Friday, December 28, 2012

Hidamari Sketch OVA 02

Hidamari Sketch OVA 02 includes the four Hidamari residents, Yoshinoya, Natsume, and Kuwahara. The episode deals with Hiro receiving a love letter and the reactions of the other characters, especially Sae.

Scene 1: 00:08 - 00:29
C: Yu
Yuno comments on the winter weather. She has a clock with herself and Miyako on it, but the minute hand covers up whether or not Miyako is holding her hand (a tasteful and commendable display of censorship on the part of SHAFT). Since it’s possible but not confirmed, she only gets a 1.

Scene 2: 00:29 - 00:34
C: Yu, Mi

Miyako apologizes to Yuno for being late. It’s no different from their usual routine and there’s nothing to really suggest deeper, more yuri feelings, so neither of them get yurilevels from it.

Scene 3: 00:35 - 00:46
C: Yu, Mi
Yuno and Miyako leave the apartment building. Again, no yuri to comment on. 0s for both.

Scene 4: 02:23 - 02:46
C: Sa, Hi, Yo
Hiro finds a letter in her shoe closet, shocking Sae and intriguing Yoshinoya. Hiro is initially bashful to say she received the love letter, but since it’s from a boy she gets no yurilevels from it. Sae responds by temporarily dying, which starts an episode-long suggestion that Sae couldn’t bear to see Hiro date a boy, which is both uncomfortably possessive bordering on abusive and very gay of her. It’s only implied here, but becomes more explicit later on, so for now Sae just gets a 2. Yoshinoya’s excitement doesn’t suggest yuri, since she’s interested in seeing a heterosexual relationship. She and Hiro each end with 0.

Scene 5: 02:50 - 03:18
C: Yu, Mi
Yuno and Miyako discuss their test and the weather outside. The conversation itself doesn’t show particular yuri, but it’s relaxed and open enough that they each get low-level yurilevels from the familiarity they display. Each get 1.

Scene 6: 03:18 - 03:58
C: Yu, Mi, Sa
Sae tells Yuno and Miyako about Hiro’s love letter. She describes it as shocking and says the blood in her face disappeared, again showing the major emotional impact the letter and its associated threat of Hiro in a relationship with a boy has on her. The way she phrases it makes Yuno and Miyako think Hiro was the one who sent her the letter, raising Yuno and Miyako’s yurilevels for showing that they assume there is a deeper dynamic at play in Sae and Hiro’s relationship. Everyone gets 3.

Scene 7: 04:19 - 05:09
C: Yu, Mi
While the principal teaches their history class, Yuno and Miyako speculate about Hiro’s letter. Miyako wonders if a love triangle is present; while this would usually mean she thinks Sae and Hiro both like the same boy, in context with the previous scene it’s more likely she again thinks Sae loves Hiro. It’s a very brief thought and the theory that Miyako’s triangle had Hiro rather than the boy at the at the junction is only one interpretation, even if it’s the most likely one, so Miyako just gets a 2. Yuno’s reluctance to speculate keeps her at a 0.

Scene 8: 05:09 - 05:31
C: Yu, Mi, Sa
Sae returns to Yuno and Miyako’s classroom. She continues to be upset, but not as much as in other scenes, so she only ends up with 2. Yuno and Miyako don’t get a lot of speaking time and get more 0s.

Scene 9: 05:31 - 05:59
C: Sa, Yo
Yoshinoya enters the classroom and tries to wring information about the letter from Sae. Like in Scene 4, her interest isn’t yuri and she gets another 0. Sae continues to be flustered about the letter and storms off in a huff when Yoshinoya tries to get her to talk about it, but it’s even less clearly yuri than in the previous scene and she only gets a 1.

Scene 10: 06:01 - 06:06
C: Yu
Yuno wonders what it would feel like to get a letter. She doesn’t specify whether it would be from a boy or girl, so it doesn’t impact her yurilevels.

Scene 11: 06:11 - 06:36
C: Yu, Mi
Yuno and Miyako continue to wonder about the letter and how Hiro will react. Sae has by this point confirmed that a boy sent it, but the two seem as excited as they did before it was clarified, suggesting they would be okay with a defiled Hiro and freezing their yurilevels at 0.

Scene 12: 06:36 - 06:53
C: Yu, Mi, Sa
Sae returns once more. At this point, she appears to be in the anger stage of the grieving process, furiously denying that Hiro will accept and raging at the letter-sender’s invitation to meet on the roof. This scene is the clearest indication thus far that Sae is very deeply affected by the thought of “losing” Hiro, and she handily gets a 4. Since Sae’s panic takes up most of the scene, Yuno and Miyako barely get to talk and get 0s.

Scene 13: 06:54 - 07:29
C: Hi, Yo
Yoshinoya again tries to get involved. Hiro gets little screen time here, and Yoshinoya continues to be unconcerned about whether the letter is yuri or not. Both get 0s.

Scene 14: 07:31 - 08:22
C: Yu
Yuno thinks more about the love letter situation and imagines an encounter between the letter-sender and Hiro. She gets some yurilevels for wondering about Sae’s reaction, but doesn’t connect it to any romantic feelings she interprets Sae as having so it’s only a minor increase. Her imagined meeting on the roof doesn’t involve Hiro, who only passively stands while the boy compares her to Fauvism, so there’s nothing to interpret concerning her mental image of Hiro. Yuno ends with a 1.

Scene 15: 08:22 - 08:35
C: Yu, Mi
Miyako asks Yuno to go. Yuno initially thinks Miyako is asking her to go to the roof, either to watch for Hiro or for Miyako to make her own confession (admittedly, the second interpretation is because I forgot Yuno was thinking about watching Hiro). She gets a 1 for implying, and Miyako gets a 1 for asking her to lunch.

Scene 16: 08:36 - 09:44
C: Yu, Mi, Sa
Yuno and Miyako join Sae at lunch. Sae has by this point reached the despair stage, staring blankly into space and failing to assure herself that the boy is nice. She also vehemently and repeatedly denies that Hiro would ever agree, but it comes off as her projecting her emotions onto Hiro rather than a thoughtful analysis of what Hiro would do. Yuno and Miyako further this by using the same word to refer to Sae’s panic, “childish,” that Sae used to explain why Hiro would say no. Yuno compares the situation to a girl’s manga and has a subsequent positive thought about the boy, invalidating any yurilevels she could have had for the scene. Miyako wonders what would happen if Hiro said yes, also keeping her yurilevels down. Sae gets another 4, Yuno and Miyako each have 0.

Scene 17: 09:44 - 10:13
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Nt
Natsume taunts Sae. Surprisingly, she doesn’t come off as very gay, a marked contrast to later appearances, instead seeming here to be just kind of a bitch. There’s one very quick suggestion when Natsume says “romance doesn’t always turn out the way you predict” and then is shown blushing, with a sweat drop and a slight frown, that she may have feelings for Sae, but I noticed this on the third rewatching of the scene and I can’t tell if my own personal interpretations of her character are affecting her readings and forcing me to try to find something that could suggest yurilevels. I’ll instead defer to my original interpretation of the scene and give Natsume a 0. Sae’s response to her is to insist that she has nothing to apologize for in relation to her denial that Hiro is flirting with heterosexuality, giving her a 1. Yuno and Miyako only appear briefly at the end to make another “Miyako is an insatiable one-man swarm of locusts that devours everything in her sight” joke and get 0s.

Scene 18: 10:15 - 10:59
C: Yu, Mi
The principal dismisses the class early on account of the sudden disappearance of Yoshinoya. Yuno interprets his comment to not do anything “inappropriate” as being somehow connected to Hiro’s love letter, conveying that she considers heterosexuality as something that should not be done, or at least not done in public. If a boy-girl romance is shameful in her mind, it stands to reason that other alternatives, particularly girl-girl, would be more acceptable. Since it’s not spelled out, Yuno only gets a 3. Miyako’s action in the scene is to ask Yuno to go the second-year’s classroom, showing an interest in the outcome of the letter that isn’t noticeably yuri. She gets a 0.

Scene 19: 11:01 - 11:39
C: Yu, Mi
Yuno and Miyako talk about kissing and find Hiro’s classroom empty. When Miyako jokes that Hiro and the letter-sender could have kissed at lunch, Yuno’s response is to cling to Miyako’s arm, suggesting that she sees Miyako as a source of comfort during times of confusion and expressing this comfort physically. Rather than respond with equivalent physical contact, Miyako opts to keep teasing Yuno by saying Hiro had “mouth-to-mouth.” Whatever reason Miyako has for enjoying seeing Yuno embarrassed, it displays a very close friendship between them. After seeing the empty classroom, they both imagine Hiro walking away with a generic faceless male while Sae lies prostrate on the ground, one arm stretched out desperately towards her. This interpretation of the day’s events increases their yurilevels further by very clearly indicating what they think Sae’s reaction means about her*. Yuno gets 4, Miyako gets 3.

Scene 20: 11:40 - 13:38
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi
Hiro reveals that she turned down the letter-writer during the morning. Yuno and Miyako each call her action mature, get slight yurilevels for their appreciation of their sempai. After they have their turn, Sae’s response takes up a large portion of the scene, first showing surprise, then relief that “it’s over.” Hiro gives her reason as wanting to live freely and without romantic attachments, but very soon after places a hand on Sae’s wrist and asks if she was worried during the affair, possibly suggesting her excuse is just a cover for the real reason that she can’t separate from Sae. Sae soon after launches into a montage (a literal film montage, at that) of scenes depicting Hiro caring for Sae, reinforcing that she is a nurturing figure for her and bolstering the interpretation that Hiro chose Sae over the boy. They both get 4, while Yuno and Miyako get 1.

Scene 21: 13:39 - 14:33
C: Hi, Yo, Ku
Hiro sees Kuwahara tending to Yoshinoya on a stretcher. Yoshinoya dreams of being confessed to by a boy, keeping her yurilevels at 0. Kuwahara seems to only be acting in her role as nurse, so doesn’t get any yurilevels. Hiro, as the observer, stays at 0 as well.

Scene 22: 14:33 - 15:07
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi
Yuno explains the previous scene. No yuri to discuss here. Everyone has 0s.

Scene 23: 15:07 - 15:21
C: Mi, Sa
In a series of flashbacks, Sae repeatedly visits Yuno and Miyako throughout the school day. Miyako eventually asks why she keeps coming to their classroom and Sae responds that she doesn’t know what to say to Hiro. It gets her about a 2 since it’s not as obviously yuri as other scenes, while Miyako stays at 0 since her question doesn’t appear to be rhetorical.

Scene 24: 15:21 - 21:26
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi
The Hidamaris discuss relationships. Nearly the entire six-minute scene is centered on the increasingly less ambiguous dynamic between Sae and Hiro. It opens with Hiro saying she thought Sae was angry at her through the day and asking Sae why she got “frantic” when Hiro received the letter, to which Sae responds by hastily saying the letter was just sudden. Sae keeps up her blatant lies when Miyako asks if she had ever received a love letter, claiming she received innumerable confessions in another allusion to her obviously false middle school romances. Later, Hiro expresses regret for turning the boy down, but only because it could have given Sae material for her novel, displaying either that she views her romantic life not in terms of her own well-being but in terms of how it can help Sae or that she is constantly trying to think of ways to aid Sae. When Sae calls this an “impure” reason to love, Hiro asks if pure love would be more preferable, to which Sae hesitates. Consider that yuri is often assigned the description of “the purest form of love.” Either this is a liberty taken by the subtitle group (though that is always a possibility and it’s hard to invalidate yurilevels for it without bringing the entire investigation into question), or this is the single most blatant moment of teasing in the first season of Hidamari Sketch. If the scene stopped there, they would both more than qualify for 4s already, but it just keeps going: Sae goes on to claim that all artistic boys (i.e., all boys at Yamabuki High School) are weird or stupid, in an attempt to invalidate all potential romantic interests for Hiro, and towards the end of the scene, in rapid succession Miyako says she would want a wife like Hiro and Sae says she can’t imagine doing housework, setting up a functional pairing between the two as husband and wife. If there was anything higher than a 4 in the investigation Hiro and Sae would both get it. The strong focus on Sae and Hiro pushes Yuno and Miyako to the periphery most of the time. Yuno mentions that her first love was her father, which doesn’t detract from her yurilevels since it’s portrayed as adorable instead of romantic, and that she has never received a confession. The lack of confessions doesn’t affect her yurilevels either, since it means she has been overlooked by both men and women. Miyako says she would want food instead of a letter and spends most of the scene generally being a gourmand rather than a lesbian. Final yurilevel readings are Yuno with 0, Miyako with 1 (for the wife comment), and Sae and Hiro with the strongest 4s that ever 4ed.

Scene 25: 21:28 - 21:40
C: Yu
Yuno reflects on the drama of the day. There’s no specific references to the preceding episode and no indications of yuri, so she gets a 0.

Scene 26: 21:42 - 22:09
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi
Yuno and Miyako greet Sae and Hiro at the shoe lockers a few days after the main episode. Sae overreacts to the thought of Yuno and Miyako getting love letters, but in terms of feeling left out instead of being possessive. Yuno and Miyako frame their giving of letters as being a popular trend, so the yurilevels they receive for it are reduced. They get 1, while Sae and Hiro stay at 0.

Final Yurilevel Readings: (both Aokis and Umes are out of 4):
Episode: 1.5116A

  1. Sae: 3.270U
  2. Hiro: 3.209U
  3. Miyako: 0.919U
  4. Yuno: 0.614U
  5. Yoshinoya: 0.000U
    Natsume: 0.000U
    Kuwahara: 0.000U

In the write-up for the last episode I wondered whether very long scenes were artificially raising the episode yurilevels. Here I wondered if they were decreasing the yurilevels: Scene 24 is a six-minute behemoth oozing yuri out of every frame; mathematically, though, several short high-yuri scenes will contribute as much as one long high-yuri scene if the characters are consistently gay for extended periods, which Sae and Hiro definitely were. It’s unprecedented in the investigation for two characters to get above 3 Umes in one episode (Hiro broke 3 all the way back in Hidamari Sketch 01 for, among other reasons, getting a 4 in a six-minute scene), but it’s reasonable since the entire focus of the episode is Sae and Hiro’s relationship and the deep desire Sae has to never let anything take Hiro from her, no matter how unsettling that desire is to anybody looking at it from the outside. Miyako and Yuno each got low readings since they were pushed to the side, commenting on the main action like a Greek chorus, and the supporting characters all got 0 for about the same reason.

Further analysis will continue with Hidamari Sketch x365 01.

*Namely, that she is gay.

Corrections: 1/6/13: Kawahara's name was misspelled three times as "Kuwahara," which has now been fixed. 1/27/13: Kuwahara's name was misspelled four times as "Kawahara," which has now been fixed.
8/24/13: Yamabuki High School was initially mislabed as "Yamabuki Academy." The name has been corrected.

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