On Sket Dance

Sket Dance is the longest-running anime that I have been watching in the past year-plus. It’s finishing up just the past season, clocking in at 76 or so episodes. Through it, yet another Shonen Jump title gains a primetime anime adaptation, a band (voted on by popularity contests and auditions) was created as a tie-in. And the girl-guitarist is not only fine looking, she reminds me of the recently-wed Ryoko Shiraishi, who plays the role that the guitarist is suppose to represent.

It’s hardly a coincidence, but in order to talk about Sket Dance from the audience’s level of abstraction, I feel the need to talk about Gintama–a show that I have for the most part never really watched. A set of select episodes of Gintama is suppose to be on my watchlist, but I forget which ones… Anyway, Sket Dance in a lot of ways is viewed as a lesser version of Gintama, because it is also a very gag-centric, character-driven story where a stable ensemble cast runs a situational comedy circus. However, the sort of humor you get out of the two are kind of the two sides of the same awkward coin. You’re probably more one than the other. And if you like both, you probably like Sket Dance for its funny human stories rather than its sense of humor.

It’s a tough thing, because by most calculations, Sket Dance is not really a special show. It celebrates a sort of mediocrity in which is very self-serving: basically, just good enough to get the job done. That idea is paralleled in the setup, where Bossun, Himeko and Switch form the Sket-dan, a club dedicated to be handy around the school and help troubled kids. Each of them may be talented in some areas of expertise, but none of them are experts in everything, so in the end they have to pull together some kind of crossover skillsets in creative ways to solve whatever problem that is the topic of the day.

Sket Dance is also a show that celebrates creative problem-solving. It challenges compromises and encourages collaborations–a very staple mediator paradigm to multi-party problem solving. In other words, it’s a show that can have cake and eat it too. And why not? Or better yet, that is how it celebrates mediocrity, via showing you the challenges of trying to do that, and how reality of the situation still can make things slink back close to zero-sum. Of course, in the end, everyone is still better off. That’s the positive message from a fairly cheeky show.

And Sket Dance is full of cheeky characters. It’s a bit refreshing because even after the main ensemble of characters are established and boiled down to simple tropes, Sket Dance consistently bring back that emotional appeal to the various reoccurring side characters. Well, I guess it depends if you like that.

I think I will miss it. The reason I watch Sket Dance is mainly because its style of humor appeals to me. And now where am I going to get that kind of laughs? Certainly not Gintama.

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