At the risk of becoming a Simpsons parody, I can’t help but bemoan yet again that so few people seem to be paying any attention to Keppeki Danshi! Aoyama-kun (or most of the other good shows this season, for the record). It’s such a smart comedy, this – so inventive, so sure of itself, so thematically consistent. Good anime comedies tend to find the line where affection meets ruthlessness and do a high-wire balancing act on it, and that’s exactly what this series does. It never takes itself too seriously, but it realizes something crucial that many comedies miss – if you don’t think enough of your cast and premise to look upon them fondly, why should the audience?
For the second time Keppeki Danshi! Aoyama-kun has turned the focus on one of the comic relief Greek chorus (and once again given that character a solo ED, allowing the seiyuu – in this case Hoshi Souichiriou, and it’s not his first crack at this song – to riff on his fellow cast members). He’s been the “straight man” of the group, more or less – he doesn’t have signature trait like overeating and donut t-shirts or butt keepie-uppie. But Sakai has clearly been chafing at the idea of not only being comic relief, but the setup guy for comic relief – so he decides to take Fujimi High by storm and make the jump to the other side.
Never mind the absurdity of the fact that it’s just changing his hairstyle that totally transforms Sakai’s life (that’s explained by the fact that he’s fooled the God of Soccer into thinking he’s Aoyama-kum, thus becoming a soccer phenom and completing the jump to school idol) – this is another setup that’s full of hilarious consequences. Tskumoto and Yoshioka are naturally horrified that their fellow sufferer has left them behind and now lives in a world of goal-scoring, reciting “Poems by Moi” and fighting off adoring fangirls. But Miwa-chan is thrilled to have another goal scorer, and so is Zaizen-kun – at first.
Zaizen is the one who actually steps into the spotlight in the B-part (you know that’s a win for me) – after another hilarious eyecatch – because despite his initial encouragement for Sakai in his new role, he soon learns that Sakai has designs on his job. And since Zaizen is terrible with his feet that’s a realistic threat. To call Zaizen a one-dimensional player would be an understatement, and soon enough Sakai does indeed win the striker’s role – and as soon as he finds out his son has been dropped from the starting 11, Daddy declares that unless he regains his position by the next match, Kaoru is to quite soccer rather than besmirch the family name with mediocrity.
Anything involving Zaizen and his father is hilarious, but things really ramp up when he gets Gotou-san to try and help him improve his soccer skills. What soon becomes clear is that the warped messaging Zaizen receives from his father is seriously holding him back. Papa and his butler (he’s actually named Jeeves) show up at the practice field with a briefcase full of cash, and Kaocchi actually seems fine with getting back into the lineup that way – but Moka (who based on her shameless diving clearly has a selective morality) will entertain none of that.
In the end it’s Sakai-kun himself who brings all this to a resolution by (for some reason) changing his hairstyle yet again. By the same he reverts to his Aoyama-do it’s too late, he’s literally and spiritually been pantsed – the mojo has been broken, the Soccer God has figured out the truth, and Sakai’s comic relief genes have kicked in again. The only thing that’s changed, ironically, is that Kaoru can apparently now score goals with his feet – so in his way, Sakai has ended up helping the team after all with his power grab…