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 – 39

Switch repairs a mysterious game system for Yamanobe, who lets them play the ultimate video game, “Special Mariko Broken.” At first it’s a derivative, confounding, random mess, but after four hours, the Sket-dan are utterly enraptured, and end up beating the game. But as the ending runs, they forget the system malfunctions after four hours. It explodes and burns up, leaving them empty inside.

First he tackled athletics with “Genesis.” Then board games with “Hyperion.” This week, everyone’s favorite eccentric Yamanobe returns, and this time he’s taking on video games. And boy howdy does this episode parody video games within an inch of their lives. It touches on just about everything, from hand-writen cartridge labels and blowing into the games (we still do that!) to downright weird stuff like a controller with buttons A-U, no down, and a uirou dispenser. We had to look that one up.

But while the game is initially a Super Mario Bros. ripoff, it makes numerous leaps and bounds in graphical quality and represents a whole multitude of games, from sidescrollers to RPGs and visual novels. And it’s all tremendously entertaining, because like Yamanobe’s other games, you just don’t know what’s coming next. The post-credit clip-show was pretty shameless, but at least there were a couple fake scenes – they should have done more.

Rating: 3.5

Sket Dance 18

Leave it to Sket Dance to take something as innocently mundane as a board game and go totally nuts with it. The game in question is called “Hyperion”, which I’ve never heard of, but it’s used as a vehicle to riff off of dozens of franchises and genres, as well as the practice of becoming a little too obsessed and involved in a game.

This is another one of Mr. Yamanobe’s games, and since it was a board game and not anything athletic, it was definitely worth a fresh episode. He warns Himeko that girls tend not to have fun playing Hyperion…and he turns out to be absolutely right. Everything about the game rubs her the wrong way, and she’s further irritated by how easily Bossun and Switch slip into utter madness.

Yamanobe keeps the game going by making the Sket-dan trek with him out to the countryside for the world tournament, but it only turns out to be two grandsons of Yamanobe’s late mentor, Master Wang. They were just fulfilling the wishes in Wang’s will. The now cosplaying boys snap out of it, much to Himeko’s relief. This episode wasn’t without its silly moments, but it was so blissfully absurd, it worked for me.

Rating: 3