Monday, May 27, 2013

Hidamari Sketch xHoshimittsu OVA 01

Hidamari Sketch xHoshimittsu OVA 01 includes the six Hidamari residents, Yoshinoya, the Landlady, Natsume, Kuwahara, and a classmate of Natsume’s. Part A follows the Hidamari residents visiting a newly-opened family restaurant*, and Part B details Natsume’s backstory, primarily her entrance ceremony and meeting Sae.

Scene 01: 00:05 - 00:34
C: Yo
Yoshinoya misinterprets the school schedule. The actions she considers for her free afternoon are not explicitly said by her to include anybody else, least of all other women, so she gets a 0 for it.

Scene 02: 02:10 - 03:01
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na
The Hidamaris have radio exercises and check their mail. Miyako attempts to motivate Hiro to overcome her tiredness, which prompts Sae to reassure Miyako that getting her outside is progress. Both get minor readings here, Miyako for attempting to include Hiro and Sae for defending her, belying a protective instinct toward Hiro. Later, when reading a flyer for the new local restaurant, Sae turns to Hiro and looks at her for around two to three seconds, long enough to be noticeable but not quite long enough to convey that she is staring with intent at Hiro, giving her a slight increase that is subsumed by her earlier boost. Hiro suggests to the others that they all go to the restaurant after school, which, given that the episode is set on a half-day, makes it a short enough time frame to suggest that she has a strong desire to spend time with everyone and getting minor friendly yurilevels. She, Sae, and Miyako all end with 1, the others with 0.

Scene 03: 03:07 - 03:51
C: Yu, Mi
Yuno and Miyako discuss the diner. Yuno gets a 1 for showing curiosity toward Miyako by asking if she had any restaurants nearby growing up, but Miyako gets 0 since she doesn’t reciprocate Yuno’s interest, instead opting to hint more at her mysterious past.

Scene 04: 03:54 - 04:17
C: Yu, Mi, Yo
Yoshinoya talks to Yuno and Miyako. She teasingly asks if she’s interrupting a private conversation, conveying she believes Yuno and Miyako are speaking intimately and getting a moderate increase for her interpretation of their relationship. Yuno politely gives her flyer to Yoshinoya and Yoshinoya thanks her, but neither are affected since there seems to be no underlying yuri motivations on either side. Yoshinoya gets 2 and Yuno and Miyako end with 0.

Scene 05: 04:20 - 04:46
C: Yu, Mi, No, Na
Yuno, Miyako, Nori, and Nazuna wait for Sae and Hiro to join them. When asked why everyone still has their uniforms on, Yuno says that she wanted to go to the restaurant in the school uniform. She adds that they never get to do so, imagining two situations where she and other Hidamaris are in their school uniforms at a public venue, the first being her and Miyako at a cafe and the second being her, Miyako, Sae, and Hiro in a karaoke room. While her explanation that she wants to feel as if she’s dropping in somewhere isn’t especially yuri, the examples she gives are worth noting. The second is apparently derived from when the (at the time) four Hidamaris go to a karaoke box in Hidamari Sketch 04, but there isn’t a clear analogue for her and Miyako at a cafe, suggesting this is something she imagines or wants. This desire to spend time with Miyako gets her a 2, while everyone else stays at 0 for lack of yuri action.

Scene 06: 04:46 - 05:06
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na
The Hidamaris prepare to depart. Sae and Hiro enter by saying “we’re back” (ただいま, “tadaima”), to which the others respond “welcome back” (おかえりなさい, “okaeri nasai”). While these are usually indications that Hidamari Apartments is a home and that the Hidamaris are a family, these statements are given here knowing that everyone is about to leave; hence the translations of “we’re back” and “welcome back” instead of “we’re home” and “welcome home.” Nothing else of note occurs, so everyone ends with 0.

Scene 07: 05:07 - 06:02
C: Yo, Ku
Hidamari Sketch becomes self-aware. Yoshinoya enters Kuwahara’s office and asks her out to lunch, showing her the flyer Yuno gave her in Scene 04. While initially seeming to be a gesture of friendliness, it’s dampened by her insistence that they go soon to use the coupons since it implies she wants to use the coupons more than she wants to spend time with Kuwahara. Kuwahara for her part is confused by Yoshinoya’s presence, but says that they can go after the teachers’ inservice, getting a slight increase for being open to the idea of being with Yoshinoya. Each ends with 1.

Scene 08: 06:10 - 06:39
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na
The Hidamaris walk to the family restaurant. Yuno says she has fun going out with the others, raising her to 1, but other than that nothing of note occurs and everyone else stays at 0.

Scene 09: 06:45 - 08:00
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na, La
The Hidamaris enter the family restaurant and see the Landlady working as a waitress. Before the Landlady is first shown, a small group of other waitresses are shown (they are left out of the investigation, but one appears to be holding another’s hair). Compared to them, the Landlady is significantly more sexualized, being introduced in a provocative pose and having the top buttons of her shirt undone to reveal more of her chest. It’s unclear who this lewdness is supposed to appeal to, but since the clientele of the restaurant seems to be mixed-gender, it doesn’t help her yurilevels. The Hidamaris are alarmed to see her, but most of them eventually return to their normal states, an unnerved Hiro being the exception. Yuno calms down enough to agree with the Landlady’s self-aggrandizing remark that she fits in well as a waitress, giving Yuno an increase for appreciating her appearance. The Landlady then seats and waits on the Hidamaris, despite there being a number of other available waitresses. The possibilities for this are that the Landlady wanted to be the one to serve them, which would significantly boost her readings, or that the other waitresses let her wait on the Hidamaris since she was talking to them familiarly, which still gives her a moderate increase. The Landlady ends with 3, Yuno with 2, and the others with 0.

Scene 10: 08:00 - 08:51
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na
Meal options are considered. The three menus on the table are split according to standard Hidamari duos, raising everyone slightly for the suggestion of pairings. Hiro expresses concern about her caloric intake, prompting Sae and Nori to reassure her that she doesn’t have to worry and helping them both. Sae upsets Yuno by pressing the order button for reasons that were never said out loud but that Miyako somehow knew already, giving Yuno and Miyako moderate increases for this intimacy. They end with 2, while everyone else gets 1.

Scene 11: 08:53 - 09:30
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na, La
Everyone gives the Landlady their orders. Most of the orders are benign, though Sae gets a slight increase for eating fish. Sae gets another boost for ordering a drink bar for everyone, thus assuming a leadership role among the group that fits her usual role as the paterfamilias of the Hidamaris. She ends with 2, everyone else stays at 0.

Scene 12: 09:30 - 10:39
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na
The Hidamaris drink. Yuno and Miyako get drinks for everyone, slightly raising their readings for this friendly gesture. When they return, the Hidamaris talk about the usefulness of the diner. Nori says to Nazuna that they could come with friends to study, increasing Nori’s yurilevels for her desire to spend time with a group of women, and Hiro suggests that Sae could go to the diner for a change of pace, giving her a moderate boost for showing concern for Sae. Sae goes to get a drink for Miyako, getting similar readings to what Yuno and Miyako received earlier. Hiro ends with 2, Yuno, Miyako, Sae, and Nori with 1, and Nazuna with 0.

Scene 13: 10:41 - 11:25
C: Sa, Nt
Sae and Natsume have an encounter at the drink bar. Natsume is surprised to see Sae but regains her composure and insists to her that she came to the restaurant with a friend. Sae shows no care about this, and asks Natsume for sugar and milk. Natsume, despite her defensiveness, complies with Sae’s requests, getting an increase for wanting to give Sae everything she wants. She loses this gain by mocking Sae for her tastes in drinks, which is enough to make Sae get angry at her, so both end with 0.

Scene 14: 11:25 - 11:49
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na
A miffed Sae returns to the table. Miyako is excited to see Sae return, but it’s more likely she’s excited to get her drink so it doesn’t affect her readings. Sae tersely shoves the coffee toward Miyako, then bitterly drinks the cola before being informed by Miyako that she mixed up the drinks. Her actions here suggest that Natsume’s comments significantly affected her, possibly because she considers Natsume a friend (see x365 10) and consequently feels hurt. She gets an increase for this, rising to 2, while the others stay at 0.

Scene 15: 11:49 - 12:11
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na, La
The Landlady brings food. She gives Miyako an extra serving of rice, showing a special consideration for her appetite that raises her readings. Miyako is similarly boosted by her strong gratitude, conveyed through a pink circle-filled background, and both end at 2. Everyone else stays at 0.

Scene 16: 12:12 - 13:03
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na
Food is consumed. Nori and Nazuna share their meals with each other, a display of closeness and comfort that gives them each 3s. Sae shows friendly concern for Miyako when she asks her to eat more slowly, raising her to 1. The rest end at 0.

Scene 17: 13:03 - 13:37
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na, La
The Landlady brings ice cream. She explains that the ice cream is a special offer for the opening of the restaurant, so since it’s not an extra show of kindness toward the Hidamaris the Landlady stays at 0. Hiro feels guilt over having eaten the sundae earlier upon receiving the ice cream. Miyako tries to take advantage of this guilt to eat her ice cream, and Sae shames her for wanting to keep the dessert; both stay at 0 for their lack of sympathy. Their comments don’t seem to affect Hiro, who continues to smile throughout the scene, suggesting a comfort with them that gives her a 2. The others have no notable yuri moments and get 0.

Scene 18: 13:39 - 14:16
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na
Miyako’s skirt drops. As the Hidamaris prepare to leave, Sae and Hiro stand up simultaneously, as do Nori and Nazuna; both pairs are helped by this since their synchronization belies a deep connection. When Miyako tries to stand up, a clip on her skirt pops off, making Yuno, Sae, and Hiro blush strongly out of embarrassment from nearly seeing her unclothed. Those three get moderate increases since it’s equally possible their embarrassment could be on Miyako’s behalf or for their own for associating Miyako’s nudity with embarrassing thoughts. Sae and Hiro end with 3, Yuno with 2, Nori and Nazuna with 1, and Miyako with 0.

Scene 19: 14:19 - 15:04
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na, Yo, Ku
The Hidamaris encounter Yoshinoya and Kuwahara. Yuno encourages Miyako to keep going despite her overfilled stomach, earning her a 1. Nazuna jokes that Miyako looks pregnant, keeping her steadfast at 0 for associating Miyako with a (typically**) heterosexual act; Yoshinoya gets a 0 as well for making the same connection later on. Nori is raised to 1 for complimenting the staff at the restaurant since the only staff they interacted with was the Landlady. Nobody else does anything worth mentioning.

Scene 20: 15:08 - 15:22
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na
The Hidamaris return to Hidamari. Nazuna asks Nori to come to her apartment to study, which Nori agrees to; both receive a 2 for their desire to spend time alone with each other. Miyako gets a 1 for thanking Hiro for her safety pin, and the rest get 0s.

Scene 21: 15:24 - 15:31
C: Yu, Mi, Na
Nazuna departs. She thanks Yuno and Miyako for the time they spent together, which they happily accept. Everyone is raised to 1.

Scene 22: 15:31 - 15:52
C: Yu, Mi
Miyako apologizes to Yuno for not trying every drink at the restaurant. Her belief that she somehow let Yuno down conveys she tries to meet Yuno’s expectations of her, a desire for her approval that raises her to 2. Yuno’s assurance that she wasn’t disappointed by Miyako gives her a 2 as well for her acceptance of Miyako’s faults.

Scene 23: 15:59 - 16:14
C: Yu, Mi
Yuno sings in the bath. Her joining in with Miyako’s song shows a fondness for her that raises her to 2; Miyako doesn’t respond, so she stays at 0.

Scene 24: 16:22 - 16:40
C: Nt
Natsume eats dinner with her mother. Her reaction to hearing that her mother can’t go to the Yamabuki entrance ceremony is alarm that she will be going along, heavily suggesting that her father is not present or does not live with her and her mother. It doesn’t notably affect this particular scene, leaving Natsume with a 0, but it could be important in understanding Natsume as a character. If there really is an absence of a paternal figure in Natsume’s life, she may be more inclined to approach more masculine people as a surrogate father, but would additionally have greater difficulty interacting with such people due to a lifetime of being around women. Continuing this line of logic, it’s been mentioned elsewhere throughout this investigation that Sae comes across as masculine. If Natsume wants a masculine person in her life but is only accustomed to dealing with more feminine people, it would explain both her attraction toward Sae and her inability to properly convey whatever feelings she may have for her.

Scene 25: 16:55 - 18:10
C: Nt
The world conspires against Natsume. Again there’s nothing in this scene affecting Natsume’s yurilevels, but for future reference the scene is primarily grayscale and faded with dim lighting, creating a melancholy atmosphere.

Scene 26: 18:15 - 18:26
C: Nt
Natsume arrives at school. The coloring system from the previous scene continues. Nothing else to note.

Scene 27: 18:26 - 18:55
C: Nt
Natsume continues to be spat upon by life. The coloring system from the previous two scenes continue. Nothing else to note.

Scene 28: 18:55 - 19:35
C: Sa, Nt
Sae and Natsume meet. Their connection begins when Sae tells Natsume she might be at the wrong locker. Her impetus for doing so is never stated, but it’s likely that Sae is simply the kind of person that would help a stranger (see x365 07, where she tries to comfort Yuno seconds after meeting her). While this dampens her yurilevel boost from helping Natsume, she still gets a healthy increase for this show of kindness. Natsume’s reaction to Sae’s help is unmistakably yuri: upon first setting eyes on her and hearing her voice, color and light return to the scene, metaphorically making Sae the color and light in Natsume’s life. She moves through the rest of the scene in a daze, wonderstruck, while Sae continues to talk with her more pleasantly than would be expected between newly-acquainted persons, suggesting Sae has already warmed to Natsume. She ends with 3, while Natsume gets 4.

Scene 29: 19:35 - 20:10
C: Sa, Nt
Sae walks Natsume to the auditorium. Through the majority of the scene, all other students and much of the background are completely blanked to leave only Sae and Natsume. Since the viewpoint in this segment is assumed to be Natsume’s, this conveys that meeting Sae has caused everything else to be irrelevant, suggesting a singular focus on her. The idea of Natsume forgetting about everything except herself and Sae is also supported by how they each receive individual shots with little to no background, where both, especially Sae, are depicted in bright pastels. As they walk together, cherry blossom petals are shown to fall around them, a purely artistic image seeing as they are inside. Cherry blossoms have been mentioned previously to have important significance in Japan, commonly indicating spring or love; while the episode does take place in spring, the use of the image in an indoor scene suggests it is indicating love, which can be read as an outright confirmation that what Natsume is feeling in the scene is romantic in nature. Sae, meanwhile, continues to talk about her writing and living circumstances, apologizing at one point for talking so much. Her actions come across more as friendly in nature with little overt romance, but she gets a minor boost near the end for the particularly warm smile she gives Natsume as she tells Natsume her name; Natsume is further helped afterwards, when Sae fades away into a brilliant white light after Natsume learns her name, again suggesting a quickly-developed infatuation with her. Sae ends with 2, and Natsume with 4.

Scene 30: 20:11 - 20:27
C: Nt
Natsume contemplates Sae. Her review of everything she knows about Sae includes the facts that she lives alone, is in the arts department but writes, and is tall. All of these point to an admiration of Sae, the first for her self-sufficiency, the second for her varied talents, and the third for her physical appearance. After thinking of Sae’s character details, Natsume remembers the smile Sae gave her, which, in her memory, goes on for longer than it did in the original scene, suggesting Natsume is retroactively changing her memory to make Sae fonder toward her. Her desire for Sae to admire her is also seen when Natsume breathlessly considers the possibility of her and Sae becoming “close friends” (親友, “shinyuu”). “Close friends” is an incomplete translation for the term “shinyuu” given its connotations. “Shinyuu,” according to studies*** into Japanese ideas of friendship and interpersonal relationships, indicates an intensely intimate relationship that would be closer to “best friends” or something even stronger. As Natsume imagines being “shinyuu” with Sae, the image cuts to a field of light pink pastel with bubbles and doilies, all strongly indicating overwhelming joy at the thought****. Natsume’s infatuation with Sae gets her another 4.

Scene 31: 20:47 - 20:53
C: Nt, Natsume’s classmate
Natsume asks about Class A’s schedule. Her desire to know if Class A (Sae’s class) is on homeroom or not can be inferred to convey Natsume’s desire to see Sae, but the scene is too brief and nothing is made explicit enough for Natsume to get above a 2. Her classmate, with a total of one line and one toothy grin, gets 0.

Scene 32: 20:54 - 21:14
C: Nt
Natsume goes to visit Sae. The scene is again filled with cherry blossom petals and light colors as she thinks about Sae, continuing the images from previous scenes relating to her affection toward Sae. She assures herself that, since she has plenty of friends in her class, she will be able to talk to Sae instead of just staring fondly at her like she did previously. It’s curious that she notes that she’s made other friends, since her meeting and befriending them is totally skipped. If Natsume had latched onto Sae merely because she wanted a friend, she would have done the same with the other girls in her class and we would have seen this, but because she did not, Sae must be especially important to her, reinforcing the idea that Natsume has a romantic affection for Sae. Natsume easily gets another 4.

Scene 33: 21:14 - 21:47
C: Sa, Hi, Nt
Suffering is confirmed to exist. After Natsume runs excitedly into Sae’s class, eager to talk to her again, she is immediately depressed by seeing Sae talking to Hiro, who have apparently bonded by this time. Hiro tells Sae that she was going to make stew and asks if she wants some, which Sae accepts with some degree of embarrassment. While they appear to have formed some degree of closeness by this time, they are not yet as intimate as they are in the main timeline of the series: Hiro is not directly offering to make Sae dinner, and Sae is not yet fully comfortable accepting Hiro’s gestures. Nonetheless, Natsume is horrified that Sae is talking to a “cute” (可愛い, “kawaii”) person so casually, and further dismayed as she realizes Hiro likely lives in Sae’s apartment building. When Sae greets Natsume, Natsume rejects her angrily and runs, seeming to believe that talking to a cute girl is the same as denying Natsume, an irrational assumption that makes sense if she thinks Hiro is a romantic rival that Sae has chosen over her. This is a blatant projection of her feelings onto Sae and Hiro, earning her another 4. Sae and Hiro’s friendliness gets them each 2.

Scene 34: 21:53 - 22:05
C: Nt
Natsume suffers further. The opening shot of a dripping faucet implies Natsume is crying due to her experience with Sae in the previous scene. She is shown alone in her room, where everything is once again dark and faded. The main color in the shot is a green closely resembling Natsume’s hair color, with most non-dark objects holding this color. The main exception to this is Natsume’s curtain, decorated with a pattern of hearts and colored blue like Sae’s hair, associating the symbolism of hearts (i.e., romance and love) with Sae. Natsume is depressed about Sae becoming friends with somebody other than her and about being cold toward Sae, and oscillates between being upset at Sae and blaming herself. Her ultimate conclusion is that Sae didn’t pay attention to her feelings, which is immediately followed by a shot of three cherry blossom petals in the shapes of hearts, conveying that these feelings are romantic. Seeing as this is the definition of homosexuality, she gets another 4.

Final Yurilevel Readings: (both Aokis and Umes are out of 4)
Episode: 1.0118A
  1. Natsume: 1.925U
  2. Landlady: 1.601U
  3. Sae: 1.153U
  4. Yuno: 0.926U
  5. Hiro: 0.845U
  6. Yoshinoya: 0.664U
  7. Nori: 0.654U
  8. Kuwahara: 0.550U
  9. Miyako: 0.471U
  10. Nazuna: 0.466U
  11. Natsume’s classmate: 0.000U

Another relatively low-yuri episode, mostly owing to a lackluster romance-light performance in Part A. Part B somewhat made up for it, taking only a third of the total scene time but contributing half the overall Aokis, but even there Natsume only met Sae about halfway into the segment. Natsume’s obvious limerence propelled her to the top of the character rankings, but she was still kept down by the half of the segment that followed her going to school. The Landlady did surprisingly well, getting high readings in her longer scenes for her kindness toward the Hidamaris outside of their usual landlady-tenant relationship. Nori and Nazuna’s readings were lower than usual since they were out of focus for much of the episode and had little opportunity for advancement.
With the segment focusing on her in this episode, Natsume has moved to at most an inch from canonically being a lesbian. If this investigation were about determining whether or not the characters in Hidamari Sketch were gay, this would raise some significant issues with the core of the project; fortunately, yurilevels measure how much a character exhibits homosexuality in a scene, rather than the probability of homosexuality, so even a canon lesbian would still not receive constant 4s by merit of being a canon lesbian. The investigation thus continues with reasonable confidence. That said, Natsume has always been something of an outlier who disproportionately raises Aoki readings, but it’s always assumed that such increased yurilevels are intentional on the part of Ume Aoki and Studio Shaft.

Further analysis will continue with Hidamari Sketch xHoshimittsu OVA 02.

*: The translation used by Nutbladder is “diner,” but the term used in the show is “famiresu” (ファミレス), the Japanese transliteration of “family restaurant.” Since this is a perfectly valid phrase in English, I went with “family restaurant” for greater accuracy.
**: There are ways women can become pregnant without engaging in heterosexuality, such as in vitro fertilization or intrauterine insemination. However, Nazuna is suggested to be fairly naive, and would likely not know about these options.
***: Works cited:
Namba, K. “Seinen ni totte nakama towa nanika: Taijin kankei ni okeru ichizuke to  tomodachi–shinyuu tono hikakukara [The concept of “nakama” (peer groups) in Japanese adolescence: Its position within personal relationships compared with friends and best friends].” The Japanese Journal of Developmental Psychology, 16.3 (2005): 276-285.
McHugh, Charles, Koji Uenishi, and Liping Li. "Nakama Consciousness and Social Behavior Reported by Adult Japanese Males and Females." Intercultural Communication Studies XIX.2 (2010): 173-83.
****: Natsume’s happiness has previously been associated with such imagery in x365 OVA 02, where she was again close to Sae.

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