Sunny faces and sunshine sketches.
Before K-on!’s anime run, there was already a series airing that involved a group of four close-knit friends with creative minds. Hidamari Sketch, also an adaption of a yonkoma manga strip, emphasizes art over music and brings a different kind of moe to the table — the kind that seriously challenged my suspension of disbelief.
Hidamari Sketch follows the daily routine of the tenants of Hidamarisou, a housing complex across the street from Yamabuki High School, which is famed for its competitive art program. Yuno, the main character, is just entering her first year of high school and moves into the complex at the beginning of the series. She quickly becomes friends with the other students living at the apartment: Miyako, a carefree first year that is always hungry; Hiro, a mild-mannered second year with a knack for cooking; and Sae, another second year whose writing is serialized in a popular magazine. As a full school year passes, the four friends are joined by new students Nazuna, a quiet and bashful general student, and Nori, a level-headed computer savant.
One of the most apparent things when watching this anime is that its art style is rather unique. The kind of moe that this series goes for is somewhere between chibi and your standard cutesy highschool anime characters. This leads to extremely exaggerated faces that are borderline ridiculous but nonetheless will bring a smile to the most hardened of hearts. The sugary disposition of the characters as they interact each other is somewhat reminiscent of a sitcom like Friends, only without the snarky sarcasm and romance complications. All of the characters have their own personal quirks, though there is less to work with in the case of Nazuna and Nori, who are only present in the third (latest) season. Otherwise — Yuno is short and timid, but is thoughtful and has the heart of a lion. Hiro provides endless amounts of situational comedy due to her obsession with her weight; despite being as thin as the rest of the cast, she is constantly driven to diet and exercise — an ironic case considering that she is the motherly and hospitable member of Hidamarisou and is constantly serving snacks and cooking delicious dinners for herself and her friends. Sae has a bit less presence than the others as she is often anchored to her best friend, Hiro, but the anime compensates for this by introducing Sae’s younger sister to the series, who only exists in the original manga as a name.
And then there’s Miyako, who stole my own personal spotlight for this series. Given that “hidamari” can be roughly translated to sunny or cheery, Miyako is definitely worthy of being the foremost representative of Hidamarisou. She is the genki girl of the series, as well as the tallest and most air-headed. Her go-get-em attitude and total obliviousness to her surroundings make her all but immune to the problems of life, which is probably a good thing considering that her finances are a bit underwhelming compared to the other tenants and her lower-priced room lacks a few amenities that the others have like running water. Most importantly, her sunny disposition compliments a deep caring for her neighbors, especially Yuno, who she is closest in age to. There’s simply not enough I can really say about this character without making it seem like she could turn stone to gumdrops with her touch.
Another interesting thing about the series is that it often meshes real world objects with the environment, which creates interesting highlights (often for comedic purposes). The transitions are also the best reminder that this series is an adaption of a yonkoma strip, as the scenes are distinctly separated by various artistic eyecatches. Neither K-on! or Lucky Star did anything more than a scene change.
Comedy-wise, the series is adequately humorous. I appreciated Hidamari Sketch more for its heartwarming nature and not its comedy. I’ll admit that the comedy is well done, though many references to Japanese culture that might confuse a few viewers (though not as much as Nichijou). The most hilarious moments were sight-gags of sorts, so it’s definitely something you have to pay attention to if you want to enjoy.
The series will be getting a fourth season soon, and I can hardly wait. Out of all the slice of life yonkoma comedies with anime adapations, I find myself most emotionally invested in Hidamari Sketch.
Character Ranking – Hidamari Sketch [Series 1-3]
- Oya / Landlady