- Genre: Comedy, Slice of Life, School
- Episodes: 77
- Studio: Tatsunoko Production
Kaimei High has the best clubs! Their softball club has a captain that can eat faster than the speed of sound, their manga club captain has a magical Otome Filter, and their kendo club captain has magical mints! The student council is pretty impressive too. Instead through, we follow the misadventures of the misfits in Sket Dance who strive to make the school a better place through hair brained schemes and unprovoked violence! Bossun, Himeko and Switch may not quite fit in anywhere else but they certainly make a great team.
There are few things more comforting that a good slice of life, it’s like a blanky in show form. Unfortunately, there are also few things that sound less exciting when you try to describe them… It’s a “you have to see it for yourself” sort of thing and you can never judge from the description.You may not be able to tell because I don’t post things in the same order I write them (long story), but I have been writing about a lot of meh shows lately and it’s put me in a sort of meh frame of mind. So when I was thinking about the next series I wanted to write about, I figured why not give Sket Dance a go – it was an alright show after all. So I took a minute and started really thinking back on it. On the art, the comedy the various characters and I suddenly remembered something – it was a good show. That’s it, no cutesy adjectives, no hyperbole. Sket Dance is a good show.
Those in the know may know that Sket Dance is more often than not compared to Gintama and with good reason. The central premise and main cast are very similar, i.e. a **cool** but kinda derpy guy, his reliable megane sidekick and super strong girl -just a- friend come together to help anyone who asks. It’s delivered in a similar format with a comparable light-hearted mood and both shows even look alike. Heck they did a crossover episode to really make it obvious. But to go into either shows expecting the same things would be setting yourself up for disappointment. Sket Dance is much more a Slice of Life than anything else. It’s gentler and more compassionate a show, giving its characters more room to breathe and discover themselves without having to constantly do stand up. It’s a little calmer and less focused on humor. I’m not saying one is better than the other, I’m just saying they’re too different to really compare.
Like a lot of things about the show, the art style is unassuming but stealthily great. It probably won’t hit as you first watch it. There’s nothing particularly striking about the visuals or the designs but everything is very well rendered. What happens though is that somehow, the images are infused with both personality and realism. That school looks exactly like a real school I can easily imagine visiting in real life, as such I feel oriented and get true sense of space from it. Those uniforms make sense and the personal touches each character adds could pass in most schools. Everyone looks unique but not ridiculously so. It should be noted that the animation gets a visible boost as the series progresses. Also I am a rather big fan of the soundtrack here. That pillows song rocks.
Like I said, this show is not trying to be hysterical. Although I did find it very funny, what struck me more is that after awhile I noticed that episodes left me in a better mood. It didn’t just distract me, it actually cheered me up. The writing is quite smart without being smug. For instance, the first episode follows a young man at his first day in a new school and his introduction to the Sket Dance club. It’s well done, the protagonist is nicely developed and charming, it put all the elements in place. I was looking forward to his adventures with this wacky club when towards the end of the episode, the show pulled the rug from under us, the pov character chose to join a different club and we only see him again in a brief cameo, 40 episodes later. This was completely unexpected and I was left thinking, all right show – let’s see what else you got.
And it has a ton else going for it. The cast is fantastic, all of it including supporting characters. Their quirks were so fun and well done that I was always happy to see any of them. My favorites were probably Shoujo chick – Roman – whose otome filter turned every scene into a hilariously corny shojo manga and Date (Dante), whose visual key language was so fun to interpret I would pause the show to try and decipher it myself. The student council members are all eventually given their complete personalities and backgrounds, enough that they could easily carry a show themselves, and even characters introduced very late in the show, such as Kiri, are given time to establish themselves completely and feel like actual tangible people.
The series also frequently uses what you could call gimmicks if you were unkind. The aforementioned Gintama crossover, Rock band episodes, heck there’s even a long-lost twin brother!!! In the hands of a less talented crew these would have been tacky but in Sket Dance they were integrated into the storyline with obvious forethought and care. A lot of effort was put into it and it never felt cheap.
Moreover, the show does occasionally make some pretty drastic tonal changes. Most notably, all three members of Sket Dance are, at different times, given a few episodes to tell their origin stories, if you will. These tend to be quite dramatic. I usually don’t like when shows just throw in a tragic backstory out of the blue and decide to shift to serious drama without a gradual lead up. I tend to think of it as an easy way to gain audience sympathy/attachment to characters when the writers lack the skill and patience to cultivate it any other way. This was very different.
Hime’s story added complexity to her character, another layer to her personality and showed us the slow and organic lead up to the friendship that formed between her and Bossun. It truly made the character better. Bossun’s own backstory showed us a kid with a tragic birth but a happy childhood. It grounded him as a character and explained his more cartoonish traits beautifully. It also set up a lot of future storylines. Yes, the mood took a big turn but in an earnest and simply well executed way that never felt like manipulation. But of all those, it’s Switch’s flashback that was the most powerful in my opinion. The setup is masterful and immensely engaging and the conclusion is unapologetically horrific. It is heartbreaking in an unflinching way. The show doesn’t soften the blow or use some silver lining crutch. It’s just sad and everybody has to accept that. This blatant honesty and deference for tragedy earned my respect.
Sket dance is a fun and sneakily heartwarming. I watched a few episodes and figured why not a few more. I didn’t know if I would make it to 77. It was pleasant but not loud and in your face. I couldn’t enthusiastically recommend it to people. And then, without realizing it, I started looking forward to each new episode. Before I knew it, I was genuinely sad to see it end. So now here I am, enthusiastically recommending it to all of you. Sket Dance is a good show.
What this anime taught me: Voice acting looks like a lot of work
An alcoholic is someone you don’t like who drinks as much as you do
Suggested drink: Moondance
- Every time Bossun is surprisingly good at something – take a drink
- Every time Tsubaki gets annoyed – take a drink
- Every time we see Hime use her field hockey stick – take a drink
- Every time Switch shares his data – take a drink
- Every time Bossun blubbers – take a drink
- Every time Hime has a Pelollipop – have a snack
- Every time Bossun puts his goggles on – concentrate
- Every time we see Otome Vision – cheer!
- Every time we see Housuke – take a drink
- Every time we see Switch’s eyes – take a drink