Support! Kindness! Encouragement! Troubleshoot!
YES! It’s Sket Dance! This is probably the spring title I was looking forward to the most, after it was announced. The concept of having a school club for helping others out isn’t exactly new, but what makes Sket Dance unique is most definitely the characters.
We have Fujisaki Yusuke (aka Bossun) the (extremely awesome) leader, Onizuka Hime (aka Onihime or Himeko) the ex-delinquent (somewhat violent) muscle of the group and Kazuyoshi Usui (aka Switch) the (obligatory glasses character) expert at information gathering. Of course, Sket Dance also has all those quirky side characters as well, but we’ll get to them in a moment.
You can tell they’re the main characters by the way none of them wear the school uniform properly
The show begins from the perspective of Sugihara Teppei, a new transfer student to Kaimei Gakuen. It’s a typical first day for him, until at lunch a girl from his class comes running for his help being chased by a ‘hoodlum’ sporting a laptop and a fake moustache. Before Sugihara can do anything, another guy from his class shows up and tells them to run for it.
The three introduce themselves as members of Sket Dan: a club made for solving the problems of others. The invite Sugihara to join them, but he seems uninterested. That is, until he comes to them later, covered in paint. The Sket Dan immediately takes action in order to find the culprit, but come up empty handed. We then witness Bossun’s famous concentration mode in action and he quickly comes up with a plan.
After cornering him, it is revealed that Sugihara himself is culprit. It turns out that Jougasaki (resident school bully/delinquent) and him knew each other during elementary school. When they met again after Sugihara transferred, Jougasaki told him to cover one of the members of Sket Dan with paint and Sugihara –who was terrorized by him in his childhood- had no choice but to comply.
Of course, Bossun had already figured the whole thing out already due to his concentration mode and calls out Jougasaki, who is watching the whole thing nearby. Himeko takes action and beats the crap out of Jougasaki and Sugihara, now inspired by his newfound friends, stands up to him. In the end, he ends up joining the basketball team, and decides to follow through with what he believes in.
This is probably the first and the last time you’ll ever see anyone actually attend class.
The next person to show up is Takemitsu Shinzo, the modern day samurai captain of the kendo team. His problem? He can’t seem to win any tournaments. So he requests the Sket Dan’s help (de gozaru). After the strategies Sket comes up with fail, Shinzou apologises for shoving his problems on them and decides to figure out his problem himself.
The next tournament, the Sket Dan attends to cheer him on, only to last minute realise what his problem is: the boosting effect of his before match Friske wears off after time. Unfortunately, by this time, Shinzo’s match has already begun, forcing Bossun to pull out his slingshot to shoot a mint into the captain’s mouth. With the power of breath mints and product placement on his side, Shinzo wins the match and thus wins the tournament for his team.
…yeah, this is the before and after of what my face looked like when I attempted to watch the first episode of Onii-chan no Koto
Sometime later, the Sket Dan is asked by Yabasawa Moe to watch her pet monkey, Yeti. Around the same time, their club supervisor, Chuma-sensei asks them to dispose of a bomb. In true comedic fashion, the monkey takes the explosive and runs off with it.
One wacky chase scene later, the Sket Dan catch the monkey only to find out that he no longer has the bomb. Meanwhile, out in the baseball field, Kanegi-sensei (who’s throwing skills were insulted at the beginning of the episode) decides to throw something out of rage. A hell of a coincidence and one exploded storehouse later, the bomb is taken care of.
The story then cuts to Himeko beating up three unnamed delinquents with her iconic field hockey stick named Cyclone. After talking abut how important Cyclone is to her, Himeko then goes to help out the softball team with their game. Afterwards, the three from the before come after Himeko again to take her to their leader, only this time she’s at a disadvantage. While she was distracted, one of them stole Cyclone and replaced it. Defeated, Himeko is dragged off after being knocked out.
When she comes to, Hime is tied to a tree and the trio’s leader, Momoka is standing before her. It’s at this point, Momoka reveals herself to be the legendary Onihime (sound familiar anyone?).
Meanwhile, Bossun and Switch are informed that Himeko left Cyclone behind, and when they try to call Himeko about it, Momoka picks up the phone instead. She tells them that she has Himeko, and there’s nothing they can do about it. After hanging up on them, Momoka turns back and it looks like the end for Himeko.
Luckily, thanks to background noises, Bossun’s concentration mode and Switch’s laptop, they are easily able to figure out where they are before any real damage is done. Himeko introduces herself as the real Onihime, but decides not to take any action because she has already left that part of the past behind her. It’s explained that the reason Momoka was calling herself Onihime was because she admired her and from then on and proceeds to follow Himeko around.
BECAUSE BRIGHT PINK CLOTHING IS EXTREMELY STEALTHY
Next to show up is the old fashioned shoujo manga artist Saotome Roman. She tells Sket that she is looking for her ‘rainy day prince’ and we get a glimpse of the terrifying ‘Otome Filter’ which turns real life situations into something out of a cliché shoujo series.
The Sket go to where Roman saw the ‘prince’ and it’s there that Bossun then realises that the ‘prince’ that Roman saw was actually him and that the ‘stray dog’ was actually Himeko’s towel. Before he can say anything though, a speeding truck comes rushing down the street straight towards Roman. After saving her life, Roman realises that Bossun is her prince, and the segment ends without any real conclusion.
The Otome Filter is truly something to be feared
Segment two of the episode, the captain of the softball team comes looking for help. It seems she lost a winning wrapper for the Pelollipop Candy contest. She explains that she wanted the prize –the mascot doll- for her little brother who thinks it resembles their late mother (I’ll admit, I teared up here). The Sket immediately take action and run into Joe Kisaragi Jougasaki, the delinquent from the first episode.
Jougasaki helps them search, but when Switch mentions the value of the prize, he begins to tense up (at the beginning of the segment, he bumped into the captain and then later found a winning wrapper). After the Sket corner him, he uses the wrapper as a hostage and then tells Himeko to bow before him (… please tell me I wasn’t the only one questioning Jougasaki’s logic here). Bossun tells Hime to trust him and when Hime complies, Bossun shoots a Pelocan into Jougasaki’s mouth causing him to vomit. The Sket then retrieve the wrapper.
Fortunately for Himeko, the wrapper from Jougasaki was an extra and the captain actually had hers in her pocket all along. To apologise, Himeko give Jougasaki a bag of Pelocan which he then proceeds to taste and throw up. Himeko, how do you do it?
NOBODY MOVE OR THE CANDY WRAPER GETS IT. No, seriously. This is what happens.
Yuuki Reiko is the next one to approach the Sket Dan, however, she is not there for help. Instead, she issues a challenge to Switch (she and him have a rivalry) to solve the mystery of the ghost of the incinerator. He accepts despite Bossun and Himeko’s protests, but he tells them not to worry because he will gather information alone. Bossun and Himeko then begin to stalk him. Switch of course, notices this and calls them out.
After info gathering, Bossun tries to figure out the mystery by using his concentration mode. The culprit behind the ghost turns out to be Takako, a member of the newspaper club and writer for the occult section of the newspaper. The ghost was actually her using a trick with cut pant legs and a camera on a timer. She apologises to Reiko for deceiving her and vows that next time, she’ll make the front page using a true story.
During this time, the Student Council has been at work taking down an organization called the Spider Society, which has been blackmailing students. After arresting the blackmailers (and conveniently introducing themselves), the student council are interviewed by Takako and make the front page of the school newspaper.
*Insert Power Rangers joke here*
Fake ghosts aside, REAL MEN WEAR TIGHTS.
Right after that, the Vice President, Tsubaki Sasuke, visits the Sket Dan and announces that they are hereby disbanded because they never do anything. Of course, Bossun immediately protests and it’s then that Yabasawa comes in with another request. After a lot of arguing, Tsubaki agrees to give the Sket Dan another chance if they can defeat the Student Council in winning the hearts of children via a play.
Using the help of all the side characters they’ve helped before, the Sket Dan decide to perform the play Snow White while the Student Council choose Peter Pan and get help from the drama club. After some very fitting role casting and a bit of practice, the Sket Dan prove to be quite capable, which worries the drama club (I say drama club here, but really it’s one guy who even looks like a jerk).
Typical to these kinds of scenarios, the drama club goes in later that night and sabotages the Sket Dan’s props (making Tsubaki very angry in the process due to the underhanded tactics). At a loss of what to do, Bossun enters concentration mode and announces that they will have to give up on Snow White. The actual day of the performance, the Student Council put on their performance with Tsubaki as the leading role. In comparison, the Sket Dan’s puppet show seems lame at first until they actually get into the story.
Basically their play parallels how Momoka (or Momo Onihime as named in the play) couldn’t make any friends and that in the end it was Himeko (aka Aho Onihime) who gave her a place to belong. The entire thing is extremely touching and the children all enjoy the performance. Bested at winning the hearts of children, Tsubaki admits defeat. In the end, the Sket Dan keep their club and Momoka is welcome around the school. Don’t you just love happy endings?
A bonus 5 points to those who get this really old reference
Six episodes in one post! Hopefully it wasn’t too long for some of you (there was a lot to cover). As a reader of the manga, so far, I approve Tatsunoko’s take on Sket Dance. The lengths of the stories aren’t too long or too short and the pacing of the episodes themselves is near perfect. I like the fact that they spilt up the mini stories into half an episode and give the more plot important ones a full episode. I don’t think I would have found Roman’s story half as entertaining if it had dragged on for an entire episode.
The casting for this anime has been fantastic as well. Everyone’s voice fits really well with their character, despite the lack of the more ‘mainstream’ seiyuu (Mamoru Miyano, Ono Daisuke, Kana Hanazawa, etc. You know who I mean). I mean, look at Reiko. Holy crap her voice is amazing. Bossun as well has a really good voice for both his serious parts and when he’s doing comic relief.
This may be bias here but I L-O-V-E-D the transition from page to animation for episode 6. Maybe it was because of the addition of the music and voice acting adding to the mood but I found the end of episode 6 WAY more touching then when I read it in the manga. In contrast however, where I absolutely loved Momoka’s character in the manga, I care less about her in the anime. This will probably change after her character progresses a bit (for those of you who know what I’m talking about), but I found her narrating on the play a bit annoying for some reason. Or maybe my annoyance was due to the children constantly talking. I realise it was important to show that the play was involving the children more, but seriously. Was the extra noise really necessary?
The next episode is titled “Summer Sakura” I can’t quite remember what chapter in the manga this relates to (and I’m too lazy to look it up), but look forward to next week!