Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Hidamari Sketch x365 04

Hidamari Sketch x365 04 includes the Hidamari residents, Yoshinoya, the Landlady, Kuwahara, Chika, and Kishi Maiko (who is again counted as a side character and not tracked through the investigation). Part A surrounds a stray cat who comes into Hidamari Apartments, and Part B deals with the characters’ preparations for the Yamabuki Festival.

Scene 1: 00:12 - 00:17
C: Yu, Mi
Yuno and Miyako say goodbye. The situation is too short and general for either of them to get yurilevels.

Scene 2: 00:19 - 00:28, 02:06 - 03:01
C: Mi
Miyako finds a cat in her room. She spends the whole time talking to the cat, and her pants are tight enough to be closer to yoga pants (indicative of very heterosexual sorority girls) rather than sweat pants (indicative of lesbians), so there’s no yurilevels to be had here and she gets a 0.

Scene 3: 03:02 - 03:22
C: Yu, Mi
Miyako shows Yuno the cat. Yuno determines that the cat is male and is suggested to be staring at its penis for a considerable time. While it would be fitting and just for Yuno to be struck from the investigation and never get yurilevels again, her indiscretion can be probably be forgiven as an unfortunate accident and she does seem ashamed later, but nonetheless it leaves her with 0 for the scene. Miyako’s teasing implies heterosexuality on Yuno’s part and consequently she also gets a 0.

Scene 4: 03:25 - 04:04
C: Yu, Mi
Yuno and Miyako attempt to find the cat’s owner. A joking scene with little yuri to speak of from the main characters. There is, however, one important shot to note in the midst of a flurry of images showing the regulations of Hidamari Apartments: a very quick still of a male gender sign with a crossed O and the words “Males Forbidden (Except Related*)”. Since it would only affect the Landlady’s yurilevels, it will be discussed in the next scene and any yurilevels will be counted there. In the meantime, Yuno and Miyako stay at 0.

Scene 5: 04:04 - 04:15
C: La
The Landlady insists to herself that she can quit smoking anytime she wants. The regulations of Hidamari Apartments state that males are forbidden on the premises unless accompanying a tenant. The demand that no males be allowed except those related confirms that only women can reside in the apartment building, and it’s juxtaposition with the more arbitrary guidelines “no pets allowed” and “no pianos allowed” confirms that it is a rule established by the Landlady herself instead of one imposed by the school administration. The question now becomes not only why the Landlady refuses to let males board at Hidamari, but why they are banned from the premises altogether. Unless the Landlady is overly paranoid of stereotypes of destructive young men and fears property damage, this is likely indicative of a resentment towards or disdain for males and inversely a preference for the presence of women. Since “a preference for women” is the definition of female homosexuality, the Landlady gets a 4.

Scene 6: 04:16 - 04:29
C: Yu, Mi
Yuno and Miyako return to Hidamari. Miyako wonders aloud if the cat could stay if she married him; her considering the possibility of marrying a male and Yuno’s rejection of the idea for something other than the impurity of such an action gets them both 0s.

Scene 7: 04:31 - 05:07
C: Yu, Mi, Hi
Miyako attempts to leave the cat with Hiro. Her pretend ignorance of the cat is a tactic called “gaslighting,” a form of psychological abuse where the abuser manipulates the environment around them to make the victim doubt their perception or sanity. Here it’s played for laughs, but it still keeps Miyako at 0 for the scene. Hiro’s rapid mental degradation leaves no room for yuri, and she ends up with 0 as well, and Yuno, who barely plays a part here, gets another 0.

Scene 8: 05:09 - 05:39
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi
Sae meets the cat and the Hidamaris discuss how it arrived at the apartments. Nothing yuri to comment on here, since they all just talk about the (again, male) cat. 0s for all.

Scene 9: 05:40 - 06:01
C: Mi
Miyako observes her prize seafood. At this point, the cat is beginning to really seem accepted by Miyako as a pet, but owning a cat itself is not indicative of yuri (though it is a trait of spinsters). She stays at 0.

Scene 10: 06:01 - 06:30
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi
Yuno, Sae, and Hiro bring items for the cat. Hiro presents a bag of goods as being “from us” (“watashi-tachi kara,” 私たち から)**, and since Yuno has already presented an item it can be inferred that Hiro is referring to herself and Sae. It’s quick and immediate enough to suggest it’s being delivered unconsciously, suggesting that Hiro subconsciously registers herself as being one unit with Sae. She gets 3 for this implication of an intensely close relationship, while Sae gets 2 for presumably reciprocating. The rest of the scene is yet another joke about Miyako being a ferocious eating machine, so neither she nor Yuno get yurilevels here.

Scene 11: 06:32 - 07:14
C: Mi
Miyako bathes with the cat and goes to sleep. Holding the male cat to her chest freezes her yurilevels at 0. There is nothing else that can be said about this scene.

Scene 12: 07:15 - 07:20
C: Hi
The cat’s snoring keeps Hiro awake. She remarks that she knew the cat was weird, despite having very little contact with it, but this isn’t enough to suggest a disdain for males in general (since it could suggest a dislike for cats or that the cat is actually strange), so no yurilevels here.

Scene 13: 07:25 - 08:33
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi
The Hidamaris discuss what to do with the cat. Sae and Yuno remark that the cat acts like Miyako, demonstrating a perceptiveness of her character and a positive association of it with the cat that gets them each a 1. Other than that, nothing worth mentioning.

Scene 14: 08:33 - 08:53
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, Ch
Chika tells Yuno that she can come to Hidamari Apartments. Their close relationship is again reinforced by Chika choosing to tell Yuno, a girl she knew for a little over eighteen hours, instead of Sae, her sister, and as has been stated before this is all strong evidence to suggest yuri subtext between the two. Here it’s still most likely friendly and there isn’t enough to convey yuri too overtly, so they each only get 1. Hiro and Miyako are openly excited about the news that they’ll get to see Chika again, and each get 1 as well. Sae is the only one that doesn’t seem keen on seeing her, saying she’s returning very matter-of-factly and discouraging Yuno from asking her what she wants to eat, so she stays at 0.

Scene 15: 08:55 - 09:36
C: Mi
The cat forces its way into Miyako’s bed and sleeps with her. An obvious 0.

Scene 16: 09:36 -10:40
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi
Yuno, Sae, and Hiro find that the cat has left, and Miyako sits on the roof in contemplation. Since not enough of the roof is shown to determine who’s apartment she is sitting on top of, the roof is left “open” (able to be considered as part of any room) and the scene does not change. Yuno cries when she delivers the news, and Sae responds by softly hugging her head and later by keeping a hand on her shoulder. These warm and gentle actions display a belief on Sae’s part that Yuno should be comforted through touch and close contact, and the fact that it works and calms her down displays that Yuno is receptive to this approach; their physical and emotional intimacy*** gets them each a 4. This ends up pushing Hiro to the side most of the time, and while she may display some concern it’s not visible enough here to get her any substantial readings. Miyako, who stays on the roof through the scene, doesn’t end up with any yurilevels either.

Scene 17: 10:44 - 10:58
C: Mi
Miyako thinks of the cat while in the bath. It’s disturbing to see her so attached to the cat who forced his way into her bed and slept with her without seeking her consent, but ignoring this, desiring the company of a male keeps her at 0.

Scene 18: 13:14 - 13:20
C: Yu
Yuno turns her alarm off. The teddy bear still isn’t gendered and as such doesn’t affect her yurilevels. She gets a 0.

Scene 19: 13:22 - 13:54
C: Yu, Mi
Yuno and Miyako meet outside the apartments. As they talk, Miyako presses her head on top of Yuno’s for no immediately apparent reason. Since they’re talking about Yuno being tired it’s possible that Miyako is leaning on Yuno because she’s also tired, but she’s too energetic of a character and the contact is too slow and drawn out for this theory to make much sense, however. Earlier Sae held Yuno’s head to comfort her during a spot of negativity, and since Yuno complains that she doesn’t know what to draw for the festival Miyako could be trying to emulate her sempai, though this theory is also tenuous since Miyako never saw that happen. Ultimately the only explanation available is that Miyako wants to put her head on top of Yuno’s, for whatever reason. Such a spontaneous desire for wideface-stacking is enough for a 3 but not emotionally intimate enough for a 4. Yuno gets a reading of 2 for going along with it.

Scene 20: 15:30 - 15:54
C: Yu
Yuno falls asleep while operating the lights. The notion of an all-girl performance of “Cinderella” is fairly gay, but since Yuno’s on the technical crew and doesn’t participate in the play she doesn’t benefit from it and gets a 0.

Scene 21: 15:54 - 16:25
C: Yu
Yuno worries about the festival and sees the principal. Most of the scene is Yuno watching his speech about the glory of youth, so she stays at 0.

Scene 22: 16:27 - 17:17
C: Yu
Yuno lies on the roof, continuing to think about the festival. She spends this scene wondering about a plant, and so continues to accumulate 0s.

Scene 23: 17:17 - 17:34
C: Yu
Yuno heads to the teacher’s lounge to ask Yoshinoya for advice. Her decision to turn to Yoshinoya is likely based on their relationship as student-teacher rather than a more yuri connection, and she only goes to Yoshinoya reluctantly, so Yuno’s first trilogy of philosophical scenes in this episode ends with another 0.

Scene 24: 17:34 - 18:04
C: Yu, Yo
Yoshinoya tells Yuno about her planned performance (see Hidamari Sketch 10). Yuno is focused solely on getting advice and shows no interest in her cosplay, so gets a 0. Yoshinoya’s cosplay has been established to be an expression of her unchecked hyperthymia and as such it doesn’t get her yurilevels to show her costumes to a girl, giving her a 0 as well.

Scene 25: 18:06 - 18:54
C: Yu, Mi
Miyako leaves to work on her festival project. No specific moments of yuri, but a very easygoing, relaxed scene between the two with shows of sympathy and concern on both sides. Each gets 1.

Scene 26: 18:54 - 19:46
C: Yu, Sa, Hi
Yuno walks in on Sae and Hiro at a bad time. For obvious reasons, this scene is one of the most cited and most well-known moments of yuri in the Hidamari Sketch franchise (so much so that it provides the tagline for this investigation), and is an especially iconic moment of subtext between Sae and Hiro. There is certainly a lot of yuri on display here: the image of Sae on all fours above Hiro (playing nicely into the dynamic that has been seen previously of Hiro being submissive or subservient to Sae), Yuno’s total shock as she jumps to the conclusion that they’re having intimate time, and Sae’s haste to explain that it’s not what she thinks it is, so hasty that she even forgets the honorific and just says “Yuno,” are all just parts of the subtext being hurled at the viewer in a brief 52 seconds. Among all this, probably the most telling moment is when Hiro claims that they’re rehearsing for the school play and that Sae is playing a criminal. While on first glance it seems plausible, since Sae was seen in costume at the school festival last season having just come from the play, it doesn’t hold up to scrutiny: first, if they were rehearsing a play there should be scripts lying nearby, since even if they were trying to go through their parts without reading off the script there should still be at least one copy next to them to reference if they got stuck; second, when Sae is seen during the school festival her costume and demeanor suggest a detective character, not a criminal (she gives one line in character could be interpreted either way, though); third, if Sae were a criminal then it’s hard to imagine what sort of crime the Yamabuki administration would allow in a school-sponsored play that would have her pinning Hiro to the ground in a manner that, as we see from Yuno’s reaction, can very easily be mistaken as sexual; and fourth, at that point of the play Hiro would be expected to be saying something since the “criminal” Sae has just pinned her, but Yuno heard nothing as she approached and entered the room, and it’s been shown a few times that the doors at Hidamari Apartments aren’t thick enough to block out voices (Yuno and Miyako have talked through the doors, for instance). This all makes Hiro’s justification sound suspiciously like a hastily thought-up excuse. Somehow, they all manage to calm down from the awkwardness rather quickly, and Yuno is able to ask for advice on what to do for the festival. Sae’s response is to pull out her piece from the previous year: a painting of a field of lilies, which Hiro calls beautiful****. While it could be an innocent choice of motif on Sae’s part (unlikely given that she writes for a romance magazine and likely knows of yuri romance stories), from a writing and production perspective the position of Sae’s painting right after the “misunderstanding” with Yuno is an absurdly obvious parallel between the two moments. Sae and Hiro get 4s, and Yuno also gets a 4 for instantly reading homosexuality into the situation at the beginning.

Scene 27: 19:49 - 20:29
C: Yo, Ka, Kishi Maiko
Yoshinoya bothers Kuwahara and Kishi Maiko returns to visit. Kuwahara plainly refuses to lend Yoshinoya a stethoscope for her cosplay performance, again choosing to uphold the responsibilities of her position as nurse over doing something for Yoshinoya and keeping her yurilevels down. When Kishi enters, Yoshinoya is happy to see her, breaking into wideface twice and referring to her as “Kishi-chan.” Kishi gives Yoshinoya a ticket to an upcoming premiere of one of her films, which could be a gesture of friendliness or simply a respectful offer to her former teacher. Yoshinoya responds by giving her a ticket to her cosplay performance, but when the performance happened it wasn’t shown if Kishi showed up and her reaction of discomfort suggests she probably didn’t, cancelling out the yurilevels she might have received from the ticket offering and giving her a 0 overall. Kuwahara, though she didn’t initially seem affected by her entrance, praises Kishi once she sees the ticket and appears pleased, but not enough is known about her relationship with Kishi to determine if there is yuri subtext here. Ultimately, Yoshinoya gets a 1, and the others get 0s.

Scene 28: 20:32 - 20:51
C: Yu
Yuno heads to school to look for a motif. She spends most of the scene wondering how Miyako is progressing and wishes for her success, showing a desire for her to do well that gets her a 2.

Scene 29: 20:51 - 21:55
C: Yu
Yuno walks about the outside of the school campus. When two boys accidentally point their camera towards her, she responds by fearfully assuming a protective position, possibly belying a wariness to being seen by or with men. Later, her thoughts turn to the advice Kishi gave her when she visited, and her smiling face and wise words blot out everything else in the scene, showing that she is highly valued and honored for Yuno. The memory successfully pushes Yuno to action and displays the effect her brief interaction with Kishi had on her, giving her a total of 2.

Scene 30: 21:55 - 22:11
C: Yu
Yuno goes into a classroom and thanks some of the students there. As is seen in the festival episode, her motif ends up being them preparing for the festival. This comes soon after remembering Kishi telling her to find something close to her heart, and the resulting drawing is composed almost exclusively of women. Either women in general are close to Yuno’s heart, or just her female classmates, but either way it gets her a 3 (for having no clear “object” or focus of her yuri), wrapping up the second philosophical trilogy with substantially more yurilevels than the first one.

Scene 31: 22:11 - 22:26
C: La
The Landlady continues to tell herself that she can quit smoking anytime she wants to. A rare moment of outright tragedy in Hidamari Sketch, depicting the Landlady futilely trying to comfort herself in the face of her inescapable, and likely to someday be fatal, addiction. Since tragedy isn’t yuri, though, she gets a 0.

Scene 32: 22:29 - 22:49
C: Yu
Yuno works on her drawing in her apartment. She spends the scene silently sketching, and since she already received yurilevels for its content matter she gets a 0 here.

Scene 33: 22:49 - 22:51
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi
Miyako, Sae, and Hiro watch Yuno work. Their concern for her to do well gets them all a 1, but Yuno doesn’t notice so she stays at 0.

Scene 34: 22:53 - 23:10
C: Yu, Hi

Yuno gets a message from Hiro. The message simply reads "come eat with us" (ごはんができました), which doesn’t suggest any yuri worth noting. Yuno’s excited reaction gets her a 1 since she’s happy to be with the others, but it’s more likely to be happiness at being with friends than happiness at being with romantic interests.

Scene 35: 23:12 - 24:56
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi
The Hidamaris eat in Hiro’s room. Yuno and Miyako each compliment the cooked pike, getting them slight yurilevels for speaking positively of Hiro’s cooking. Sae asks if Yuno is doing alright from working for so long on her drawing, showing concern similar to in Scene 33 and getting her similar yurilevels. Yuno asks Miyako what the subject of her drawing is (which was shown to be Yuno), and Miyako keeps it a secret, suggesting she intentionally wants to keep it a surprise for Yuno. Whether this is because she wants to see Yuno’s reaction to seeing Miyako’s drawing of herself or because she’s embarrassed to admit to spending time and energy drawing her, she gets a 2. After that, Hiro mentions that she can’t let go of the script because she’s nervous about her lines (despite not having a script when she was with Sae earlier), and Sae promises to help her practice. If we take the offer at face value, Sae would end with a 1, but if we interpret Scene 26 as a genuine intimate moment, she would end with a 2; since the second interpretation is more likely based on the evidence provided, Sae ends with a 2. Hiro actually does seem concerned about the play, keeping her at 0. Yuno ends with a 1 for complimenting Hiro’s cooking.

Scene 36: 25:00 - 25:39
C: Yu
Yuno thinks about the festival and falls asleep working on her drawing. No yuri to talk about, so she ends with a 0.

Final Yurilevel Readings: (both Aokis and Umes are out of 4)
Episode: 0.8449A

  1. Sae: 2.168U
  2. Landlady: 1.692U
  3. Yuno: 1.128U
  4. Chika: 1.000U
  5. Hiro: 0.810U
  6. Yoshinoya: 0.571U
  7. Miyako: 0.390U
  8. Kuwahara: 0.000U
    Kishi Maiko: 0.000U

This episode is probably one of the most-remembered episodes of the entire series, and it’s for two reasons that end up cancelling each other out: Miyako’s cat and the incident with Sae, Hiro, and Yuno. Despite said incident, the second half doesn’t actually contribute abnormally high yurilevels, with the sum for Part B being in line with other episodes this season at about 0.55 Aokis. It was Part A that dragged the episode’s readings down by merit of the cat being male, an effect most clearly seen in the contrast between Sae’s readings (earned mostly in scenes without the cat) and Miyako’s (whose strong connection to the cat and lack of presence in the second half left her with a remarkably low 0.39). It’s likely a female cat would have substantially changed the episode and probably left it as one of the stronger ones this season, but this is an analytical investigation, not a speculative one. Yuno ended up being roughly average for the episode, being present in both halves, while Hiro was kept down by having slightly more of a presence in Part A and getting 0s in Scenes 16 and 35 where Sae got a 4 and a 2 respectively. The Landlady ends with rather high yurilevels from the 4 in Scene 5 she received as a carry-over from the previous scene, which is rare and a bit odd but something I considered reasonable. The episode ends as the lowest reading yet of an otherwise stable season.

Further analysis will continue with Hidamari Sketch x365 05.

*: The character used here means "someone who [has a particular attribute]" and is generally a suffix or reflective noun attached to the subject of the clause. It is assumed from context to mean "someone who lives at Hidamari Apartments."
In general, I don’t use direct quotes in the investigation write-ups, since readings are derived largely from the translations provided through subtitle groups (I do try to use ones that are considered accurate or of high-quality to mitigate the effects of possible localization; a list of subtitle groups used in the investigation can be found in the Project Overview). The only times direct quotations are used are when the Japanese text is shown on-screen and can thus be easily translated (i.e., the signs in Scene 4), or when the original Japanese is either very simple (i.e., something like “おはよう、ゆのっち” [“ohayou, Yunocchi”], “good morning, Yuno”) or pertinent to the scene’s readings in a way the subtitles are not (i.e., there are several phrasings that mean “everyone” in Japanese, and it makes a difference if one of the Hidamaris refers to the others as “みんなーさん” [minna-san, a neutral term] or “宮子ーたち” [Miyako-tachi, which places Miyako above the others]). The rest of the time, specific lines are paraphrased and not put in quotations.
***: Yuri is not strictly romantic or sexual, but is often defined to include close friendship and nurturing; hence Sae and Yuno get yurilevels here, even though neither one exudes infatuation towards the other. It is also the cause for the oft-cited “low-level friendly yuri” that crops up through the series, as well as for why the Hidamaris get yurilevels when they’re portrayed as a family unit. ****:
For context, yuri (百合) is the Japanese word for lily; the double meaning of yuri as both “flower” and “lesbian romance” stems from a gay men’s magazine named “Barazoku” (薔薇族), meaning “Rose Tribe,” which in the late 1970s started to call its female readers “yurizoku” (百合族), meaning “Lily Tribe,” a name that was gradually shortened to “yuri” and came to refer to the portrayal of intimate relationships between women (either as an explicit element of the series, like in “Kanamemo” or “Sasameki Koto,” or one that is heavily-implied, like in “Strike Witches” or “Yuru Yuri”). 

1/18/2013: The first footnote included an unfinished sentence caused by a holdover from previous draft. This has been corrected.
1/27/13: Corrected misspellings of Kuwahara's name as "Kawahara." 2/25/13: The sign depicted in Scene 4 was originally mistranslated as "Males Forbidden (Except When Near a Tenant)." This has been corrected, though it did not substantially alter the message that male tenants are forbidden.

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