Golden Time – 07

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Kouko has to go to the police station to sort out her bike theft, and she introduces Banri as her boyfriend to her father. The next morning, Kouko is waiting for him at the station and they walk to classes together. They start dating, but Banri continually ignores Linda’s texts. His neighbor Nana, Linda’s friend, tricks him into coming home to tend to an apartment leak, but he finds Nana and Linda there. He invites Linda in, where they exchange apologies. Linda explains how they knew each other and why she blamed herself for his fate. Kouko calls him, saying Mitsuo is in trouble.

OMGOMGOMG, Banri and Kouko are a couple…EEEEEEE!..Right? Whoaaa, hold your horses: we’ve been down this road before. We know how it sometimes ends. And as soon as we saw the episode title, “Masquerade”, or suspicions only heightened: could Kouko only be pretending to be in love with Banri? But lest we forget, this is a show where the characters are given ample time to explain their actions and feelings, and at the police station, she convinces us that what she’s feeling is real. And then we’re off to the races. There’s a joyful thrill in watching the two interact as a couple, and Banri really takes to the extremely affectionate, dopey lovey-dovey atmosphere of their nascent relationship. In short, he’s over the moon; stupidly happy, and we’re happy for him.

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This episode did what few contemporary anime dare to do, especially this early in a long run: put two people who like each other together, for which we’re grateful. Things even take a turn for the amorous when Kouko finds Banri’s “box ‘o’ stuff”, culminating in Kouko confessing she wants to lose her virginity in Paris. It’s such a Kouko moment, and for all their interactions, you get the feeling that yes, she is a little weird and perhaps a bit clingy, but neither we nor Banri have a problem with that. Right now, they’re exactly the people they need for each other, and aside from a few subtle foreboding details here and there (Kouko’s dad’s talk of her “targets”, and Banri lying to her about the leak), it looks like it could work. Golden Time resists the urge to immediately pull the rug out from under everything.

That’s despite the fact it meets all the necessary conditions to plausibly blow up Banri+Kouko. Yet it doesn’t pull the trigger—not yet at least—but lets us savor the warm, fuzzy glee. Thanks to Nana (proving to be an excellent supporting character), the awkward silence between Banri and Linda concludes amicably. The tension in that room oozes through the screen as the camera closes in on Linda…but while she’s fiercely honest with details about the past (including Banri confessing to her), she doesn’t end up confessing to him. For one thing, she doesn’t feel she deserves to (remember: she was only late to the bridge, not an out-and-out no-show); but it’s also not crystal clear whether she loves him in quite that way. It’s good she didn’t confess, because she has yet to learn that her previous assumption about Banri dating Kouko is no longer wrong.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • Mitsuo went to get his head shaved, but ended up getting his hair bleached.
  • Mitsuo can’t face Chinami at the moment, which concerns her, because she didn’t mean to reject him for all time. There’s is still a slight arc, but we hope it goes somewhere. Love for everyone! Except 2D-kun, AMIRITE?
  • Banri could have avoided quite a bit of stress by stashing that box somewhere before answering the door. Although in the end, Kouko didn’t mind it. More adult behavior.
  • We’re not sure how Banri didn’t realize the woman in the elevator was Nana. Still, it was a hilarious scene. 
  • Nana is voiced with authority by Satou Satomi, who was cast against type here (at least from what we’ve watched of her).

Kamisama Hajimemashita – 02

Tomoe fixes up Nanami’s living space at the shrine, informs her of her duties, and asks her to make water into sake, which she fails to do. When Nanami learns the famous Visual Kei idol Kurama Shinjirou will be transferring to her high school, she races to class, wearing an embarassing hood, and Kurama is immediately rude to her and plants Y30000 on her. He’s interested in her because he’s actually a crow goblin from Mt. Kura. Tomoe transforms him into an Ostrich, but Nanami is lenient, and orders him to change him back.

Tomoe may be Nanami’s familiar, but he’s no mindless slave, and while he must obey every order she gives him, he still has a certain degree of free will. He can choose how he serves her. He can also reminisce about his past life as some kind of swordsman. When making her wear a hood gets her ostracized by the class – who are a bunch of insensitive assholes; what else is new – he later apologizes with a huge feast in her class. When she ditches the hood, he still has her back, and is able to fend off the first demon that tracks her down since she became a deity.

Sket Dance’s Date was also into Visual Kei, but he was a kind and gentle soul. Kurama is a dick. He breaks the dress code, tries to frame Nanami with theft, nearly runs her over, and wants very much to know why she doesn’t like him. Of course, this all makes sense when we learn he’s the demon, though that he just happened to show up at her school on the first day is a little contrived. Was it just coincidence, or did he plan it? In any case, his ostrich transformation is hilarious comeuppance. This guy wasn’t much of a threat, but we suppose he was never supposed to be.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Car Cameo: Kurama drives (and almost hits Nanami with) a very stylish (and probably expensive to import to Japan) Alfa-Romeo Giulietta.

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)

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With this, Sket Dance has proven it has lost none of the novel, potent absurdity of the best episodes of the first half. Bossun, Himeko and Switch are firing on all cylinders (though Switch has a reduced role this week) attempting to help an extremely frightening-looking wood shop teacher find a wife, then attempting to decode a Visual Kei dude’s cryptic speech.

The first part does a nice job of pulling the rug out from under us in the end. A potential wife arrives who doesn’t care about J-son’s looks, and everything seems to be going swimmingly. But just as the Sket-dan is dusting off thei hands, J-son blows it, and the woman runs out screaming and drives away with screaching tires. Hmm…Sket-dan can’t solve everything.

Perhaps more hilarious were Bossun and Himeko’s interaction with Date (or whatever his real name is), a purple-haired kid who grinds the show to a halt everytime he responds to a question by pausing in a super-dramatic imagined scene. It doesn’t help that everything he says is baffling, and results in Hime putting him in a different wrestling hold each time. Date’s friend translates at the end, and suddenly it all makes sense…sort of. Rating: 3