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Hidamari Sketch – Season One (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

March 2, 2010 by  



A slice-of-life comedy series that has no major plot but just a group of young teenagers who attend an art school and what happens at a certain day of the month.  Serious minded anime viewers may want to pass but for those who enjoy slice-of-life/quirky anime series, you may find “Hidamari Sketch” to be entertaining.

Image courtesy of © Ume Aoki – HOUBUNSHA/HidamariHeights. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Hidamari Sketch

DURATION: 12 Episodes (350 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: Anamorphic Widescreen (16:9), Japanese 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: January 12, 2010

Originally created by Ume Aoki

Chief Director: Akiyuki Shinbo

Directed by Ryouki Kamitsubo

Series Composition by Nahoko Hasegawa

Music by Tomoki Kikuya

Character Design by Yoshiaki Ito

Art Director: Toshiharu Iijima

Chief Animation Director: Yoshiaki Ito

Anime Production by SHAFT

Featuring the following voice talent:

Kana Asumi as Yuno

Kaori Mizuhashi as Miyako

Ryoko Shintani as Sae

Yuko Goto as Hiro

Cho as Headmaster

Miyu Matsuki as Yoshinoya-sensei

Art was her life… Now her life is art!

For years, Yuno’s dreamed of attending Yamabuki Arts High School, but now that she’s been accepted, it means the scary prospect of moving away from her home and family for the first time! Fortunately, Yuno quickly learns that if her new neighbors at the eclectic Hidamari (Sunshine) Apartments aren’t technically family, at least the majority share the bond of being fellow art students.

From second year students like Hiro and Sae, who try to behave like helpful older sisters (mostly successfully) to her hyperactive new neighbor, classmate, and best friend Miyako (who has the scariest apartment ever), Yuno begins to build the support network she’ll need for dealing with strange characters like her oddly masculine landlady, her cosplay-obsessed homeroom teacher, her tooth-chattering principal and all of the other odd denizens who inhabit her chosen world of art.

It won’t be easy, and it won’t always be pretty, but with her friends at her back Yuno’s going to reach for the stars!

What started out as a four panel comic strip by Ume Aoki began to grow to something much more significant as her story “Hidamari Sketch” (Sunshine Sketch) about a group of young artists living in the same apartment complex was serialized in “Manga Time Kirara Carat” in 2004 and was released in the US in 2008.

In 2007, “Hidamari Sketch” was made into a 12-episode anime series courtesy of SHAFT and also produced two special episodes and due to its popularity, a second season aired in 2008 followed by a new third season titled “Hidamari Sketch x Hoshimittsu” which began airing in January 2010.  Sentai Filmworks has released the first season plus the two special episodes ala “Hidamari Sketch – Season One” on two DVD’s.

The series is directed by Ryouki Kamitsubo (“Star Ocean EX”, “Peacemaker”) and Akikyuki Shinbo (“Maria Holic”, “MoonPhase”, “Pani Poni Dash!”) as the chief director.   Character designs are by Yoshiaki Ito (“Maria Holic”, “Dai-Guard”, “Magic User’s Club”, “Silent Mobius”) and music by Tomoki Kikuya (“D.C. II: Da Capo II”, “Pani Poni Dash!”, “Magikano”).

The series revolves around four students who live in “Hidamari-So” (Hidamari Apartments).  The main character Yuno has been accepted to Yamabuki Art High School and becomes friends with her classmate Miyako and second year students Hiro and Sae and the series features life as students.

Yuno – The main character and a brunette with two X-shaped hairpins.   A talented artist, Yuno wants to become a great artist.

Miyako – Yuno’s classmate and nextdoor neighbor.  Vibrant, active and loves to eat.  Also, has a child-like personality.

Hiro – Hiro is a second year student and lives under Yuno’s apartment.  The red head of the group, she tries to help her younger friends but at the same time, worries about her weight a lot.

Sae – Known for her purple hair and wears eye glasses, Sae is a second year student and is a talented photographer and writer.  She is supportive towards Yuno but can also have a mischievous side.

The following is a brief synopsis of each episode on “Hidamari Sketch – Season One”.  All twelve episodes plus the two special episodes are featured on two DVD’s:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 1: January 11: Winter Collage – Yuno forgets to do her homework after Winter break.  Can she get her homework completed in time?
  • EPISODE 2: August 21: Japan’s Summer – Yuno and her friends must create a new sign for Hidamari Apartments.
  • EPISODE 3: June 17: Another Indian – Ms. Yoshinoya wants her students to sketch her in various outfits which infuriates the principal.
  • EPISODE 4: May 18: Singing Shortcake – Yuno and Miyako have an assignment to sketch something outdoors.
  • EPISODE 5: February 13: Mind and Body – Yuno has a cold and unable to go to school and begins to have interesting dreams about her friends.
  • EPISODE 6: July 14: Cool and Tasty – Summer has arrived and that means no school and time to catch some sun and get wet.
  • EPISODE 7: October 12: The Drying Packets of Storm – A typhoon hits Japan during the day of the Sports Festival.

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 8: March 13: 3% Hope – The students have a day off and the four friends hang out.
  • EPISODE 9: September 4: The Wolf of Shinjuku Back Streets – While Yuno and Miyako go to school, they find a letter which belongs to a man.  When they return it to him, he gives Yuno four lottery tickets.
  • EPISODE 10: November 3: Yuno-sama – It’s the day of the cultural festival and Yuno paints a piece but falls asleep while doing it.  When she submits her art, she is praised for her unfinished work.
  • EPISODE 11: April 28: Round Cabbage – Yuno and friends head to the zoo to sketch some animals.
  • EPISODE 12: December 25: Goodbye Ume-sensei – Sae’s younger sister Chika comes to visit the art school and Sae and friends show her around.
  • SPECIAL #1: August 11: Now To Return Where We Came From – It’s the Summertime and  the friends and Ms. Yoshinoya spend some time at the pool.
  • SPECIAL #2: November 27: Does Love Exist There? – Hiro receives a love letter and is unable to concentrate on her work.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Hidamari Sketch” is presented in 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen.  For the most part, the series has a charming and fun style to it and each episode, animation is constantly being changed up.  In one, you can watch the girls as normal but the next thing you know, you’ll see the characters super deformed, their faces stretched out or some unusual art style which is pretty cool to look at.  Painted backgrounds range from detailed to simple.  If anything, the direction is quite mixed up but it works for this kind of anime series.

Audio is in Japanese 2.0 and dialogue as well as the music are front channel driven.  For a more immersive soundtrack, those with a modern home theater receiver can easily set it to stereo on all channels.  But for the most part, audio is clear and understandable.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Hidamari Sketch – Season One” comes with the clean opening and ending themes and Sentai Filmworks trailers.

I have to admit that at first, I was expecting “Hidamari Sketch” to be something like “Azumanga Daioh” but the series turns out to be quite a random series which feature episodes that spotlight the student’s life at school and what happens outside of school.  There really isn’t any significant storyline-wise if one is expecting some sort of conclusion or serious story arc.

If anything, the series captures Ume Aoki’s four-panel manga as “Hidamari Sketch” is  a slice-of-life comedy series that people will either appreciate or just want to pass.

Personally, I enjoy the storyline in regards to students that attend art school.  Granted, I enjoyed the concept moreso in an anime series such as “Honey and Clover” but “Hidamari Sketch” is more about younger students and their experiences.  The characters are fun to watch and the artistic presentation, although simple at times, can be quite interesting when heads are blown up or this blank stare on a character’s face.

Overall, “Hidamari Sketch” is a charming and fun but it’s not going to be for everyone.  If you are a serious person, this is not a serious series.  If you enjoy quirky Japanese anime series then definitely give “Hidamari Sketch – Season One” a try.

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