyway. In the second half, Date comes to the clubroom seeking advice on how to approach a girl he likes, who turns out to be Koma. The Sket-dan play matchmakers and interpreters, but neither party is able to fully express their feelings, and Bossun only ends up put through a wall.

The closest thing to a “normal” character appeared in the first episode of Sket Dance. His name was Teppei, and as the episode was from his point of view, we wrongly assumed he was the main character. Since then, it’s been a string of, shall we say colorful and distinctive characters. The newest is Koma, who is near as makes no difference six feet tall (quite tall for a Japanese girl) and built like a tank. Yet she’s still quite graceful and feminine – that she has the voice of the super-meek Sawako doesn’t hurt. That is, unless you say something that upsets her. Then those arms lash out and you’re treated to a volley from the Koma Cannon.

Bossun takes the most punishment since that fight with the bullies after he ran away from home when he learned the truth about his parents. But it’s comedic punishment; getting battered, ‘fossilized’, put through a wall and thrown out a window. The kid can take it, and it’s all in aid of helping out a classmate who’s trying to learn control so she can have a boyfriend. Date of all people returns to try to oblige her, but as usual his nigh indecipherable language only confuses and embarasses Koma, and takes it out on Bossun, who’s the nearest body. The Sket-dan are good at a great many things, but matchmaking doesn’t seem to be one of them.

Rating: 3

Sket Dance – 51

In the first half, both Himeko/Switch and the Student Council conspire to send Bossun and Tsubaki on a banner-writing mission alone together while they observe. The newly-discovered twin brothers bicker the whole time, and end up making multiple mistakes. In the second half, Tsubaki comes to Bossun’s house for dinner, where he meets Akane and Rumi and sees photos and videos of his biological parents. The two then take a picture for their parents’ shrine.

51 episodes. Only a few series we’ve ever watched have stretched so far, and many of those ended right there at 51. This episode wan’t the end of Sket Dance, but it was the end of the “year”, and the end of an arc, specifically, the Brother Arc. Seeing Tsubaki in a whole different light, it dawns on us how much it was foreshadowed that they were separated at birth. Their physical differences are a result of Bossun taking after his father and Tsubaki his mother. Tsubaki’s even a lefty to Bossun’s righty. There’s a lot of differences between the two, but there’s still that underlying bond neither of them can ignore – one you only get with blood.

I imagine if it turned out two of my friends in high school found out they were related, it would be a pretty exciting time, even if it had next to nothing to do with me. Both clubs they belong to seem to feel this excitement too (Switch likens it to fatherly pride), as do Bossun’s mother and sister. So with this arc mostly resolved and the two brothers on more-or-less cordial terms, the next year of Sket Dance will introduce a new character – possibly a new Sket-dan member, who looks to possess every anime cliche in the book – intentionally, of  course. We’ll be watching to see how that goes.

Rating: 3.5

Sket Dance – 50

In the first half, Himeko’s horsing around leads to Bossun’s fingers getting broken. As retribution, he makes her sign a “servant contract”, effectively making her his personal maid, complete with costume and Maiko vernacular. But it turns out to be more of a hassle for Bossun, as he just doesn’t get the satisfaction from it he expected. When he saves her from a batted ball, she learns his hand is actually find, and is none too pleased. In the second half, Jin returns to observe the Sket-dan’s downtime, still hopeful to woo Himeko. However, spending time with her and Bossun reveals to him that the two have a special and powerful bond that is not wise or even possible to get between.

Both parts of this episode deal with the unique and complex relationship between Himeko and Bossun. Suffice it to say the two seem to like things the way they are, even if the way things are baffles most outsiders, such as Jin. Switch, not surprisingly, has a fairly good bead on what the two are all about. He notes that in Bossun’s case, you have a guy who is mature at times but is childish and naive by default, and therefore may not quite understand his feelings for Himeko, and just goes with the flow. While he’s less sure of Himeko, he suspects she harbors feelings of gratitude and respect for Bossun, who delivered her from a life of petty delinquency and set her on the path of using her talents to help others. He did the same thing with Switch.

You have to hand it to Sket Dance, they still have a lot of gas in the tank even after fifty episodes, are able to delve even deeper into this core trio of characters. This was an interesting episode in that the mission was secondary to the actual interaction of Himeko and Bossun. Even though we’ve seen these two act like a married couple, first lovers, and a mother and son before, it all seems new and fresh when observed through Jin’s eyes. Now that all three characters have received considerable backstory, the only major story we can think of that’s still missing is the actual founding of the Sket-dan itself.

Rating: 3.5

Sket Dance – 49

Yamanobe announces he and the Sket-dan have been invited to represent Japan at the World Grand Prix of Genesis in the remote kingdom of N’preenu Ch’p’p’s’b, where it’s the national sport. Requiring four players plus a manager, they enlist the help of athlete extraordinaire “Captain” Chiaki Takahashi. They arrive and are perturbed to have never heard of most of the participating countries. They defeat Wyoming first, and after a rough start, Chiaki quickly gets the hang of things and excels, taking over the teamcaptaincy from Bossun and emerging as the MVP.

After a string of Serious Sket, this week marks a return to good ol’ lighthearted comedy. We mentioned we loved made-up sports when Genesis was introduced way back in episode 8, and we’re even bigger fans now that we know there’s a whole international movement devoted to it, including four regional schools. Adding Chiaki into the mix was a welcome move too, as she is the series’ resident expert at all sports, and we liked how her role evolved from unsure noob to MVP (and potential marriage to the N’preenu prince, which she declined.)

While Chiaki’s tangible motivation was the year’s supply of some strange seafood, she also admitted to an apologetic Yamanobe that she just loves hanging out with the Sket-dan, no matter the reason. She finds their passion for whatever comes their way (which sometimes builds up gradually from initial apathy) admirable and addictive. And while Sket Dance had previously done a sports anime parody, this had enough unique elements to provide fresh and memorable laughs. And we also know we need to bone up on our geopraphy – we pride ourselves on knowing the names of all the nations of the world!

Rating: 3

Sket Dance – 48

On his seventeenth birthday, during the school festival, Bossun is approached by the doctor who delivered him. He apologizes for letting his mother die, but also for something much bigger: Bossun has a twin brother. The doctor, whose wife could not concieve, took the other twin, as was Haru’s dying wish so Akane wouldn’t be overburdened by two sons; Akane never knew. When the doctor tells him it’s somebody he already knows, it’s clear to him that Tsubaki is his brother. When the festival ends they meet up and discuss it, but decide to proceed like nothing’s changed. Himeko, however, has different ideas…

Clearly Sket Dance wasn’t done with the heavy durama…although thankfully this week was bookended by the usual comedy. We’ve gotta feel for Bossun…learning his mother and sister aren’t related by blood; that both his parents died the day he was born, and now he has a twin who just happens to be Tsubaki, who was the nerdy little kid he protected a couple years ago – kid’s got a lot of stuff on his plate all of a sudden. But he takes it in a combination of shock and stride, because what else can you do?

Some nice details: Tsubaki learned he was adopted without asking his parents whe he discovered they had Type O blood, befitting a doctor’s son. Yet no bloodwork or words, for that matter, would change the fact he was their son. Bossun is the older of them, and the face he makes when he learns this is priceless and pure Bossun. Himeko seems absolutely enamored of the idea Tsubaki and Bossun are brothers, and Switchfinds it pretty amusing as well. And Renzou’s dad is even more hilariously intense than he is.

Rating: 3.5

Sket Dance – 47

Yuusuke sleeps on a bench near the place where his father was killed. A trio of roughs beat him until another good-size guy breaks it up. His name is Taisuke, and he’s the boy who Kyousuke saved from being hit by a car. Taisuke still remembers what the dying Kyousuke told him, and he gives Yuusuke the bag meant for his deceased mother, containing a watch and letters for both her and his not-yet-born son. We also see the circumstances of his mother’s death, as Akane loses control and hits a doctor, who delivers Yuuske but can’t save Haru.

Like most of Sket Dance’s serious efforts, this episode flat out executes. There’s nothing fancy here, its a nice simple story of a kid coming to terms with the fact that certain information had been withheld from him his entire life. The shock of this info still raw in his mind, all he can do is run. He finds himself at the park where his father died fifteen years ago, and he lets punks whale on him almost as a messed-up therapy session. While he works out these issues in his head, everything else just seems peripheral. He’s not even outraged that the first passersby to witness his beating do nothing about it; they’d help, but they fear death.

Last week wasn’t all that clear about when exactly this took place in the Sket Dance chronology, but we learn that Yuusuke isn’t Bossun yet, and he hasn’t met Himeko or Switch and formed the Sket-dan yet, either. This is a Bossun we haven’t encountered yet; one who spent his time rifling through his mother’s possessions. Once he learns about his father’s selflessness and desire to help others, even at the cost of his life, and also realizes he’s not alone as his mother and sister are still just that, well, let’s just say this whole two-parter journey is what made Yuusuke into the Bossun we know and love listening to as he yells at things.

Rating: 4

Sket Dance – 46

Bossun has started watching old video tapes he found in his mother Akane’s closet of her life when she was a young woman, along with her friend Haru and a guy named Ryousuke who looks just like him. His mother takes the tapes away, but the day before his birthday, he finds albums with pictures of the same trio, except none of Akane alone with Ryousuke. Confronting his mother, she tells him Haru was his biological mother, and both she and Kyousuke were killed in separate accidents, Haru when Akane was driving her to the hospital while she was in labor with Bossun.

Let’s get a couple things out of the way. First of all, in this Sket Dance world, there are way too many people doing 50 mph in narrow alleys with no regard for life. Secondly, if Bossun’s mother really wanted to keep the secret of Bossun’s parentage secret, she would have at least kept the videos and albums under lock and key, if not destroyed them. She certainly wouldn’t have left them sitting around waiting to be found. Kids go through their parents things, that’s a fact of life. Finally, the emotional power of the last moments of the episode were somewhat diminished by the same ol’ horrible ending sequence. This episode did away with a cold open; it could have had a unique, more appropriate ending too All that aside, this was more Serious Sket Dance, and the above hiccups couldn’t derail and otherwise excellent dramatic episode.

It was Bossun’s turn to have his past filled out, and we have to wonder if he wasn’t better not knowing the truth. Obviously the truth must always out, but what a frikkin’ truth – his mother isn’t his mother, and his real parents were both killed?! That’s just ridiculously depressing. Still, there’s one thing Bossun’s mother didn’t lie about – she did end up raising him and later Rumi as a single mother. He can be mad at her for keeping thetruth from him so long, but he shouldn’t be anything but greatful for her raising him as if he were her own, which he now is anyway. He’s not suddenly ‘alone’ just because he now has this information.

Rating: 3.5

Car Cameos: Lots of Toyotas: a Vista/Camry Prominent almost brazenly murders Kyousuke and a little kid, and a Land Cruiser, Crown, Starlet, and Celsior are at the scene of the accident. There’s also a Nissan Cube and Fuga in an establishing shot. All the cars save the Windom and Starlet are later generations that didn’t exist in 1994, when the flashback takes place.

Sket Dance – 45

In the first half, J-son comes requesting help for another omiai. The woman he meets with is instantly terrified by him, and his nervousness only exacerbates the situation. Communicating by earpiece, he mixes up the text messages and emails from Himeko and Bossun. Then more emails appear in Switch’s inbox, which J-son recites, making the woman flee in horror.

In the second half, Chuu’s notes have helped Remi stop flubbing the morning announcements. She tells him she’s going on a date, but when he says he is too, she gets jealous. On her date a middle schooler crosses paths with her, uncovering her date Tobishima’s plot to capture video of her upskirt. It turns out to be Chuu, who took a youth serum. His “date” was with his daughter, who recognizes Remi from TV and takes an instant liking to her.

One story this week was about a man for whom it is utterly impossible to ever have a relationship with a woman – save the gloomy Yuuki, that is. All of his potential suitors have fled in terror of his spooky looks, his yelling, and his general creepiness. There was simply no way the Sket-dan would be able to help him, especially not with an overly confusing system in which commands about what to do and what to say are mixed up so easily.

But the other story was much less ridiculous and both optimistic, involving Chuu and Remi. They’re an intriguing couple: him with his laid-back attitude and unconventional inventions; her with her penchant for mistakes and bottomless cheer. It was nice to see her get worked up over learning Chuu was going on a date, clearly she’s got a deep admiration for him, something he may not have picked up on due to being so immersed in his experiments. Chuu also showed he’s not as unobservant as he seems by busting the pervert who asked Remi out. He may be eccentric, but he’ll be damned if he’ll let anyone take advantage of his sweet co-teacher. His daughter is also flippin’ adorable.

Rating: 3

Sket Dance – 44

Chiaki, the softball captain, comes to a Sket-dan whose clubroom is inundated with scientific supplies, to ask them to help her locate a lost candy drop tin. To her, the tin represents the friendship forged between her and Akina, in which they’d each eat a drop a day from the tin. Captain messes that up by giving a drop to a boy Akina liked, and Akina lashes out in anger, throwing the tin out a window. After getting caught in the raid, Chiaki’s out sick on what turns out to be Akina’s final day before her family moves out of town. However Bossun finds the tin, and Akina returns to say goodbye. Chiaki and Akina reconcile, and both draw white drops – representing lifelong friendship.

Oh Sket Dance, we do believe you may have attained new heights in sappiness this week. Who would have thought so much drama and strife could be created from one silly little box of candy! And yet Sket Dance is replete with seemingly mundane artifacts with considerable sentimental value to their owners – Himeko’s cyclone and Pelocan doll, Switch’s laptop, Bossun’s hat, and the Friske mints, just to name a few. Without realizing just how important the candy was to her friendship was Akina, Captain offered one out of politeness to a boy that turned out to be Akina’s crush. So really, Akina was upset about the boy, not the candy.

The candy tin has a little tiny photo of the two on it, and Captain feels it would be a nice gesture if she could find what had been discarded. But digging through perhaps a hundred bags of filthy garbage to find it? I suppose if it was sorted Japanese trash, it would be a less smelly, disgusting affair, but it still seems excessive. And Akina shows up with a new tin anyway, in which they both get the lifelong friend color. So all sket-dan really did this week was sift through a mountain of garbage and release a bunch of balloons that birds will try to eat and choke on when they come back down to earth. And there were so many potential jokes in that junk-filled clubroom…

Rating: 2.5