Summary: In the completely irrelevant first half, Yuno and Miyako have to draw themselves in class. The lesbian subtext flies through the roof, launches itself into the moon’s orbit, and crash lands somewhere in Russia. In the surprisingly grim second half, Hiro sinks into a depression and runs to Miss Yoshinoya and — of course — Sae for help.
Whoa. After more than 50 episodes, Hidamari Sketch has finally done it. For the very first time, the essential question every self-respecting slice-of-life anime starring high school girls has to ask itself rears its ugly head at Yamabuki, and how.
“How long will all of this last?”
It is the number one plot device to insert some drama in the genre. Azumanga Daioh took an interesting turn for the dramatic when it dropped the graduation bomb late in its run. K-On! spent an entire season and a movie on it. Despite being more than meets the eye, Hidamari Sketch has always been about idealism, cheerfulness and cuteness. This week, however, all of that changed. Hiro, of all people, became the first to doubt her show’s creed. Because happiness never travels alone. Because high school ends. Because one day, she will have to tell Hidamari Apartments and her fellow tenants goodbye. As with everything, Hidamari Sketch pulls her sadness off with verve and nuance. As the most eloquent of netizens would say: “Pow, right in the feels.”
Right in the proverbial “feels” because I have never identified with an anime as much as now. It gets harder and harder for me to accept that real life is nothing like Hidamari Sketch. In correspondence with Hiro’s fears, I did not take my graduation from high school very well, despite having no friends to say goodbye to. That would be a wholly different category of miserably. Like Hiro, I would also love to become a teacher at my old high school, all due to the prospective of having something familiar to return to. Not exactly a very failure-proof objective to place your bets on, as Miss Yoshinoya points out.
Hiro’s downcast demeanour gave everyone’s favourite art teacher annex exhibitionist ample opportunity to show off that teaching degree she’s so proud of, and Yoshinoya’s… uhm, wise words to Hiro really gave a nice dimension to her character. She tried to give Hiro a more mature perspective, showing not only that despite how she acts, she can indeed be an adult if she wants to, but also that she is happier than ever, despite not being who she used to be — which is rather ironic given her usual antics. Her words severely backfired though, leaving Sae to clean up the mess she made.
As I mentioned last week, Sae is a very interesting and often underused character. Everyone and the world knew that it would be her and her hidden sisterly charm pulling Hiro out of her rut — though all the other girls worrying about her certainly was cute — but her minimal words and actions showed how much these two trust each other. Lines like “I’m sure that in a year, we’ll be even closer” may have ridiculous frat boy joking potential, but their effectivity in context brings a tear to the eye.
Greatly abusing the power of friendship to cheer her ‘wife’ up, Sae manages to bring the crisis to a close, but the bitter taste remains. Even though everyone happily departs for school the morning after, no one managed to find a fail-safe way around the everlasting high school hydra. Sae and Hiro are aware that they don’t know if their dreams will come through, they don’t know if they will be together forever and they don’t know if everything will always remain sunshine and smiles. It is an unsettling shard of darkness and self-awareness clouding their ever cheerful world. Never once did I expect Hidamari Sketch to pull this off, but on the other hand, who else but Shaft would come up with a grizzly vignette like this?
- Apparently, Ume Aoki has her own brand of candy now. She sure is ambitious for such a little caterpillar… thing.
- Yuno and Miyako spend most of the first half complementing each other on how cute and beautiful they are, then promptly have a sleepover and end up in the bath with each other while spewing lines along the lines of “I know we talk all the time, but tonight… I want to talk even more.” Girls nowadays.
- Lovely sketches, by the way.