Friday, January 18, 2013

Hidamari Sketch x365 05

Hidamari Sketch x365 05 features the four Hidamari residents, Yoshinoya, the Landlady, and Chika. The episode is centered on Chika’s visit to Hidamari after getting into high school.

Scene 1: 00:14 - 00:40
C: Yu, Ch
Yuno receives a text message from Chika early in the morning. The only part of her message that conveys yuri is Chika’s question to Yuno about what she should wear for a band contest, demonstrating that she wants Yuno to approve of her appearance. Yuno replies that she’d look good in anything, suggesting she thinks Chika has a naturally good appearance and consequently that Yuno considers Chika to be pleasant-looking. It’s not quite a strong enough sentiment to say that Yuno finds Chika attractive, so she only ends with a 2 for the scene, while Chika gets a 1.

Scene 2: 02:17 - 02:46
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi
The Hidamaris wait for Chika to arrive. Sae insists that they don’t have to greet Chika and denies that she’s cute, and combined with the cross necklace she sports for most of the episode (carrying with it the troubled relationship between the Church and homosexuality) she stays at 0 for the scene. Hiro refers to Chika as cute, while Miyako desperately cries out for attention from a world that has apparently forsaken her. Hiro gets 1, Miyako gets 0, and Yuno, who surprisingly doesn’t seem too excited for Chika’s arrival (here, at least), also gets a 0.

Scene 3: 02:46 - 07:55
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, Ch
Chika arrives and eats with the others. While she only exchanges niceties with her sister and Hiro, her greetings to Yuno and Miyako are warmer and friendlier, even going so far with Yuno as to merrily hold both of her hands at the same time (strongly increasing both their yurilevels). She also gives Yuno a CD of her brass band performing, displaying embarrassment at the quality of their band but smiling as she does so, showing she still wants Yuno to listen to her performance. Miyako tells Chika that she got taller, suggesting she was carefully observing her body both the first time she visited and this time, and Chika says the same thing about Miyako, suggesting the same for her. When they begin eating, Chika compliments the food and tells Sae she’s lucky to have Hiro as a neighbor. Hearing this, Sae chokes on her gyoza*, suggesting embarrassment at having her closeness with Hiro so casually discussed by her sister, but Hiro simply thanks her politely. Sae admits that she has very limited cooking skills, which Hiro tries to excuse by saying she’s always too busy with work to cook. This leaves open the question of how Sae eats, but the viewer knows that her main source of food is Hiro (see Hidamari Sketch x365 01, when Hiro brings a plate of sandwiches as dinner for Sae while she works), again showing their close bond. Later, Yuno says that Miyako sleeps a lot in class, to which Miyako responds that Yuno does so too; both get yurilevels for implicitly watching each other sleep. After Chika and Sae have another fight and Chika says she won’t be able to continue being in a brass band, Yuno and Hiro both try to comfort her. Yuno is more visibly upset by Chika’s sadness, while Hiro goes further in her attempts at consolation by telling Chika that her playing is surely wonderful. Chika blushes from the compliment, an example of yuri-type embarrassment, while Yuno and Miyako comment that Chika acts like her sister. It’s curious that Chika and Sae have the same sort of reaction to Hiro’s kindness, and could suggest that Hiro is consciously using the same strategies toward Chika that she does toward Sae, belying an understanding of both of their characters. Overall, Yuno and Chika get 4s, Sae and Hiro get 3s, and Miyako gets a 2.

Scene 4: 07:55 - 08:23
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, Ch
The group goes to the karaoke bar to find it’s closed. Yuno repeatedly apologizes to Chika for the situation, even after Sae tells her it’s unnecessary, showing she feels responsibility for Chika’s happiness, getting her notable yurilevels. The apologies succeed in ending Chika’s initial disappointment, after which she tells Yuno that it doesn’t concern her and managing to give Yuno a wistful smile. Yuno gets 2 and Chika gets 1, while the others remain at 0.

Scene 5: 08:23 - 09:04
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, La, Ch
The group runs into the Landlady as they head back. The Landlady is heading off to do night fishing**, which for a woman is an unusually masculine activity, giving her yurilevels for displaying a lack of femininity (femininity being usually associated with heterosexuality). Hiro asks her to take care of an unspecified thing in Room 203, but not enough is known about it to affect her yurilevels. Chika, meanwhile, seems to take an interest in the Landlady, observing her with curiosity or intrigue. She gets a 2, the Landlady gets a 1, and the others end with 0s.

Scene 6: 09:06 - 09:28
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, Ch
The group runs into the principal outside the school. The bulk of the scene is focused on the principal’s speech on energy and doing one’s best, so nobody has the opportunity for yurilevels here.

Scene 7: 09:28 - 10:14
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, Yo, Ch
The group runs into Yoshinoya outside the school. Chika is excited that Yoshinoya remembered her, earning her yurilevels, but Yoshinoya doesn’t get similar yurilevels for her detachment in calling Chika “Chika-san” and not displaying any obvious attachment to her. When Yoshinoya asks the Hidamaris for help in cleaning out her office, only Chika expresses interest in doing so, with the others trying to look away and ignore her request. Chika gets 2, the rest get 0.

Scene 8: 10:17 - 11:48
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, Ch
The Hidamaris and Chika eat Miyako’s crab. Miyako deflects a question from Chika asking if she was serving her prize crab specifically for her, saying she wanted to share the crab with “everyone” (みんなーさん, the neutral “minna-san”). Chika nonetheless displays happiness at being included. Sae then gets into an argument with her, continuing to show a detachment from her sister, which at this point is starting to seem like outright resentment and keeps her yurilevels down. Later, Hiro gives Chika a specific crab leg that’s easy to eat, displaying the same sort of concern for Chika’s comfort she would display toward Yuno or Miyako and suggesting she considers Chika part of the Hidamari family unit, substantially increasing her yurilevels. Overall readings are Hiro with 2, Chika with 1, and the others with 0s.

Scene 9: 11:49 - 13:14
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, Yo, Ch
The Hidamaris, Chika, and Yoshinoya listen to Miyako and Yuno sing at the public baths. The others praise Miyako's skill at enka***, complimenting her and calling her a professional, with Chika being the most effusive. Miyako tries to downplay her praise and shift the attention to Yuno, so she doesn’t get side yurilevels like she would have from accepting it, but she does get levels from the openness with which she carries herself, displaying her breasts without a care or trace of modesty. When Yuno sings, only Yoshinoya seems to enjoy her off-key tune, with even Chika questioning what Yuno’s supposed to be singing. Sae swims up behind her and tells her not to notice while she leans in close (both, right now, are still naked). At Yoshinoya’s request, they all then join in a song, and the scene closes with Yuno smiling as she looks at Chika’s exposed body. Final readings leave Chika with 3, Yuno, Miyako, and Yoshinoya with 2, Sae with 1, and Hiro with 0.

Scene 10: 13:14 - 13:31
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, Ch
Chika comments on the previous scene. She calls it fun, but cites singing with Yoshinoya rather than being surrounded by naked female bodies. It still gets her a 1, with the others staying at 0.

Scene 11: 13:33 - 14:36
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, Yo, Ch
Sae and Chika talk and Yoshinoya does something funny. Much of their conversation centers on comments on the size of the other’s breasts, which Sae starts when she looks at Chika’s chest. It’s clear throughout that Chika has the advantage, belittling her sister’s growth as she teases her about her own bust. Yuno and Miyako watch the discussion unfold with amusement, but don’t take sides. Yoshinoya attempts to get involved in Yuno and Miyako’s chat, but given her personality it’s not likely to be caused by yuri on her part. Sae and Chika end with 3, the others stay at 0.

Scene 12: 14:36 - 14:53
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi Ch
Chika talks with the Hidamaris about Yoshinoya. She continues to refer to her as fun, showing an affection for her that increases her yurilevels. The only one to respond is Miyako, whose response is too neutral to give her yurilevels. Chika gets a 1, nobody else has yurilevels here.

Scene 13: 14:54 - 15:22
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, Yo, Ch
Yoshinoya sings. Her song doesn’t suggest yuri from its content matter about the acceptability of asocial behavior. As the song goes on, the Hidamaris grow increasingly emotionally involved, and in the final repetition of the chorus Yuno and Sae are shown to have one each of their hands pressed against each other. This could be dismissed as an effect of being caught up in the music, but we have to take it at face value for what it is: a small step away from hand-holding, and in the nude at that. They would get 3s, but the possibility that they are not fully in control of themselves leaves them with 2 each. The others stay at 0.

Scene 14: 15:22 - 19:47
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, Ch
The Hidamaris congratulate Chika on entering high school. Though the scene starts off being focused on Chika and her excitement at becoming increasingly integrated into the Hidamari social circle, much of the later parts of the scene focus on general perceptions of Sae, beginning when Sae again scolds Chika for outwardly expressing emotion. Hiro tells her to not give Chika any lectures and comments that Sae is emotionally reserved, displaying in one swift motion her role as Sae’s moral balance (again displaying a “two parts of a whole” mentality that ties into their husband-wife dynamic) and her thorough understanding of Sae’s character, greatly increasing her yurilevels. Later, in a discussion of Sae’s athletic ability, Miyako says that people around school joke that she is a boy. Sae insists it’s a joke and untrue (it’s odd that she would feel the need to reinforce this, since they did just bathe together), while Yuno and Chika support Miyako by noting that Sae often gets the male roles in theater. Sae’s yurilevels are affected here because if she is generally perceived as male, it is likely a preference for girls would be assumed as well. Chika all but confirms this when she says other girls in middle school would give her Valentine’s Day chocolates, since presumably they wouldn’t bother if they did not assume she was gay. Instantly, Yuno and Miyako respond by shouting “I knew it!” (やっぱり, “yappari”), suggesting that they too expect Sae to be a lesbian and have been operating under the assumption that she was. Miyako goes a step further, asking if that is where she got her wealth of love stories, reinforcing that Miyako was assuming Sae had been in a series of yuri relationships. Both Hiro and Yuno then call Sae cool: when Hiro says it, the only responses are Miyako calling it a bold statement and Sae getting slightly flustered with a moderate blush, but when Yuno says it, the room goes silent, the others have shocked expressions, Sae has a much larger blush than when Hiro spoke, and Miyako and Chika both seem compelled to insist she didn’t say anything weird. Hiro’s phrasing of her sentiments (saying Sae is cool from a girl’s point of view rather than directly calling her cool) is more indirect than Yuno’s, but it’s still interesting to consider why the responses are so varied. Since earlier it was suggested that the perception of Sae as a lesbian is widespread, this scene could suggest that as a corollary Hiro is assumed to be her partner, hence why Hiro saying Sae is cool is dismissed as normal while Yuno’s expression of the same idea is unexpected. That said, Yuno’s directness makes up for the yurilevel disparity caused by the different perceptions of her and Hiro. Once the moment is cleared up, Chika and Sae leave, and Yuno tells Chika that she is welcome to spend the night if she fights with Sae again, again displaying Yuno’s sense of responsibility for Chika’s well-being. Sae gets a 4 for leading people to assume she is lesbian, Hiro gets a 4 for her closeness to Sae and willingness to refer to her as cool, Yuno gets a 4 for actually calling her cool and revealing her assumptions about Sae’s sexuality, Miyako gets a 4 for going out of her way to support her friends’ perceived yuri, and Chika gets a 2 for happiness at being included in the Hidamari circle but not demonstrating a noticeable desire for them romantically.

Scene 15: 19:48 - 21:33
C: Sa, Ch
Sae and Chika talk before going to bed. The scene continues the dynamic between Sae and Chika that has existed through the series with no significant differences; Sae continues to let down and discourage her sister at every opportunity, and Chika continues to convey frustration with their emotional distance. Here she also tells Sae that she’s jealous of Sae’s freedom, noting that she can play with her friends any time she desires, and building on this, she asks if Sae bought the handkerchief from the previous scene with “everyone,” to which Sae replies that “those three” bought it without her. The specific word Chika uses for “everyone” is “Yuno-san-tachi” (ゆのーさん-たち), while the word Sae uses for “those three” is “Hiro-tachi” (ヒローたち). They’re talking about the exact same people (Yuno, Hiro, and Miyako), but their choice of pronouns subtly conveys which one they place as more significant or notable than the others: Yuno for Chika and Hiro for Sae, fitting neatly into “established” close bonds that have been seen in the series between these pairs. The scene ends with Sae giving Chika a necklace as a congratulatory present, and both show a warmness and closeness  in their expressions toward each other. Chika ends with 3, and Sae with 2.

Scene 16: 21:33 - 22:08
C: Yu
Yuno listens to the CD Chika gave her and takes a bath. She praises Chika’s brass band, then imagines Sae and Chika sleeping together while in the bath, eliciting a very warm smile from her. An easy 4 for her.

Final Yurilevel Readings: (both Aokis and Umes are out of 4):
Episode: 2.2437A

  1. Chika: 2.473U
  2. Sae: 2.425U
  3. Yuno: 2.223U
  4. Hiro: 2.101U
  5. Miyako: 1.766U
  6. Landlady: 1.000U
  7. Yoshinoya: 0.765U

By nearly half an Aoki, this is the gayest episode of Hidamari Sketch in the investigation yet. Scenes 3 and 14 combined made just under half of the total screen time of the episode, an oddity considering that in general most episodes in the second season have had fairly even scene times across a high number of scenes (25 or more, usually), so the relatively small number of scenes and high concentration of scene time here is unusual. Additionally, those two scenes had particularly high yurilevels, with the 18Y total in Scene 14 yielding a single-scene Aoki reading of 0.787 (nearly as high as the entire previous episode). Since only one reading is given in each of these very long scenes, every action each character does is treated equally, which can sometimes result in a long scene creating higher yurilevel readings than several shorter scenes with the same content would. The attempt to avoid this effect is part of the reason the scene system exists in the first place: to balance moments of yuri with moments of non-yuri, thus determining not just how gay a character is but how frequently they display their yuri. Unfortunately, episodes like this where a few scenes dominate the rest defeats the purpose of this system. That said, the data is still usable, and quirks like this are always assumed to be an intentional choice on the part of the creator to convey a certain mood.
Moving on to looking at the characters: just like the other episode focused on her (Hidamari Sketch 12), Chika delivers the highest reading of any character, a result of her enthusiasm to see the other characters and her close friendship with Yuno. Unlike the Hidamaris, who were very heavily weighted by each getting a 4 in Scene 14 but got multiple 0s, Chika consistently gets yurilevels throughout the episode, only getting two 0 readings, which reflected favorably on her. Sae’s readings are in large part derived from Hiro, as usual, though with a large part of her yurilevels in Scene 14 coming from perceptions of her as a lesbian, which is rarer but has precedent. Hiro in turn gets yurilevels from Sae, and her other readings come from her role as a nurturer, on full display with her treatment of Chika. Yuno got an especially high reading this episode, again from her close friendship with Chika, while nearly all of Miyako’s readings come from only Scene 3 and 14 and put her at the bottom of the Hidamaris, possibly tying in to how her yuri was more friendly in nature. Yoshinoya and the Landlady are the only characters whose yurilevels aren’t in large part derived from Chika’s presence, and they end up with readings that wouldn’t be out of place in an average episode. This suggests that Chika’s presence could result in a surge in yurilevel readings overall, which seems likely when it’s also considered that her previous appearance was a similar drastic rise in readings over Hidamari Sketch 11. My personal hypothesis is that this is caused by the characters being more overt in their affection towards her since she’s a visitor, compared with their more subtle approaches toward each other in a normal episode. Unless Chika ever moves into Hidamari Apartments, it would be tough to test this idea, though Sae will eventually move out and Chika does like to say she wants to live on her own, so maybe it could happen someday.

Further analysis will continue with Hidamari Sketch x365 06.

*: Gyoza, commonly known in the West as “pot stickers,” are dough dumplings with ground meat or vegetables inside, distinguished by their signature sealed-off ends. Introduced in Japan by the Chinese, gyoza are usually richer in garlic and more lightly salted than their Chinese counterparts.
**: I cannot determine if night fishing is a specific style of fishing or if it is just fishing done at night, and though fishing at night is the more obvious choice, it’s clearly the middle of the day when the Landlady is heading out. It should be noted that I have not fished before, so it’s possible that what the Landlady’s planning to do simply takes a long time to prepare. ***: Enka is a type of Japanese folk music that first emerged in the late 1800s but experienced a resurgence in the 1970s. While modern enka tends toward sentimental ballads, enka was first created by the Freedom and People's Rights Movement to bypass Meiji-era laws banning dissent and protest government repression. While it would be an odd twist for Hidamari Sketch to become the tale of high school art students overthrowing a hypothetical autocratic Japanese government, I do concede that Miyako seems the most likely of the four to lead the freedom movement.

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