One sub-genre of shounen that I’ve been missing for quite a while: the ones based around playing games. And I don’t mean those stupid kiddie shows that are meant to sell toys or cards, I mean the ones that are based around the characters involved playing various games and try to be creative with that. Of course these kinds of arcs can be terrible if the creators don’t make them fun to watch, as it’s impossible to get a good plot out of that, but I can enjoy a good tournament arc once in a while. Sket Dance is a very nice example of this.
It’s not just the characters playing games that was fun about these past two episodes. In fact, the way the games are won is about the only predictable part. What also makes these episodes so great is characters like Bossun fidgeting from the sidelines, or the energy that this series has, setting every of the games up. I especially loved the stress in trying to find the fifth member for the tournament and how Bossun just randomly switched the names around in his panic.
What’s more: this also shows perfectly that the characters in this series aren’t stereotypes: by making everything fit so well at the beginning, this episode shuffles around the characters competences, and shows that everyone doesn’t just have one thing that they’re good at, but are in fact well fleshed out characters. At least, this goes for the main characters. This episode ended with the single biggest stereotype in the entire series’s turn about to start, so I have no idea why the writers chose her of all people to fill in aside from shock factor. She’s bound to lose (predictability yo!), but then again, I wonder more about she plans to do to make that match entertaining.
Overall, I am not really fond of Shounen jump adaptations, especially the ones that go on for ages, due to how incredibly long they take to get somewhere. The good parts tend to be overshadowed by the really long and draggy ones. Sket Dance though managed to be entertaining throughout its entire run so far. Its lack of plot doesn’t really matter so far: it’s really good at giving colour to its character, and it also keeps bringing back old characters, not just as cameos, but to flesh them out even more. And it’s really creative and funny in the process.
But yeah: the big question is whether this series will end up dragging, and when this will happen. There have been tons of once excellent shounen jump adaptations whose huge length became a huge turn-off: Gintama, Bleach, Naruto; even Dragonball Z would have been a pretty nice series if it ended right after the saiyan arc. Will Sket Dance avoid this and know when to quit like Level E, or will it pull a Bleach, jump the shark and refuse to end for the next couple of years?
Rating: ** (Excellent)