Monday, January 13, 2014

Hidamari Sketch Sae and Hiro Graduation 02

Hidamari Sketch Sae and Hiro Graduation 02 includes the six Hidamari residents, Yoshinoya, the Landlady, and Natsume, as well as Sae and Hiro’s classmate Nakatani and two of their other classmates. The first half of the episode follows the Hidamaris on the day before Sae and Hiro’s graduation, incorporating an extended flashback to Sae and Hiro’s first meeting, and the second half shows their graduation ceremony and the rest of the day afterward.

Scene 01: 00:08 - 00:51
C: Yu
Yuno has a dream and is abruptly woken up. In Yuno’s dream, she runs through a field of flowers as she chases after Sae and Hiro, at one point stepping in a puddle. Cherry blossom petals fall around her and she stops running to cry. The colors throughout are dull until the very end, when they suddenly become vivid as Yuno turns around (what she sees is only revealed in Scene 25, so the second half of the dream will be analyzed as part of the examination of that scene). The main symbols of this dream are flowers, Yuno’s chase, the puddle, tears, cherry blossoms, the field, and dull and vivid colors. Puddles, tears, and dull colors* all convey repressed or overlooked feelings, flowers convey kindness, chasing conveys the drive to go after something, cherry blossoms convey change, and fields represent personal growth. The vivid colors tie more closely to the second part of the dream and won’t be discussed as part of this scene. The use of motifs that represent suppressed emotion align closely to Yuno’s repeated expressions in both of the Sae and Hiro Graduation OVA episodes that she is reluctant to show anybody her sorrow in the face of Sae and Hiro’s graduation, while the cherry blossoms represent either the graduation itself or the change Yuno is going through as a result of experiencing the graduation (in which case they go along with the image of the field). The flowers might represent Sae and Hiro themselves, since Yuno has been shown to view them as warm parental figures. Overall, Yuno’s dream indicates a repression of her emotional response to Sae and Hiro’s graduation and a recognition of the changes she is undergoing as a result. Her emotional response is not suggested to be tied to any romantic feelings toward them but does indicate enough of a closeness to them that it earns her a significant increase in her yurilevels. After waking up, she notes that she has to prepare the school for the graduation ceremony, in response to which she pulls her blanket back over her in a sulk, reinforcing her previous increase. Yuno ends at 3.

Scene 02: 00:54 - 01:41
C: Yu, Mi, Sa
Yuno and Miyako talk with Sae on their way to graduation preparation. Yuno and Miyako’s nondescript small talk on the way down the stairs conveys a friendly ease with each other that gives them slight increases early on. Miyako notes that Sae is awake early, giving her another small raise from being familiar with Sae’s sleeping patterns. Sae earns a moderate increase from her friendly happiness at seeing Yuno and Miyako go off to school. She and Miyako receive 2 while Yuno ends with 1.

Scene 03: 03:23 - 03:55
C: Yu, Mi
Yuno and Miyako help set up Yamabuki High School’s gymnasium for the graduation ceremony. Miyako comments that Yuno has seemed depressed all day, an attempt at understanding her emotions that only makes Yuno think Miyako isn’t upset about Sae and Hiro’s graduation, giving her no side increase from Miyako’s elevated readings. Yuno expresses her sadness about the graduation, to which Miyako responds by playfully pulling on her face and telling her to be happy for them, giving Miyako another increase for her physical attempt at comforting Yuno. Yuno only gets sadder, again preventing her from being helped by Miyako’s efforts. Miyako ends with 2 and Yuno gets 0.

Scene 04: 04:03 - 05:25
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na, La
The Hidamaris and the Landlady have a pre-graduation party. The Landlady earns slight initial readings with her friendly offering of pizza, which Hiro gets side readings from for her gratitude. Sae and Hiro thank the Landlady for her help in a way that is too formal for them to receive yurilevels from. In response, the Landlady begins drunkenly spieling about sharing a beer with Sae and Hiro and romanticizing their arrival three years prior as that of little kids, a display of fondness for Sae and Hiro that earns her a moderate increase. Her inebriated logorrhea spurs Nori to ask how Sae and Hiro met, receiving a slight increase for her curiosity in them. Nazuna receives a much more substantial increase by adding to Nori’s question and asking if they were always as close as they are now, conveying that she views them as an intimately close pair. Sae denies any memory of their meeting out of embarrassment, holding her readings down and prompting friendly teasing from both Hiro and the Landlady, the latter of whom brings up Sae’s first impression of Hiro as a sweet young child (女の子, “onnanoko,” translated as “sugar and spice” but carrying the same connotations) and earns slight readings for displaying a sharp memory of intimate details about Sae. The Landlady receives 3, Nazuna 2, Hiro and Nori 1, and the rest end with 0.

Scene 05: 05:28 - 05:42
C: Hi
Hiro’s flashback begins with her standing in front of Sae’s door. Her desire to meet her neighbor is presumably informed by Hidamari Apartments’ rule that only women are allowed to live on the property, and as such earns her a 1 for wanting to be with a woman. The flashback sequence as a whole mirrors Part B of xHoshimittsu OVA 02, starting with faded and dull colors and using cherry blossom petals as a recurring motif, but right now this doesn’t strongly affect any yurilevel readings.

Scene 06: 05:49 - 06:08
C: Hi
Hiro lies awake at night thinking about a woman. Her thoughts are entirely fixated on her mysterious neighbor, but whether her obsession has a yuri element to it is so far mostly ambiguous since she could at this point be merely harboring an innocent curiosity. She also worries that the neighbor will be weird, asking how she could spend three years with somebody like that; while the statement itself isn’t especially gay, it is dripping in dramatic irony given Hiro’s extreme affection for Sae later and Hiro earns substantial readings. She ends at 3.

Scene 07: 06:20 - 06:36
C: Sa, Hi, Yo, Nt
Hiro sees Sae for the first time. At the time, Sae is running alongside Natsume to catch up to with the school tour (see xHoshimittsu OVA 01); they receive analogous readings to Scene 29 in that episode (a 2 for Sae and a 4 for Natsume) since that scene and this one show the same point in time so there is no difference in their yuri state. Even without knowing the girl is her sought-after neighbor, Hiro looks at Sae with considerable interest, giving her a 2 as well. Yoshinoya’s only appearance in the scene is a series of jumps, so she ends at 0.

Scene 08: 06:38 - 07:10
C: Sa, Hi
Girl meets girl. The washed out colors from the rest of the flashback become noticeably brighter once Hiro realizes that Sae lives at Hidamari Apartments, similarly to Sae’s effect on Natsume when they met in xHoshimittsu OVA 01. The symbolism present in that scene, namely of Sae being a source of comfort and happiness to the other party, therefore likely extends here and earns Hiro a 4 from her happiness at getting to know Sae. Sae is alarmed to see Hiro so overjoyed to meet her, keeping her at 0.

Scene 09: 07:14 - 10:18
C: Sa, Hi
Hiro goes into Sae’s bedroom for the first time. Sae and Hiro are both very stiff and uncertain in the beginning of the scene, but once they begin talking they open up to each other very quickly; this is particularly noticeable with Sae, who moves from blushing and using formalities to talking freely about her writing in the space of around half a minute. Sae even allows Hiro to read a manuscript on her desk, a marked contrast to how she initially hides and withholds her writing from Yuno and Miyako; after finishing, Hiro is effusive with praise and calls Sae a pro, strong compliments which Sae accepts with yuri-embarrassment, earning both of them strong increases. Hiro also calms down considerably and says she is relieved that Sae isn’t weird like Hiro was worried she would be, an interesting statement given Sae has been shown so far to be a messy shut-in. Together with an attractive close-up shot of Sae implied to be from Hiro’s perspective, Hiro is already showing a tendency to frame Sae in the most positive light she can, indicating an instant attachment to her that significantly raises her readings. She also shows hints of her future tendency of nurturing Sae by asking to make sure she is going to school, worrying about her weight, and offering to cook for her. Hiro tells Sae she is still getting used to cooking and apologizes in advance in case it turns out poorly. A year later, her cooking is universally commended, but by the start of her third year she is not noticeably better, which could mean that she cooked for Sae in their first year far more often than she did for all the Hidamaris in her second or third year. She comments later that having Sae to taste-test helped her learn to cook, but this would be such an incremental process that she would necessarily have to cook for Sae almost constantly. It’s therefore likely that Hiro was using cooking as an excuse to spend time with Sae, only becoming a skilled chef as a side benefit, which substantially raises Hiro’s readings and gives Sae significant side readings as well. The scene ends with Sae and Hiro awkwardly testing the “-chan” (ちゃん) honorific on each other before moving right to using each other’s name with no honorific, a dynamic referred to as “yobisute” (呼び捨て) which implies an extremely high degree of intimacy between the speakers (e.g., among very close friends, family, or one’s spouse) and earns Sae and Hiro high readings each for their willingness to become so comfortable with each other so quickly. Both end with well-deserved 4s.**

Scene 10: 10:18 - 11:18
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na, La
The others react to Hiro’s story. Sae and Hiro are both blushing and looking away from each other, conveying their embarrassment at having such a private, personal moment like their first meeting being known to others (a similar sentiment to their alarm at being hugged by one another in the previous episode). Yuno earns a moderate increase for saying Sae and Hiro’s meeting was about what she expected, displaying a thorough knowledge of how they behave toward each other, while Nazuna misses the point completely by being impressed that Hiro only became a good cook after coming to Hidamari (her compliment still helps her slightly). The Landlady then attempts to induct Sae and Hiro into an association called “Sunflowers of Hidamari Apartments” (ひだまり荘向日葵会, “Hidamari Sou Oubi-Kai”), which is supposedly a fund to help future generations of Hidamari residents in unspecified ways but is given away by a small picture of the Landlady on her flyer pleading to “Donate!” (カンパ!, “kampa!”) to be only a transparent attempt at sucking more money out of her tenants. The Landlady’s exhortation to join involves her wrapping her arms around Sae and Hiro’s shoulders at one point, leaving her with a marginal net increase for her show of intimacy around the two. Sae and Hiro agree to join after being convinced it’s for the sake of the other residents, a loyalty to them that further helps their readings, bringing them both to 3 overall. Yuno earns 2, Nazuna and the Landlady each receive 1, and Miyako and Nori stay at 0.

Scene 11: 11:31 - 11:37
C: Sa, Hi
Hiro puts on her uniform. Sae is waiting for her outside, but this seems to be primarily a friendly action given they’re going to Yamabuki. Hiro’s reply is accepting but muted, so Sae is the only one to receive any readings. She ends at 1.

Scene 12: 11:37 - 11:40
C: Sa, Hi
Sae and Hiro stand outside. Nothing especially gay to note.

Scene 13: 11:46 - 12:03
C: Yu, Mi, No, Na
Yuno, Miyako, Nori, and Nazuna gather outside to go to the graduation ceremony. Miyako notices Yuno’s skirt is bulging out at the side pocket, implying Miyako was staring at Yuno’s hips and thus elevating her readings substantially for her sensual curiosity***. Yuno reveals that she is bringing multiple packs of tissues to the graduation, presumably in the event that she (and/or Miyako, given the number of tissues) begins crying during the ceremony. Her expectation of a strong emotional outburst raises her yurilevels moderately so that she ends with 2. Miyako receives 4 and Nori and Nazuna both stay at 0.

Scene 14: 12:19 - 12:23
C: Yu, Mi
Yuno and Miyako watch the graduation ceremony. Yuno is unable to watch and keeps her head down, receiving a moderate increase from her sorrow at imminently losing Sae and Hiro. Miyako is able to watch, but also rests her hand on top of Yuno’s to comfort her. Both get strong increases from this show of physical closeness, bringing Yuno to 4 and Miyako to 3.

Scene 15: 13:44 - 13:57
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi
The graduation ceremony finishes. Yuno and Miyako are still holding hands, but Miyako is now looking down and in general Yuno’s direction, a rare show of sadness on her part that conveys her own grief at being separated from Sae and Hiro and also suggests she was holding Yuno’s hand to comfort herself as well. Both are raised to 4..

Scene 16: 14:01 - 14:32
C: Sa, Hi, Nakatani, Sae and Hiro’s other classmates
Sae, Hiro, and their classmates say their goodbyes. Everyone gets strong increases from their tearful hugs early on, with Sae’s being especially strong from her resolve to stay friends with the others. Nakatani is then solicited by a male classmate, who is implied to be attempting to confess his love to her. Her yurilevels are entirely cancelled out by even considering hearing his confession, fixing her at 0. At the end, Sae leaves to go to the bathroom and one of her classmates teasingly asks if she is also going to confess to someone (which doesn’t impact her readings as she doesn’t specify if she believes Sae will confess to a boy or a girl). Sae laughs the question off and her yurilevels aren’t impacted either; the exchange is brought up here primarily because it sets up the context of the next two scenes. Sae earns 4, Nakatani 0, and the rest 3.

Scene 17: 14:34 - 14:50
C: Sa, Nt
Sae and Natsume have an encounter in the bathroom. Sae notices her eyes are puffy from unconsciously crying, showing she is also upset at leaving her high school friends and giving her a moderate boost. When Natsume spots Sae, she violently and blushingly denies she came to the bathroom to see her, conveying a yuri-embarrassment (i.e., non-shameful) to see her, which given the recent discussion of confessions could belie a repressed desire to confess to Sae before they leave high school. Ambiguity keeps her at 3, while Sae receives 2.

Scene 18: 14:52 - 15:37
C: Sa, Nt
Natsume misses her last good chance. Sae and Natsume both congratulate each other on their graduation, but too stiffly to earn them any readings. Natsume then begins a rambling speech trying to justify to herself that she will be able to see Sae after high school before failing to do so and beginning to cry, conveying her grief at being separated from Sae. Her sadness prompts Sae to grab onto her shoulders, using physical contact to comfort her and conveying a closeness with her that significantly helps her readings. However, Sae shows no emotional response whatsoever when Natsume then breaks down altogether and sobs into Sae’s chest (further aiding her readings for trying to comfort herself in Sae’s breasts and giving her a 4 for the scene). Instead, she looks away from Natsume and blithely stares off into the distance, an utter detachment and callousness that lowers her yurilevels to only a 1.

Scene 19: 15:42 - 16:03
C: Sa, Hi, Nakatani, Sae and Hiro’s classmates
Sae returns to her classroom. Hiro also notices Sae’s eyes are puffy, earning her a slight increase for showing friendly concern. Sae’s blushing denial is likely to be non-yuri-embarrassment, so she receives no side readings. The other classmates then ask for Sae and Hiro to come sign yearbooks; Sae and Hiro don’t sign each other’s yearbooks and none of the names in the yearbooks can be attached to any particular characters (the friends are listed in the credits as 少女A, 少女B, and 少女C [“Shoujo A, B, C”, Girl A, B, C]), so no yurilevels are given to specific characters as a result of the content of their signings but all characters receive a generic slight raise. Everyone ends at 1.

Scene 20: 16:09 - 16:38
C: Sa, Hi, Yo
Sae and Hiro say goodbye to Yoshinoya. Sae tells Hiro they should go home, subtly reinforcing her dominance over Hiro but in an insubstantial enough way that it only slightly affects her and Hiro’s readings. Before they leave, Yoshinoya spots them and congratulates them on their graduation. Though she doesn’t receive an increase for it, as it would be expected from her as a teacher, Sae and Hiro both earn strong increases from their heartfelt and largely physical expressions of gratitude (Sae holds Yoshinoya’s hand and Hiro presses her body against Yoshinoya). Yoshinoya’s parting message to the two is a request for them to never forget the feel of her body, a highly sexual message that unnerves Sae and Hiro, giving them no side readings. Sae and Hiro each end with 3 and Yoshinoya receives 4.

Scene 21: 16:42 - 17:19
C: Sa, Hi
Sae and Hiro receive messages from their mothers. Their parents sent them the exact same text messages informing Sae and Hiro that they would be leaving to eat lunch together instead of seeing their own daughters after they had just graduated. The way their mothers grow so close so quickly despite having never met is an overt parallel to Sae and Hiro’s rapid warming to each other earlier in the episode, but it has no bearing on their yurilevels because, as there is only scant evidence at best suggesting homosexuality is linked to a person’s upbringing or genetics (a recent study suggests it may be epigenetic), the sexuality of their mothers implies nothing about Sae and Hiro’s own yuri tendencies. Hiro suggests she wanted her mother to at least greet her before leaving, receiving a slight increase for desiring the company of another woman. She then proposes to Sae that they respond with the same message as well; they thank their mothers for sending them to Yamabuki High School, though it is more likely influenced by induced sentimentality from their recent graduation than by gratitude that their mothers enabled them to meet each other and as such also does not affect her readings. Hiro ends with 1 and Sae with 0.

Scene 22: 17:22 - 18:54
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na
Yuno, Miyako, Nori, and Nazuna confront Sae and Hiro outside Yamabuki. Sae and Hiro walk out of the school laughing, suggesting they were casually talking and receiving marginal friendly readings for it. They are surprised to see Yuno, Miyako, Nori, and Nazuna standing intently with serious faces at the school gate. The expectation is set up that the four are there to congratulate Sae and Hiro by opening the scene with a serious, silent shot of their outlines as they wait. This expectation is subverted, however, when Yuno rushes forward and tearfully begs Sae and Hiro not to graduate, launching three minutes**** of self-described selfish behavior on the younger Hidamaris’ part as they plead with Sae and Hiro to stay another year (or two, as Nori suggests) and not leave them; Yuno and Nazuna do so sobbingly, stopping multiple times to hold their heads and weep, while Miyako and Nori do so angrily (this could be a subtle reinforcement of the masculine-feminine dynamics in Yuno and Miyako’s as well as Nori and Nazuna’s relationships, if aggression is taken to be a masculine trait and crying a feminine one). Yuno’s depiction of their sudden outpouring of grief as “selfish” (わがまま, “wagamama”) again conveys her belief, and that of the younger Hidamaris in general, that emotional suppression is preferable to troubling Sae and Hiro, a strong if unhealthy consideration for them that earns them significant readings on top of their considerable increases from the intense attachment they display in their moment of “selfishness.” Sae and Hiro are stunned into silence throughout, other than the occasional grunt of confusion, and don’t receive any immediate increases from their reactions. After the three minutes are up and the Hidamaris compose themselves, they finally congratulate Sae and Hiro, who accept their well-wishes warmly. Sae and Hiro end with 1 each, while the others all earn 4.

Scene 23: 18:56 - 20:18
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na
The Hidamaris admire each other. Sae and Hiro both say they’ve had lots of fun over their three years as tenants of Hidamari Apartments, with Hiro adding a suggestion of gratitude that the other Hidamaris supported her during periods of depression. The implicit inclusion of Misato and Riri from their first year as Hidamaris is not a detriment to either of their readings since Misato and Riri are girls, so Sae and Hiro earn moderate, primarily friendly increases. Hiro’s comment leads to a general discussion of what the Hidamaris mean to each other, with Yuno echoing Hiro’s appreciation of the Hidamaris as a support network and saying that being in close company with them and spending time together is what made her view them as more than friends; Yuno is essentially stating plainly the central theme of the series (as derived in the Conclusions section of the investigation under “The Role of Yuri in Hidamari Sketch”), making explicit her affection for the others and earning significant readings. Sae brings up the motif of the Hidamaris as a family, which Yuno, Miyako, Hiro, and Nori agree is a valid reading of their relationships, earning all five of them a moderate raise. Nazuna also earns a slight increase for saying she feels Hidamari is warm and comfortable, in context making it out to be her home. Yuno receives 4, while Hiro earns 3, Sae, Miyako, and Nori all get 2, and Nazuna ends with 1.

Scene 24: 20:21 - 21:09
C: Yu, Mi
Yuno and Miyako bathe together. Though Miyako is staying to one corner of the bath as to not touch Yuno, they are nonetheless continuing a trend present throughout the episode of the two using physical intimacy to comfort each other. They are equally helped by their skinship as it is unclear which asked the other to share a bath. Yuno thanks Miyako for being with her and supporting her, giving her a moderate increase and Miyako a slight side increase for responding by smiling. Yuno also says she wants to be like Sae or Hiro, but specifies it is in terms of being focused rather than having a similar relationship with Miyako that Sae and Hiro share with each other so it only nets her a slight boost. She ends the scene by saying it will be lonely without Sae and Hiro, which Miyako agrees with, but neither says this in any tone conveying sadness and they share a knowing laugh before the scene cuts to the two together in bed sometime later. They are both clothed, but there is a strong sense from these actions that they are preparing, even rehearsing, for whatever intimacies may occur when Sae and Hiro move out and the only other people in Hidamari Apartments will be on the other side of the building and well out of hearing range (presumably this will be gentle hugging). Yuno and Miyako both end with 4.

Scene 25: 21:12 - 22:04
C: Yu
Yuno reflects on her dream from earlier. In the second part of her dream, one of Yuno’s tears turns into a bloom of cherry blossom petals and Yuno is suddenly surrounded by a large crowd of many of the people she had met while living at Hidamari Apartments. She watches Sae and Hiro turn and walk away from her and is then joined by Miyako. Here the main symbols are vivid colors, the teardrop, cherry blossoms, and a crowd. As a contrast to dull colors, vivid colors would represent strong emotion*, while teardrops represent wisdom learned or recalled, cherry blossoms represent rebirth, and crowds represent a strong social support system. Overall, Yuno’s initial sorrow at Sae and Hiro leaving is changed into gratitude when she remembers the network of people she has formed, helping her view Sae and Hiro’s departure as a learning experience and a new beginning. Miyako’s appearance at the end and Yuno’s subsequent warm smile at Miyako as she sleeps next to her indicate that of the people she has met, Miyako is the most important to her. The crowd of people she met included men, so Yuno receives no readings from her gratitude toward the group. However, her expression of an affection for Miyako so strong as to stand paramount over any attachment she feels toward anybody that has ever appeared on Hidamari Sketch is an exceptionally intense display of fondness for her and easily earns Yuno a 4.

Final Yurilevel Readings: (both Umes and Aokis are out of 4)
Episode: 2.5517A
  1. Natsume: 3.792U
  2. Sae and Hiro’s classmates: 2.788U
  3. Yoshinoya: 2.577U
  4. Hiro: 2.549U
  5. Landlady: 2.154U
  6. Nazuna: 2.024U
  7. Sae: 2.016U
  8. Nori: 1.843U
  9. Yuno: 1.575U
  10. Miyako: 1.168U
  11. Nakatani: 0.403U

Not content to go out without a bang, the final episode analyzed for the Hidamari Yurilevel Project also records the highest Aoki reading of the investigation by nearly 0.3 Aokis (beating xHoneycomb 05 for the position). Curiously, however, only Natsume, the unnamed classmates, and Yoshinoya (with a combined 174 seconds of scene time, or less than one-fifth of the episode) end with an Ume level above 2.55 when in theory everyone should be closer to the overall episode reading. The cause of this discrepancy lies in where the Aoki yurilevels are coming from as opposed to the Ume yurilevels: the first half of the episode earns considerable Aokis from Hiro’s fixation with Sae but mostly omits or downplays the other Hidamaris, lowering the younger Hidamaris’ Ume readings, while the second half of the episode is heavily centered around the emotional responses of other characters to Sae and Hiro’s graduation, relegating Sae and Hiro to bystander positions and lowering their Ume readings. All this said, everybody but Miyako had considerably higher yurilevels than normal; to have over half the characters of the episode end over 2.0U is an astonishing feat. In contrast to the previous, more restrained portion of the xHoneycomb OVA, this episode is filled with displays of raw emotion on a level virtually unprecedented in Hidamari Sketch, focusing on the Hidamaris and the close bonds they share. Between Yuno et al.’s heart-wrenching pleas for Sae and Hiro to stay with them forever and the extended flashback to Sae and Hiro’s first introduction to each other, the only possible contender for a gayer episode I could imagine would be Yuno and Miyako’s own graduation.

*: The resource used in this investigation for dream analysis,, has no associated meaning for colors in general (i.e. dull or vivid). Since most colors convey a particular emotion, dull colors conveying weak or held-back emotion and vivid colors conveying strong emotion are assumptions on the part of the investigator.

**: Curiously, the colors in Hiro’s flashback never return to their full intensity, unlike in Natsume’s flashback. This may be a symbolic way of suggesting that Natsume fell in love with Sae immediately while Hiro’s love grew more slowly.
***: Miyako might also be examining Yuno’s hips because she noticed something different about them, but because this suggests Miyako is innately familiar with the shape of Yuno’s lower body it is just as gay and would not impact the 4 she receives in this scene.
****:  This measurement is in-universe; only 35 seconds of the actual “selfishness” are shown.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Hidamari Sketch Sae and Hiro Graduation 01

Hidamari Sketch Sae and Hiro Graduation 01 includes the six Hidamari residents and Chika, as well as one of Hiro’s friends. The episode centers on Sae and Hiro’s college entrance exams and subsequent wait for their results.

Scene 01: 00:10 - 00:44
C: Yu
Yuno wakes up on the first day of Sae and Hiro’s university exams. She gets out of bed early in the morning to make Sae a lunch, which from the emphasis she has put on the day on her calendar and from her determination in getting out of bed despite being cold is conveyed to be a task Yuno believes is very important for Sae’s success. This is reinforced by her light-hearted movements as she cooks the meal, which show her willingness to inconvenience herself for Sae’s benefit. Yuno’s desire for Sae to do well does not have significant tones of romantic yuri, but as a gesture of friendship it earns Yuno a 2.

Scene 02: 00:47 - 01:31
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na
Sae and Hiro say goodbye to the other Hidamaris before leaving to take university entrance tests. In addition to Yuno’s lunch for Sae, which doesn’t affect her readings here since she was already earned yurilevels for it in the previous scene, Nori is shown to have made a lunch for Hiro. Nori has never been portrayed as a particularly strong cook (she relies on a printed-out recipe to make a dessert in xHoshimittsu 12, fails to help Nazuna [who herself is a canonically poor chef] cook a meal in xHoneycomb 01, and admits to having no experience with making fried foods in xHoneycomb 05), so it is unusual that Nori would prepare a meal. The most likely explanation for Nori’s behavior is that, like Yuno, she is emotionally invested in helping Hiro succeed and was thus motivated enough to cook for her, earning Nori a similar increase to Yuno in the previous scene. Hiro accepts the lunch with some warmth, but her overall reaction seems too polite to affect her readings. Miyako tells Hiro not to eat the lunch before lunchtime, and looks proud of her advice after saying it, showing that she also wants to help but in a way that is not significant enough to earn her as strong an increase as Yuno and Nori had. After the other Hidamaris have said their goodbyes, Sae tells Hiro that they have to leave, reinforcing their dominant-submissive dynamic by having Sae leading Hiro and Hiro happily following, which raises both of their readings. Before they go, Miyako leads the others in the “Hidamari Cheer Squad” chant from xHoneycomb 10, another display of support that earns them each slight friendly increases. Nori ends with 3, Miyako, Sae, and Hiro with 2, and Yuno and Nazuna with 1.

Scene 03: 03:06 - 04:58
C: Yu, Mi, Hi, No, Na
Hiro returns from an exam. Despite meeting the others in Nazuna’s room, Hiro still enters by saying “I’m home” (ただいま, “tadaima”) and is greeted with a unanimous “welcome home” (おかえりなさい, “okaeri nasai”), conveying that all of them feel equally at home in any part of Hidamari Apartments, a comfort around each other that elevates all of them significantly. Yuno and Miyako both worry that Hiro is becoming sick from stress, giving them slight increases. Yuno is also helped by her offer to make lunch for Hiro again, which Hiro receives comparable side-readings from for her gratitude and for saying how much she appreciates that the others are showing her so much care. Yuno ends with 3 and everyone else earns 2.

Scene 04: 05:00 - 06:00
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na
Sae returns from her exam. Her cheerful demeanor worries the others, particularly Yuno and Nori, who evidently have a desire to keep her from being happy that will detract from their overall readings. Sae reveals a bag of sweets she brought for everybody, a friendly gesture that helps her slightly, and the other Hidamaris subsequently stop worrying about her, though this is more a selfish desire for desserts than any reconciliation toward Sae. Yuno shows friendly sympathy for Sae and Hiro as they take their exams, and Sae quickly focuses Yuno’s sympathy away from herself and toward Hiro, likely since as the previous scene showed she is having a more difficult exam period. Hiro accepts this redirection, so both she and Sae receive increases from Sae’s selflessness. Overall, Sae receives 2, Yuno and Hiro get 1, and the rest stay at 0.

Scene 05: 06:05 - 06:53
C: Yu, Mi
Yuno expresses concern about the future while Miyako clips her toenails. Miyako responds to Yuno’s misgivings about university exams by asking if she doesn’t want to take any, a simplistic but well-meaning effort on her part to understand Yuno’s feelings that she expounds into a philosophical musing about the purpose of exams, which cheers Yuno up with partial success. Throughout the discussion, Miyako is clipping her toenails, showing an extremely high level of comfort both in Yuno’s room and around Yuno herself. Yuno’s annoyed reactions suggest that she doesn’t believe Miyako’s comfort is warranted, lowering her reading for the scene to a 1 while Miyako receives a 3.

Scene 06: 07:02 - 07:35
C: Hi, Hiro’s friend
Hiro finishes her exam. Her friend asks if Hiro will be eating another lunch made for her, demonstrating a pattern of observing Hiro that raises her readings slightly, and Hiro’s smile and laugh as she responds shows her enjoyment at having the lunches prepared for her. Hiro’s comment that the lunch is cute reinforce her yurilevels from appreciating the help she is receiving from the other Hidamaris, raising her to 2 overall. Her friend ends at 1.

Scene 07: 07:37 - 08:12
C: Yu, Mi
Yuno discusses the artistic intent of her lunch for Hiro. Her chosen dish of wieners is homonymous with the English word “winner”, which is both esoteric given neither Yuno nor Hiro speaks English as their first language and also assumes Hiro enjoys eating wieners, so Yuno doesn’t receive an increase for her choice of food. Her eagerness to help Hiro by making her lunch does show care for her, however, so she earns a slight increase overall. Miyako, meanwhile, is content to help Hiro by eating on her behalf, which is simply an attempt to justify her eating rather than any selfless action. She stays at 0 and Yuno ends at 1.

Scene 08: 08:17 - 10:33
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na
Sae receives her exam results. She initially opens the wrong envelope, frustrating the other Hidamaris who crowd their heads around each other as they complain about Sae’s carelessness; they receive a slight net increase, mostly since the positioning of their heads would suggest at least some of them are rubbing against each other. As Sae opens the correct envelope, Hiro has her hands clasped and her eyes closed to resemble prayer, showing an intense desire for Sae’s success relative to the others who sit normally and receiving a moderate raise. Hiro is also the first Hidamari to help Sae look for her ID number on the list of accepted students and congratulates her most loudly, actions which both reinforce her previous increase. Miyako then leads a general cheer and congratulation, increasing her readings moderately and the others’ slightly, but Sae is too uncomfortable with being admitted to the university that she does not readily accept their praise, keeping her from earning side readings. Toward the end of the scene, Hiro notes with what seems to be some measure of worry that she will be receiving her first results soon; Sae attempts to soothe her by resting a hand on her shoulder and reassuring her that she will be accepted to her first pick, earning both of them strong readings for showing that the two conflate comfort with physically connecting with each other. Hiro is visibly cheered up by Sae’s efforts and shows her gratitude by hugging Sae’s waist. This time Sae gets embarrassed by Hiro’s gesture, for which there are two likely explanations: either Sae is uncomfortable with Hiro’s sudden intimacy, which is somewhat plausible given Sae’s general reluctance to open up to others, or that Sae is embarrassed with expressing said intimacy in front of the other Hidamaris. The second is slightly more plausible since as of xHoneycomb 06 Sae has no problem hugging Hiro, and even with a degree of uncertainty included it still helps Sae significantly for suggesting that she considers aspects of her relationship to Hiro private. She ends with 3 while Hiro receives 4; Miyako earns 2 and the others end at 1.

Scene 09: 10:37 - 12:51
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na
Hiro receives exam results from her third and first pick universities. While waiting for Hiro to open the results for her third pick, Sae is noticeably leaning toward Hiro, showing strong emotional investment and receiving a moderate increase for it. Hiro is accepted and the others congratulate with Yuno and Sae being the first; they receive slightly stronger increases than the rest for this. Nazuna responds to Hiro’s comment that her fourth pick university rejected her by suggesting the grader was bad at art, suggesting Nazuna believes Hiro’s art is sufficiently complex or advanced enough to go over the heads of professional artists, a faith in Hiro’s skill that elevates Nazuna significantly. When Hiro opens the results from her first pick, Sae is again leaning in intensely which again aids her readings considerably. Hiro learns she has been waitlisted, a term which Yuno and Miyako are unfamiliar with. Miyako suggests to Yuno that waitlisting is like being a benchwarmer (a second- or third-tier baseball player used as a substitute), conveying that, unlike Nazuna, Miyako doesn’t believe Hiro is good enough to be accepted immediately into the university, which will hurt her readings. Hiro says that she will receive a notice of acceptance or rejection in a week, prompting Sae to grab hold of Hiro’s waist and call for a miracle to happen, similarly to how Hiro did in Scene 08. Like in Scene 08, the combination of her close physical contact and demand of divine intervention on Hiro’s behalf gives Sae a very strong yurilevel increase, while Yuno, Miyako, Nori, and Nazuna all receive slight side-increases for subsequently praying for Hiro. Since this moment is a repetition of the end of the previous scene, Sae and Hiro receive similar increase to then with Sae in Hiro's role and vice versa. Sae earns 4, Hiro and Nazuna 3 each, Yuno and Nori 1 each, and Miyako 0.

Scene 10: 13:03 - 13:17
C: Yu, Mi
Yuno and Miyako wait for Hiro’s test results to be delivered. At the beginning of the scene, Yuno appears to be leaning toward Miyako, but Miyako later sits up, showing that Yuno was just leaning toward Miyako (which is still a bit gay, but not as strongly as actually resting on Miyako’s shoulder would have been). Yuno and Miyako are both stressed in sympathy for Hiro, an emotional resonance that earns them each moderate readings which are strengthened by their hastiness to rush outside for the mail in the hopes that it is Hiro’s admission decision. Both end with 2.

Scene 11: 13:18 - 13:45
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi
Sae and Hiro join Yuno and Miyako in waiting for Hiro’s test results to be delivered. Hiro apologizes for making Yuno and Miyako worry about her, a considerate remark that helps her slightly, but Yuno insists it doesn’t trouble her to be concerned about Hiro, helping her similarly. The four grow anticipatory at seeing another courier approach Hidamari Apartments, strengthening Yuno, Miyako, and Sae’s yurilevels for their sympathetic anxiety that are reinforced by their frustration at learning it’s a pizza deliverer. Everybody ends with 1.

Scene 12: 13:47 - 14:51
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na
Hiro’s test results are delivered. Nori and Nazuna apologize to Hiro for getting her hopes up by ordering pizza, though because only Nazuna’s apology seems regretful while Nori tries to laugh the incident off, only Nazuna is helped by apologizing. When the actual test results arrive for Hiro, the other Hidamaris all bow and thank the deliveryman, receiving slight increases for again showing emotional investment in Hiro’s exams. Hiro is too nervous to open her results around the others and moves away before doing so, suggesting the Hidamaris are not a source of comfort to Hiro and holding down her yurilevels for the scene. The process of her opening the envelope focuses on Sae just as much as it does on Hiro, with the scene placing her in the center of the others as they watch from afar, zooming in on her eye while Hiro reads her results, and showing only her reaction after Hiro reveals she was accepted. By giving such strong emphasis to Sae during an event that is happening to Hiro, Sae is being presented as an equally important player in Hiro’s affairs as Hiro herself is, continuing a motif throughout the series of portraying Sae and Hiro as two halves of a whole. It raises them each to 4, while Nazuna earns 2 and the rest receive 1.

Scene 13: 14:55 - 17:17
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na
The Hidamaris celebrate Sae and Hiro’s admissions. Like in Scene 08, Miyako is the main instigator in getting everyone to applaud Sae and Hiro for their success, earning her a moderate increase and giving Yuno, Nori, and Nazuna slight side increases for participating. Yuno asks Nori if she ordered pizza to celebrate, helping her for assuming Nori would be selfless enough to reward Hiro for her admission, but Nori admits she ordered it for dinner and the delivery was only coincidence which prevents her from being benefitted by her action. Hiro expresses excitement about no longer having to study, but as she does so she looks at Sae and asks “right?” (ね, “ne” [a tag question particle]) twice as if she is asking for Sae’s permission to relax. She only does so when Sae confirms her statement, another show of submission from her that raises both Sae and Hiro’s yurilevels significantly. Miyako pretends to interview Sae and Hiro about what they want to do with their exams finished, an interest in them that aids her readings slightly; Hiro is the only one to answer the question directly while Sae completely defers to Hiro’s wishes by agreeing to everything Hiro suggests, helping Sae significantly for her desire to make Hiro happy. Later, Nori and Nazuna suggest that Hiro could work at a restaurant because it would provide her with free food, which both suggests they think of her as little more than a glutton but is also a sincere recommendation intended to help her, so it has no net effect on their readings. Overall, Hiro ends with 4, Sae ends with 3, Yuno and Miyako with 2, and Nori and Nazuna with 1.

Scene 14: 17:17 - 18:31
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na, Ch
Chika sends Hiro her congratulations. Nearly every line Chika has in this scene is spoken with an extremely excited tone that conveys her overwhelming joy for Hiro, moderately raising her readings since nothing in her delivery suggests anything stronger than close friendship. Sae, in contrast, is annoyed with her sister throughout, becoming openly hostile when Chika asks for chirashizushi the next time she visits Hidamari Apartments and when Chika tells Sae she needs to learn to cook before living on her own at college*, and her readings are consequently held down considerably. Yuno earns a slight increase for figuring out from Sae’s reactions that she was speaking to Chika, displaying an ability to read and understand Sae’s emotions, while Hiro gets a moderate increase for showing genuine rather than polite happiness at hearing Chika congratulate her and ask to visit as a celebration. Hiro and Chika each end at 2, Yuno at 1, and everyone else at 0.

Scene 15: 18:31 - 20:27
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na
The Hidamaris continue to celebrate. Yuno asks Sae and Hiro if they are full, a concern for them that helps her readings slightly. Nori and Nazuna are made happy by hearing Hiro say it was a satisfying meal, helping them because it reflects their desire to help Hiro. Sae credits the others with getting her into university by giving her their support, giving her a moderate increase for her gratitude and Hiro a similar increase for agreeing. After their sentiments are shared, Nori tries to involve Nazuna in the conversation asking if she’s happy to hear their thankfulness, helping her for wanting to incorporate Nazuna into the group; meanwhile, Yuno and Miyako smile happily at each other, conveying their pride in each other’s work toward Sae and Hiro’s success and giving them both slight raises. Miyako’s increase is offset by making fun of Hiro’s weight, and Hiro’s angry and violent response hurts her as well. Yuno responds to Sae and Hiro by saying that she felt compelled to help out of concern for them, showing either a sense of obligation or sympathy toward Hiro, which either way is enough of a closeness toward her that she receives a moderate increase. Miyako’s repeated references to the Hidamari Cheer Squad come across as an intention to focus the conversation on herself and her actions, a selfishness that detracts from her readings. Hiro says she literally slept better at night knowing the other Hidamaris were there for her, a strong friendly appreciation which aids her moderately; Yuno receives a slight side increase for being pleased by Hiro’s remark. Yuno ends with 3, Sae and Hiro with 2, Nori and Nazuna with 1, and Miyako with 0.

Scene 16: 20:33 - 21:29
C: Sa, Hi
Sae and Hiro relax together on Hiro’s bed. An establishing shot of a tea kettle on a stove burner suggests that the tea that Sae and Hiro are drinking was prepared and served in Hiro’s room. It doesn’t receive any comments or attention from them, but Sae and Hiro are very clearly drinking from matching mugs with two stripes, with Sae’s colored blue and Hiro’s colored pink to match their respective hair colors. Matching colorless mugs would have been easily explainable as generic cups with no special meaning, but with the color coordination it’s evident Hiro owns them solely for the two of them to drink from together. In all honesty, any examination of the rest of the scene is merely a formality, because having matching personalized mugs is an embarrassingly cutesy romantic gesture on Hiro’s part that Sae appears to embrace happily, and will be certain to overshadow anything else that happens. Sae tells Hiro her nervousness about exams only ended when Hiro received her acceptance letter, bolstering her yurilevels for treating their exams as one connected event and being just as invested in Hiro’s success as in her own. The rest of the scene is mostly easygoing small talk which conveys a sense of peace around each other that further strengthens their readings. Both end at 4.

Scene 17: 21:35 - 22:00
C: Yu
Yuno bathes in green water. In a drastic change from most bath scenes, Yuno is noticeably melancholy as she ruminates about Sae and Hiro’s fast-approaching departure from Hidamari Apartments. Her observation that nobody has mentioned they will leave suggests that for the Hidamaris in general and Yuno in particular, the thought of the two leaving is too upsetting to talk about even among her closest friends, and at the end she expresses a fear that she will emote as she says goodbye to them, belying that Yuno worries she does not have the emotional strength to cope with their loss. Both of these convey Yuno’s extremely close attachment to Sae and Hiro, and her desire for them to stay with her indefinitely easily earns her a 4.

Final Yurilevel Readings: (both Aokis and Umes are out of 4)
Episode: 1.8836A
  1. Hiro: 2.811U
  2. Sae: 2.716U
  3. Chika: 2.000U
  4. Nazuna: 1.811U
  5. Yuno: 1.676U
  6. Nori: 1.440U
  7. Miyako: 1.124U
  8. Hiro’s friend: 1.000U

Readings were high but not exceptional, reflecting the overall mood of close friendship. Sae and Hiro, as the focus of the episode, naturally received the highest yurilevels, displaying both warmth toward the Hidamaris and a strong level of intimacy toward each other. Yuno performed exceptionally well in this episode by her standards, earning yurilevels in every single scene she appeared in and ending with a relatively high Ume reading, but was still overshadowed in the final rankings by Nazuna’s strong marks in Scenes 9 and 12. Conversely, Miyako did poorly throughout, mostly because she acted as a sidekick to Yuno without having a significant role in the episode otherwise.

Further analysis will continue with Hidamari Sketch Sae and Hiro Graduation 02.

*: [NOTE: SPOILERS FOR HIDAMARI SKETCH MANGA] Chika’s comment here suggests that Sae and Hiro decided on what universities they wanted to attend independent of where they would live. In the manga, however, their first picks of universities were chosen at least in part because they were close enough to allow the two to live together in one apartment (although the investigation tends to refrain from referring to the manga, the implications such a development implies could not be overlooked). This plot point therefore appears to have been dropped from the anime adaptation, though it is possible that either it will be addressed in a future continuation of the Hidamari Sketch anime or that they will still be living together and Chika simply hasn’t been told yet.

12/31/13: A note in the original version of this post insinuated that "Sae and Hiro Graduation" was a mistranslation of the Japanese title 沙英・ヒロ 卒業編 (“Sae ・Hiro Sotsugyou-hen”) by Nutbladder; it is actually Studio Shaft's official translation. The original version of this post also erroneously said that Sae and Hiro's university choices were specifically chosen to be close enough to let them live together; the revelation that the universities were close together and their choice to live together were actually in two separate chapters.