Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Hidamari Sketch xHoneycomb 01

Hidamari Sketch xHoneycomb* 01 includes the six Hidamari residents, Yoshinoya, Natsume, a handful of Sae and Hiro’s classmates, and a pair of Natsume’s classmates. The first segment of the episode follows Sae and Hiro’s preparations for a school trip to Hokkaido, with the second segment focusing partly on their trip and partly on the activities of the other Hidamari residents while they are gone.

Scene 01: 00:06 - 00:51
C: Yu
Yuno contemplates her place at Hidamari Apartments. Her dream about her mother is representative of the general sense of domestic comfort Yuno is feeling homesick about so while it does convey a sense of attachment to her mother, it is not especially strongly yuri. She gets a 1.

Scene 02: 00:51 - 01:27
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na
Yuno listens to her fellow Hidamaris. The normal, everyday activities she hears going on outside her room are a response to Yuno’s sense of alienation in the previous scene, serving to associate life at Hidamari Apartments with the comfort and security of home and family, a warmness toward her neighbors that earns Yuno a moderate increase. Later, once she hears Miyako approaching her door, Yuno becomes visibly happier and is sufficiently roused to sit up in her bed, raising Yuno to a 3 overall; Miyako’s similar excitement to see Yuno, seen in how she runs to Yuno’s door despite living next in the room over, gives her 2. When Yuno is listening to the others, she hears Hiro making food alone, Sae sending a fax, and Nori and Nazuna watering tomatoes. Sae and Hiro’s activities are not suggested to include anybody else and carry no yuri subtext, so both end with 0, while Nori and Nazuna get 1 for their happiness to water plants together.

Scene 03: 01:29 - 01:36
C: Yu, Mi
Miyako visits Yuno. Their exchange has nothing out of the ordinary, but together with the focus on how the ordinary makes Yuno feel at home, there is sufficient subtext to give both a 1.

Scene 04: 03:14 - 03:29
C: Yu, Mi
Miyako calls Yuno to her room. Though she is confused, Yuno goes anyways, getting a 1 for her trust in Miyako. Miyako stays at 0 since she her reasons for inviting Yuno do not concern Yuno in particular.

Scene 05: 03:30 - 03:52
C: Yu, Mi
Yuno and Miyako discuss unusual sounds. Neither makes any sort of judgment about the noises from Sae’s room, so there is no yuri to discuss here. Both get 0.

Scene 06: 03:52 - 03:54
C: Yu, Mi
Yuno and Miyako walk to Nazuna’s room. Too short to provide significant yuri for either.

Scene 07: 03:55 - 04:34
C: Yu, Mi, Na
Yuno and Miyako investigate the sounds in Nazuna’s room. Nazuna responds to their presence with fear, likely to establish her panicky nature for new viewers, but compensates for it by displaying a high degree of knowledge about Nori’s emotional states when the three hear Nori scream, speculating she is upset about losing computer data, and ends with 1. Yuno and Miyako do not interact with Nazuna or each other very much, so both get 0 again.

Scene 08: 04:34 - 04:35
C: Yu, Mi
Yuno and Miyako walk to Nori’s room. A similar situation to Scene 06, and again neither receives yurilevels.

Scene 09: 04:36 - 05:16
C: Yu, Mi, No
Yuno and Miyako investigate the sounds in Nori’s room. Even though it is not related to their investigation, Yuno makes a point to ask Nori if something happened to her computer data, conveying a concern for Nori’s emotional well-being that raises her yurilevels to a 1. Nori apologizes for being loud, showing that she tries not to bother the other Hidamaris and also earning 1. Miyako stays at 0 since she does not want to confront Sae about the sound directly.

Scene 10: 05:20 - 05:35
C: Yu, Mi
Yuno and Miyako listen in on Sae’s room from outside. Yuno displays a trust in Miyako similar to Scene 03 in that she has reservations about their espionage but still goes along with it, getting another 1. Miyako doesn’t do anything notably gay and remains at 0.

Scene 11: 05:35 - 06:14
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, Sae and Hiro’s classmates
Sae finds Yuno and Miyako spying. The other third-years are amused to see them outside, getting slight readings for this warmness toward them, and only Sae is angry at them. Outside, Miyako tells Yuno that if they are caught, they can apologize to Sae; Yuno proceeds to do exactly that when Sae catches them, and earns readings for her willingness to follow Miyako’s advice. Sae and Hiro’s classmates recognize Yuno and Miyako, clarifying that they recognize the two because Sae and Hiro frequently talk about how cute Yuno and Miyako are; this itself suggests that the classmates think Yuno and Miyako are cute, substantially helping their readings. Sae is embarrassed to have this information revealed to Yuno and Miyako and begins screaming, so her increase for talking about Yuno and Miyako’s cuteness is not as great as Hiro’s. She ends with 2, as does Yuno; Hiro and the classmates end with 3 and Miyako with 0.

Scene 12: 06:15 - 06:20
C: Sa, Hi, Sae and Hiro’s classmates
Sae and Hiro see their classmates off. Like Scenes 06 and 08, it’s too short and insignificant for notable yuri.

Scene 13: 06:21 - 08:31
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na
The Hidamaris discuss Sae and Hiro’s upcoming school trip to Hokkaido. Hiro fondly mentions that while there, Sae wants to visit a lavender farm and a music box shop, embarrassing Sae again and prompting her to say that Hiro also wanted to go to those places while grabbing Hiro’s shoulder. The other four, watching these events unfold, respond by calling the trip a “honeymoon” (ハネムーン, “hanemun”), comparing Sae and Hiro to a married couple and the school trip to a consummation of said marriage and earning everyone very high readings. Nori’s yurilevels are slightly reduced for attacking Nazuna over going to a generic version of Disneyland for a school trip, so she ends with 3; everyone else gets 4.

Scene 14: 08:32 - 09:53
C: Yo
Yoshinoya holds a special lesson on the charms of Hokkaido. Her flirtatious comments are not directed specifically to her female students and therefore don’t suggest yuri, keeping her at 0.

Scene 15: 09:53 - 09:59
C: Yu, Mi
Miyako expresses excitement for the trip. Her excitement is based around the prospect of receiving souvenirs from Sae and Hiro, ignoring Sae and Hiro as people and thus giving her 0. Yuno does nothing notable and also gets 0.

Scene 16: 10:06 - 10:27
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi
Sae and Hiro go to the mall for travel supplies, accompanied by Yuno and Miyako. Though Sae is exasperated that Yuno and Miyako are coming along, Hiro does her best to justify their presence, raising her to 1 compared to Sae’s 0. Yuno and Miyako are only present to convince Sae and Hiro to buy them things in Hokkaido, a selfishness that keeps them both at 0.

Scene 17: 10:29 - 11:21
C: Sa, Hi, Nt
Natsume watches Sae shop. She hides upon seeing Sae so that she won’t be noticed, but continues to stalk Sae instead of leaving the area, suggesting that she still wants to be near Sae even if she doesn’t want to be too close to her. Sae asks Hiro for advice choosing a scarf, and Hiro then puts the scarf she chose around Sae’s neck; Sae gets readings for deferring to Hiro’s judgment while Hiro gets readings for the close contact involved in putting the scarf on. Natsume also wanted to see Sae buy the scarf that Hiro chose, conveying that she wants the best for Sae similarly to what Hiro wants and getting comparative readings to Hiro’s actions. When Sae and Hiro spot her, Natsume denies needing to be at the mall and chastises Sae for her last-minute preparations; however, Natsume is blushing throughout and refers to meeting with Sae as a fated encounter, so in light of her previous reevaluation as a borderline personality disorder sufferer, her actions are not necessarily aggressive but perhaps mere anxiety and don’t suggest a dislike of Sae. Overall, Sae ends with 1, Hiro and Natsume with 2.

Scene 18: 11:24 - 11:53
C: Sa, Hi
Sae and Hiro discuss motion-sickness medicine. Sae brushes away Hiro’s concerns that she will be motion-sick, saying that she will be fine because they will always be together on the trip. By saying this, Sae is positioning herself as a protective, comforting figure for Hiro, an extension of her usual role as the dominant partner of the two. Hearing Sae’s assertion causes Hiro to blush and coo about Sae’s ability to say such things so easily, giving the statement a subtext of romantic intimacy which Sae seems oblivious to. Since her inability to recognize anything odd about what she has said conveys that Sae is close enough to Hiro to be able to say something so intimate without embarrassment is also highly yuri, both still end with 4.

Scene 19: 11:55 - 12:21
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi
Yuno, Miyako, Sae, and Hiro walk home from the mall. Yuno says she will be lonely without Sae and Hiro, increasing her readings to 2 for her closeness to them. Miyako’s realization about the average age of Hidamari Apartments while they are away is a purely numerical line of thought devoid of any emotion toward them. She ends with a 0, as do Sae and Hiro for lack of action.

Scene 20: 12:22 - 12:45
C: Mi, Hi
Hiro makes final preparations. Miyako intervenes to make another request for souvenirs, and her continued greed keeps her at 0. The contents of Hiro’s suitcase aren’t especially gay, so she also ends with 0.

Scene 21: 12:47 - 12:56
C: Yu
Yuno tries to sleep. Her excitement for Sae and Hiro’s trip is rooted either in a greed similar to Miyako’s since she has already pressured them for souvenirs previously or in a desire to see them leave; either way, she gets 0.

Scene 22: 12:57 - 13:24
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na
Yuno, Miyako, Nori, and Nazuna see Sae and Hiro off on their trip. Sae asks Hiro if she has everything she needs, then decides that they shouldn’t wake the others up before leaving, showing concern for everybody’s well-being that raises her readings. The other Hidamaris then surprise them by sending them off with throwing tape and waving flags (which, bearing the Yamabuki High School emblem, are presumably left over from school sports events), showing their appreciation for Sae and Hiro. Everyone but Hiro ends with 2.

Scene 23: 13:27 - 14:04
C: Yu, Mi, No, Na
Yuno attempts to be mature with mixed results. Nearly from the moment Sae and Hiro leave, Yuno’s new position as resident upperclassman goes straight to her head and she becomes convinced that she must be a benevolent sempai to Nori and Nazuna, a sense of responsibility that slightly raises her readings. Her first act as resident gerontocrat is to wrap herself around Nori’s arm and agree with her that the remaining Hidamaris shouldn’t go back to sleep. The combination of very strong physical contact and deferral to Nori raises Yuno to 3, while Nori’s shock at having Yuno touch her holds her at 0. Miyako and Nazuna end with 0 for their lack of yuri action.

Scene 24: 14:09 - 14:46
C: Yu, Mi
Yuno and Miyako head to class. Yuno agrees to take Miyako’s bag to their classroom, but there is no other potential yuri in the scene and even then Yuno isn’t particularly yuri about it. Both stay at 0.

Scene 25: 14:47 - 15:05
C: Yo
Yoshinoya despairs. Her sorrow conveys no yuri.

Scene 26: 15:06 - 15:29
C: Yu
Yuno fantasizes about being respected. In class, she wonders what she can do for Nori and Nazuna that would make them respect her as a sempai; while she wants to help them for her own ego, it is interconnected enough with a desire for Nori and Nazuna to like her that it still earns her readings. Rather than come up with something to do for them, her mind skips straight to imagining Nori and Nazuna praising her: Nori tells Yuno she can count on her, and Nazuna simply says “I respect you” (尊敬します, “sonkeishimasu”). Yuno then imagines Miyako praising her by calling her “amazing” (すごい, “sugoi”), followed by Sae and Hiro saying she’s matured and she acts like an upperclassman respectively. Throughout all of Yuno’s fantasies, her nose grows similarly to in x365 03, where it also grows in response to being praised. At the end, Yuno decides her fantasy is likely different from what would happen in reality, which is rather disheartening since it suggests Yuno believes she is not respected by the other Hidamaris (or by Nazuna at the very least). Her misgivings of the others dampens the yurilevels she gets from her deep desire to be accepted and appreciated, so Yuno gets 3 overall.

Scene 27: 15:36 - 16:03
C: Sa, Hi, Sae and Hiro’s classmates
The third-years arrive in Hokkaido. Sae immediately assumes a leadership role in planning their activities, earning slight readings for her dominance over the others, and then is further helped by her worry about Hiro being cold. Hiro’s position as the submissive is reinforced by asking Sae for ice cream, raising both of their readings so that each ends with 2. The classmates stay at 0 since the scene is primarily focused on Sae and Hiro.

Scene 28: 16:04 - 16:25
C: Sa, Hi, Sae and Hiro’s classmates
The third-years explore a glass shop. Hiro contemplates buying a set of glassware, but is stopped since buying one for each Hidamari would be too expensive; Sae suggests she get only one or two instead, an idea that did not appear to occur to Hiro. Hiro’s commitment to fairness and generosity toward the other Hidamaris gives her a 2, while Sae and the classmates stay at 0.

Scene 29: 16:28 - 16:37
C: Sa, Hi, Sae and Hiro’s classmates
Sae and Hiro are held back. One of the classmates grabs the back of Sae’s uniform, raising her and Sae to 1. Hiro only gets one line in the scene and consequently has no opportunity for yuri.

Scene 30: 16:39 - 17:02
C: Sa, Hi, Sae and Hiro’s classmates
The third-years eat omelette rice. The scene solely focuses on the meal and gives the characters no opportunities to acquire yurilevels; Sae and Hiro aren’t even sitting together. 0s all around.

Scene 31: 17:04 - 17:54
C: Sa, Hi, Sae and Hiro’s classmates
The third-years visit a farm. Sae is talked into using a riding machine and Hiro and the classmates watch as she does so; everyone’s increases are minimal at best since, while similar riding machines are used as sexual paraphernalia, the one in the scene does not appear to be designed for this purpose and Sae is not seen to be sexually excited by it. Hiro gets a more substantial increase for taking a video of Sae on the machine, which prompts Sae to chase after Hiro through a field of tulips to get it back. While Sae is primarily focused on retrieving the video, Hiro is enjoying their frolic for its own merits, and the scene of them running together is very much framed like the two are on a romantic excursion. Consequently, Sae ends with 3 and Hiro with 4, while the classmates get 1.

Scene 32: 18:03 - 18:23
C: Sa, Sae and Hiro’s classmates
The third-years ride a bus. One of the classmates offers Sae chocolate, earning slight readings for friendliness to get a 1. Hiro is by this point asleep, and falls over to rest on Sae’s shoulder. In response, Sae shushes the others and leans her head closer to Hiro’s, conveying both a desire to keep her comfortable and a strong fondness for her that raises her to 4.

Scene 33: 18:26 - 19:16
C: Yu, No, Na
Nori and Nazuna ask Yuno for cooking help. Before they arrive, Yuno is sitting quietly in her room (possibly alone, see Scene 34) lamenting her inability to be maternalistic toward Nori and Nazuna; while her desire to take care of them would help her yurilevels, Scene 34 implies Miyako was in the room with her, so her reluctance to talk to her balances out the increase she would have received. Nori and Nazuna then arrive together with Nazuna’s ruined dish, suggesting either that Nori was with Nazuna as she was making food or that Nazuna went to her first for help and earning both moderate readings for this closeness. Once Yuno decides Nazuna’s dish is a complete loss, she attempts to let Nazuna know as gently as possible and reassures her that the meal will be alright, earning an increase for her desire to protect Nazuna’s feelings to end with 1. When Nazuna is told she failed, she moves behind Nori as if to hide, conveying that she views Nori as a protective figure. The inherent intimacy in such a relationship gives both 3.

Scene 34: 19:16 - 20:31
C: Yu, Mi, No, Na
Yuno compensates for Nazuna’s failure. Miyako appears in Yuno’s room, raising the question of when she entered and how long she had been there. At the beginning of Scene 33, Yuno appeared to be alone, seeing as she was curled into a ball and whispering to herself. The door to her room was blocked by herself, Nori, and Nazuna, and the door to her balcony is covered by a curtain. Miyako must have been in the room throughout Scene 33, even though Yuno wasn’t speaking to her, retroactively decreasing Yuno’s readings in that scene for her emotional coldness toward Miyako. Nori and Nazuna express admiration of Yuno as she cooks, raising their readings slightly, and Yuno reciprocates by being pleased with their attention on her, earning a similar increase. Yuno fails to salvage the dish, disappointing herself and prompting Nazuna to blame herself. Both are raised by their feelings of responsibility to make a good dinner so that both end with 2, Nori with 1, and Miyako with 0.

Scene 35: 20:37 - 21:35
C: Sa, Hi, Nt, Natsume’s classmates
The third-years and Natsume bathe in a hot spring. Everyone gets initial readings for their comfort being nude around one another, with the classmates earning further yurilevels for touching Natsume while nude. Hiro expresses concern about how the other Hidamaris are doing, and Sae reassures her they are fine, so both are helped for their desire to keep others happy, Hiro toward the others and Sae toward Hiro. The classmates tease Natsume to get her to talk to Sae, playing on Natsume’s contrary emotions toward her and suggesting they believe Natsume has a romantic attachment to her. Natsume refuses and claims she is perfectly content to spend time with her classmates instead, which is not as yuri as being open about wanting to be with Sae but still earns her friendly yurilevels. At the end, one of Sae and Hiro’s classmates invites Sae and Hiro to a pillow fight (itself a fairly gay activity). Sae first asks Hiro if she will be participating, conveying that Sae would only want to be in the pillow fight if Hiro was, and Hiro responds by playfully telling Sae she will not go easy on her, pseudo-flirtatious banter that solidifies Hiro’s reading at 4. Sae and Natsume’s classmates also get 4, and Natsume ends with 3.

Scene 36: 21:35 - 22:08
C: Yu
Yuno bathes in pink water. She thinks about Sae and Hiro bathing together, a lewd thought process whose yuri value is increased by having Yuno refer to them as “Sae-san-tachi” (沙英ーさんーたち) which incorporates Hiro as a part of Sae and reinforces their dynamic of Sae being a dominant husband-type and Hiro a submissive wife-type. Yuno then continues to lament her inability to be a good sempai to Nori and Nazuna and reaffirms to herself that she will be able to do so the next day, a desire to take care of them that raises her to 3 overall.

Final Yurilevel Readings: (both Aokis and Umes are out of 4)
Episode: 1.5968A
  1. Natsume’s classmates: 4.000U
  2. Natsume: 2.527U
  3. Hiro: 2.440U
  4. Nazuna: 2.408U
  5. Sae: 2.347U
  6. Yuno: 1.922U
  7. Nori: 1.886U
  8. Miyako: 1.091U
  9. Sae and Hiro’s classmates: 1.010U
  10. Yoshinoya: 0.000U

An all-around high-yuri episode, outpacing the opening of xHoshimittsu by over 0.2 Aokis and blasting away the record set by the same episode of most individual yurilevels awarded in an episode, with 131 compared to xHoshimittsu 01’s 118. Curiously, nearly every character registered around or above 2 Umes, which theoretically should have made the Aoki reading much higher. The reason the figures don’t quite correlate is because of Miyako’s high presence in the first half, where her insistence on finding out what Sae was doing and then on profiting from the third-year trip to Hokkaido drove her readings down to an anomalously low 1.1U and weighed down every scene she was involved in. Aoki readings were also affected by the high number of very short, choppy scenes, which could possibly be indicative of a faster-paced approach to Hidamari Sketch this season. That said, the same thing happened in xHoshimittsu 01, which had 41 scenes but wasn’t indicative of the pacing of the rest of the season, so for now the most that can be derived is that xHoneycomb appears to be moving toward making romantic yuri more blatant and increasing the incidence of friendly yuri on the whole.

Further analysis will continue with Hidamari Sketch xHoneycomb 02.

*: The original subtitle for the season is “ハニカム” (“hanikamu”), the Japanese transliteration of the English word “honeycomb.” Therefore “xHoneycomb” will be used to refer to the fourth season.

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

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