Review for Hidamari Sketch x SP
Little things annoy me. Consistency in release format is one of them. The number of times I’ve face-palmed when one DVD in a series of six has its distributor logo at the top of the spine, when the other five are at the bottom... Take Hidamari Sketch for example. The first season, twelve episodes plus two OVA episodes, the second season, fourteen episodes plus two OVA episodes, and the third season has twelve episodes plus two OVA episodes. The fourth season however has just the twelve episodes to it. Now, in between Hoshimittsu and Honeycomb, there were two OVA episodes made. Instead of bundling them with the fourth season as you might expect given past releases, Sentai Filmworks released them separately on this Hidamari Sketch x SP disc. I tell you, it’s annoying. Hopefully these episodes will mellow me out in quick order.
Hidamari Sketch is a slice of life show, random vignettes in the lives of six girls who together attend the Yamabuki art school. A year has now passed, and Yuno and Miyako are starting their second year, while Sai and Hiro are on their final year. Two new first years arrive, Nazuna and Nori. They move into Hidamari apartments as well, and now all six live directly opposite their school. One of their teachers is the flamboyant Miss Yoshinoya, who loves to cosplay for her class, something the elderly principal of the school frowns on. The show follows the group of friends as they move towards their dreams of becoming artists.
Sentai Filmworks present the two Special episodes on one DVD disc.
1. July 18th: As You Feel It/August 28th: Bobble
2. May 9th: Splish, Splash!/May 25th: Welcome! It’s Meat Village
Hidamari Sketch is presented on this DVD disc in 1.78:1 anamorphic NTSC format. The image is clear and sharp throughout, with strong and consistent colour reproduction, and given SHAFT’s particular style of animation, a minimum of digital banding, even on DVD. This is a SHAFT animation, and it bridges the gap between the all out visual gag-fests of Pani Poni Dash and Negima, with the more restrained storytelling of Bakemonogatari and Madoka Magica. With Hidamari Sketch, the animators stick to a set style, a restrained and pastel palette, and avoid trying anything and everything to make a visual impact. But the use of gags, short-cuts and visual tricks is still more prevalent. One example is Yuno’s hairclips. She wears her hair tied back with cross shaped hairclips, and it isn’t long before the animators simply put a cross on screen when she’s speaking, the same with Hiro’s wavy hair, and Sae’s glasses. It’s generally an enjoyable viewing experience the further you go into it, but it takes a while to get used to the show’s animation style.
Hidamari Sketch gets a DD 2.0 Japanese audio track with optional English subtitles. Well, I say optional, but as this is a subtitle only release, only the most fluent of Japanese speakers will turn them off. There’s no problem with the audio, the characters are ideally cast, the dialogue is clear, the music suits the show, and the stereo gives the show a decent amount of presence. The subtitles are accurately timed, and free of typos.
You get one disc in an Amaray style eco-case. The disc autoplays a trailer for The Anime Network before booting to a static menu. You also get a jacket picture, and translated credits after both episodes.
On the disc you’ll find trailers for Mahoromatic: Automatic Maiden, Psychic Squad, Clannad After Story, Hatsukoi Limited, This Boy Can Fight Aliens, and A-Channel!
There was quite the gap between Season 3, these two special episodes that followed, and when Season 4 was finally made, which I guess explains why Sentai Filmworks chose not to wait, and instead released them separately. That fact doesn’t make the sparse nature of this release any less annoying. I’ve marked this release down as a consequence, but that’s only in terms of value for money. When it comes to the content, the episodes themselves, this is just as enjoyable Hidamari Sketch as all the rest, and for just the same reasons. Once again, viewers get to bask in the happy friendship of six girls, and the light comedic antics that they get up to, and it’s all enhanced with the ever so offbeat supporting cast.
These two episodes offer more slice of art school life; although this time it’s more about what the girls do when they aren’t at school. Hidamari Sketch does offer a bit of insight into art and culture in amongst the comedy, and the first vignette sees the girls spending their day off after their final exams at an art museum. It wouldn’t be an anime OVA without some swimsuits on display, and the second half of the first episode sees Yuno, Miya, Nori and Nazuna spend the day at the swimming pool, and when they return, all six join up for a pyjama party.
There’s more swimming pool action in the second episode, although this time it’s an inflatable pool which Hiro uses to wash her curtains in, it becomes a grand bubbly adventure for all six girls, only no one thinks to check the weather forecast. And the final segment is devoted to a visit to a restaurant for an all you can eat yakiniku buffet, although Miya’s worried at how the restaurant will make a profit if she goes.
It’s warm, gentle comedy once more, a little bit of wordplay, the odd moment of slapstick, but most of it coming from the warm relationships between the characters. Naturally if you’re collecting the series, it’s a must have, but the Spartan disc will look out place amongst the complete season (plus OVA) collections.