Saturday, February 9, 2013

Hidamari Sketch x365 13

Hidamari Sketch x365 13 includes the four Hidamari residents, Yoshinoya, the Landlady, and Natsume. The first half of the episode focuses on the Hidamaris visiting a shrine on Japanese New Year’s Day (it’s the same as our New Year’s, but smaller and more efficient), while the second half follows an extended conversation between them at the apartments.

Scene 1: 00:12 - 00:31
C: Mi
Miyako airs out her mattress on the balcony. While standing on the roof, she says that Yuno should be returning to Hidamari Apartments (Yuno visited her family over winter break). Since it’s still fairly early in the day, Miyako’s noting of this is either indicative of an excitement for her return or of Miyako thinking of her frequently in general. Either way, she gets a 2.

Scene 2: 02:07 - 02:36
C: Yu
Yuno returns to Hidamari Apartments. Before entering, she says “I’m back” to herself (ただいま, “tadaima,” also translated "I'm home"). She explicitly comments that she says this because she considers Hidamari her home, but whether or not this is connected to a feeling that the other Hidamaris are her family is not specified, and because the two could be disconnected sentiments, it doesn’t suggest an invocation of the Hidamari family unit motif* and Yuno thus ends with 0.

Scene 3: 02:38 - 03:01
C: Yu, Mi
Miyako greets Yuno. Yuno says “I’m home” (see above) again to Miyako, and since this is a clear example of the connection between Hidamari as a home and the Hidamaris as a family it raises Yuno’s yurilevels here. Happy to see her, Miyako initiates a high five with Yuno, and this hand-on-hand contact lasts for four seconds (far longer than a brief clap, as is the standard etiquette), but the lack of bend in their hands keeps this from being an instance of hand-holding. Yuno then suggests that they go inside, showing a deisre to be with Miyako that further increases her readings. Yuno ends with 3, while Miyako ends with 2.

Scene 4: 03:02 - 04:18
C: Yu, Mi
Yuno and Miyako catch up in Yuno’s room. Yuno gives Miyako tea, which comes across as a moderately friendly gesture to make up for the cold of her room, and mentions having souvenirs for Sae and Hiro, but doesn’t say that she has anything for Miyako, which is an unusual oversight that proves detrimental to her yurilevels. She ends with 1, Miyako with 0.

Scene 5: 04:20 - 04:24
C: Yu, Mi
Yuno and Miyako attempt to visit Sae, who is asleep at the time. Miyako’s active efforts to meet with Sae show a desire to spend time with her that does not come across as especially yuri, so Miyako only ends with 1. Yuno gets a 0 since her desires to see Sae aren’t shown like Miyako’s are and thus implied to be more passive.

Scene 6: 04:27 - 04:32
C: Yu, Mi
Yuno and Miyako attempt to visit Hiro, who is asleep at the time. Same as last scene, only with an added joke about what time it is. Miyako ends with another 1, Yuno with another 0.

Scene 7: 04:35 - 05:37
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi
Sae and Hiro wake up and Yuno and Miyako wish them a happy new year. Yuno apologizes for disturbing their slumber and wishes them a happy new year, though it seems more a show of politeness than one of warmness. Similarly, Miyako suggests going to the temple, which again is probably not gay since this is expected for New Year’s. Everyone ends with 0.

Scene 8: 05:43 - 06:28
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, Yo
The Hidamaris visit Yoshinoya on the way to the shrine. The scene is focused on Yoshinoya’s inability to acknowledge the aging process, so nobody gets significant yurilevels. 0s all around.

Scene 9: 06:28 - 07:26
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, Yo
Yoshinoya invites the Hidamaris into her house. She imagines that if she was a boy a princess could come, suggesting she associates heterosexuality with a romantic ideal and thus keeping her at 0 for the scene. Yuno and Yoshinoya exchange polite new year’s greetings and Yuno invites her to the shrine since they were going there anyways, but neither action suggests more than a polite student-teacher relationship, so Yuno doesn’t benefit. Another scene where everyone ends with 0.

Scene 10: 07:30 - 08:43
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, Yo
The Hidamaris and Yoshinoya visit the shrine. Miyako makes another joke about Hiro’s weight, prompting Hiro to walk off in a huff. Sae then runs after her to calm her down, and the two leave the scene for 18 seconds (well under the 30 seconds necessary to start a new scene), with Sae presumably calming Hiro down in the meantime. The suggestion that Sae is best able to reassure Hiro in situations like this shows closeness that leans further to friendliness than yuri, so they each only get 2. The others stay at 0 for the otherwise quiet scene.

Scene 11: 08:43 - 08:49
C: Sa, Hi, Nt
Natsume enters the shrine and sees Sae and Hiro. The friend that is with her doesn’t contribute to this scene or the next and as such isn’t tracked. Natsume seems troubled by observing Sae and Hiro laughing together (incidentally, this display of casual openness yields Sae and Hiro 1 each), which would be somewhat yuri since it could suggest jealousy of Hiro and a desire to take her place at Sae’s side, but it could also show that she doesn’t want to see Sae; many of the suggestions of her infatuation with Sae take place in the summer (see Hidamari Sketch x365 09, 10, and 11**) so she may still be behaving coldly towards her. Balancing these gives Natsume a 1 overall.

Scene 12: 08:51 - 09:26
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi
The Hidamaris receive their written fortunes. Miyako merrily shows Yuno her fortune and Yuno calls it “great,” a moment of friendship that gives them each a 1. Sae’s fortune says that she will receive unexpected aid and she assumes that this refers to Hiro, but Hiro contends that it can’t be her since Hiro would be expected aid. This subtle comment that Hiro is consistent, dependable assistance for Sae shows a bond of reliance and closeness between them, and they end with 3 each.

Scene 13: 09:26 - 10:04
C: Sa, Hi, Nt
Natsume eavesdrops on Sae and Hiro. They talk about the fan letter Sae received in Hidamari Sketch x365 09, which Hiro says was passionate. In Hidamari Sketch x365 09, Sae was secretive and embarrassed about the letter and refused to let Yuno and Miyako read it, so the fact that Hiro was allowed to read it shows that Sae feels close trust and security with Hiro, displaying an intimate bond that increases their readings significantly. From Natsume’s surprise at hearing Sae speak about the letter and her blushing response to the conversation, as well as having seen her buy one of Sae’s pieces in Hidamari Sketch x365 06, it can be easily inferred that Natsume was the writer of the letter. Hiro then speculates that the writer of the letter was a romantic who had watched Sae since her writing debut, but because Hiro and Sae don’t know Natsume wrote it, it doesn’t affect their yurilevels. Sae says she was very happy for getting the letter because it gave her encouragement in working, which makes Natsume smile, presumably because she’s satisfied that she was able to aid Sae in her work. Natsume gets a 4 for the display of strong emotion that writing and sending the letter conveys, while Sae and Hiro get 3 each for their closeness.

Scene 14: 10:04 - 10:33
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, Yo, Nt
Yuno and Yoshinoya get their fortunes and Natsume makes her New Year wish. Yoshinoya’s disappointing fortune leads her to contemplate aloud whether it can be reversed by tying it in her mouth, a reference to how promiscuous women can theoretically tie cherry stems into knots with their mouth (made explicit with the bumper image showing Yoshinoya having done exactly this). Though tongue strength is theoretically not limited on the basis of sexuality, this lewd skill is usually associated with heterosexuality so Yoshinoya will remain at a 0. Later, Sae notices Natsume making her wish, which is to be more honest with her feelings. Considering her entire character is centered around how she interacts with Sae, this wish is almost certainly her wanting to be more open about her romantic desires for Sae, a likelihood strengthened by the bright halo that appears around her head when they see each other. This display of yuri tendencies gives Natsume a 4; Sae, however, just seems befuddled by Natsume, so she stays at 0. The other characters get 0s as well for their minimal presence.

Scene 15: 10:38 - 14:23
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi
The Hidamaris talk about what they did while they were away. Hiro says that she left three days before Sae and expresses a warm and somewhat yuri concern about how Sae fared during that time. Sae confirms that she did not eat well, being totally unable to remember what she had, showing a dependence on Hiro that has come up a few times in the series and signals a close relationship between them. Later, Sae expresses a concern for her sister Chika as she approaches her high school entrance exams, a rare display of sisterly affection that gives her a marginal increase. When Hiro asks everyone what they wished for, Yuno says she wished for everyone to be happy together, which she also wished for at Tanabata in the previous episode, suggesting probably that she deeply cares about the continued stability of Hidamari Apartments and not that the Hidamaris cannot be happy together, since they seem to get along (see...well, everything in the investigation, actually). Hiro notes that Yuno’s wish, as well as Miyako’s wish to eat well, reflected both of them, displaying a good understanding of their characters. She cannot bring herself to reveal what she wished for, finally admitting that it was for her diet to succeed. Sae teases her about this (a departure from the usual Miyako), prompting a depressive breakdown that Yuno reverses by consoling her that the gods think it’s not necessary for her to diet. Fully cheered up, Hiro grabs both of Yuno’s hands and thanks her, the lewdness of which increases both of their yurilevels. Overall, Hiro and Sae end with 3, Yuno with 2, and Miyako ends with 0.

Scene 16: 14:23 - 15:31
C: Sa, Nt
Sae talks with Natsume at the shrine. Natsume insists she came there with a friend, despite the friend not being visible in this scene and never interacting with Natsume except for a brief moment at the start of Scene 11. This is similar to an event in Hidamari Sketch x365 10, when Natsume angrily tells Sae that she has friends to meet; in both instances Sae was either with or going to meet Hiro, so Natsume’s claims here could similarly be her being jealous of Hiro for being around Sae, which would raise her yurilevels similarly to how it did in the other episode. She then haughtily demands twice to know what Sae wished for, which Sae talks about with ease; when Sae then asks Natsume what she wished for, Natsume gets flustered and stammers for a bit before giving a very generic answer, world peace and the development of mankind. Her inability to tell Sae that she wished for emotional integrity conveys that she is still unable to be honest about her feelings (and as such that she wasted her once-a-year opportunity to make a New Year’s wish) and all but directly confirms that her wish was about Sae. Sae, meanwhile, is vastly more comfortable around Natsume than Natsume is around her, showing there isn’t any comparable emotion on her side toward Natsume. Sae also tells Natsume that she’s surprised to hear that Natsume worried about those issues, suggesting that she doesn’t hold Natsume in very high esteem and keeping her yuri readings down. She also says that it would be great if Natsume’s wishes came true, which does suggest at least some positive emotion on her part toward Natsume, even if it’s generally obscured. Natsume gets yuri-embarrassed, tries to tell Sae that it’s not like that, and runs away, turning around to tell Sae that she hopes they’ll have a good year together. The response again confirms that the wish was about Sae, and her parting comment shows a desire for closeness, possibly friendly and possibly yuri, with Sae. Sae is confused by the display but reciprocates her hope, and her inability to recognize Natsume’s emotions also prevents higher readings for her. She ends with 1 for having a general comfort around Natsume, while Natsume ends with 4.

Scene 17: 15:31 - 16:26
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi
The Hidamaris talk about Natsume. Miyako initiates the main discussion by suggesting that Natsume might want to be Sae’s friend. While the viewer is aware of this, it’s unclear what would lead Miyako to say this, considering her main knowledge of Natsume is from seeing her and Sae compete in the athletic festival and Sae’s presumed recollection of the previous scene. Perhaps Miyako has a knack for intuiting the emotions of others? She asks Hiro what she thinks of the idea, and Hiro responds that it would be fine (いいんじゃないかしら?, “iin ja nai kashira?”, roughly “I wonder why not?”). Miyako’s involvement of Hiro suggests that she considers Hiro as significant enough in Sae’s social actions that her approval is necessary for Sae to make friends, a very yuri interpretation of their relationship that boosts her readings. For Hiro, while other constructions could be construed as her giving consent for Sae to make friends, this particular one where she’s wondering why Sae and Natsume can’t be friends suggests she does not consider herself involved and as such removes her from the situation, showing an ambivalence to Sae’s affairs that does not give her yurilevels. Sae herself apathetically says she wouldn’t dislike being friends with Natsume, an example of damning with faint praise that shows no desire to be close to Natsume. Yuno and Miyako both agree that they don’t dislike the idea of Sae and Natsume being friends, showing a desire for Sae to be popular and well-liked that is more likely friendly than yuri. Miyako ends with 2, Yuno with 1, and Sae and Hiro with 0.

Scene 18: 16:27 - 17:38
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, La
The Hidamaris see the Landlady outside the supermarket. She is wearing a kimono, which Yuno is surprised at but nonetheless says looks good on her, with the other Hidamaris shown to agree; the compliments of her physical attractiveness helps Yuno significantly and the other Hidamaris slightly but less so. The Landlady then gives them a bag of tangerines, which she says is a prize for getting along so well. While it’s been established that the Landlady doesn’t generally pay much attention to her tenants, aside from using the apartments as a dumping ground for things she doesn’t need (which she is doing here as well), her comment on their group cohesion must have come from somewhere, suggesting the Hidamaris exude a strong closeness even to those who only know them in passing, increasing everyone’s yurilevels moderately. Overall, Yuno ends with 3, the other Hidamaris with 2, and the Landlady with 1.

Scene 19: 17:38 - 18:09
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi
Hiro and Yuno each offer to make food. Hiro nearly starts to make dinner for Miyako after hearing Miyako’s stomach rumble, a display of motherly concern for her health that gives her slight yurilevels. Yuno then says that she has souvenirs for everybody, including Miyako this time, showing she cares enough about the others to buy gifts for them and increasing her readings as well. She and Hiro end with 2, the others stay at 0.

Scene 20: 18:11 - 20:57
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi
The Hidamaris eat Yuno’s souvenirs. The first part of the scene is a discussion of rice cake bowls which doesn’t suggest yuri from anybody. In the second part of the scene, however, they talk about their desires for the new term while the camera pans over Yuno’s corkboard, which has multiple pictures from the previous two seasons of the show including Sae talking into a fan, a number of scenes from the athletic festival, the Hidamaris in yukata at the festival, and general solo shots of the other Hidamaris, and ending with a large group photo of the Hidamaris sleeping together***. These photos, particularly the group sleeping picture, show an attachment to the Hidamaris that increases Yuno’s levels for the scene. While the pictures are shown, Miyako mentions that she wants to start exercising, giving her slight masculinity yurilevels, and Sae and Hiro’s plans prompt Yuno to say they’re both great, showing respect for both of them that leans closer to friendly but helps her yurilevels nonetheless. In the last part of the scene, after everyone leaves and Yuno is left alone, she goes outside and tells the departing Hidamaris that she’s home, similarly to what she said to Miyako in Scene 3. They respond “welcome back” (お帰りなさい, “okaeri nasai”), the traditional response to “I’m home,” and group around Yuno, with Miyako hugging her and Sae implied to touch her somewhere beneath her shoulders, showing both a strong emotional and physical intimacy between all of them that helps everybody. Final readings are Yuno with 4, the others with 3.

Scene 21: 21:04 - 21:24
C: Yu
Yuno takes a bath. She calls Hidamari Apartments great, but like in Scene 2 this could be an attachment just to the apartment or to the others and is too vague to firmly declare that it’s one or the other. Splitting the difference gives Yuno a 2 overall.
She also starts singing “Sketch Switch.” More on this later.

Scene 22: 21:24 - 21:27
C: Sa
Sae sings a line of “Sketch Switch” while in the bath, and then looks at the viewer. Ignoring for now the obvious issues of how the song exists in-universe, it’s unclear how Sae is able to join in the song since her room is the furthest away from Yuno’s. The walls of Hidamari Apartments have varied in thickness, from mostly soundproof to being able to Yuno being able to hear Miyako sing in the bath, but the only time I can remember sounds travelling between floors is in Hidamari Sketch x365 04 when the stray cat’s obnoxiously loud snoring kept Hiro awake at night. Yuno was singing much more quietly, so the only way Sae could pick up so perfectly is if she’s some sort of telepath. While the ability to intuit other people’s mental states would explain her success as a romance writer, it’s more difficult to justify in relation to her inability to understand Natsume. Natsume could have some sort of telepathy blocking ability, though that has less evidence from the show. Other than that, there’s little to write here aside from that Sae is very well toned, not particularly yuri-ly so, and that I think after staring into the abyss for so long it’s staring back into me.

Scene 23: 21:27 - 21:37
C: Mi
Miyako joins in the song. Her position at Room 202 could let her hear both Sae and Yuno, so it’s not as difficult to understand as Sae hearing Yuno. That said, where is this song coming from at all? If SHAFT wanted to tie up the season with a song, why not the song about staring up at the blue sky from the window that Yuno and Miyako have been singing all season? Why blur the line between reality and fantasy, and why when everyone’s naked? Miyako stares at me as well. I’m beginning to worry.

Scene 24: 21:37 - 21:40
C: Hi
Hiro is assimilated into the Sketch Switch. Since the viewer could be male or female, none of the characters have received yurilevels just because they’re looking at me. They’re all looking. Staring.

Scene 25: 21:40 - 21:43
C: Yo
Yoshinoya laughs. She just...she just laughs. She laughs at me.

Scene 26: 21:43 - 22:03
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi
The Hidamaris sing at the bathhouse in perfect unison. There is no backing music, so it’s just vocals. Four vocal tracks, in perfect unison, accompanied only by the echo of the bathhouse and my palpable fear. Has the investigation found me? Are the Hidamaris aware of my presence? Moving along, it’s uncertain how the Hidamaris came to the bathhouse so quickly, unless the Sketch Switch is some kind of Wideface Instrumentality Project and the bath represents the afterlife. As such, since it can't be determined whether this scene is happening at all or not, yurilevels don't apply. It’s a good thing this is the last scene, because I have no idea what to make of this and I still have things to take care of on this side. Do you hear me, Sketch Switch? I STAY ON THIS SIDE--NO--

Final Yurilevel Readings: (both Aokis and Umes are out of 4):
Episode: 1.5318A

  1. Natsume: 3.872U
  2. Sae: 1.780U
  3. Hiro: 1.747U
  4. Yuno: 1.620U
  5. Landlady: 1.000U
  6. Miyako: 0.425U
  7. Yoshinoya: 0.000U

The main part of the second season ends with moderately-high yuri and a particularly strong showing from Yuno, who usually struggles to break 1 Ume but was pushed by her readings in Scenes 15 and 20 to end just below traditional character ranking leaders Sae and Hiro. Natsume barely missed her third 4.0 reading, but has still put forward readings this season that few if any characters can challenge. Miyako had very low readings this episode, owing from generally low readings throughout, while Sae barely beat out Hiro for the top spot with a few additional yurilevels in Scene 10. In total, a strong finish to a strongly yuri season.

Further analysis will continue with Hidamari Sketch x365 OVA 01.

*: The Hidamaris aren’t really living “together” since they have separate rooms, so rest assured that the Hidamari family unit does not mean that any of them are living in sin. Sae and Hiro come close since Hiro is heavily implied to spend a vast amount of time in Sae’s room and to cook and care for her, but unless Hiro moves into Sae’s room it’s not impure.
**: Curiously, these implications take place at around the same time of the month: August 5 (Hidamari Sketch x365 09), June 8 (Hidamari Sketch x365 10), and July 7 (Hidamari Sketch x365 12). There’s no suggestion of this, but could Natsume’s affection for Sae be linked to her menstrual cycle? Sae has been compared to a male on a few occasions, so perhaps Natsume is more attracted toward Sae every four weeks because she’s ovulating and desires Sae as a mate.
***: This is likely from Hidamari Sketch 12, so Chika was probably the one who took the picture. Why did she want to see the Hidamaris sleeping, and why did Yuno get a hold of this picture? My guess is it’s because they’re both gay. (I may have a slight bias on these matters.)

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