Studying at the Yamabuki Arts High School has been a dream-come-true for Yuno, and she's learned so much already! And not just from her instructors, but from her friends and neighbors who've become her second family and made the Hidamari Apartments such a safe and nurturing home. But as the day of her "big sisters" Sae and Hiro's graduation draws slowly closer, it's time for Yuno to start seriously taking on the same role for Nazuna, Nori and the other budding young artists who've entered Hidemari's protective cocoon. And it's also time to tackle some really challenging artistic assignments. That doesn't mean there won't still be time for fun with Miyako and all the others, but it's definitely time to pencil in her plans for the future. And sometimes that means you have to put the art before the course!
With a long-running manga series, three anime adaptations, and internet memes derived from its distinctive art style, it's hard not to recognize Hidamari Sketch as one of the more prominent slice of life titles. After so many episodes, though, one can't help but worry that the formula might start to turn stale. Thankfully, Honeycomb is not a victim of this pattern. This is Hidamari Sketch in its most complete and perfected form, and considering the high standard already set by the series, that is commendable indeed.
Taking place during Yuno and Miyako's second year of high school, Honeycomb is a loose continuation of the previous season. Rather than jumping between past and present in a purely episodic format, this is the first time where there is a clear and consistent progression in the story. Each episode directly follows the previous one; at first glance this may seem like a trivial detail, but with elements such as Sae and Hiro's approaching graduation, this becomes increasingly relevant as there is now the time needed to effectively develop the characters.
Character development is something Hidamari Sketch Honeycomb has no shortage of. The story is now more than a mere snippet of the characters' daily lives and gracefully handles the underlying themes of friendship and graduation. One episode, for instance, focuses on Hiro determining what she wants to do with her life after high school and if an art teacher is really the proper career choice for her. Another episode goes into detail with Sae's familial situation and her relationship with her younger sister, Chika. There's also a large focus on Yuno maturing and finally assuming her role of senior for her two underclassmen Nori and Nazuna, who in the process mature as well. None of this is forced in and undermined by dramatization; it is skillfully and naturally conveyed through their regular interaction with each other. As a result of this development, the approaching graduation carries a lot more emotional weight than it otherwise would.
That's not to say that the same lighthearted appeal is missing from this season, though. Cuteness and comedy are served aplenty and in better shape than ever. Each character plays off of the others in clever ways and has their equal share of comedic scenes— even Yuno competes this time with Miyako on equal ground. The comedy is not communicated by archetypes and contrivances but through natural reactions. Most characters come out of their established role in this season as a result of their growth, providing a much more compelling dynamic than before. One of the best scenes is a highlight of this; the girls playing a game of Life with their own custom-made squares, representing each character's goals as well as reactions to other possible life choices. Each of their unique quirks and personalities blend together for highly amusing results, and this is certainly not the only example within the anime.
Nori and Nazuna are no exception to the improved characterization and dialogue. As both of them are now used to their life at the Hidamari Apartments, they grow out of their newcomer role and blend in the melting pot. While in the previous season it was difficult not to see them as being slightly superfluous, this is no longer the case in Honeycomb. It would not be the same without them.
One of the greatest improvements from previous seasons is the increased screentime of the side characters. Yoshinoya-sensei, the principal, Natsume and others were always present, but what about the rest? Arisawa was only a minor character in the previous season, but in Honeycomb there is an entire episode with her conversing with Yuno and helping her mature. Even background characters such as Mami, who previously had very few lines of dialogue over the course of the series, are now given personality as friends to Yuno and the others. I always thought that the first two seasons felt a bit empty, but not in Honeycomb. Yamabuki Arts High School for the first time becomes the background for a diverse and lively cast of unique characters.
Of course, it wouldn't be Hidamari Sketch without the stylized artwork Shaft is known for. Vivid colors, polka dots, showy scenery, live-action and pop-up imagery all distinguish the visual style of Honeycomb. The trademark widefaces are also as prominent as ever, adding to the comedic value of many scenes. Animation quality is exceedingly consistent as well, as there was not a single off-model face anywhere during my experience with the anime. Honeycomb is on an even higher level than the previous seasons which were already excellent. This is about as good a visual experience as you could possibly find within the slice of life genre, and even after three full seasons it still manages to impress.
Seeing how much the series has improved since the first season, it's a little unfortunate that so few people decided to stick with it until Honeycomb. Hidamari Sketch is an anime that is overlooked for all the wrong reasons. Perhaps the slow pace or the eccentric style didn't appeal to everybody, but as one of the best anime of the slice of life genre, it's in anybody's best interest to stick with it until the end. You will most certainly be rewarded.
And let's be honest, if life at the Hidamari Apartments doesn't bring a smile to your face, then there might just be something wrong with you. read more
I ask this because you might need to get some if you're heading into the 4th season of Hidamari Sketch.
To my extent of knowledge, Hidamari is one of those "under the radar" Slice of Life shows, which is a shame because it really is a great show. The show continues on with the girls' everyday lives at Hidamari Apartments and Yamabuki High School. Chatting, spending time with each other, going to school. This is pretty much what happens throughout the series. You might think, "Wow, that's boring," but it's the characters personalities that make each episode fun to watch. But with a 4th season of a SoL show, you would think there's at least some kind of plot to Hidamari Sketch, right? Nope. But as far as plot goes, if you've been fervently watching the series, the two oldest dormmates, Sae and Hiro, are in their last year at Yamabuki High, and the show kicks off with them preparing for their senior class trip, leaving Yuno and the others to take care of themselves. It's actually the first episode alone that inadvertently propels the girls to become more mature, as you'll eventually see later in the show.
Seeing how it's a SHAFT anime, and it's Hidamari, you'll see some quick cuts, polka dots, the signature head tilt, and the notorious WIIIDE FACE. Some people are thrown off by that when they first watch the series, and thus, they tend to stay away from it, but personally, that's the essence of the show and it's what makes it enjoyable. Not only that, but the show is much more vivid and vibrant with its colors, thus making it a very pleasurable viewing experience. Must be because of all that Madoka money...
The openings of Hidamari Sketch have always been a treat to listen to and this one fits the bill. When I first saw the PV of Honeycomb, I immediately got into it and watched it maybe 10 times a week before it aired because the opening was really catchy and upbeat. It really preps you for the episode leaving you with a good feeling inside. The ending, much like the previous ones, is real mellow (minus Hoshimittsu's, which I personally didn't like) and leaves you feeling relaxed after finishing the show with a smile. Lastly, the seiyuus. One reason I watch anime is for the seiyuus because I really enjoy their voices, and Hidamari Sketch's are a flatout eargasm to me. Just hearing Yuno (Asumi Kana), especially, leaves me feeling fuzzy inside and lately, Nazuna (Omigawa Chiaki) is growing on me as well. All of them do a great job.
The characters are a blast to watch and make the SoL genre entertaining than how it usually is. Yuno being the cute hard worker, Miyako being the boisterous glutton, the mature, but easily-flustered Sae, the motherly "always-watching-her-weight" Hiro, the timid Nazuna, and the level-headed Nori make up the Hidamari Apartments and are real fun when you see them interact with each other. We also have the infamous Yoshinoya and the badass Principal as the well-known side characters continuing their antics. Chika, the Landlady, Arisawa, and the poor, lonely Natsume are back as well. As I said earlier, you really do see the group mature, which is a good thing, but you can't help but feel kind of sad also because eventually, Sae and Hiro are going to graduate and will have to leave Hidamari Apartments, leaving just Yuno, Miyako, Nazuna, and Nori.
Hidamari Sketch x Honeycomb has met and exceeded my expectations. From Season 1 all the way to Honeycomb, the series has delivered smiles and laughs each episode, and to be honest, I can't choose which season is better because all of them are just as good as the other. As much as it pains me knowing that the series will probably end soon when Sae and Hiro graduate, seeing the cast grow together throughout four seasons has been (sk)etched into my mind and heart, as sappy as that sounds. But really, the series is just pure fun and relaxation, and if you're looking for a SoL anime that fits that bill, consider watching Hidamari Sketch, starting with the first season. I absolutely loved it and I hope you'll enjoy the wide too.
Has my nutbladder exploded? Yes. Did I have insruance? No. Don't be like me and get some nutbladder insurance before watching Hidamari Sketch x Honeycomb because your nutbladder WILL explode.
Studio Shaft is an eccentric animation studio that likes being weird for the sake of being weird. Take a look in the HidaSketch franchise: if you read the original yonkoma, you will know how much original material Shaft included. They have also added their own eccentricities like adding pictures of actual food onto clips of animation.
And it’s freaking cute.
Now, it’s the time for Shaft to mature. Shaft has always played on the seesaw of seriousness and absurdity, especially in Bakemonogatari. HidaSketch was created for people who indulge in the heinous genre known as slice-of-life. When the protagonist, Yuno, appears, I have succumbed to the evils of the Ume Aoki wideface. The series is diabetic-inducing antics.
But Hidamari Sketch x Honeycomb is not just the fourth season to the HidaSketch series; it is a step into a new direction for Shaft. The palette is more subdued and a new director, besides Shinbo Akiyuki, is directing it. Honeycomb is more aware of its yuri aspects. That’s its greatest strength.
This is not to say there isn’t any shipping involved: the previous seasons are like budding flowers waiting to bloom. Sae and Hiro are obviously in love with each other, but the Yuno/Miyako and Nori/Nazuna couples are not like couples. They’re like friends. Deluded fans love to see them together though.
But now, Honeycomb has made it official. The small romances are adorable. Every character interaction makes anyone blush in the inside. While the series is comedic for the most part, it’s romantic. Everyone has feelings for each other. I cannot state how adorable this show has become. For the first time, nutbladders who have stayed dormant for the past three seasons will finally explode.
So what do these observations say about Shaft? That they now pander to fans? Maybe. But when has fanservice, in its purest, untarnished form, become bad? It is a derogatory term that is not specific. A show can have fanservice and still be just plain fun to watch. That is in fact the essence of fanservice. And making four seasons of the same series is service for the fans who followed Shaft for so long.
Honeycomb can discomfort people though. Its sudden direction into complete yuri shipping is confusing sometimes. Shaft is trying too hard to please some fans; it’s disorienting for people who expected only cutesy things, which is what Hidamari Sketch stood for. It’s not iyashikei anymore too -- just a show about cute girls loving each other in their own special way.
Should anyone hate this work for going off in such a radical direction, it’s understandable. Shaft is growing up from all the childish shows it made in the past. Shinbo’s getting old and HidaSketch won’t be here forever. The studio is now along the likes of KyoAni. It’s time to let the young directors be the vanguards for the studio and take Shinbo’s helm.
And Hidamari Sketch x Honeycomb shows that Shaft is still a healthy studio and will continue producing great works. I look forward to their new shows after the eventual retirement of Shinbo.read more
Another fantastic season with the Hidamari girls. This season sees the most growth of all the girls and is a little emotional too. The upcoming graduation for Sae and Hiro is something all the girls are apprehensive about, but at the same time, very excited to see Hiro and Sae become something and live their lives successfully.
I honestly can't add much about how I feel for this series, after reviewing the past three seasons, all those words and feelings can carry over to Honeycomb perfectly. I love Yuno-chi and Nazuna, they're absolutely adorable. Nori and Nazuna, Miya-chan and Yuno-chi, and Hiro with Sae are all incredibly cute friends to one another and when the whole gang gets together, the cuteness they exude escalates far beyond the reaches of the stars. I'm also really happy to see that Natsume had more screen time this season, I always felt bad for her because she seemed to be so alone and her crush on Sae-san hasn't been confessed yet. None-the-less, more Natsume was really needed, she's so cute when she gets flustered at the sight of Sae-san and when she's rolling on her bed hugging the body pillow-cat, so adorable!! ~
The animation and art style this season is unbelievably good too. It's probably the best looking season for Hidamari Sketch yet. The colors all pop because they're vibrant and pastel, the animation is really well done, even with the quick cuts that seem to break motion. Without a doubt, easiest season on the eyes, though I personally fell in love with Hidamari Sketch on S1 E1.
Best thing about x Honeycomb for me though, is the way that art is actually integrated into the anime. In all the other seasons, it always seemed like it wasn't a main focus; though even in x Honeycomb, it's not the "main" focus, it gets brought up enough that it feels like it's a show about art students in high school; because of this, I think x Honeycomb might be my favorite season yet!
A lot of emotions came up this season too, we can feel the emotions of the girls as time passes on and we reach closer to the graduation of Hiro and Sae. It's going to be absolutely heart breaking to watch them go.
Hidamari Sketch x Honeycomb features great music, like the previous seasons before it. The OP this time is okay; I personally didn't like it as much as the others, but the animation involved with the OP is phenomenal, I should gif it to be honest, it's so pretty. The ED on the other hand is so beautiful to listen to and incredibly calming/relaxing. I'll have to give another listen to the other ED's, but I feel that x Honeycomb features the best ED of the Hidamari Sketch anime. A lot of good background music was used this season too, making the anime a great watch and listen.read more