For years, Yuno has 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 home room teacher, her tooth-chattering principal and all of the other odd denizens who inhabit her chosen world of art.
Hidamari sketch is a wonderful 12 episode slice of life comedy about (SUPRISE!) four high school girls attending an art school. So what makes this show unique from all the other high school comedy's about a group of girls?
Their story may be the same as everyone else,
but their delivery is unlike most other high school
sitcoms you have seen.
When you start watching this show, the first thing you will notice right away is the art style and animation. Its definitely like nothing I've seen before. Well its more like theres two opposing art styles to the show. One is the standard cute
chibi loli look (round faces and short stature). The second style is the super simplified look of the first style but taken to a whole new level. Its a little hard to explain but when you watch it you will realize what I mean. On top of that you will notice that the character backgrounds are quite unique as well. They emphasize more on simple single color backgrounds with light patterns. My favorite part of the show was how they used real photos of actual Japanese food and products.
That is another thing you will notice is that this show does a lot of fast camera switching. Basically changing scenes/viewpoints in under 2 seconds. It's long enough to understand what they're showing and what they're joking about, but it's a style that most people might get a little confused at first (i certainly did). This is what makes this show a little more unique than others of the same genre. It's comedy focuses more on one-shot gags more than anything else. While some shows do this once and a while, this show relies heavily on them. One-shot gags are basically telling a joke and showing what they mean real fast and then moving on to the next joke. Its a difficult style to understand since you will have to understand what they're talking about or you'll just waste your time trying to understand the previous joke. The casual anime viewer will most likely be confused more than anything since they're all jokes about Japanese culture, but its also a good way to learn the culture too. The show is also set as a sitcom style, with each episode representing one whole day (and specific day's at that). So you can essentially watch all the episodes in any order.
What seems to be where all the hard work (aka money) has been put into show is from the choice of voice actors. It's a mix of veteran seiyu's and rookie seiyu's but the outcome of it all comes off perfect since they all sound so insanely cute. From their school principal all the way down to one of the characters little sister's, they all have that air of cuteness in their voice. Even though their character types are very stereotypical of a high school sitcom, I found the characters to be very memorable. They are all drawn very cute, sound cute and act cute, so I found it VERY hard not to like every single one of them. But if i had to choose, the chemistry between Hiro and Sae would have to be my favorite part of the show. But as far as individual characters go, Miyako is my favorite even though I'm not a huge fan of the energetic-type characters.
For a show that sounds like just like another cookie cutter high school sitcom, they try their best to make this show different from the rest. From the story telling to art work, to even the way they tell their jokes its all unique. I definitely recommend this to anyone who love high school sitcoms or who wants some cheap laughs (or lolicon). Unfortunately, casual anime viewers might want to steer clear of this show simply for the Japanese one shot gags.
Welcome to one of the most relaxing anime's you have ever watched! I was pleasantly suprised about how this series turned out. I expected it to be an average slice of life with nothing special, and thoroughly enjoyed the series.
Even though the series is slow-paced, its never dull or mlacking in any way. It does exactly what it says on the tin. Each episode follows the trials of our 4 main heroines through the course of a day. That means no magic battles, no mushy romance, just staight up good, enjoyable slice of life, and all the bettter for it. What makes it a winner
is its mix of comedy and heartwarming moments. From Hiro's constant worry over her weight, Miyako's obsession with food, Yuno's cutesy whining, Sae and her sister problems and everyones favourite cosplaying teacher, the series continues its run of constant laughs and entertaining views of the lives of these girls. And even though there is very little overriding plot, the development of the characters as they grow, and how the themes develop is a blessing on what could have been a total snorefest.
Animation-wise, you know what your getting into watchinbg a SHAFT series. Limited plot, but visually represented in a beautiful, yet simplisitc way. A perfect blend of bright colours, live-action photography and the pure moe of the characters make watching the show a treat to the eyes. The character's look distinct and cute, and the chibi deformations are used effetively and neither are over the top or underused. The soundtrack may be the shows weakest factor, but its by now means bad. Background music gives a calming effect, and moves elegantly from daft over the top during comedy to gentle, moving pieces when the need arises. The Opener and Ender Songs are perfect examples of this, with Sketch Switch acting as the fun, chirpy happy tune thats so addictive, it gets better every time you listen to it. Mabae Drive, on the other hand, is calm and sweet, perfectly complementing the series' moral and sweeter side.
There is very little to complain about in Hidamari Sketch, as it is a beautifully quaint show. Sure it never hits those comedy/tearjerker highs that other series experience, but what it does, it does extrememly well. Needless to say that the show itself is part of a small niche audience and if you don't like slow slice of life, you wont like this. But I feel You will miss out if you miss this series. Its an underappreciated gem, not helped by the fact that it was released around the same time as another 4 girls at high-school comedy slice of life, namely Lucky Star, which recieved much more critical acclaim being KyoAni (but in my opinion Hidamari Sketch is the better overall series). Watch this show, and it shan't disappoint.
Hidamari Sketch is sort of a cross between Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight and Lucky Star. One thing is to be sure: all of these titles center around high school girls living their daily lives (although Lucky Star advertises to a more general audience and Manabi Straight focuses a bit more on maturing). What makes Hidamari Sketch a little different though is the way the show comes across. The animators were obviously sort of unique in their thinking. It’s just sort of directed in a different sort of way. One might say arty, even. Which isn’t so much a surprise considering Hidamari Sketch takes place at
a art school, Yamabuki Art High School to be exact.
Hidamari Sketch starts off with Yuno, who, mostly, is the protagonist, but mainly it centers around the four high school girls. There’s not so much of a story, as with all the other slice-of-life high school animes. You’ll get many a laugh out of it though, and it has it’s sweet moments as well. Some shoujo-ai is integrated in, mostly with Sae and Hiro, but it’s definitely not extreme, purely fluff, and it sort of depends on how you look at it. It could be just seem as a very caring friendship.
Speaking of the characters, they were all very likeable. Yuno is kind of the typical airhead who wants to do her best, but she seems introverted; Sae is unquestionably shy as well, blushing a lot (mostly due to Hiro’s teasing) but also levelheaded; Hiro is the gentle and sweet of the girls, but what sets her apart is her weight obsession: she’s constantly dieting and worrying about weight; and finally Miyako, certainly the most inimitable of the bunch, and also the most nonsensical. However, you don’t really delve into the characters lives or relationships that much, but that’s because the setting never strays away from the high school (besides the school trip and going shopping) and the Hidamari Apartments. Which is good, really, because it isn’t about their lives completely, it’s about their lives at Hidamari Apartments. You can’t forget their extremely silly teacher, Yoshinoya-sensei, and as she said in an episode, looks like she’s “enternally seventeen”. Seriously, how old is that woman?? Yoshinoya-sensei often dresses in various outfits which she insists, is most certainly not cosplay. Her childish actions provide a few laughs (and she always ends up being scolded by the frail eccentric principal).
The art, though not outstanding, is completely adorable and the animation is very creative. The angles it’s shown at, and the fast switching of the “camera” makes it more interesting. Also, what I really loved, was how they incorporated quirky things real-life photos, or the wiggling of Hiro’s wavy hair. The characters switch into chibi mode a lot, and their regular expressions are already adorable to begin with.
Oh, and I really loved the music. The opening and ending themes were so adorable! They contrast one another: the opening is peppy and chipper, while the ending theme is a little melancholic and has a sweeter, gentler sound to it. The seiyuu were wonderful, too, and all their voices were cute and fit the personality of the character, providing believable displays of vocal range.
You might think this is one of your typical high school girl lolicon sort of show, but I believe it goes beyond that, ranging from the wonderfully done animation to the relaxing feel to the show overall.
When one thinks of the slice of life genre, most people tend to think of K-On. In many ways K-On epitomizes all of the central concepts, patterns, and trappings of the slice of life genre like no other. On the other hand, Hidamari Sketch pioneered almost all of the popular trappings of the slice of life genre; But the nature of Hidamari Sketch, although influential, makes it both hard to recommend, and hard to admit my passion for this show. There is undoubtedly countless problems that caused Hidamari to become relatively obscure, but in my opinion, these problems also give Hidamari Sketch its charm. The
strengths of Hidamari on the other hand, have all become staple traits of the slice of life and iyashikei genre, it's easy to point to countless series that were directly or indirectly influenced from this series. The emulation of Hidamari Sketch has both drawn out its greatest strengths as a series, and has made it seem even more antiquated.
It's hard to think of a good starting point when talking about Hidamari Sketch, in many ways each element and variable is so holistically interconnected, that starting with any one element would almost be missing the forest for the trees. Every element builds off of each other and if any one variable doesn't work for you, then the rest of the series may not be worth watching. Hidamari Sketch requires each element to work in perfect harmony for the central emotional effect to have impact. Like most slice of life shows, the end all goal is to imbue the audience with a very specific emotion; Hidamari is ultimately a iyashikei show, and as such, the end goal is to convey a feeling of relaxation to the audience. Hidamari Sketch's emotional spectrum is one of it's idiosyncrasies, most slice of life and iyashikei shows prioritize conveying very specific emotions, usually what they like to convey are emotions like melancholy and happiness. Hidamari too conveys these emotions like any other iyashikei. But, what makes Hidamari Sketch so unusual compared to series like K-On, Yuru Yuri, Yuru Camp, and really almost every other slice of life/iyashikei series, is the amount of emotions that it attempts to convey. A good example of what I'm attempting to articulate would be the 5th episode of Hidamari Sketch, in this episode we go the full emotional range, happiness, melancholy, isolation, anxiety, fear, and even visceral feelings like illness are conveyed to the audience in a timely fashion. In episode 5, the main character Yuno is sick, and due to this we as an audience get to see her fever dreams and the reaction of each other character who lives in the apartment's reaction to Yuno becoming sick. This episode sticks out for multiple reasons, but in short, every aspect of Hidamari Sketch works together to convey the visceral sickening feeling of being ill. In order for the show to this, the art direction, sound, animation, voice acting, and character interactions, all had to work in tandem in order to it's emotional ends.
It can be argued that this is true for any series, I would disagree though. Gochiusa has relatively poor direction as a series, but this isn't a determent to the series because the central appeal of the show is merely seeing the characters interact. Most series tend to work despite a lacking variable, Hidamari Sketch on the other hand requires every single aspect of the show to work in harmony in order to work. This is a common thread of Shaft shows, so usually when it comes to the anime that is produced by Shaft, I believe that watching the first episode alone is a good indication to make a judgement on the perceived quality of the show.
Slice of life shows tend to fall into one of two categories, situational and character driven. Hidamari is the latter but the story is framed as the former. The characters undergo arcs and develop throughout the series, but these arcs are non-chronological. This makes for a very interesting viewing experience, it requires the audience to be attentive to remember all of the character development that takes place from episode to episode and season to season. My suggestion for watch order is to watch season 1 and then jump to season 3 and 4, then season 2. Due to the structure of this show, many various problems arise, at least for the normal viewer. The first of these problems is the amount of attentiveness needed to understand the character arcs, and the second problem is that the characters often reference events that are either disconnected by multiple episodes, or multiple seasons. Non Non Biyori and Non Non Biyori Repeat both chose the same non-chronological structure for story telling, and in many ways they both avoid the problems of Hidamari Sketch's structure for two reasons: The first of which is that the characters don't reference other events in their lives, the second is that most Non Non Biyori characters are one dimensional. So if this is the sacrifice that is necessary to make Hidamari Sketch's storytelling structure have mass appeal, I wouldn't take it.
The characters of Hidamari Sketch is the most influential aspect of the show, many character archetypes in the slice of life genre find their start here. Yuno, Miyako, Hiro, and Sae all have modern day counterparts that are indisputably influenced by
Hidamari Sketch. Yuno created the 'normal girl' archetype; a archetype that is defined by the character traits of diligence, anxiety, compassion, and younger age. Miyako created the 'hungry girl' archetype, which is characterized by passion for food, cunning, and stubbornness. Hiro influenced the 'mother' archetype, whose traits include responsibility, discipline, cooking ability, compassion, and older age. Sae created the 'lesbian' archetype, the outline of which is characterized by perseverance, calm demeanor, and reserved nature. Note, I tokened these terms; So the next few sentences will be dedicated to adding validity to the archetypes I defined. Let's take a look at Yuno like characters first: Akarin (Yuru Yuri), Hinata (3-Gatsu), Osana (Doujin Work), Mio and Azunyan (K-On), Mika (Manabi Straight), and Chito (Shoujou Shuumatsu), so on and so forth. Miyako is the character that has been emulated the most, Yuuri (Shoujou Shuumatsu), Ritsu and Yui (K-On), Natsumi (Non Non Biyori), and Kyouko (Yuru Yuri). Yuno and Miyako have been the two most influential characters from Hidamari Sketch, and this is not an exhaustive list by any means. There is a load of difference between each character within each archetype, but archetypes tend to be broad. Sae and Hiro are not emulated as often, but there are easy to point to examples of both characters archetypes in general. What should be noted is that each character archetype has evolved with time, and characters that used to be defined by Hidamari Sketch characters may no longer be the case. But what still is the case is the character dynamics that were established by Hidamari Sketch; There are countless shows in the slice of life genre where the cast is comprised of 4 main characters with a mentor figure, that eventually adds 1-2 new main characters later on. K-On is a prime example of this exact dynamic because both Hidamari Sketch and K-On starts with 4 main characters, a teacher that watches over said characters, and 1-2 main characters that are introduced later on.
The themes of Hidamari Sketch are on artistic identity and cherishing the small moments of life; These are all conveyed through the character of Yuno, through out the entirety of the series we see Yuno struggle to find her artistic identity, and by the end of the series we as an audience see her grow as an artist by taking influence from her environment and her friends. Sae's character arc is one on accepting one's family, as her relationship with her sister is strained. Hiro and Miyako go relatively unchanged through out the series but this lack of change is arguably a good choice for the plot because they work as pillars for Yuno's character arc, they reinforce the ideas at play when it comes to Yuno and the lack of character change for both of these characters is not only realistic but benefits the show overall. The other main characters introduced in the later seasons both have their own character developments, but I don't want this review to go on for too long. But, the introduction of Nori and Nazuma in the later seasons help keep the character dynamics interesting.
The setting of Hidamari Sketch is one of the most fascinating aspects of the show, one that is still relatively unique to the show even today. The show follows Yuno, Hiro, Sae, and Miyako's daily life as high school students in a technical art program. They all formed their relationship because they all live alone in a low-rise apartment across the street from the school they go to. So for all intents and purposes they live like college students, this is a more interesting character dynamic than most slice of life shows. Most set pieces are one of the girls rooms, and most of the conversations they have are over dinner and is about their days. This creates a sense of familiarity that is woefully absent in most other slice of life shows; The environment of the show feels like home, and this adds to the welcoming atmosphere of the show. The main appeal of Hidamari Sketch, and every slice of life show, is seeing how the characters interact with each other; Iyashikei shows tend to favor using well established worlds and beautiful settings to convey the same emotions that are achieved through conversations in slice of life shows. Hidamari Sketch is hard to quantify in this regard because it utilizes both setting familiarity and the audiences' predisposed experiences. Many other shows utilize this genre blend like Hidamari Sketch, a few good examples of shows that necessitate setting familiarity and predisposed experiences are Aria, Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou, Non Non Biyori, and Flying Witch. Many people consider Hidamari Sketch to be the face of Iyashikei, this is almost undeniable, but I would consider it to be a genre blend between Iyashikei and Slice of Life because of the eclectic direction and emotional pallet of Hidamari Sketch. Aria and Yokohama both have similar emotional pallets but lacks the eclectic art style; Non Non Biyori may be the closest show to Hidamari Sketch in terms of art direction and story structure, but in general, there is an avoidance of discomfort narratively in Non Non Biyori which is present in Hidamari Sketch. As a viewer, discomfort should be reveled in because it is a fundamental part of life.
The aforementioned art direction is probably Shaft's best art style of all time, visually, it is the most interesting art style contained in any Iyashikei show. The animation is a blend of real life pictures, manga like background visuals, and simple character designs. There is two styles of character designs for each character, a sleek character design and a fatter, marshmallow like character design. Roughly, whenever something serious happens, sleek character designs are used. When something cute or funny happens, the fat character designs are used. The character designer of Hidamari Sketch is the same as Madoka, so the characters are as well designed as they were in that show. The fat designs are adorable and has been emulated in shows like Shoujo Shuumatsu. The actual cinematography of Hidamari Sketch is rather stationary, but, the visual flare of the art design is so strong that it keeps watching the conversation as interesting as the conversations themselves. The music of Hidamari Sketch works in perfect harmony with the animation. Most of the soundtrack sounds like elevator music, but it some how is the best elevator music ever made because it can convey any emotional state. As such, Hidamari Sketch's soundtrack is the most ubiquitously used soundtrack in most anime analytical videos I watch. The openings and endings are all solid, the openings are dedicated to conveying the light hearted aspect of Hidamari Sketch whereas the endings are dedicated to conveying the more melancholic tone that can sometimes be found in Hidamari.
So to conclude, Hidamari Sketch is more than the sum of its parts. There is many aspects that will turn people off however, the two big aspects would be the unconventional approach it has to story telling, and the constantly reused gags that can be found in the show. I find both aspects to be charming, but I can easily see how it would turn many viewers away. If you are just getting used to the Iyashikei and or Slice Of Life genre, I would recommend Aria, Yokohama, K-On, Shoujo Shuumatsu, and Non Non Biyori if you enjoyed Hidamari Sketch.