“Origami cranes can’t fly, but even flower petals can dance in the wind.”
When it comes to genres in fiction, Romance isn’t typically the first thing that comes to mind when talking about SKET Dance, since the show revolves around gag comedy and complete disregard for the fourth wall. However, throughout the entire year, no single love story has captivated my heart more completely than the seventh episode of SKET Dance.
The single scene where the delinquent Tetsu runs after his sickly love interest, Misaki, is the crowning moment of heartwarming, and it’s because of the three elements in this episode that really make the moment work. The first is the usage of paper cranes themselves. The second is the wonderful chemistry and romantic buildup between the romantic interests. The third is the comedic balance provided by the buffoonery of the SKET dan.
There is a legend that someone who folds a thousand paper cranes will get their wish granted by a mystical crane. In SKET Dance, Tetsu’s backstory with Misaki involves him promising to fold a thousand paper cranes and bury the box under a sakura tree, wishing that she would be cured of her illness. Even after they are separated, it is only until years later that Misaki finds the box and discovers all 1,000 cranes. During the climactic scene, the unfolded cranes are released into air, dancing like the flower petals of old. Cherry blossoms are so yesterday. Origami paper is where it’s at, regardless of how implausible it sounds.
At the heart of it all is Tetsu, who initially comes off as a generic bully-type character at the cold open, developing remarkably well into a tough-on-the-outside, softie-on-the-inside individual, and a wonderful fit for Misaki. From his reminiscence at the SKET Dan clubroom of fonder days, to his building feelings for Misaki throughout her date with the fictional character Koutarou (created by Te, played by Bossun), and his romantic low moment when he runs away from his problems out of fear. After hearing of Misaki’s upcoming surgery, his evolving feelings for Misaki are complicated by his own character development, as well as that of the plot.
It’s only when he discovers that Misaki knew all along that Koutarou was actually Te-chan (her affectionate nickname for Tetsu back when they were kids), niftily revealed when the present that Misaki left with Koutarou was actually made to fit the much larger Tetsu. He makes the decision to chase after her train in resoundingly dramatic fashion. Most importantly, he does so not to proclaim his love, but to show his unyielding support for her. The best romantic resolutions often do not involve characters actually getting together, but simply an honest exchange of genuine feelings. Tetsu was remarkably honest and courageous in his final act, making the moment all the more sweet.
As per the norm, the SKET-dan is always involved, and in this case, their hijinks really lighten the episode up with their trademark comedy, particularly regarding Bossun’s inability to assume the role of Koutarou, whose personality is the polar opposite of Bossun. In the end, however, the trio comes through by coming up with the idea of showering the unfolded paper cranes over the train from a bridge above, and their attempt to chase down the train with Tetsu is one of kindness and encouragement, as is the the acronym-motto of their club.
I may have since put SKET Dance on hold due to the long-running nature of the series. Such shows are the type that I really enjoy watching in a marathon session, much like the painfully awesome experience that was Gintama’s entire 1st season in 4 days. It might not be a while until I find an opportunity to watch SKET again, but I am self-assured that it is because of this particular episode, and this particular story of love between two unlikely characters that I am committed to eventually doing so.