Title: Hidamari Sketch x365
Format: 13 episodes
Dates: 3 Jul 2008 – 25 Sep 2008
Synopsis: It’s the 10th of February… entrance exam day at Yamabuki High School. Unfortunately for Yuno, her plan to stay overnight in a nearby hotel with her mother has backfired as she’s overslept, and has to race to get there in time. Despite struggling in the exam, she finds out on February 15th that she’s passed. Thus starts her life at Hidamari Apartments.
Moe: Adorable, but not obnoxious.
Character development: Builds on the work of the first season.
Narrative: No real plot to speak of, but not as episodic as its predecessor.
Aesthetics: An improvement over the first season.
Hidamari Sketch is something of an enigma and, as such, is very difficult to review. Shinbo Akiyuki’s take on the moe slice-of-life comedy genre ranks as among the most heartwarming and adorable, but it’s very difficult to put a finger on exactly why he succeeds where others fall short. Honestly, I’m not sure Shinbo’s usual visual flair adds much to a series like Hidamari Sketch, and even if it did, he’s certainly much more subdued here than he is with his other anime like Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei and Bakemonogatari. But Hidamari Sketch seemingly had the right balance between eccentric comedy and mundane (in a good way) daily slice-of-life. Hidamari Sketch x365 is much more expansive than its predecessor. While the first season contained a series of unrelated episodes, x365 begins to weave the events together into a larger narrative of its main characters’ lives.
Aesthetically, x365 is a massive improvement over the original. The animation and character designs remain fairly consistent throughout and even the voice acting has gotten better since the seiyuu are more comfortable with their characters. Most of the music has been recalled from the first season, and marble returns for the ED, “Ryuusei Record”, which isn’t quite as good as “Mabae Drive”, but is still very pleasant and soothing. Shinbo makes his eccentric directorial presence slightly more noticeable this time, especially towards the end of the series (as a way to compensate for a dissipating budget, I would guess).
Shinbo‘s quirky aesthetics are renowned, but his influence on aspects like comedic tone and character development are often underrated. Hidamari Sketch doesn’t feel it needs to be “on” all the time, which helps the comedy immensely. While most of the jokes lead to punchlines (some of which are fairly predictable) the charming tone is highly conducive to its style. There aren’t many moments where x365 feels obnoxious.
There are some more slightly serious character-focused moments in x365, but it never becomes heavy. Its small-scale focus allows it to be intimate, and the “family” aura of Hidamari Apartments’ residents becomes more evident. Yuno comes out of her shell more and more, both as an artist and as a young girl growing up; Sae juggles her relationship with her sister, Hiro, her profession and Natsume; while Miyako adopts a stray cat in one episode, leading to a meaningful yet melancholic statement about her as an individual. There’s also a small mystery about Room 103 which weaves itself throughout the episodes, leading to a rather humourous revelation.
Hidamari Sketch has incrementally improved over its three season run, and while I wouldn’t say x365 is quite as good as Hoshimittsu, it’s definitely better than the original, which was already a good example of what the genre is capable of. Like its predecessor, Hidamari Sketch x365 is cute, adorable and charming, but not obnoxiously so, like some of the more infamous slice-of-life moe series. This sequel builds on the foundations laid by the first season in the right way, leading to character development which is more meaningful and allowing us to make even stronger connections with the characters.
The Rating: 7
Reviewed by: Sorrow-kun