Directed by Akiyuki Shinbo, Ryoki Kamitsubo
Featuring Voices by Kana Asumi, Kaori Mizuhashi, Ryoko Shintani and Yuko Goto
Hidamari Sketch is a slice-of-life tale of four high school girls living in the same apartment building and going to the same art school. It’s based off of a Japanese comic strip by Ume Aoki.
When I say slice of life, I mean it. There is hardly any plot or character development. No real central conflict. It’s not even in chronological order, not that it matters. It simply takes slices out of the lives of these four girls by showing random days throughout their school year.
So it’s a sitcom, right? Not quite. It’s got situations, but it falls short on the comedy and the situations are uneventful.
That’s not to say there isn’t any comedy. Some jokes just don’t translate though the culture and language barrier. Others just aren’t funny. It tries, and I can only assume it works in Japan as the show is on its third season, but what works in Japan does not always work here.
None of the girls are particularly compelling. There’s almost nothing remarkable about them. Even the costume-addicted teacher and the student who is a professional writer under a pseudonym aren’t particularly interesting.
All in all, they’re fairly average and dull, and to top it off, they don’t do anything. The girls just go about their day, do their homework, buy groceries, swim, work on their own little projects, complain about their apartment building’s poor conditions, etc. It’s a show about nothing, but it sure ain’t Seinfeld.
And what’s with high schoolers in anime living on their own? In apartments no less, not dorms of some boarding school. All four of these girls, essentially 10th and 11th graders, live in their own apartments.
Combine the weak characters with awfully slow pacing, and you’ll get a painfully tedious show.
The series is in anamorphic 16:9 widescreen. The animation tries to be artsy with a plethora of abstract shots, patterned backgrounds, tinted scenes, splicing in real objects into the animation and so on. It’s all a trick, a poor effort to hide cheap animation. Having abstract angles avoids animating characters talking Using simple patterns keeps from drawing actual backgrounds. Splicing in photos also means not having to draw. Shots are often flat with characters all right next to each other, hardly moving. The show cuts away to a still shot every few minutes.
It’s all just trying to hide how little animation there is, and what is there is mediocre. The bonus episodes are slightly better with some action shots, but not by much.
Japanese language with subtitles in stereo. The voices are nothing special. The opening song is screechingly high pitched and rushed. The ending isn’t bad, but that’s not saying much here.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
It’s a standard case with the series split between two DVDs. The jacket is decent enough, but the text mentioning the special features disappears into the back, making it difficult to find.
The first disc starts off with a commercial for The Anime Network. It has trailers for other Sentai Filmworks series under its special features.
The second disc has DVD credits and a clean opening and ending. I don’t see many going to listen to the opening over and over again.
This series’ bonus episodes were distinctly labeled as such on the second disc, unlike with our prior Sentai Filmworks review – Clannad: After Story collection 2 – which just included them in the total episode count at the end. This is an overall improvement, but sadly it’s not like it matters as much with this collection. With no underlying plot or even chronological order, their placement doesn’t change anything.
I’d like to thank our sponsor Vroom Foods and their Buzz Bites for keeping me awake and caffeinated while watching this series. Hidamari Sketch is yet another anime I have no idea why anyone thought it would be a good idea to license. It’s slow, boring, not well animated and most of the appeal is probably lost on the American audience. But hey, if you need something to help you go to sleep, here you go.
Overall (Not an Average) 3.5/10
The Series 3/10
The Video 3/10
The Audio 4/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 4.5/10
Overall (Not an Average) 3.5/10