It is still Yuno's first year at Yamabuki High school, and for the girls of the Hidamari apartment complex, life continues as normal. Whether it is visiting a shrine to do some sketching on their day off, or sitting under a kotatsu enjoying nabe on a cold winter's day, Yuno, Miyuko, Sae and Hiro make the most of each other’s company and cherish the time they have together. From the entrance exams and meeting each other, through the seasons, follow the day-to-day lives of these girls as they make each moment count and bring their own brand of fun to the most everyday activities.
I will start off by saying that Hidamari Sketch baffled me. Four girls at art school in a typical year that bounced around from month to month, though never in a rational it’s been February, let’s move to March kind of way. Then Hidamari x 365 came along, and I had the promise of better things. The first two episodes gave me hope that the series that I compared to Seinfeld was making progress. The touches of artistry were impressive, as if the theme of the study of art by the four principles was going to drive the story to new heights. By the third and fourth shows ... nope. Same pointless story line. Chronologically speaking this slice of life genre was handled with all the skill of a Jack the Ripper. Constant school-based issues of little consequence. Dates that bounced about in a jagged feeling of ... do something spring ... do something winter ... do something autumn ... do something summer or winter or both. Cap if off with a nightly soak in the tub, usually Yuno talking through one of those 'growing-up issues' with her rubber duckie. It’s the Hidamari formula, for better or worse. It is important to see the characters develop in ‘365.’ Yuno is the youngest of the four main characters, quite immature, but learning to adapt to living apart from parents. Miyako is an energetic girl with a massive appetite, and yet the girl keeps so svelte. This trait is envied by Hiro whose weight-consciousness has her frantic over those unwanted pounds (the flashes of sumo wrestlers is Hiro's panic-attack of getting fat). Sae is a level-headed writer whose deadlines keeps her busier than is useful. Then, there is the supporting cast ... which doesn't. Ms. Yoshinoya, the art teacher with the flair of an exhibitionist. The Principal who seems to have hailed from Easter Island. The Landlady who chain-smokes with a persistent drive to quit (four days: personal best). As for classmates, there is Natsume, Sae's rival for ... something. One would suspect than Natsume admires Sae ... somehow. Most of the episodes degenerates into something I’d call ‘girl talk.’ This puts me at a disadvantage. As a father, when my daughters had friends over, I was banned from the room where such palaver was going on. When watching Yuno et. al. at the table enjoying tea and the ‘gift of gab,’ I feel that such a ban was not oppressive. Perhaps protective. These conversations in ‘365’ seemed to last too long, making the 24-minute episodes interminably long. Animation-wise, Hidamari x365 works with a pallid color schema, though it works in fascinating art technique as pointillism and impressionism. However, the music interweaves a perky introduction concluding with an introspective closing piece. The sound alone advanced smartly from the first season. One thing that Hidamari x 365 improves on is focusing strongly on Yuno's growth as a person, using her friends' individual strengths and personable foibles to give a simple life-lesson. Neat personality glimpses offered in an erratic flow of time. The first episodes started at the beginning of Yuno's stay at Yamabuki High (almost as if Hidamari Sketch never happened, or 365 doesn't advance the story at all, or merely add stories to the first year of the four girls’ association with each other). People who love things sequential would have a tough time. Maybe the best thing you can do is just let it go and watch those lovely girls grow.
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