Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Hidamari Sketch xSP 02

Hidamari Sketch xSP 02 includes the six Hidamari residents, Yoshinoya, the Landlady, and Kuwahara. In Part A, the Hidamari residents clean Sae and Hiro’s curtains, and in Part B, the Landlady takes them to a restaurant.

Scene 01: 00:11 - 00:49
C: Yu
Yuno contemplates, but decides against, sleeping in. No yuri to comment on.

Scene 02: 00:49 - 00:54
C: Yu, Hi
Yuno sees a creature in the backyard. Though it is later revealed to be Hiro underneath a curtain, Yuno does not know this at the time, so her reaction does not carry any yuri-related significance, keeping her at 0. Hiro does not interact with Yuno or any other character, and as such also ends with 0.

Scene 03: 02:30 - 02:44
C: Yu, Mi
Yuno goes to Miyako’s room. Running into her room for solace suggests Yuno views Miyako as a comforting figure, raising her to 2. Miyako, however, is unfazed by Yuno’s terror, and this inability to read her mood holds her at 0.

Scene 04: 02:45 - 03:27
C: Yu, Mi, Hi
Yuno and Miyako look at the creature. Again Yuno is seeking comfort in Miyako, and even goes further than she did in Scene 03 by holding on to Miyako’s sleeve and burying her face in Miyako’s arm, raising her above her readings from the previous scene to a 3. Once Hiro emerges from her cocoon, she asks Miyako for her kiddie pool, remembering that she still has it from when they played together the previous summer (see Hidamari Sketch 06) and getting a 1 both for paying attention to such details about Miyako and for remembering a time they spent together. Miyako is not enthusiastic about lending her the pool, keeping her at 0.

Scene 05: 03:28 - 03:37
C: Mi
Miyako retrieves her pool. She interacts with nobody, but the vigor she puts into going to get the pool out suggests she is more excited to help Hiro than the previous scene indicated, raising her to 2.

Scene 06: 03:39 - 03:43
C: Sa
Sae hears a loud sound and responds in kind. Nothing to note in this scene.

Scene 07: 03:52 - 04:20
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi
Sae joins Yuno, Miyako, and Hiro outside. After being confronted about using the pool to clean her curtain instead of her bathtub, Hiro asks to get something from Sae’s room. Sae is confused by Hiro’s request but agrees, and Hiro proceeds to take Sae’s curtain and wash it with hers. Their interaction here is predicated on a relationship of mutual trust: Sae trusts Hiro enough to let her freely borrow from her belongings and expects that Hiro will be trustworthy in return. Instead, Hiro abuses Sae’s trust in an attempt to justify her own actions. For this, Hiro is kept at 0 while Sae gets a 2. Yuno and Miyako, as bystanders, don’t get any readings.

Scene 08: 04:20 - 04:47
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na
Nori and Nazuna join the others. Nori opens the door to her room, revealing Nazuna sitting on her bed. The two are together suspiciously early in the morning: Yuno comments in Scene 01 that she has a day off from school and can thus go back to sleep, suggesting she’s waking up at her normal school time, and at most fifteen minutes have passed since then. For Nori and Nazuna to be together so soon in the day would mean either that both of them wake up very early,which would run counter to Scene 02 xHoshimittsu 06 where Nazuna’s entry suggests she wakes up at the same time as Yuno or slightly later, or, more likely, that Nazuna spent the night with Nori. This doesn’t necessarily have lewd implications (Yuno has slept with everybody in Hidamari Apartments* but still remains the go-to character for naivete and innocence), but it’s indicative of a very intimate relationship between them and raises them both to 4. Later, when Nori doubles over in pain from a poorly-thought out pun, Sae becomes alarmed for her, giving her a 1. Everyone else stays at 0.

Scene 09: 04:48 - 06:06
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na
The Hidamaris begin washing Sae and Hiro’s curtains. After Nazuna makes an innocuous comment about how clean the curtains are, the other Hidamaris interpret it as a philosophical statement, earning them a slight increase for wanting to give Nazuna more credit than she deserves. There is another invocation of the Hidamari family dynamic when Yuno asks Sae and Hiro for permission to join Miyako in stomping on the curtains, symbolically placing them as the parental authority and Yuno as a child wanting to play with Miyako, and Yuno, Sae, and Hiro earn moderate readings for it. Yuno and Miyako then get a joint increase by having their stomachs growl in hunger in unison, conveying a deep connection between them strong enough to alter them physically. Hiro offers to make them toast, and Yuno then offers to make the eggs; though they are each helped by these actions their effects are not strong enough to elevate them significantly above what they had already earned. Yuno and Miyako end with 2, Hiro with 2, Sae and Nori with 1, and Nazuna with 0.

Scene 10: 06:09 - 06:12
C: Yu
Yuno cooks. She is disappointed by her meal, suggesting that she wanted a high-quality meal to make the other Hidamaris happy, earning her a 1.

Scene 11: 06:15 - 06:22
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na
Yuno’s eggs are rejected. Even though the meal has been damaged, Yuno still tries to get the others to eat what she has made, raising her to 2 for wanting their approval and acceptance. The other five reject her effort and refer to the eggs with an expression of disgust (気持ち悪い, “kimochi warui”), giving all of them 0s.

Scene 12: 06:25 - 06:54
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na
The Hidamaris have toast. Hiro praises Nazuna for bringing the ham and leads a round of applause for her that all the other characters join in on, earning Hiro a 2 and the others a baseline of 1. Oddly, this includes Nazuna herself, whose clapping is either out of pride (unlikely given her total lack of self-worth) or, more likely, because she feels pressured to go along with what the rest of the group is doing, a groupthink mentality that raises her to 2. Yuno hands Miyako a piece of toast, which Miyako then consumes along with Yuno’s hand similarly to what she did in Hidamari Sketch 03. In that episode, Yuno was largely neutral to Miyako taking in her whole hand, but here she laughs fondly when Miyako does it, representing a change in their relationship since then toward greater warmness and intimacy, raising them each to 3.

Scene 13: 06:56 - 07:45
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na
The Hidamaris have fun blowing. Yuno gets a 1 for praising Miyako’s blowing skills, and Nori also gets a 1 for bringing out materials to make blowing easier so everybody can enjoy it.

Scene 14: 07:48 - 09:02
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na, Yo
Yoshinoya stops by Hidamari Apartments. She and the Hidamaris greet each other pleasantly but politely, and neither one is excited enough to see the other to earn anybody yurilevels. Miyako offers to clean Yoshinoya’s clothes, getting a slight increase for this friendly gesture, but Yoshinoya angrily rejects her offer by saying she’s still pure and thus gets no reciprocal readings from the interaction. Yuno pacifies Yoshinoya by saying her dress is cute, but whether this is a purely tactical move to calm her down or a genuine appreciation of her sense of dress is uncertain, so Yuno isn’t affected by it. Yoshinoya says that she wants to try on different wedding dresses with her friend and that she will send the Hidamaris pictures as she does so, earning an increase for wanting to show them her body. After she leaves, Nori comments that she doesn’t expect Yoshinoya to ever marry, and Sae responds that she may settle down eventually**. Nori gets 0 for essentially calling Yoshinoya unlovable, and Sae also gets 0 since same-sex marriage is currently not recognized in Japan and thus Sae is wishing heterosexuality on Yoshinoya, the gravest of all curses. Overall, Miyako ends with 1 and everyone else stays at 0.

Scene 15: 09:03 - 09:43
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na
Curtain washing is concluded. Yuno and Miyako salute Hiro as they announce the curtains are finished washing, raising both to 1 for implicitly but briefly placing themselves under Hiro’s authority. Nori helps Hiro bring the curtains out of the pool, earning a slight initial increase, but then suggests that Hiro should be crushed and mutilated for being too fat, cancelling out her earlier action to keep her at 0. Nazuna then screams, surprising Sae, who notes that Nazuna is being unusually loud, raising Sae’s readings to a 2 for being familiar enough with Nazuna to know she always speaks quietly***. Having the others’ attentions, Nazuna says they should bring the curtains inside because she knows it is about to rain, getting a 1 for her concern for Sae and Hiro’s curtains. Hiro ends with 0 for lack of yuri action, having events happen to her rather than being included in the yuri.

Scene 16: 09:44 - 10:27
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na
The curtains are brought inside as it begins to rain. Nazuna feels guilty for forgetting to mention the rain to the others because she feels responsible for their well-being, expressing this responsibility through keeping Sae and Hiro’s curtains clean, and is raised to another 1. Sae also gets a 2 for reassuring Nazuna by saying she’s not at fault while placing her hand on Nazuna’s shoulder. The rest of the scene doesn’t carry yuri subtext with it, so Yuno, Miyako, Hiro, and Nori all stay at 0.

Scene 17: 10:31 - 10:50
C: Yu, Mi
Yuno and Miyako get wet. Miyako expresses no worry about the rain until Yuno warns her that she will catch cold if she doesn’t change her clothes, raising Yuno’s readings for being concerned for Miyako’s safety and Miyako’s readings for wanting to stay safe for Yuno’s sake. Each get 1.

Scene 18: 10:50 - 11:21
C: Yu
Yuno bathes in orange water. She makes no references or allusions to other women and none of her actions seem gay, so she stays at 0.

Scene 19: 11:39 - 12:39
C: Yo, Ku
Kuwahara wakes up Yoshinoya. Despite showing some modicum of kindness toward Yoshinoya by picking up her pen, Kuwahara does not act especially friendly in this scene, generally coming off more as a frustrated, aloof colleague in her disapproving observations that the other teachers have all left and homeroom has started. Yoshinoya attempts to defend herself, getting a slight increase for wanting to maintain a positive image of herself in Kuwahara’s mind, though her efforts come to no success and, when Yoshinoya runs away in anger at the end, Kuwahara only watches. Both end with 0.

Scene 20: 12:41 - 13:04
C: Yu, Mi, Yo
Yoshinoya defends herself. She makes an aside where she fantasizes about being a milk cow. Though I could not find specific numbers about the dairy industry, more than half of Japanese agricultural workers are women, making it equally likely that she is fantasizing about being milked by a woman and that she is fantasizing about being milked by a man. One is a very sexually yuri fantasy while the other is a very heterosexual fantasy, so averaging them out leaves Yoshinoya with a 2. After Yoshinoya leaves again, Yuno wonders where she went to, getting a 1 for her concern, while Miyako blithely wonders if they get to leave early due to her absence, staying at 0 for her lack of concern.

Scene 21: 13:12 - 14:58
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na, La
Yuno, Miyako, Sae, and Hiro return from school to see Nori and Nazuna talking to the Landlady outside Hidamari Apartments. As they walk back, Yuno and Miyako tell Sae and Hiro about the events of Scene 20, again evoking a family dynamic of children telling their parents how the school day went, and Sae comments that she believes there is a problem with Yoshinoya, a derogatory comment that hurts her readings. They then meet up with Nori, Nazuna, and the Landlady and are informed the Landlady is going to take them out for yakiniku (焼き肉, used to refer to Korean-style grilled meat dishes). The returning four are horrified to hear this; Sae seeds doubt in the previously-trusting Nori and Nazuna by telling them that the Landlady’s last treat was in response to the Hidamaris having to clean Rooms 103 and 203 (see xHoshimittsu 01) and implying she is planning to make them work again. Since this restaurant is more of a treat than her previous gift of takeout, the Hidamaris (Nori and Nazuna included) ask in fear if the Landlady is planning a full renovation (リフォーム, “rifomu” [Nutbladder’s translation is “she’s reformed”, but the “reform” is referring to renovation or remodeling, not to personal reform]), conveying a suspicion of her kindness. Throughout this, the Landlady is hurt to see her tenants doubt her motives (literally when a sound effect of Hiro staring hits her in the head) and reiterates that she just wanted to give them a gift, bitterly commanding them to appreciate her. Her frustration likely stems from a disappointment that her clients don’t trust her despite their friendly relationship (at least, more friendly than a typical landlord-client dynamic), and wanting to have a healthy and happy relationship with them raises the Landlady to a 2. Yuno, Miyako, Sae, and Hiro all get 0 since they are suspicious of the Landlady throughout, but the situation for Nori and Nazuna is somewhat less clear. Though they are initially happy in the Landlady’s presence and excited to go to the restaurant, they quickly change their mind once their neighbors tell them to do so, effectively choosing loyalty to the Hidamari unit over pleasant relations with the Landlady. The yuri effects of these balance out to give Nori and Nazuna 1 each.

Scene 22: 14:59 - 19:31
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na, La
The Hidamaris and the Landlady have yakinaku. Nori gets initial readings for her significantly masculine overalls in contrast to the other Hidamaris’ more conventional, less woodcutter-esque dress, then loses them because of her horror at seeing Nazuna attempt to eat something she likes. Once everyone is seated, the Landlady pressures the Hidamaris to consume alcohol, an action of inconclusive yuri value that makes more sense in light of her later advances (see Scene 23) and slightly helps her. Sae reminds her that they are underaged, prompting the Landlady to pretend she was joking and chide Sae for being too serious, which is more an attempt to save face than an honest attempt at making the Hidamaris laugh and thus doesn’t affect her readings; Sae’s yurilevels are slightly raised by defending the others from underaged drinking. Miyako then grabs Hiro’s stomach and shoulder to describe cuts of meat, therefore objectifying Hiro into a set of sexualized body parts. She does not receive a very high increase since it still dehumanizes Hiro, but it’s a modest effect at least. Hiro hits Miyako for this slight, hurting her readings for being violent toward her. Nazuna expresses concern for the Landlady’s meal variety, which is too petty of a subject to earn Nazuna readings. The Landlady then presents a challenge to the Hidamaris involving sushi, where whoever eats a sushi roll filled with wasabi will be required to weed the lawns of Hidamari Apartments and the Landlady’s house, another abusive stretching of her authority as landlady that significantly reduces her readings. After she gets the wasabi sushi, the Landlady tries to present herself as a risk-taking hero for doing so, which is more an attempt to save face than an attempt to make the Hidamaris think better of her and thus doesn’t affect her. Hiro ropes Sae into a plan to eat all five varieties of cake available at the restaurant, diminishing her yurilevels for her brazen manipulation, and Sae, unaware of Hiro’s scheme, happily goes along with, helping her for her trust of Hiro. Nori is able to tell that Sae is being used but does not try to warn Sae, so she doesn’t get an increase. At the end of the scene when the Landlady pays for the food, she finds that her calculation of cost (apparently ¥3000 per person) only covered the six Hidamaris and not herself, forcing her to ask for a loan from each. She gets a moderate increase for selflessly thinking of the Hidamaris before herself, and the Hidamaris all get slight increases for being happy to help her. Overall, Miyako and Sae end with 2, Yuno, Nori, Nazuna, and the Landlady with 1, and Hiro with 0.

Scene 23: 19:31 - 20:03
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na, La
The Hidamaris and the Landlady walk back from the restaurant. After giving the Hidamaris gum as a gift, the Landlady prominently sticks out her behind and repeatedly pats it to indicate sexual availability, all the while looking behind her at the others to see if they are reacting favorably. The Hidamaris do not respond, though Sae asks her why she quit smoking (being apparently oblivious to the obvious benefits of doing so). The Landlady says she has stopped until Sae and Hiro pass their exams, which Sae immediately rejects as false and Hiro seemingly accepts as true. Hiro gets 1 for her appreciation of the Landlady’s efforts, the Landlady gets 4, and the rest stay at 0.

Scene 24: 20:06 - 20:33
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na, La
The Landlady outstays her welcome. After the Hidamaris politely thank the Landlady for dinner, the Landlady asks to sleep with somebody at Hidamari Apartments. Her stated reason for asking is that she doesn’t want to walk home, suggesting she’s abusing her position as property owner, but it seems more complex than that. She’s hurt that they play rock-paper-scissors to decide who has to take her in, so she could genuinely have believed that one of them would let her in for the night. Combined with her signals in the previous scene that suggest she views her tenants as potential sexual partners, the Landlady is conveying a closeness with her tenants that doesn’t appear to be reciprocated. Even with this possibility, the fact remains that the Landlady is only able to ask because she wields considerable influence over the Hidamaris as their landlady, which is at the very least an overreach of her power. Overall, she gets a 2 while the Hidamaris all get 0.

Scene 25: 20:36 - 21:08
C: Sa, La
The Landlady sleeps with Sae. As soon as she enters, she merrily shouts “I’m home” (ただいま, “tadaima”), invoking a sense of familiarity with the apartment that she does not necessarily have. The Landlady then sits at the end of Sae’s couch and invites Sae to sit next to her, patting the cushion right next to her and conveying that she wants Sae to snuggle in right next to her. These actions are then eclipsed when the Landlady violates Sae’s school uniform. Gleefully grabbing it off the wall, she smells it deeply to conclude its pleasant smell is “the smell of a schoolgirl” (女子高生の臭い, “joshikousei no nioi”), essentially telling Sae she likes the way Sae smells and easily handing her a 4. At this point, the building discomfort that Sae has expressed throughout the scene reaches critical level, and she begins screaming wildly. Her shrieks of pain at the Landlady’s intrusion hold Sae to 0.

Scene 26: 21:08 - 21:12
C: Yu, Mi
Yuno and Miyako walk to their rooms. Miyako becomes worried since she hears a scream from Sae’s room, but once Yuno denies hearing anything Miyako dismisses her fears. This is similar to what she did in Scene 17 since Miyako is relying on Yuno’s judgments to determine how she should act, first deciding to change in response to the rain and here to forget the sound she heard. In a sense, Miyako is voluntarily lessening her own autonomy to more closely conform to what Yuno wants, most likely indicative of a desire to please her. Since this is most likely a strong friendly action bordering on weak romantic, Miyako gets a 3. Yuno, for not showing any reciprocal feelings, stays at 0.

Scene 27: 21:13 - 21:39
C: Yu, Mi
Miyako weighs herself. Yuno is alarmed since she believes Miyako’s weight will have increased from having gone to the restaurant. Since an increase in weight is generally upsetting (for example, this is one of Hiro’s defining character traits), Yuno’s concern is that Miyako will be distressed, and her alarm therefore shows that she doesn’t want Miyako to be sad, raising her to 1. Miyako, who focuses on her weight through the whole scene and doesn’t interact with Yuno in any noticeably yuri way, ends with 0.

Scene 28: 21:46 - 22:06
C: Yu
Yuno strains and clenches in the bathtub. Her movements carry no yuri subtext, leaving her with 0.

Final Yurilevel Readings: (both Aokis and Umes are out of 4)
Episode: 0.8231A
  1. Landlady: 1.692U
  2. Miyako: 1.082U
  3. Sae: 1.061U
  4. Yuno: 0.887U
  5. Nori: 0.818U
  6. Nazuna: 0.799U
  7. Hiro: 0.298U
  8. Yoshinoya: 0.292U
  9. Kuwahara: 0.000U

Right on the heels of the gayest episode of Season 3 comes the least gay episode of the season. Strangely, with the exception of Hiro, nobody seems to be dragging down the overall yurilevels of the episode: Yuno and Miyako had the most scene time of any characters and ended above the episode reading, Sae had the fourth-highest time and ended above 1 Ume, and Nori and Nazuna were only slightly below. From a statistical standpoint, the Aoki reading ended below what would be anticipated from the Ume readings because yurilevels from scenes are computed by taking the average of all the U readings of the involved characters. Usually this isn’t an issue because in most episodes yuri is generally constant between characters, but in all but one scenes in this episode that had all six Hidamaris in it, there was at least one character who received a 0 (the exception is Scene 12). When this happens, the resultant Aoki reading is lowered, though having five or more other characters does dampen this effect slightly.

At its core, this episode is about how the characters of Hidamari Sketch trust one another. The first segment is shaped by Hiro perverting the relationship she has with Sae to cover up forgetting she could wash her curtain in the bathtub, and then in the second segment she uses Sae again to gorge herself on cake. In contrast, we also see short scenes of Yuno and Miyako on the second-floor balcony of Hidamari Apartments to show their relationship of trust, and instead of being misused for one side’s benefit, it is mutually supportive: Yuno has the best of intentions for Miyako and Miyako places great confidence in Yuno. Yuno and Miyako’s interactions serve as a foil to Sae and Hiro’s, highlighting the purity and corruption of trust in the duos respectively. Nori and Nazuna’s relationship of trust isn’t brought to the forefront in this episode, but they have trust in the Hidamari unit as a whole, seen when they adopt Sae’s opinion of the Landlady over their own in Scene 21, and could be seen as trusting the group over themselves. The second segment overall revolves around the trust or lack thereof between the Hidamaris and the Landlady, focusing on whether the Landlady is trustworthy or not. The show gives no real answer to this question, sometimes presenting her as someone who cares about her tenants and wants to be fair and kind with them but also presenting her as devious and prone to using her position as landlord to satisfy her own whims. Since at least some of these whims were sexual in nature (from Scenes 22 through 25 the Landlady seems to be attempting seduction) she still ended with the highest Ume reading of the episode, but for somebody like Hiro, whose taking advantage of Sae didn’t have yuri subtext to it, the abuse of trust dragged her to the bottom of the character rankings for getting neither romantic nor friendly yurilevels. When considered together with how Yuno and Miyako ended with relatively high readings, the conclusion can be drawn that xSP 02 is a parable about how trust is an essential component of lesbian relationships friendships.

Further analysis will continue with Hidamari Sketch xHoneycomb 01.

*: See xHoshimittsu 10. As an aside, for a definition of “sleeping together” as sleeping in close contact with somebody else for a prolonged time in a manner not like a casual rest, so far in the series Yuno has slept with Miyako eight times: in Hidamari Sketch 09 and 12, x365 10 and 11, xHoshimittsu 02, twice in xHoshimittsu 10, and in xSP 01. Additionally, x365 01 has an image that suggests they slept together again sometime in November of their first year at Yamabuki High School, which does not match up with any of the previously listed episodes. This is an example of a non-yurilevel-related set of data that can be derived from this investigation, and upon finishing the Hidamari Yurilevel Project I may conduct other analyses using my write-ups if I can think of anything else worth analyzing.
**: Since we’re still operating under the assumption that Yoshinoya is hyperthymic, a settling down of the kind Sae is imagining is not likely for Yoshinoya, though a series of short-lived, impulsive marriages are entirely plausible.
***: It seems obvious that Nazuna is always soft-spoken, but there are people who are shy toward strangers only to open up and become friendly once they warm up enough (in Japanese media, this archetype is called だんでれ [dandere], from だんまり [danmari] meaning “silent” and でれでれ [deredere] meaning “lovestruck”). Sae, however, knows Nazuna well enough to know she is always this quiet even though they are familiar with each other, which is why she earns the readings she received in this scene.

8/24/13: Yamabuki High School was initially mislabed as "Yamabuki Academy." The name has been corrected.

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