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Hidamari Sketch X SP Anime DVD Review

7 min read

The summer is here and that means fun for the girls. And swimsuits.

What They Say:
Even though studying at a prestigious art school like Yamabuki is hard work, the girls who live at the Hidamari Apartments always manage to squeeze in time for a little fun and exploration. And when they actually get a day off? Watch out world!

Yuno, Sae, Hiro, Miyako and new students Nori and Nazuna return to create another masterpiece of life as art, with all-new adventures that include swimming, pajama parties, trips to the art museum, and even an all-you-can-eat diner courtesy of the landlady! Of course, there’s always a little housework that has to be squeezed in, but with a pinch of resourcefulness and a dash of creativity, even the most onerous of chores can be turned into something magical.

Contains episodes 1-2.

The Review:
Hidamari Sketch doesn’t get a dub with this release so we have the standard stereo Japanese mix here encoded at 224kbps. A series like this isn’t one that will give your speakers any kind of workout as it’s about ninety-nine percent dialogue outside of the opening and closing sequences. There are a few music cues that work out well in terms of providing a full feeling but they’re few and far between overall. Dialogue placement is solid when required and there are times with some noticeable depth to it. Everything comes across well and dialogue is strong as we had no problems with dropouts or distortions while listening to it.

Originally airing in 2011, the two episode OVA release is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The series has just the two episodes all told and they’re essentially just more TV episodes in terms of quality. Hidamari Sketch has a really nice look to it overall with some pleasing soft colors but unlike the first season it does introduce a fair amount of noise throughout. Colors look really nice with a good mix of soft earthy tones and sharp vibrant colors tied to various items. The opening sequence tends to look the best with the colors and vibrancy but the episodes themselves hold up well too. The series is fairly laid back throughout so there aren’t a lot of high bitrate scenes but when there is a lot going on everything holds up well during regular playback.

The specials use the same design as the TV series that came before as it makes the whole thing look like a notebook with the rings on the left side and the tabs on the right. The character artwork looks takes a bit of a different turn though as it feels softer and more like an illustration than animation itself, which gives it a much more appealing feeling. The logo looks cute and fits well with it as does mentioning that this is season one with the full episode count for it. The back cover does something I don’t like and that’s to put all the text inside a circle with it being so uneven as it gets wider and then smaller. Surrounding the lengthy summary piece is a bunch of other circles with shots from the show along with a few doodles as the back cover fleshes out more of what the front cover did with the notebook angle. Add in the production credits with a few little cute character pieces along the bottom and a smooth clean technical grid and it’s a decent piece overall but misses the mark in one or two areas. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

The menus for Hidamari Sketch are rather simple but at least they’re done in a way that helps to set the mood for the show nicely instead of just bland background with no artwork and listing only episode numbers. The layout is fairly standard as we get the good static image across it that has some colorful designs for the background, including some sweets, while the foreground puts the girls in various regular bathing suits with all manner of smiles and blushes. They’re overlaid with the navigation strip that has the episode numbers easily selectable and then the special features in its own section, making for quick and easy access. With no language selection here (though you can change subtitles on the fly), it’s a decent menu in terms of offerings but it’s smooth and problem free, allowing you to jump right to the episodes and get on with it.

The only extras available for this release are fairly typical ones with the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Hidamari Sketch is a series that I do enjoy quite a lot, but I also have faced the truth over the last couple of years of watching it that it is largely empty. At least in terms of actual story. What it does provide me is with a certain warmth and happiness that is endearing and engaging in its own way. With it being a slice of life show based on a four panel comic, it could go a lot of different ways, but it has a neat little quirky factor to it with Akiyuki Shinbo behind the helm in how it does scene transitions and other little nuances that gives it a different spark, a kind of light that’s not on in the windows of other series of this nature. It may be a show that is in some senses hard to describe because of the emptiness, but when fans talk about it, there’s always this honest happiness that comes from them over it.

The first special here is a whole lot of cute as the girls head to an outdoor museum during the summer and they get to see lots of different types of artwork, mostly in the form of statues and the like, which has them asking questions about how such poses would work in reality and so forth. With all of them taking different approaches to their artistic nature, it’s nice to see them taking in other kinds of things and analyzing them in their own cute, girlish way. Which is extended even further as the show shifts into a pajama party for the second half, which is what they’re all excited about though Yuno ends up crashing out early though, which isn’t a surprise since they were off swimming together a bit first and that just wore her out. Seeing how the others sketch her as she sleeps is utterly priceless though.

The second episode veers in a different direction as one would expect, starting with the kind of unthinking fun that can happen. When one of them decides it’s time to wash the curtains, she just gets the inflatable pool out, not realizing she could have used her bathtub. But with the way everyone comes together for things, it makes for some simple spring fun as they all get involved. But it also takes an alarming turn when the landlord shows up and she invites them out for an all you can eat (in a hundred minutes) buffet with some amusing but standard rules about it. Bringing an adult into the show (their teacher does make a small appearance in the set) helps shift the dynamic a bit, especially since the landlady isn’t like the teachers and is a bit more rough around the edges, especially when she drinks.

In Summary:
While I have a lot of affection for Hidamari Sketch, the specials like these are essentially just a little bit more love from the show and nothing else. What we get here is spot on good fun that fits in with what the previous season gave us easily and it’s what you’d expect as the girls go through their scholastic lives and living on their own in the apartments. That said, while this is very well priced for what it is, I do wish that a chance was taken in dubbing this just to give fans a taste of “what if” and nothing more. Redubbing the series is beyond ridiculous to be sure as it’s not a show that sells to a huge audience, but if treated like an extra bonus, it would have been a wonderful addition to a short form piece. What we get here is more of the same, but the same is good and the sequences here show off the girls and their silliness and seriousness very well.

Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing

Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: July 3rd, 2012
MSRP: $14.98
Running Time: 50 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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