Hidamari Sketch (ひだまりスケッチ) is a slice-of-life comedy anime series based on a comic strip. The story revolves around the diminutive young high school student named Yuno who manages to pass the entrance exams for Yamabuki Art High School, an achievement she has dreamed of for a long time. After being accepted, she moves out of her parents’ home and into the Hidamari Apartments across the street from the school where she lives in a small apartment. There, she very quickly becomes friends with her fellow neighbors and schoolmates. They include her classmate Miyako, an outgoing girl from a family of limited means who loves to eat, and her two upperclassmen, the second-year students Sae, an established novelist attending the school to learn how to illustrate her own works, and Hiro, a pleasant girl who is always worried about her weight.
The series is unusual in that it does not follow a traditional, linear storytelling pattern. The individual episodes jump around in time, so that we may start episode 1 at the entrance exams, but the next episode may be summer break and the girls at Hidamari Apartments are already much better friends.
This is much less confusing than it seems at first, given the comfort with which the writers and animators create the series. The characters are all all warm, welcoming and most of all, overwhelmingly kawaii. It’s nearly impossible not to enjoy the everyday antics and friendship of these girls and the at times surreal nature of the animation keeps it very interesting.
Hidamari Sketch hails from 2007 and was done in standard definition. The issues with it being up-scaled to high definition in this AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encodement can be spotted in the softness of the imagery and motion artifacts, especially in panned shots. Apart from that, it looks better than can be expected from an anime series of such vintage and provenance and certainly benefits from the lower compression levels and higher bandwidth of the Blu-ray format.
Only the original Japanese soundtrack is offered in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (48kHz/24-bit). It’s just fine and the Japanese voice cast are enjoyable, making the individual characters really stand out.
Not including the two OVA episodes, this release comes with clean opening and closing animations, additional Sentai Filmworks trailers and the usual disc credits.
The Definitive Word
A wonderfully refreshing take on the slice-of-life and high school genres, this series, Hidamari Sketch can appeal to males and females alike and is a charmingly addictive show.
Additional Screen Captures