Sae has recently invested in a second-hand Polaroid camera and one ordinary Sunday morning she surprises the girls by unexpectedly taking their photo. Miyako decides to name the camera Polaroidon, and after snapping a shot of Hiro asleep, the girls decide to give each other a makeover. Meanwhile, the Yamabuki teachers have decided to have a karaoke competition...
I have been enduring two seasons of Hidamari Sketch and struggling with story issues. Nothing seemed of coherence, though it could be the essence of slice of life. But I've seen this genre knock down tight plotlines with smooth sequencing of time elements. In short, they made sense and played to all the features of the common story. So, after the first seasons, I had the same set of questions: What are those girls doing? What are those girls talking about? Why are these girls so uptight about these trivial things as school matters (where are the cultural events anyway?) and munchies? Along with the other annoying questions which seemed to defy logic: Why does the art teacher think she's such a hottie? What of the Principal? Is he old and feeble, or old and energetic? Feeble-minded or sharp? Why is he constantly raining on Yoshinoya's parade? Then, I watched a set of specials, particularly this item. While they followed the formula of trite, unimportant, next to problem-free schemas (iyashikei has this feature of uncomplicated non-combative storylines) ending with Yuno taking a bath with her duckie mulling over the gist of the episode, this episode with the Polaroid camera seemed to throw some light on the Hidamari Sketch phenomenon. I think of it as the Hidamari Sketch Rosetta Stone. It explains a lot of things. The point of Hidamari Sketch is watching four girls pass through that formative stage of life ... high school. More so, an academy focusing on the arts. Yuno is growing in her skills as an artist, and she is at the same time growing in her confidence in herself as she learns to live away from home, finding home in the Hidamari Apartments. the episode Polaroidon just drove this home. None of the actions were earth-shaking, but the fact of the four girls enjoying each other’s company and learning so much about themselves ... priceless. Sae begins the story by sneaking into Yuno’s rooms and taking a candid shot of Yuno and Miyako with her newly acquired Polaroid camera. The fascination of instant photography compels Yuno to first, compare the camera to a Godzilla-like monster (huh?) and then to ask if she can't take pictures. Sae graciously allows her. Hiro comes along and is offended at Sae's direct face-on shot of her, preferring the more alluring downward right profile shot. A mess of pictures of everyone is taken, and the girls use markers to comment on the features of each. Insightful comments as the girls see more of themselves in the candid as opposed to the posed shots. It’s the ‘girl talk’ that fathers are usually excluded from, thus hard for father-folk to follow. And this makes the flaw not in the seemingly senseless plotlines but in those that seem to miss the point of deeper issues. Girls growing up to appreciate themselves is a beautiful thing and this episode is an eye-opener into the way of thinking about Hidamari Sketch. Don't expect explosions, car chases, and worlds colliding. Gentility just doesn't bet the bank on such scenes. In my future viewing of the Hidamari Sketch final seasons, it is imperative to remember this. So, should the inappropriate question "Where is this thing going?" comes along ... Stifle it!!!
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