Sket Dance – 77 (FIN!)

When Jougasaki injures two basketball team members, he asks Bossun to play as a substitute so the team can compete. When Bossun notices Jougasaki still plays, he convinces him to take his place, reuniting him with Teppei. Saaya manages to get Bossun alone, and finally confesses to him. Bossun reacts as expected: like a little kid. The Sket-dan continues to perform duties for its fellow students, including aiding the student council with security as Momoka films a movie.

All pretty good things must come to an end, and to be honest, we’re comfortable calling Sket Dance a pretty good show throughout its run. It’s never been perfect, but it’s been steady and consistent, and it goes out on a nice note, tying up the “Will Saaya Confess” loose end and giving pretty much every character a cameo, including their very first client: Teppei. After the basketball job is done, Saaya makes her move on Bossun. The girl shows both guts and incredible poise throughout the process, because coming out with her feeling for him without any cliche’d misunderstandings is such a load off her ample chest.

The animators do a good job visualizing the subtle change in how she looks and carries herself after confessing, and Himeko notices too. Bossun stays true to character too, not knowing what to say or do. Were there ten or so more episodes to show how he’d come around to giving Saaya a direct answer – even if it’s probably yes – that could be more interesting character work, but ending things here is fine too. So we say sayonara to Sket Dance – which, unless we combine the hundred total episodes of Gundam SEED and Gundam SEED Destiny – has been the longest series we’ve watched to its conclusion; a record that will be hard to break.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

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Sket Dance – 76

In the first half, Katou Kiri pledges serve Tsubaki in everything. This makes Tsubaki uncomfortable at first, but eventually learns he can use his power to turn Katou into a useful member of the student council, as he helps anyone who needs it using his ninjitsu. In the second half, the Sket-dan teams up with Tsubaki, Asahina, Unyuu and Katou to try to cure Usami of her dual personalities. The girls try dressing like guys, but that doesn’t work; then the guys dress up as girls, and Bossun and Switch are convincing enough to prevent her from transforming into Bunny, if only briefly.

Prior to watching this episode, we learned that this would be the next-to-last episode of Sket Dance, which will wrap after a robust 77 episodes. This is a pretty by-the-numbers episode, focusing heavily on the new student council in the first half, then pulling out the ol’ gender switcheroo premise for the second half. While we felt a subtle but distinct hint of going through the motions, this was still an enjoyable episode.

Like previous dramatic episodes in which a character underwent some kind of change, that change carries through to the episodes that follow. Thus Katou will obey any order Tsubaki gives him – including the order to obey the other student council members. Grateful for Tsubaki’s loyalty, friendship, and for saving his ass, this makes perfect sense. Usami, meanwhile, has yet to overcome her personality-splitting ways, despite some very convincing (to Himeko, anyway) “girl talk” by Bossun and Switch (Tsubaki and Katou shrink before this particular task). It showed that the Sket-dan still had something unique to contribute with only one more episode remaining.


Rating: 6 (Good)

Sket Dance – 75

Tsubaki and Unyuu try to defuse a victim of bullying who’s snapped, but Katou interferes and Unyuu is almost seriously hurt. Tsubaki gives him an ultimatum to shape up or turn in his armband. Having watched the argument, Himeko reaches out to Katou, who tells her about a horrible teacher who blamed a student for being bullied and drove him off. That same teacher, Kutsuwa Daijirou, just happens to be the new homeroom teacher. He runs down Himeko, making her cry; the last straw for Katou. He kidnaps Kutsuwa and ties him to a tree, putting him on live streaming video to answer for is crimes. Tsubaki and Bossun manage to defuse the situation, but another jab at Himeko by Kutsuwa earns him a punch by Bossun, who along with Katou, gets suspended for two weeks. Kutsuwa quits.

Like most school-based anime, Sket Dance rarely focuses on teachers – the only ones with any kind of screen time have been Chuuma-sensei (who’s more a mad scientist) and Remi-chan (who’s more of a kid-at-heart than many of the students). This week, we’re presented with a new teacher, who is a total asshole. He gets the job through connections, but he’s obsessed with blaming people for their own problems. That’s not a bad thing on its face, but he takes it to the extreme, intentionally pressing students’ buttons and making them feel ashamed and powerless. He has no business presiding over a class of already emotionally-fragile teenagers.

By foul contrivance, he just happens to be the same teacher Katou mentions to Himeko while explaining why he is the way he is. When Kutsuwa works his charm on Himeko, Katou is driven to action. He’s lucky the police didn’t get involved when he resorts to kidnapping, but it’s all thanks to friends he didn’t even know he had that he comes out alright, and the teacher is sent packing (having his sociopathic tirade broadcast live to the whole school helped with that). Bossun, initially a bystander, can’t stop himself from slugging a teacher when Himeko’s name is besmirched. Bossun’s usually a genial guy, but when his friends are being hurt, he’s as brutal and fierce as they come. And clearly, it was worth it. Dude really needed to be punched.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

 

Sket Dance – 74

In the first half, Bossun is playing with a collectable toy car in the hallway when he’s scolded by Tsubaki, who breaks it while attempting to confiscate it. Mimorin recognizes the car as the same kind her father collects, and invites Tsubaki, Bossun, and Himeko over to her “house”, which is more like an underground city. In the second half, the ramen shop owner challenges Captain to a rematch, but Bossun’s indelicate words lead to her retiring her “Cap’n Munch” special eating move. Bossun takes her place in the challenge, but can’t cut it. She swoops in and uses a supersonic “Neo-Cap’n Munch” to defeat the shop owner once more, until she learns she ate hard-boiled eggs and throws everything up.

This week was a very special episode of Sket Dance, in which we get an inside look at the living conditions of perhaps the wealthiest anime characters we’ve ever known, the Unyuus. Worth at least 5 quintillion yen (50 followed by eighteen zeros), we learn that all of Mimorin’s boasts throughout the series were justified…and then some. Her family is in fact worth many times more than the whole rest of the world economy, which is fun. More to the point, we love just how over-the-top and uncompromising her wealth is depicted. She doesn’t just have a butler; she has hundreds of servants who live in an underground city with a stark palette. Her above-ground entrance hall occupies several city blocks. It’s nuts, but hilariously so.

The second half can’t quite match the scale of the first, but it exceeds it in passion – or should we say, “Cap’passion”; as in the infectious competitive passion of the captain, Takahashi Chiaki, who gets another chance to show off her eating skills. Like the first half, it starts small: Bossun makes an offhand comment about how quickly Captain eats. It puts her in a self-conscious, sulky mood, and she gives up the “Cap’n Munch” ability. Still, Bossun, Switch, the ramen shop owner, and eventually even Hani and Asahina get all fired up, and their passion then re-stokes hers as she sees Bossun struggling. It’s all very dramatic and powerfully depicted, only to be comically and suddenly cut short at the end when she barfs it all up (off-camera), thanks to the end credits rolling in the middle.


Rating: 8 (Great)

Car Cameos: This episode was replete with some classics, being about collecting cars: Bossun is playing with a toy Mercedes-Benz SSK, and gets an SSKL from the Unyuus after a lot of trouble. Among the model and real cars Rintarou owns are a Mercedes-Benz 300SL, a Volkswagen Beetle (pictured), a Volkswagen Golf MkI, and a Mercedes-Benz 280SL. In Mimorin’s recollection, there’s also a Shelby Cobra, Beetle Cabriolet, and a ’55-’56 GMC Truck. None of the cars and trucks in the Unyuu underground city were detailed enough to be identified, but they looked to be of general 70s-80s vintage.

Sket Dance – 73

Himeko falls victim to a peeping tom. At first Bosssun and Switch are uninterested, but they eventually determine the tom would have had to spider climb up cedar trees to get vantage point, which points them to Saratani, who has actuallly fallen for Takahashi, not Himeko. Yabasawa alerts the student council, and Katou acts alone to apprehend Saratani.

In the second half, faculty advisor Kezuka pits the Boys’ and Girls’ Manga clubs against each other Saotome Roman chooses Bossun as her partner, and they combine to create a more “interesting” manga that wins the day over Magarfunkle and Sainon’s more generic fare.

This episode starts with another crimefighting mission in which the Sket-dan competes with the new-look student council. We understand that Bossun is usually blind to Himeko’s beauty, so it makes sense that he’d initially shrug off her complaint. Making the peeping tom the very person on TV that was distracting them was also an interesting – and convenient – touch. Tsubaki gets a good laid-back pep talk from Agata, who counsels patience with the unusual newbies.

The second half turns into another vehicle for Himeko’s commentary. She stands in for us as the voice of reason and confusion at the two bizarre manga offerings. We agree that the conditions laid out by the advisor were more creatively handled by Team Roman/Bossun – splitting up the word for sports festival (undoukai) into a romantic dialogue filled with “uns” (“sure”) and “doukais” (“how ’bout it?”) Also amusing is juxtaposition of Roman’s crude, demented character designs with Bossun’s impeccably rendered backgrounds.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

P.S. We have no idea what the deal was with Kezuka-sensei’s little turn at the cosmic piano, but it was damned hilarious.

Sket Dance – 72

In the first half, Chiaki brings a student to the Sket-dan who has fallen victim to a dastardly pickpocket known as Kagerou or “Shadow Wolf.” They seek to apprehend him using Himeko as a decoy, but they find themselves outmatched, until ninja descendant freshman Katou Kiri intervenes. In the second half, the student council’s new treasurer Usami Hani is introduced. In her normal state, she hates men so much she completely ignores Tsubaki. When he touches her, her sexy, boy-crazy alter ego Bunny-chan emerges. After getting a headache, Tsubaki insists the final concil slot will be filled by a male – enter Katou Kiri.

Sket Dance’s policy regarding characters seems to be “the more, the merrier”, and in the case of the two new characters introduced this week, there’s no reason to change that policy. Both Katou Kiri and Usami Hani leave underwhelming first impressions early in their respective segments, but then they show an entirely different side of their characters. In Kiri’s case, he feigns slow reflexes to hide his ninja skills, but uses them to bail Himeko out of a serious situation (one of the only times we can recall she’s at knifepoint; while Bossun is unconscious).

Katou Kiri is okay, but of the two, we preferred Usami Hani (voiced by Yuka Iguchi), who has the extemely bizarre quality of totally changing personalities based on which gender touched her last. The relay system she sets up with Minorin tests Tsubaki’s patience, as does her jumping to conclusions when he’s direct with her. Fourth Wall expert Saotome Roman chimes in at a couple opportune times to give her assessment, which was much like ours: uninspiring at first, but turns out to be very quirky and not without potential.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Sket Dance – 71

The first part is a satirical retelling of the Japanese folktale Saru Kani Gassen (The Quarrel of the Monkey and the Crab), with Himeko as the crab’s offspring, Bossun as the cow pie, and Switch as the Monkey. In the second part, Date has transformed into an Modern Enka singer, and his friend and bandmate Rodan insists they help change him back. The Sket-dan converts to the visual-kei asthetic, but it has no effect. Eventually, Bossun determines Date fell victim to sleep learning after falling asleep in front of the TV.

We keep watching Sket Dance because we never know what it’s going to throw at us next, and for mind-bending episodes like this, which exhibit the intense variegation of Japanese culture and society. Japanese folklore is not our strong suit, and there are certainly some who would consider this parody in poor taste, but we found it both educational and hilarious. Whether it’s Date still trying to make cool gestures as an usu, or Bossun’s turn as a literal piece of shit with no confidence (but all the good ideas), it was well-executed, self-contained little story.

We thought it would continue into the next half, but instead we’re treated to even more ridiculousness in the form of a visual-kei dilemma. The show is essentially turned over to Gackt, who puts on a clinic as a suddenly-transformed Date who has gone all the way to the other side of the musical and stylistic spectrum, all thanks to sleep learning. He can sing Enka with the best of them (like we’d actually know…), and is certainly better at belting out sentimental ballads than the Sket-dan are at coming up with cool interpretive phrases. However, perhaps the most bafflingly bizarre and uproarious moment was the Shiki-like visualization of Bossun’s creepy little poem about black roses and a “dilapidated princess”. How the hell do they come up with this stuff?


Rating: 8 (Great)

Sket Dance – 69

In the first half, Bossun has to go to the bathroom, but finds himself constantly blocked or otherwise prevented from going. In the second half, Tsubaki asks the Sket-dan to help him refine a two-page manga-style wanted ad for the student council to replace Agata and Michiru.

Our first reaction to half an episode being dedicated to taking a shit is “Really, Sket Dance? You that short on ideas?” But as the segment progressed, we found ourselves enjoying watching Bossun squirm as a proxy for ourselves, and admired the audacity of devoting an entire half to such a ‘high concept’. Sket Dance once again proves its adeptness at putting its characters in extremely relatable situations. Who hasn’t had one of those days when you just can’t get to a toilet in time…or worse, you get to one, and suddenly your colon won’t cooperate? Well, at least we’ve never been held up by a visual kei guy.

The second part was equally competant, and surprisingly involved manga without involving Saotome Roman. That’s not a bad thing, as it was nice to get a fresh art style for Tsubaki’s poster. As artists who have always been weary of “permanent” media such as watercolor, gauche, and ink, we also connected with the pitfalls of those media: when you make a mistake, you have to improvise to erase it or make it seem intentional. This half also served as foreshadowing for the recruiting of two new student council members, who are already in the OP.


Rating: 5 (Average)

Sket Dance – 67

In the first half, Agata sends Tsubaki to Bossun for advice on T-shirt design, but Bossun is distressed to find Tsubaki’s creative process is extremely rigid and limited and he is brittle to criticism. In the second half, Bossun and Switch get into a heated trivia battle over the robot anime “Code A” that ends in a draw. Switch suggests they attend a fan meet-up to determine the ultimate winner. Switch gets a cold, leaving Bossun on his own among hardcore otaku. He pulls out a miracle win by reciting unrelated information and impressing the others, thus winning a rare collectible.

While its scientific merit is debatable, the term “left-brained” has become a figure of speech denoting someone having a bias towards logic, math, detail orientation and systematic thinking (see: Tsubaki), whereas a “right-brained” means a bias towards feelings, images, spacial perception, and artistic creativity (see: Bossun). When it comes to origami, drawing, design, and other such pursuits, Bossun shines, but Tsubaki is totally and unequivocally inept. His futile attempts – including a bafflingly awful final shirt design that’s almost so bad it’s good – are good for some laughs.

The second half is a merciless jab at extreme otakuism, and how easy it is to get trapped in a dark room. Of course, Bossun enters this stinky world because he wants to beat Switch first and foremost, and ends up frightening his sister. The climactic meet-up is a smorgasbord of otaku stereotypes that likely exist – people clinically into very specific things. But they’re also an affable bunch, and somewhat amusingly, Bossun wins them over by accident: reciting info he memorized from a book about the proper code of conduct for Japanese youths; a recitation that is specific enough to castigate his audience but ambiguous enough to relate to the anime.


Rating: 6 (Good)

Sket Dance – 66

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.

Sket Dance – 65

When Council president Agata Soujirou sees his sister Saaya talking to Tsubaki, he grilles her and Tsubaki on their intentions. Tsubaki answers believing Agata is talking about Bosssun, and says he’ll have dinner again. When Agata sees that Saaya wasn’t invited to dinner, he prods her; she answers belieiving her brother is talking about Bossun as well, and asks him out on a date. Tailing her, Agata is angry when he sees Bossun with Tsubaki and Saaya, though it was Tsubaki who was there by coincidence. The four have awkward tea, where Agata incorrectly deduces that Bosssun is in love with Saaya.

While we can see how they would drive some people up a wall, we love episodes like this that take a triangle of people, give them all misconceptions about who they’re all talking about, tangle them all up and run with it. Have you ever been in a conversation where one of you pauses and asks “wait, we’re talking about the same person, right?” This never happens in any conversations, leading Agata to take what he hears and apply it to the wrong people in his 160-IQ brain. This isn’t easy to keep up naturally and believably, but Agata, Saaya, Bossun and Tsubaki pull it off without breaking a sweat. And it’s great to see the normally cool and laid-back Agata getting all bent out of shape for once.

The underlying cause of all these misunderstandings is that on matters concerning his lil’ sis, Agata’s massive intellect betrays him. He worries about her, as any good big brother should, but he over-meddles. His reward is that he comes away from his encounter with the Saaya/Bossun/Tsubaki triangle with completely the wrong idea, and the more he prys, the less legitimate information he gleans. As for Saaya, she actually got something worthwhile, even if her bro and Tsubaki ruined her first date: Agata got Bossun to admit some pretty flattering things about her. The only problem here is that Bossun is still too dense vis-a-vis Saaya. Seriously, where the hell is this kid’s sex drive?


Rating: 6 (Good)

Sket Dance – 64

When Bossun (with Himeko inside) is momentarily left alone, Saaya approaches him wanting to talk. She asks him what he thinks of Himeko, and Himeko tells her “he” has no special feelings. Himeko then asks her what she thinks of Bossun, and all she can tell her/him is that “he is on her mind.” Later Himeko has to sleep with Bossun in the only spare futon in Chuu-san’s room, and asks Bossun if what she said about her was what he would have said, and he concurs. In a post-credits omake, the Sket-dan and other classmates are in an RPG world trying to assign themselves jobs, but hardly any are desirable thanks to Remi’s writing errors.

One of the more annoying aspects of Sket Dance is that it is constantly, well, dancing around the issue of Bossun and Himeko’s relationship. Clearly, the two of them are closer to each other than Switch, and yet both are either oblivious or petrified of their relationship ever being given a concrete definition. They’re always in limbo. Even Bossun’s apparent aggrement with Himeko’s improvisation as him – that he harbored no “special feelings” towards her, isn’t enough to quell our doubt.

It’s all in the wording: what she said (as him) may match what he’d say were he in his own body when Saaya talked to him, but it’s not the complete truth. That’s what he’d say, not what he truly thinks. We think these two have feelings, but just won’t acknowledge it. Alas, until whenever this series ends, it’s probably an issue that will never be resolved to our satisfaction, so all we can say is c’est la vie, and Saaya apparently has a chance at Bossun, since Himeko didn’t ruin it for him. As for the RPG omake, it was good for a chuckle or two, but nothing outstanding.


Rating: 3

Sket Dance – 63

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.


Rating: 3.5