Being a Slice of Life anime, one shouldn't expect a plot with depth or moments that will make you cling to the edge of your sanity. One should expect each episode to have a small plot of its own, which tells a story with a beginning, middle and end. This is the case in Hidamari Sketch. Every episode has a plot of its own which gradually introduces you to how each character is based on their interactions with themselves and the situations they find themselves in.
Why 9/10? Simply because the stories told in this first season were filled with the finest humour and flowed through with ease. The only problem with that is that even in the last episode it continued that way. The last episode, as great and enjoyable as it was, didn't feel much like a "last episode".
The animation in this first season of Hidamari Sketch is the best you can find. They visibly did not have such a large budget for this season; however, Aoki Ume excelled her artistic spirit in this anime which has a large portion of its story and character development turned to art. In literature we read with the use of metaphors, similies and some personifications. All of those are used in the animation of Hidamari Sketch, graphically. The X that shows up on the screen, and your mind automatically turns to Yuno. The paw that symbolises Miyako, Sae's glasses, Hiro's hair. The backgrounds are colorful and happy when needed; grey and lonely when needed. Similar to Pathetic Fallacy in literature. Aoki Ume is a genius.
The sound team for Hidamari Sketch did a great job too. I have the soundtrack and constantly listen to it because it fits with the anime in a way almost unique to Hidamari Sketch. Hidamari Sketch's soundtrack is beautifully made and there are no mistakes, or songs that feel out of place. The soundtrack was composed by Kikuya Tomoki.
The voice acting is, in my opinion, another point in this anime that makes it unique. Hidamari Sketch's voice actors have amazing talent and did not only grasp the characters, but contributed to them as well. Miyako's voice actor, in particular, did a great job.
I have so much to say about the characters in Hidamari Sketch, it's not even funny. In a Slice of Life anime, the characters are the central piece. No character in Hidamari Sketch falls in with "the usual" or "the expected". All characters are unique and exceedingly amazing in their own ways. I have always got an easy pick on what character I most like from shows; but Hidamari Sketch was different. It took me three seasons to decide who I liked most.
Yuno: Yuno is the main character. Though some can argue the four girls are the main characters together, the focus is usually on Yuno. Her main characteristics are how short she is, and her insecurity when it comes to it; her love for art and her good spirit. A lot more is shown in the following seasons.
Miyako: Your first impressions of Miyako is that she is outgoing and energetic. But that is definitely not all there is to her. Besides her financial condition, you later discover through smart hints spread out through the series, she probably had quite a drastic past. Such drastic past was, to me, amplified when I noticed how much she eats. A lot. It is very rare to see Miyako worried about anything, and she keeps her head cool all times. For some she might seem immature at times, due to her outgoing nature; however if analysed correctly it is noticeable how mature she is. Constantly dropping phrases that sound more like life lessons here and there. My favourite character.
Sae: Sae is yet another unique character. She is constantly reminded about her small breast size and it makes her go red. In fact, many situations make her blush: Anything related to love, in fact. She has this shy side to her which is extremely interesting, considering how much of a father figure she also is sometimes. She has a part-time job as a writer and constantly stays up late, which shows her determination.
Hiro: This character is the group's mother, in essence. She is always in charge of the food, and constantly worried about her friends. This motherly aspect of her is mentioned, if not in this season, in x365 openly by Yuno once or twice. Another great feature of Hiro is her worry about her weight. She has a slim body but thinks she's fat; something I found quite amusing. Usually this kind of character is portrayed as someone who does it for the attention, but it is definitely not Hiro's case, which brings me back to how unique the characters in Hidamari Sketch are.
How will I even write an "Overall" section for the first season of my favourite anime? This season introduced me to the pinnacle of Moé and Slice of Life. I believe there is no way Hidamari Sketch could get a better first season than this, especially with the budget they had for this show. Overall, this season was 9.8/10 solely because of the last episode not feeling like a last episode. Overall, this season had the show's characters well introduced and set a perfect foundation for many other seasons to come.