Switch attends every Momoka concert he can, but never tells her. She spots him while she’s leaving a venue after a show, and pays the Sket-dan a visit on a day off hoping to see him, but he’s gone to Akiba to buy parts for his broken PC. While returning home, he’s bumped by a passerby and his laptop also breaks. Reduced to body language and writing out what he wants to say, he promises Yuuki he’ll get her Momoka’s autograph. Momoka lets him backstage, where he takes down a rabid fan. Momoka tells him she knows he’s been to many shows, but he ‘says’ nothing more than he’s a fan. He gets her autograph, and in exchange, she gets his sketchbook.
It’s been some time since Switch had an episode dedicated pretty much just to him, or in this case, him and Momoka. They’ve always been friends, but for whatever reason his frequenting Momoka’s shows has left her wondering if there’s anything more they could be. And in true Switch fashion, there isn’t. It would seem he’s not interested in a girlfriend – only an admiree in Momoka, or a rival in Yuuki. Romance just isn’t for him, it seems. Either that, or perhaps the same reason he won’t talk is the same reason he will never fully open up to anyone – because he blames himself for his bro’s untimely death.
Regardless, Switch and Momoka’s relationship is nice and nuanced: a mutual respect and concern for one another, bourne out of all of their past dealings, and his helping her out, not just as a member of the Sket-dan, but as a friend. It’s a credit to the show that characters can pop in and out of the Sket trio’s lives and have normal, natural encounters, not just ridiculous comic escapades (though those are often good too). And that’s not to say this episode had no comedy; Switch milked his pad-writing for all it was worth, including telling off a stalker and (perhaps unintentionally) making Momoka believe he was writing her a confession.
Switch’s flashback continues. Having recieved a death threat, Sawa enlists the aid of the Usui brothers. But when he’s shot down by Switch for the umpteenth time, Kazuyoshi tells them to go off without him, believing Sawa’s best off with Switch. They head out, and a girl named Yukino arrives at Sawa’s door. She describes a creepy stalker who pulled a knife on someone in middle school, who Kazuyoshi spots behind a pole and pursues. When he catches him, he learns that Yukino is the knife-wielding stalker. She finds Switch and Sawa and pulls a knife on them. Switch protects Sawa, takes the blade in the chest, and dies. Kazuyoshi is devastated, and blames himself for his brother’s death. Sawa moves away, and the three are down to one. To honor his brother’s memory, Kazuyoshi takes on the title and appearance of “Switch”, and studies hard to amass the great amount of information he possesses. Bossun reaches out to him and he joins a new trio in the Sket-dan.
I’m not sure why what was a consistently zany, over-the-top comedy would want to try straight-up serious drama, but Sket Dance really hit it out of the park with this Switch arc, totally changing gears from its usual fare. We’re thrown into a very tragic story, where a brother has a bad day and says some stupid things he shouldn’t, and it gets his little brother killed. When you add it all up: Kazuyoshi not accompaning Switch and Sawa; his curt last words to Switch; and finally egging on the psychopathic Yukino then letting her loose, it’s hard to argue with him. Gone half-mad with guilt and grief, Kazuyoshi makes an incredible decision: to stop being Kazuyoshi.
He hasn’t spoken since the day of that decision, except with the software than combines his voice with Masafumi’s. And the young Switch we saw this week and last was actually someone we never knew; it was the big bro who turned out to be our Switch. Very strange, but it definitely works. This wasn’t a perfect episode – Sawa was kind of a bland airhead most of the time, and the story relies a little too often on convenient coincidence, but as this was one of the best episodes of a series that has been anything but serious to this point, I’m giving it top marks.
This week introduced a whole slew of characters, including acquaintances of Switch neither Bossun nor Orihime knew existed. Obviously to be as good at information gathering as he is, he must have a host of connections amongst a diverse array of student types. Among them include the newspaper editor, Shimada, and a Sadako-lookalike and occult enthusiast, Yuuko. Sket-dan’s mission is to uncover the mystery of a ghost, but they (being Bossun and Switch; Himeko doesn’t really do anything) discover that there is no ghost, only a ploy by Shimada to manufacture a scoop, for which she is repentant.
Bookending this story are the exploits of the Student Council, a very disciplined and well-organized one at that, engineering their own ploy that ends in the successful apprehension of a blackmailing gang preying on students, the council’s charge. While on the surface they don’t seem to be quite as entertaining a group as Sket-dan, they do lend the all-important rival authority to the series, as well as add even more variety to a cast stocked with oddballs. Their inevitable clash with Sket-dan – two thirds of whom flaunt the dress code with impugnity – should be interesting. Rating: 3.5