Tactics without Guard / S / Midterms / Formation / Ability (Japanese: 「ノーガード戦法」 「S」 「中間テスト」 「結成」 「能力」) is the thirteenth episode of Azumanga Daioh.
A fight ensues when Yomi denies Tomo from seeing her mathematics homework. Tomo jokingly says that "a persimmon next door is a persimmon that feeds on guests", to which Yomi delivers a left uppercut instead of a correction. Tomo, Osaka, and Kagura all ask Yomi the scope of the upcoming grammar exam, only to be referred as knuckleheads by her. The three decide to study everything but become carried away by discussing about martial artists. Kagura borrows Sakaki's notes, yet ends up drawing arrows through an animal doodled in the margin. Tomo realizes that her prediction regarding the format of the grammar exam was highly mistaken. Tomo, Osaka, and Kagura performed poorly on the exam, comparing how low their scores are with each other. On the other hand, Chiyo and Yomi performed excellently on the exam. Tomo wants to acquire Chiyo's academic ability and Sakaki's athletic ability. Osaka offers her abilities to be tardy and forgetful, causing Tomo to envision the dramatic entrance that would come from the combination of these four abilities. After comparing her lack of intelligence with Kagura, Tomo discloses that she only had put effort in studying for the entrance exam to attend the same school with a doubtful Yomi.
The sound effect Chiyo makes while trying to break up the fight between Tomo and Yomi is the same sound heard when Mr. Krabs walks in the American cartoon Spongebob Squarepants.
The line Tomo delivers about a persimmon that eats a lot of guests is a mangled tongue twister. In Japanese, the real tongue twister should be, "Tonari no kyaku wa yoku kaki kuu kyaku da", which means "The guest next door is a guest that eats a lot of persimmons."
Tomo and Yomi discuss the scope of the upcoming grammar test, when Osaka shows up and a pinwheel is thrown into the black board. This is a reference to the live action samurai show Mito Koumon, where one of the main characters (Kazaguruma no Yashichi) is a former ninja whose signature is a pinwheel thrown like a dart.
Kagura and Osaka get confused because they mixed up the singular and plural form of Bonkurazu (this is an English loanword, taken from "bonklers"). Unlike in English, where (with some exceptions), tacking on an "S" to a noun turns it into the plural form, there is no such plural form for nouns in Japanese. Therefore, the "S" concept is one Japanese students learn only in English class.
Osaka refers to Bruce Lee, the martial artist, as well as Jackie Chan. It is discussed how Bruce Lee sounds like "Blue Three" in Japanese, and the consequences of this.
Tomo tells a classmate "Oh my, here's someone putting up a futile resistance" and while doing so she imitates the voice of Lupin the Third (title character of the manga and anime Lupin III).
After Kagura tells Tomo that she thinks she is a fool in English, Tomo wants to say "You too" in English to Kagura. But she can only remember the "you" part, so she says the "too" part in Japanese, which is "mo".
How Kagura found out about Osaka being "the great queen of forgetfulness".
What got Osaka thinking about Bruce Lee.
Why exactly Jackie Chan would be "Blue Five".
Which text Tomo thought they would have to memorize.
What the question was to which the answer was "a light, refreshing breeze" in Tomo's fantasy segment.
The series reaches the halfway point.
Tomo and Yomi's rather animalistic fight about their homework.
The Knuckleheads group, consisting of Tomo, Osaka and Kagura, is formed when they discuss how they all do bad on tests and forget easily.
When Yomi calls the trio "knuckleheads", Kagura and Osaka at first think she is only referring to Tomo.
Osaka's martial arts speculation, where she thought that if Bruce Lee was Blue Three, there would also have to be a Blue One and Blue Two.
Tomo tries to predict the scope of the test, however incorrectly, annoying everyone.
Kagura receives a bad score on a test, believing it was hard, when in fact everyone except her fellow knuckleheads seemed to have done very well.
Tomo explains that she started studying to get into the same high school as Yomi so she could annoy her.
I've done nothing this whole time, so there's no point this late in the game! What will be, will be! [laughs]
— Tomo (on studying for the upcoming test)
Forget? I'll give you a run for your money any day!
THINK AGAIN!! Like hell I'm gonna tell some KNUCKLEHEADS LIKE YOU!!!
— Yomi (to the Knuckleheads, on the scope of the test)
That was random.
— Kagura (when Osaka started talking about Bruce Lee)
What the heck is this?? What, it's Sakaki's doodles? Not much of an artist, is she …
— Kagura (upon seeing Sakaki's notes)
Okay, so … what if you … you stepped in dog poop like out there in the street! [Yukari groans] And then you just went on home without realizin' it! And then on top of that, if the American father and mother and eldest son and eldest daughter all stepped on poop themselves and they went on home without realizin' it …!!
— Osaka (on the problems with wearing shoes indoors in America)
Tomo's predictions for what's on the test! Like for example, the text on page 32 we're gonna be translating for sure! Don't forget to memorize it all!!
— Tomo (to her classmates)
That just pissed me off for some reason.
— Tomo (when Kagura seemed happy about losing to her)
We'll follow you the rest of our lives!
— Tomo (to Kagura, when she was suggested as leader of the Knuckleheads)
Wow … a hundred! I'm no match. Not with my measly 92 points! Damn it! I really thought that I had you this time. Well …
THE KNUCKLEHEADS WIN! WE AIN'T KNUCKLEHEADS NO MORE!! [laughs]
— The Knucklehads (to Chiyo, when their combined score 103 was better than Chiyo's 100)
Wow. I don't know where to start poking fun.
— Yomi (to Tomo, when she wanted Sakaki's and Chiyo's combined abilities)
Though you know, if you don't fix your tendency of relying on other people, you're never gonna get anywhere. And it won't just be tests like this one. We're taking entrance exams next year.
— Yomi (to Tomo)
Which pretty much means that even though we've both been saddled with a big disadvantage, fact is we're still here anyway! So could that mean we'll get through the entrance exams if we just keep doing what we're doing?
— Tomo (to Kagura, on their poor test scores)
Hey, why do you always work so hard at doing things that other people don't like?