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Sket Dance is a very light and happy manga that was published by Weekly Shonen Jump from 2007 through 2013, written by Shinohara Kenta.The manga follows the main character Bossun and campus support group, the Sket Dan, as they help out everybody in need and accept any sorts of missions. From chasing and capturing a monkey, to performing at school concerts, collect toys, try to win all-you-can-eat contests and solve crimes. There are also AU chapters where they go on adventures as ninjas and fly through space. The plot is basically non-existent except for a few more serious and dark story arcs that merely serve as backstory for the Sket trio. The entire manga is full of Shout Outs to any popular manga you can imagine with hilarious lampshades over each and every of them, a boke-tsukkomi routine and an occasional sledgehammer to the fourth wall.
Yusuke Fujisaki, known as Bossun, is the leader and founder of the Sket Dan. A fairly normal guy (perhaps too normal according to some), he's loyal to his friends and possesses a strong desire to help others.
Hime Onizuka, known as Himeko, is the muscle of the group. A former field hockey player turned Yankee Delinquent, she now serves as both an enforcer and Team Mom.
Kazuyoshi Usui, known as Switch is The Smart Guy. An Otaku, he has an unparalleled information network among his fellow nerds and the internet at large, making him the go-to guy for data on other students or various bits of culture or technology. Technically The Voiceless for his own reasons, he carries around a laptop and uses a text-to-speech synthesizer for communicating with others, though he tends to insert various terms and expressions that wouldn't be out of place on a messageboard lol \(^-^)/
The Ace: Bossun, when he's not being the Butt Monkey. His power of concentration basically makes him an extremely quick learner, not to mention his own talents with art. So far he has mastered origami, figurine making, and magic shows. Unfortunately, he's often a bit too absorbed in his activities.
Action Girl: Himeko. She's the primary fighter of the Sket Dan, and is nicknamed "Oni-hime" (ogress) for her fearsome strength.
Adaptation Expansion: Well, without mentioning that Tatsunoko Productions added fanservice not included in the manga (as mentioned below), the introduction of characters a little bit more earlier than its original source, ascending extras and adding characters that, sometimes, little to nothing needed to be in some episodes (blaming the fanservice in some cases), some single chapter plots were expanded too much into a half hour episode. And since the manga series continued a little bit more after the anime endednote The anime series ended in September 2012 with an OVA released in February 2013, the manga ended in July 2013, it had a Gecko Ending of sorts.
Alternate Universe: Multiple Omakes takes place in alternate universe, including a ninja world (Nusutto Dance), space opera (Robot Dance), a kindergarten world (Biscuit Dance), and a JRPG world (Quest Dance).
Art Evolution: For a series that was running for 6 years, the art notably suffered an evolution in character designs mostly. Just compare Himeko, for starters, from chapter 257◊ to her earlier design from the Jump one shot pilot◊. In a certain degree, pretty much everyone but Switch started to get a more consistent and rounded design with larger eyes (this is especially more present with the girls).
A much more surprising art development would be notorious if you compare how did Bossun looked in the original pilot cover◊ with the color cover of chapter 223◊.
One of the guys that oddly enough drastically changed was Teppei. Though in-story (and lampshaded) Bossun asked him if he got taller (well, he got into the Basketball club, too).
After the second popularity contest, Bossun got himself turned into a stickman (for crying out loud) for a whole chapter. Cue Tsubaki questiong "What on Earth is this?!" during the rest of the chapter.
Lampshaded in the first chapter of the Switch On arc when Bossun and Himeko flip out because of no one of them knowing about technology matters.
Author Avatar: Hinohara Enta. Bossun himself at the end of the Gintama Crossover chapter.
Back Story: The backstories of all three main characters have been presented at various points in the series. And all three of them are touchy and melodramatic, whether tear-jerking or heartwarming.
Another one that has been thrown on was Kiri's backstory about his attitude towards trusting other people.
Bare-Fisted Monk: Tsubaki of the Student Council prefers a hands-on approach to most problems. He isn't often pushed to use force, but practices amateur boxing, karate and judo for just such an occasion.
Big Damn Heroes: The Sket Dan have quite a few, actually. The Student Council counts as well. Even individually.
Big Eater: Oh, good lord, Captain. She can eat 7 kilos of ramen in a sit, on top of a large box of chocolates and even a WHOLE plate of biscuits. As per the trope she does not show any ill effects or weight gain. However, do not count on her eating something that has eggs.
Bishōnen: The reason Switch is so popular with the ladies despite being a somewhat unpleasant otaku who speaks with a computer. Also Shinba Michiru, Daimon Akitoshi (when he takes his mask off), Kiri Katou, and thanks to one of Chuuma's experiments, Bossun ends up as one. The chapter focuses on the fact that the Academy needs a group of reliable and pretty people to promote it. The people in this group; Bossun, Switch, Daimon, Katou, and Tsubaki who is added because he is the little brother of Bossun..
Blind Without 'Em: Tsubaki can only see silhouettes when he lost his contacts, in chapter 125 he walks into the Sket Dan room instead of the Student Council's and has a meeting with them thinking they were Council's members when they just imitated their voices and other certain characteristics.
Boke and Tsukkomi Routine: Bossun and Himeko are fond of this, and the two of them often end up acting as the Tsukkomi for their weirder visitors.
The series' main strength is in the ability of the main trio to, at any given time, have 2 boke and 1 tsukkomi. Which ones plays which roles varies: sometimes Himeko and Bossun do something stupid and the rational Switch tells them off (e.g. invisible Bossun); sometimes Switch and Himeko act like, well, shonen manga characters, and Bossun restores the balance by acting like a normal high schooler (e.g. the first Quiz Battle chapter); and usually Bossun and Switch go insane without the Closer to Earth Himeko.
Since practically, Himeko gets this much as part of her personality (her having almost The Idiot from Osaka stereotype), she gets so much involved into it. There are times she scolds people for not doing it. And then, she ALSO ended up participating in a Boke and Tsukkomi contest that got aired in TV.
And then, there is a chapter dedicated to 'not do tsukkomi' for a day in the Sket Dan club.
Book Dumb: It's stated that Bossun is way too smart than he looks as, but, still... he is not good at math, and he finds it as a problem in his Second Year's finals. This is the guy who can calculate the trajectory of a slingshot projectile in seconds. It's somehow justified because he just needs to be under his concentration mode to study harder. At the end of his finals, he got the highest mark. He's just Brilliant but Lazy.
Boy Meets Girl: Bossun and Himeko meeting each other arguably led to the early Sket Dan being formed.
Brats with Slingshots: Though most fights consist of Himeko doing the heavy lifting while the others stand in the background and pose, Bossun does have a slingshot that he can use to shoot pachinko balls with remarkable precision.
During the Osaka Arc, he outright states that he has to use rather soft pachinko balls because it would otherwise be a potentially lethal weapon!
There will be times that either Bossun, Himeko and/or Switch will do this. But the one that takes the honor in its plenty glory, is Saotome Roman, even when she does not appear on scene, remarking on how long we, the readers/viewers, haven't seen a certain character in the series. Heck, there were the chapters of the 2 popularity polls where the Fourth Wall didn't survived at all (and even the author was dragged into it as well!).
Special mentions go to both crossover chapters of Gintama and Sket Dance. More notoriously in the Sket Dance's crossover manga chapter, where Bossun breaks into an Author Avatar moment for Shinohara himself being grateful to Sorachi Hideaki in Gintoki's place. (This was left out from the anime, though.)
Chekhov's Gun: Near the start of episode 10 Switch lists the things that the A/V club is responsible for doing in the school. One of those tasks (or more precisely the equipment that they use for it) which becomes important at the end of the episode when it come time to expose the Smug Snake villain.
In a dramatical turn, Sawa and Kazuyoshi. Kazuyoshi had feelings for Sawa, and Sawa did as well since they grew up together as Childhood Friends. They both loved each other... without the other one knowing, and sadly, this gets downplayed in the "Switch Off" arc. Heck, the jealousy Kazuyoshi felt for Masafumi over Sawa (whom he felt she looked at their relationship such as Like Brother and Sister) mostly was what detonated the plot of it.
Chivalrous Pervert: Cherry and the rest of the Gesu-ling group (according to them). They will verbally sexually harass any girls they meet, but never physically, and will pridefully receive any punishment from the girls (even from Koma-chan). There is also the chapter when Cherry received a confession from a girl, and got really troubled because he didn't want to disappoint her with his pervert tendencies.
Suzu, the daughter of Chuuma-sensei (their club advisor), apparently owns one of these, as well.
Corner of Woe: Bossun sometimes, particularly when he's being ignored.
Crossover: With Gintama (both manga and anime, quite noticeable that this crossover happens a LONG WAY after "Switch Of" in the manga serialization), Bakuman。 (in the anime), and Inumaru Dashi (in one of the Biscuit Dance extras).
Cute Clumsy Girl: Remi-oneesan is this to unbelievable degrees. It's more unbelievable because it's a family trait.
Himeko, when she gets angry, can do that as well... Could you have expected it from the former Onihime? (and it seems its hereditary since her mom, the former 'Oniyome' when was getting married to her dad, can pull that too in the present...)
Shonen-manga club member, Gaou's usual expression... since he is a lively reference to old 80s shonen characters such as Kenshiro.
Defeat Means Friendship: A few of the culprits from the Sket Dan's cases eventually become their friends, and would even assist them on occasion.
The Ditz: Saotome Roman. She even lampshades it herself.
Misora Remi. It's a family trait (with exception of his brother).
Double Meaning Title: Switch Off (The chapter about the past of Switch when he wasn't known with that nickname, and it's also referring to his little brother, Masafumi (and the original Switch)'s death) and Switch On (where it is not only concluding Switch's backstory when Kazuyoshi started to be known as Switch... a little bit before knowing his future Sket Dan's friends, and before becoming the Switch he is still up until this day).
Happy Rebirthday in a way, refers not only to the immediate continuation of Happy Birthday but, he discovering that Tsubaki is his biological brother and being not alone, it's also the birthday of both of them (reapeating birthday now in the present).
Fanservice: Despite the cast's insistence to avoid it, there is plenty of it in the School Trip Rhapsody chapters.
The second opening of the Anime series is set on a beach so all the female characters are wearing either bikini's or swimming costumes... includingYabasawa.
The third ending is based on this. The girls in their underwear, bubbling, and even Himeko stripping off her nightgown. Unfortunately, it still includes Yabasawa.
Let's just say that the Anime in general greatly upped the Fanservice, especially in the later episodes and with poor Kura-chan being featured the most. Becoming an interest case since Shinohara really avoids it in the manga (the only 'fanservice' we have in the series besides the afforementioned School Trip Rhapsody arc is the pervert talk of the Gesu club members, ESPECIALLY since the introduction of Cherry and his Chivalrous Pervert personality.
Without even mentioning that one of the anime merchandise are those 'boobs mousepads' featuring not only Mimorin BUT Himeko too!
Feminine Women Can Cook: Despite her appearance and her strange taste in candy, Himeko is a pretty good cook. She still can't match up to Michiru Shinba, apparently proof that Feminine Men can Cook as well.
Fiction500: Mimorin, oh so much. Already set up as a super rich character since the beginning, when we get to see her house, it's a self-sufficient underground city with an artificial sun.
Force Feeding: Bossun has been forced to drink a bottle of Cola in one go twice.
Forgotten First Meeting: Bossun and Tsubaki met a few years ago in their birthday after Bossun defended Tsubaki from some bullies. Due to Tsubaki looking different back then and ALSO him not wearing his glasses, they shouldn't have recognized each other. Or at least it looks like that. This repeats again when both of them are in their first year of high school, now from Tsubaki's side when he heard that "someone"'s birthday was the same as him.
From the looks of it, Bossun doesn't seem to remember that he met Switch once (before all the whole situation that indulged him to become a hikikomori), either.
Fountain of Youth: A result of one of Chuuma's experiments is a youth potion (originally conceived as a hair tonic...) that makes the drinker seem ten years younger. He's also got one that makes the drinker seem ten years older. Needless to say, Hilarity Ensues.
And finally, after too much experimenting it worked also decreasing the mental age of the user as well!
Fourth Wall Mail Slot: There was a whole chapter which dealt with the results of the character popularity poll. What makes this poll hilarious is the fact that not only the actual characters, but even the (in-universe) imaginary characters and character variants (e.g. the toddler Bossun after he drank the youth serum) were eligible.
This is repeated again in the FOLLOWING character poll results, when the Sket Dan has to guess what positions do other characters got in there... of course it's not THAT easy since most of that chapter where one-shot characters, and others weren't properly characters EITHER!
There is a chapter/episode where he shows his shelved Awesome but Impractical gadgets. And then Bossun has a Moment Of Awesome when he inventively combines several of these gadgets to save a boy who falls from a building!
Goggles Do Nothing: Bossun's goggles help him concentrate, though how much of it is all in his head (no pun intended) remains to be seen. He also uses them to focus on a target when he uses his slingshot and pachinko's balls.
His old Poppman goggles really didn't do anything, either. The lenses were so old that Bossun could barely see out of them, but they helped him block out distractions when he tried to think.
Hypocritical Humor: At one point, Switch calls Yagi "expressionless", and gets called out by his peers for it.
"Like you're one to talk"
Important Haircut: Switch in his Back Story, for his own reasons. Tsubaki also makes such a decision when appearing as a minor character in Bossun's backstory (his hair, though, was a bit more longer during his First Year in Kaimei; and then in the Back Then chapter, he appears with a shorter haircut, ressembling his present self).
Himeko is an inversion and a straight example of this. Her hair was shorter when younger and was definitely not blonde, but later she grew it up to go as the image of the yanki she became. Later, after the events of Switch On, Himeko cuts it, just to start fresh when the Sket Dan officially formed.
The series averts it in its totality after the events of School Trip Rhapsody, indicating that the characters start to grow (Michiru and Agata got graduated, for example) indicating the series goes towards almost all of their high school life until their eventual graduation.
It Runs in the Family: The Misora family are mostly insanely clumsy and the Morishita family are all very tall (and strong, too).
Late for School: Lampshaded and parodied, as Roman is incapable of writing a manga without including this opening.
Legacy Character: Introduced in chapter 212, Tact, Silk and Smile, the later known Pocket Dan, to their senpai, the Sket Dan. Though it was a bit more of 'taking over the Sket Dan' when they met, since there shouldn't be two similar clubs in Kaimei High, they will be the next 'helping others' club as soon as Bossun, Switch and Himeko graduate.
Technically speaking, the Sket Dan is also a sort of legacy group (without knowing it), to the Otasuke-Gumi... which the Director of the Discipline Commitee was a memeber when he was attending Kaimei High in his young years.
In reality, it's more of a Love Triangle for Saaya, since she has confessed already her feelings towards Bossun (and of course it was hinted to Himeko when she was in Bossun's body during the School Trip Rhapsody arc when she told him (her) about it), but he's still somewhat unaware of what Himeko truly feels for him.
Medium Awareness: Roman can tear through pages to travel through space and time, wield speech bubbles and tone as weapons, and manipulate narration boxes. It takes up to eleven in the Back Then chapter when she is clearly manipulating her 1st-year-student flashback with everything the page appears with. The narrator gave up in the end.
Meido: Himeko has one of these outfits, from when her class ran the obligatory Maid Cafe for the school festival. It turns up in a later chapter.
Mood Whiplash: Along with Gintama, it run with it in Shonen Jump by mix-and-matching comedy and drama; a series that is mostly comedy themed, suddenly is striken with a serious arc that will certainly invoke drama, and its effects will be permanent in contrast to some of slapstick that invokes the Status Quo Is God.
Mundane Made Awesome: "Concentration Mode" is usually heralded by dramatic techno music and swirly space imagery, since a minute-long shot of Bossun sitting very still while wearing goggles would admittedly be boring.
At the beginning Bossun wanted to come with a cool catchphrase, too, as an anime character.
Off Model: It happens often, from off modeling the Gintama characters in the crossover episode (justified since Gintama is produced by Sunrise and Sket Dance by Tatsunoko), but depending on the episodes' directors... and also the animators. Try to not cringe in the first episodes when they start to use the 3rd opening animation. Hopefully this was corrected later in the airings and subsequent DVD releases.
One Steve Limit: Inverted in one chapter (full of Japanese writing/pronunciation puns)and taken to its logical conclusion.
Overly Narrow Superlative: Himeko calls Bossun "the number one in Japan when it comes in finding a way of breaking out of a warehouse with long arms" during the first part of Costume Break.
The Pilot: As many other series of the Weekly Shonen Jump, Sket Dance counts with two one-shots: one that was published in Akamaru Jump in 2006, and another one in the WSJ. The first one, is still something darker than the series was going to be. The one published in the WSJ before the serialization is more closer to what the series was going to be later.
Yuuki Reiko. The kanji is different, but Yuurei means ghost in Japanese. In fact, using differnt kanji, you can interpret Yuuki Reiko as something like "Dark willed, spirit child." Perfect for our resident occult-freak.
Replacement Goldfish: Usui Kazuyoshi to his younger brother, Masafumi. About a year before the start of the actual series, Kazuyoshi turned himself into a Replacement Goldfish of his younger brother who originally had the nickname "Switch". The current "Switch" used to be a laid back, fairly normal, shaggy haired slacker who actually spoke. The whole thing (both arcs: Switch Off & Switch On) was a massive Tearjerker and gives you a good idea why Switch is so weird.
Or so, it was his first intention, because later he reaffirms that replacing his brother is full nonsense. But truthfully, a part of him wanted to preserve his brother image, although just a little more time...
In the pre-serialization pilot chapter, it was Deconstructed and Invoked. Ichiro's girlfriend Nanako died in an accident. Her twin sister, Namiko invoked this trope in order to help him cope.
Sadist Teacher: Kutsuwa Daijirou. Especially when he was tranferred to Kaimei, imposing rules to anyone, and mostly threatening Himeko because she was known as a delinquent. He was a teacher from the middle school where Kiri was going. He was the main reason on why Kiri didn't trust in anyone, as a result of bullying some of the students, even Kiri's friend Kihara. Of course, he wasn't that amused when Kutsuwa was transferred in Kaimei. And then he threatened him with his life as revenge.
The Seven Mysteries of Kaimei: As any Japanese school, the academy has this in some ways or another... It was a topic relevant in one of the novels, and it was referred again in the Fanbook.
Ship Tease: In episode 28 of the anime, there are some scenes with Agata and Michiru that contain this. There weren't such scenes in the manga because of the Adaptation Distillation the anime suffered.
However, there's plenty Ship Tease towards Bossun and Himeko through all of the series. It doesn't help that both of them are pretty Oblivious to Love in some ways or another, since Bossun helped her in the first place (and then he gave to her her necklace, he once repleid she would be such a great wife, the incident of Samurai and Purin, to mention some examples). Same goes with Saaya and Bossun, which lead to her confession some chapters after.
This is also played in some ways with Tsubaki and Daisy in one chapter/episode where he wants to help/save her from being blackmailed.
Something Completely Different: Given its primary genre is comedy, this is something that happens when you less expect it, from its episodic normal chapters, to the "alternate world" ones, and jump into the dramatic (even the back stories) arcs that help in provide some character developments in the middle, and then pretty much returns to its normal formula. It happens often.
Stalker with a Crush: Averted by Switch, who swears that he regularly attends Momoka's live performances only because he wants to support her as both a friend and fan. Momoka really suspects it as something more... until Valentine Crisis happens when her suspicions are proven wrong.
Played with in the worst way in Switch Off.
The Speechless: A much more panel example, Smile from the Pocket Dan is mute. Tact and Silk have to interpret what he is trying to say to other people.
Split Personality: The Student Council's new treasurer, Usami Hani, is a quiet girl who does not like boys. When she touches one, she turns into her alter-ego, Bunny, who flirts with every boy she sees. She will revert back to Usami when touched by a girl.
Terrible Artist: Himeko is a terrible artist. Roman is somehow even worse, and as an aspiring manga artist she creates nigh-incomprehensible works that read like a combination of shojo and JoJo. Shojojo. She even won a competition.
Tomato Surprise: And it works so well in the manga and the anime. The last chapter of "Switch Off", when we realize that "An-chan" is Usui Kazuyoshi, the current Switch (it was indeed also well disguised in the credits of the anime adaptation) "One Guy's Quiet Day Off" makes it seem that the guy is a hatless Bossun up until The Reveal (blame the Generation Xerox that exists with Bossun and his dad... to the extent that Hiroyuki Yoshino, did BOTH voices).
Himeko can be this sometimes with Bossun, especially during their awkward moments.
Twin Switch: In order to defeat the the fortune teller in chapters 103 and 104, Bossun and Tsubaki (with freshly trimmed eyelashes) switch places. When she tries to tell Bossun's future, it's proved that the fortune teller uses intel on the subject she's reading to make a fortune seem more legitimate. Unique in that Tsubaki and Bossun are fraternal twins, rather than identical ones.
Sort of pulled when Shinba is decided to finally resolve all the Love Dodecahedron thing around Saaya in Agata's mind to let him concentrate for the second chance of the Tokyo U entrance exams, when Bossun has to take the role of Tsubaki for a part of the plan. Of course, Tsubaki didn't know anything at all.
Convocated again in chapter 217, now with Bossun disguising as Tsubaki to trick the Student Council... unexpectedly, they fell for it. Obviously, afterwards, Tsubaki is not so amused by this.
Unflinching Walk: The Sket Dan convocates this after complications of being trapped inside a warehouse in the mini arc of chapter 76-77.
Unresolved Sexual Tension: Bossun and Himeko, in spades, especially after the "Ogress" arc, with quite a few Ship Tease moments sprinkled every few chapters or so. In-universe nods to these make the pairing canon.
A few guest characters will comment on their complicated relationship from time to time, most notably by Jin and Saaya, who have crushes on Himeko and Bossun, respectively.
The whole School Trip Rhapsody arc is THIS, taken Up to Eleven.
The Voiceless: Switch, who communicates via text-to-speech with a laptop.
Wacky Homeroom: After the Sket Dan pass to their Third Year of High School, their new class contains every recurring character in the same group.
Weapon of Choice: Himeko is basically a street brawler (although a retired and reformed one), so she uses a field hockey stick as a weapon. Bossun and Switch are non-combative types, but Bossun, as a bratty type, can be very skillful with a slingshot if necessary.
Switch's laptop may count as a Gadgeteer Genius. During a mock duel, even though he's a horrible shot, his laptop and calm demeanor allows him to get the upper hand on Daisy.
Meanwhile, Shinzo swings a bamboo practice sword and Tsubaki uses boxing gloves when prompted.
Weirdness Magnet: While not supernatural, the Sket Dan members have noticed that it's usually the people with the most colorful personalities who tend to show up at their door.
While not focusing on the main trio, Solitude also counts for Kiri.
What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Bossun has "the power... of incredible concentration" (admittedly pretty useful in a school environment) in addition to being a talented artist and impressionist, and a savant at riddles. But as others have pointed out, none of these are particularly heroic skills.
The Concentration mode is actually extremely helpful. Among others, it grants Bossun near photographic memory, extremely fast calculations, and ability to create an elaborate plan in minutes.
It's one of the topics touched in Switch On. Kazuyoshi is trying to play as a 'hero', just to apply justice and a well-deserved punishment to the 'bad people' that he digs dark info of, engaging them into a 'Death Fight' which the loser will have all of his 'sins' exposed to the world. He thinks he is one too, at the end, especially driven out of the guilt he still feels, months later after his brother's death. Bossun calls him off after discovering his charade AND receiving help from him to get straight... to him.
Who Would Want to Watch Us?: Kenta Shinohara's Author Avatar shows up at the school looking for inspiration for a new manga series. Bossun thinks that it would be perfect to make the Sket Dan incredibly popular. Unfortunately, "Enta Hinohara" decides that Bossun is too boring to be a shonen lead character and makes a manga about the Student Council instead.
Wrong Genre Savvy: Kendo club captain Shinzou Takemitsu dresses and acts like a samurai from a period piece (for the most part), while Roman Saotome loves old-school shojo to the point where she can mentally filter the world to match the tropes.
X Must Not Win: Telling the Student Council or the Sket Dan that the other group is involved in something is a perfect way get to them to join in. This is especially pronounced with Tsubaki and Bossun, due to Sibling Rivalry.