Review of Anime Series: 'SKET Dance'
About SKET Dance:
SKET Dance is a very comedic 77-episode Japanese anime series that aired from April 7, 2011 until September 27, 2012.
It is adapted from the ongoing manga of the same name, by Kenta Shinohara, which can be found in the Weekly Shonen Jump. The series itself aired on TV Tokyo and was directed by Keiichiro Kawaguchi.
When I first saw promotions for SKET Dance, I thought it was going to be an anime about a group of kids starting off a dance group. However, I was proven to be completely wrong. Frankly, I was glad to be wrong as I found SKET Dance to be one of the most enjoyable comedy-themed anime series.
I ended up getting a taste of SKET Dance through another anime series called Gintama.
Like SKET Dance, Gintama was an anime series that was slice-of-life and comedic at the same time. It was an episode of Gintama in which the three main protagonists from SKET Dance entered into the world of Gintama for some sort of competition on who gets the special time slot (which is comically understandable as both series break the 4th wall on numerous occasions).
By watching episode 227 of Gintama, “Speaking of Crossovers, Don't Forget about Alien vs. Predator,” I got the gist of what SKET Dance was about.
Fundamentally, SKET Dan in SKET Dance and Odd Jobs in Gintama pretty much do the same thing: help out. The former is an extracurricular group aimed at making life at Kaimei High School better and the latter is a freelance group in which organizations and individuals subcontract to. The former is full of high school humor while the latter is full of adult humor. I enjoyed watching SKET Dance as much as I enjoyed watching Gintama.
For 77 episodes, I felt that it wasn't even enough for SKET Dance. Ultimately, I feel that SKET Dance has the potential to be at least 100 episodes long.
Being a slice-of-life anime series, there is no set or direct linear story for SKET Dance. It focuses on the various adventures, often turned misadventures and fiascoes, the members of SKET Dance embark upon when it comes to fulfilling requests from students and teachers alike. With SKET meaning “Support,” “Kindness,” “Encouragement,” and “Troubleshoot,” the members will take on various assignments. However, the SKET Dan ends up being considered no more than simple “volunteers” due to getting mostly meaningless assignments; but, these tasks become quite the adventure. Since the group only has three members, the main characters, they hold strong bonds of friendship with each other.
Each episode, or a group of episodes, is its own story which has the SKET Dance getting dragged on some unwanted adventure to helping out students. At the same time, one episode could comprise of finishing two assignments with the first one already being finished. If you have watched anything like Gintama, you will have the gist of SKET Dance. I found the story of SKET Dance to be entertaining and endearing. The members of the school's SKET Dan are underdogs that you want to support and cheer for as they are the unsung heroes that do things, which end up being important to some capacity, that nobody else wants to do.
At the same time, SKET Dan often receives opposition from the Student Council because the vice-president deems it to be useless and a waste of funds. Like Gintama, SKET Dance makes a lot of references to pop culture in the form of subtle hints and parodies.
Overall, the story format works for SKET Dance. The story is both plot-driven and character-driven.
SKET Dan Character Poll
Who Is Your Favorite Character?
Kaimei Student Body Poll
Who's Your Favorite Member
Kaimei High Students
Who Is The Most Entertaining?
Being a slice-of-life comedy series, the characters play a very important role to the story. While the plot of SKET Dance plays a fundamental role of driving the story, the characters also share the responsibility of driving the plot. So far, SKET Dance focuses on the members of SKET Dan; but, there are several episodes that focus on the members of the Kaimei High Student Council as they get dragged into some interesting adventures as well. The clash between the leader of SKET Dan and the VP of the student council also helps drive the story as it triggers the former group's struggle for survival and relevance in the school.
SKET Dan -
Yusuke “Bossun” Fujisaki – Bossun is the primary male main character of SKET Dance. He serves as the primary leader of the SKET Dan. So far, he is perhaps the most human of all the characters. While he is a leader with plenty of talents; Bossun has a bunch of flaws as well. In short, Bossun is not a “Gary Stu.” Being optimistic, righteous, and altruistic, he stays firm in keeping SKET Dan alive and to make sure all assignments are completed. Physically, Bossun is weak and has no fighting skills.
To make up for lack of physical strength, Bossun is a natural leader. He possesses skills such as “Concentration Mode,” artistic talent, and vocal/facial expressions. While he's a leader, Bossun comes off as the entertainer and comedy relief of the group. In the brief alternate universe stories, humorously, Bossun is on the short straw of everything. One example would be “Quest Dance” in which Bossun ended up playing the role of a “slime.”
Hime “Himeko” Onizuka – Himeko, the female main character of SKET Dance, is the brawn of the group. She comes off as being the best friend and close confidant of Bossun. The two of them have a very strong bond with each other. While Bossun is the leader, Himeko is the protective knight. In this respect, Himeko is the hero while Bossun is the damsel-in-distress. She's loyal to Bossun; but, she's willing to put Bossun in his place as well. On one hand, she's the voice of reason and on the other hand she resorts to force as the first thing to solve problems.
Like Bossun, Himeko has a few quirks. The notable quirk is Himeko's love for the disgusting candy called a “pelollipop” which have very odd and disgusting flavors. She carries around a field hockey stick which is her melee weapon. While Bossun is weak, Himeko possesses superhuman strength and fighting ability.
Kazuyoshi “Switch” Usui – Switch, the secondary main male character, is the brains of the group. Of all the characters, Switch has the most bizarre quirks. In terms of appearance, Switch comes off as the typical computer nerd with the vest and glasses. Switch comes off as a close friend to Bossun and Himeko. With Switch's skills in technology, he makes the Sket Dan whole.
When talking, Switch is silent; instead, he uses a speech synthesizer. When talking, he'll type on the computer and activate the speak synthesizer to talk or to answer questions. Also, he serves as the data gatherer and analyst of the group. Being a person of science, Switch is a denier of anything that goes beyond the realm of science.
Kaimei High Student Council -
Sojiro Agata – Agata is the primary reason that the Kaimei High Student Council is a formidable rival to the SKET Dan. Being the president, Agata is known to be intelligent and charismatic. He proves to be a very formidable rival to both Bossun and Switch. While being a rival, he's more laid back compared to his VP.
Sasuke Tsubaki – Sasuke, the VP of the group, somewhat serves as an antagonist as he wishes to do away with the SKET Dan. He serves as the main rival to Bossun. It is eventually revealed that he and Bossun are twin brothers separated from birth. While Bossun is charismatic, Sasuke comes off as boring and uptight. To make up for that, Sasuke possesses martial arts skills which counters the lack of charisma. Like Bossun, Sasuke has a great sense of justice and righteousness.
Mimori Unyu – Mimori, in her own way, serves as part of the comic relief of the group. This is due to Mimori being oblivious to a bunch of things. Due to coming from an extremely wealthy family, Mimori thinks that everything can be solved by using money much to the shock and dismay of everybody else.
Kikuno “Daisy” Asahina – Daisy serves as the cool and collected member of the group. At the same time, she comes off as being hostile while being subtle about it. She possesses Himeko's level of aggression; but, she acts on it when things “annoy” her. When snapping at Tsubaki, she uses interesting acronyms.
Michiru Shinba – Michiru serves as the needed neutral balance to the group. He comes off as being the popular ladies man of the school.
Recurring Students -
The recurring characters play a very important part of SKET Dance as they are the ones that request SKET Dan the most. Each of these characters have their own quirks.
You have the following: Akitoshi Daimon who goes by “Enigman” who heads the school's Quiz Society often asking help to hook up with his assistant Quecchon; Chiaki “Captain” Takahashi who is the captain of the school's softball team who is known for having a bottomless stomach which causes a vacuum effect when she eats; Kyoshi “Dante” Date who is a vocalist for a visual kei band who speaks in short abstract phrases; Koma Morishita who is a large girl with a soft voice who wants a boyfriend but loses control of her superhuman strength when nervous; Moe Yabasawa who is a large overweight girl confident in her cheering ability; Reiko Yuki who is part of the Occult Research Club and rival to Switch, often requesting the groups help to find signs of paranormal activity; Roman Saotome who is a mangaka with the uncanny ability to see things in the fashion of a shojo art style; and Shinzo Takemitsu who tries to act like a samurai but always falls short.
Faculty Members -
You also have teachers such as: Tetsuji Chima who is the chemistry teacher and sponsor of SKET Dan who requests the group try out his odd potions; Remi Misora who is a rookie teacher and former TV host of a children's show known for being scatter-brained; Kunio Yamanobe who is a geography teacher who tries to get the group to participate in odd activities with him; and Junichi “J-Son” Son who is the shop teacher that looks like Jason Voorhees with the mask.
Momoka Kibitsu – A brief antagonist in an early episode, she reformed with the encouragement of SKET Dan. Since then, she has served as an ally and staunch supporter of the group. Currently, she is a professional voice actress and romantic interest of Switch.
The musical soundtrack is performed by the Japanese rock band called The Sketchbook. Listening to the alternative rock feel provided by the Sketchbook, it shows that SKET Dance is a high school drama and comedic Japanese anime series at the same time. I found the musical score to be very appropriate for the series.
I thought SKET Dance was one of the best comedy series I came across.
If you enjoy watching GLEE on FOX, you may enjoy watching SKET Dance. This is due to the members of both clubs going through the trials and tribulations of being taken seriously by the rest of the school. If you are turned off by the adult humor of Gintama (I personally enjoy the humor), you can appreciate the friendly high school humor of SKET Dance. The elements presented show that SKET Dance definitely has something for everybody.