Friday, August 23, 2013


Hidamari Sketch as a Yuri Series
Although the investigation has operated under the assumption that all possible female characters are closeted lesbians, the existence of yuri in Hidamari Sketch is ambiguous. Creator Ume Aoki and producer Studio Shaft have both made conscious decisions to leave all lesbian subtext in the series implicit, leading to some debate over whether Hidamari Sketch can be perceived as a yuri series or not (a meme in Hidamari threads on /a/ has been to insist the characters are “just good friends”). It is true that referring to Hidamari Sketch as yuri has been speculation; however, it is not an entirely unfounded speculation, and it is one which strengthens the show as a whole.

The definition of yuri that has been used through the investigation is simply “lesbian content.” For the purpose of defining Hidamari Sketch as a yuri series, we will specify yuri to refer to media that portrays “intense emotional connection, romantic love or physical desire between women.”*

Intense Emotional Connections
The form of emotional connection described in the working definition of yuri is likely close to the Japanese concept of “shinyuu” (親友), referring to a very intimate friendly relationship a person will typically only experience a handful of times in their life. There are many connections of friendship in Hidamari Sketch, but examples of shinyuu are more infrequent. The best example of bonds of shinyuu is the Hidamari family unit, referenced multiple times from x365 onward to refer to how the Hidamaris interact with each other and view each other as a surrogate family, with the intimacy and closeness such a relationship implies. By considering the Hidamaris a family, they are implicitly acknowledging that their relationships with each other exceed that of normal friendship: compare how Yuno acts toward other Hidamaris to how she acts toward, say, Mami or Nakayama. Emotional yuri is of the sort that the investigation has referred to as “friendly” yuri, and there were many instances of it in Hidamari Sketch.

Romantic Love
Romance of the sort yuri media is generally about is not explicitly present in Hidamari Sketch, which is the main reason some do not consider it yuri. However, implications of romantic love are very frequent, especially in later seasons. The most significant implications of romance are the relationship between Sae and Hiro and the attitude of Natsume toward Sae, which are also the most frequently cited examples of yuri in Hidamari Sketch.
The existence of some kind of love between Sae and Hiro is essentially canonical. Not only do the two engage in acts typical of lovers (sleeping together, frolicking in fields, quarreling about their boundaries, etc.), but other characters even make note of their intense closeness (Hiro is called a “housewife” or “wife” repeatedly, Sae and Hiro’s school trip is called a “honeymoon”, Yuno wonders in one episode if they are having a “lover’s dispute”, Natsume worries about Sae being taken by a “cute girl”, etc.). Taken as a whole, Hidamari Sketch is rather unsubtle about a romance between the two.
Likewise, Natsume has all the signs of an outright unrequited love for Sae, short of Hidamari Sketch making this explicit. The strongest indication of this is xHoshimittsu OVA 01, depicting Natsume seemingly becoming smitten with Sae, longing to be shinyuu with her (see above), and then being crestfallen by Sae’s closeness to Hiro (see not-quite-as-above). Many of the images in the segment carry heavy romantic implications, notably the omnipresent motif of cherry blossom petals and the final shot of Natsume’s room, entirely colored the same as Natsume’s hair with the exception of a blue curtain (the color of Sae’s hair) decorated with hearts. In other episodes, particularly x365 10, Natsume conveys traits of a typical tsundere, rapidly shifting between warmth and animosity toward Sae; tsundere characters in anime nearly always have a romantic or sexual affection toward the target of their mood shifts, so the deliberate invocation of tsundere conventions is likely an indication that Natsume similarly has an affection for Sae. In both Natsume’s case and Sae and Hiro’s, even if the show is not explicit about bonds of love between characters, to deny that these romantic loves exist requires outright denialism or hostility toward yuri.

Physical Desire
Implications of sexual or erotic relationships in Hidamari Sketch are more or less nonexistent. Of the tracked characters, every Hidamari and Yoshinoya are canonically virgins, while Natsume and Chika are presumably virgins as well given their ages; the only possible tracked characters to have had sex are the Landlady and Kuwahara, and even then only because little is known about their backgrounds (both appear to be single, however). Other than occasionally bathing together, the only notable moment of erotic interaction in Hidamari Sketch is when Nori and Nazuna fondle Miyako in xHoneycomb 02. However, it should be noted that sexual relationships in yuri media are not usually the genre’s focus; most yuri concerns non-sexual, emotional relationships between women, hence the notion that yuri is “the purest form of love.”

The Role of Yuri in Hidamari Sketch
Given the examples listed above, it is safe to assume that Hidamari Sketch can be considered an example of yuri. However, what good does it to attribute yuri to Hidamari Sketch? Would the show be just as complete without yuri? I contend that it would not, and that yuri is a vital component of the meaning of Hidamari Sketch as an artistic work.
Hidamari Sketch is fundamentally about the social relationships between its characters. The show’s slow pace means any changes in their relationships take place over many, many episodes, and there are also no dramatic shifts or sudden twists or confessions to radically alter how characters interact. Every instance of character or relationship development is the result of dozens of scenes of relatively insignificant daily activities, things such as doing radio exercises, following the lottery, going to the zoo, having dinner, drawing together, or adopting a cat. Through these small events, the Hidamaris steadily become part of each other’s lives. In x365 06, Yuno calls herself, Miyako, Sae, and Hiro a “family”: the four, later six, are as noted above under “Intense Emotional Connections” a family to each other. By the end of xHoneycomb, they are the closest and strongest of friends.
This is the point when yuri becomes significant to understanding Hidamari Sketch: once the characters have become extremely close to each other, some of their relationships naturally progress from a bond of close friendship to one of romance. Sae and Hiro are already beyond this point by the time the series begins, and Nori and Nazuna have not quite reached it, but Hidamari Sketch has already shown us an example of such a turning point: Part A of xHoneycomb 06, when Yuno and Miyako inadvertently reveal that they think the other is “beautiful” and “adorable” respectively, then sleep together. After three and a half seasons of watching their relationship develop, seeing the two enter a romantic partnership comes across as a natural progression from what has come before: from total strangers, the two become casual friends, then inseparable shinyuu, then lovers. It is the central message of Hidamari Sketch in a nutshell: with enough time and shared experience, any two people can become close. Interpreting Hidamari Sketch as a yuri series only reinforces this message, making it so that any two people who share an everyday life can find love together, making it a stronger and more fitting moral.

Final Notes
The data in the Hidamari Yurilevel Project is entirely subjective and not meant to be a definitive measure of each character’s homosexuality in a given scene. The structure of the project is designed to be flexible enough that other researchers can easily retest Hidamari Sketch and draw their own conclusions**, and I encourage this in the interest of peer review. There is a very large amount of data, however, so general trends such as in increase of yuri and placements in overall character rankings are probably roughly accurate.

Further Reading
About Hidamari Sketch:
About yuri:

*: Source: interview with yuri advocate Erica Friedman, accessed August 14, 2013. As an amusing side note, the writer who compiled the interview is named Deb Aoki
**: Note that the methodology is not bound strictly to Hidamari Sketch, and investigations similar to the Hidamari Yurilevel Project could be conducted using other shows. I would be quite interested in an analysis of “Strike Witches.”

Corrections: 8/23/2013: The original version of this post made an erroneous presumption about the relationship between Sae and Hiro in Ume Aoki's initial concepts for Hidamari Sketch. The statement in question has been removed and replaced with a different conclusive sentence.
9/30/13: An erroneously repeated word under "Romantic Love" has been removed.

Data Analysis: Overall Character Readings

The structure of data collection for the Hidamari Yurilevel Project was intended to answer if and how yuri increases over time, but also lent itself optimally to a side investigation of which character was the gayest. This question will now be analyzed to come to a possible answer.

Overview of Data
The Hidamari Yurilevel Project recorded 69,479 seconds of scene time (approximately 19 hours, 18 minutes) split across 1,512 scenes which recorded 4,602 yurilevels. Of these, 4,467 yurilevels were recorded by the tracked characters (the six Hidamari residents, Yoshinoya, the Landlady, Natsume, Kuwahara, and Chika), with 135 registered by untracked side characters such as other classmates, Yamabuki staff, or miscellaneous female characters.

Overall Ume Readings
Hidamari residents will be listed first, followed by all tracked characters.
  1. Nazuna: 1.715U
  2. Sae: 1.646U
  3. Hiro: 1.600U
  4. Nori: 1.486U
  5. Yuno: 1.264U
  6. Miyako: 1.221U
All Characters:
  1. Natsume: 2.677U
  2. Nazuna: 1.715U
  3. Sae: 1.646U
  4. Chika: 1.604U
  5. Hiro: 1.600U
  6. Landlady: 1.572U
  7. Nori: 1.486U
  8. Yuno: 1.264U
  9. Miyako: 1.221U
  10. Yoshinoya: 0.635U
  11. Kuwahara: 0.401U

Figure 01: Overall Ume Readings

Analysis of Character Readings
Nazuna (277Y, 15,737 seconds)
My informal prediction going into the project was that either Sae or Hiro would end up as the gayest Hidamari at the end of the investigation, so it’s somewhat surprising to see Nazuna end supreme. She and Nori are both helped significantly by being introduced late in the show as it was moving toward more explicit yuri, so a major reason (if not the single most important reason) she ranks first is that her readings aren’t weighed down by the relatively yuri-light first two seasons. Character-wise, Nazuna is something of a “hanger-on” to the other Hidamaris; she has few storylines focusing on her and rarely appears alone. This maximizes yuri potential from her scenes since she is always around at least one other character from which she can earn readings, and since every Hidamari is on friendly terms with her she can potentially receive readings from any combination of characters; she also has little self-advocacy or inner strength, so she almost never suffers detriments from challenging or defying the others (unlike, say, Nori). She appears most often with fellow first-year Nori, with whom her relationship is one of the most physical of any of the three pairs (see especially xSP 01 and xHoneycomb 06), an intimacy that repeatedly earns her very strong yurilevels. Romantic subtext in their relationship, however, is not as strong as in the other Hidamari pairs. Nazuna’s readings fell slightly from xHoshimittsu to xHoneycomb but were around 1.7U in both; she was the gayest Hidamari of xHoshimittsu.

Sae (755Y, 37,773 seconds)
Sae’s readings are tied closely to Hiro’s, with whom she shares arguably the closest, most romantic relationship of any Hidamari pair in the show. She ends slightly above Hiro as a result of being the dominant member of their relationship and thus taking the initiative more often. Sae also acts as the paterfamilias of Hidamari’s family unit, a leadership role that also elevated her readings for conveying friendliness and other emotional intimacy. Her readings were the most stable of any Hidamari, and she was the gayest Hidamari of both Season One and x365.

Hiro (713Y, 36,414 seconds)
Hiro again earns much of her readings from her relationship with Sae. As the submissive, wifely member of their pair, Hiro has a strong vein of maternalism in her character which manifests both in her care and affection for Sae and in her warmth and kindness toward the other Hidamaris (Miyako being a frequent exception). Hiro’s xHoneycomb reading of 1.98U is the strongest seasonal Ume reading of any Hidamari in the investigation.

Nori (277Y, 16,269 seconds)
Like Nazuna, Nori is buoyed by not having her readings affected by the low-yuri first two seasons. Nori, however, received the fewest yurilevels of any Hidamari and ends significantly behind Nazuna. As mentioned before, she has a much stronger independent streak than the other Hidamaris and is more likely to act as the straight man or tsukkomi in comic scenes, which usually hurts her readings. She ends above Yuno and Miyako for her highly-physical relationship with Nazuna, from which she earned a large majority of her yurilevels. Nori’s readings fell moderately between xHoshimittsu and xHoneycomb.

Yuno (1143Y, 58,440 seconds)
Yuno had both the most yurilevels and the most scene time of any character in Hidamari Sketch, acting as the series’ protagonist through the first two seasons and retaining a significant focus on her in the latter two. This high level of attention meant she had both a very large number of high-yuri scenes (often with Miyako, though she had moments with every other Hidamari as well and many side characters) and low-yuri scenes like waking up and bathing. The two cancelled each other out, putting her readings closest to the season Aoki reading of any Hidamari. Her season readings more than doubled over the course of the show from 0.75U to 1.7U, partly from being affected the most by the show’s general increase in yuri and partly from becoming increasingly close to Miyako.

Miyako (888Y, 49,448 seconds)
Miyako, like Yuno, had very high yurilevel and scene time counts, weighting her readings considerably. Serving as the show’s primary comedy character, Miyako had fewer yuri opportunities than some of the characters, and those instances more often than not tended to only be friendly (until xHoneycomb, when her relationship with Yuno took on a more romantic angle). Her season readings and Yuno’s were the only ones to consistently increase every season.

Natsume (138Y, 2,773 seconds)
Natsume perhaps best represents the shift of Hidamari Sketch from yuri-light iyashikei to yuri-heavy comedy. Her first few appearances in the show were as an occasional foil to Sae, making her an extremely tangential character since Yuno very rarely saw her; she ended the first season with only 0.818U and 160 seconds of scene time. x365 then began to exploit Natsume’s established characterization to make her out as a comic relief tsundere who wanted to be Sae’s friend. This joke kept expanding and becoming more elaborate through the second half of x365 and into xHoshimittsu, culminating in xHoshimittsu OVA 01, by which point Natsume is an obsessive, mentally-ill jilted lover whose initial characterization has been entirely forgotten and is only included in the show to provide yuri humor. It's therefore obvious that she should end as the most yuri tracked character in the series: her character is made only of yuri. Natsume was the gayest character of Seasons 2-4 and is the only tracked character to have a season reading above 3.0U.

Chika (80Y, 4,137 seconds)
Chika appeared rarely in the show, but tended to be the center of the episode or segment she was in. As a result, episodes she appeared in earned her notably high readings; she had the highest season reading of Season One almost entirely from her starring role in Hidamari Sketch 12. Her readings were some of the most inconsistent in the show, earning higher than 2.0U in x365 and then less than 1.0 in xHoshimittsu.

Landlady (85Y, 3,825 seconds)
The Landlady generally had low-to-moderate readings throughout the show from her kind but generally distant approach toward her tenants. Her readings were very strongly boosted by her appearance in xHoneycomb 09, however, an over 3.0U performance which also contributed nearly a quarter of all her scene time in the entire series.

Yoshinoya (108Y, 9,217 seconds)
Yoshinoya has been repeatedly described in the investigation as “hyperthymic,” a mental illness which made much of her lewdness in the show impossible to attribute to yuri. As a lewd, fanservice-oriented character, she rarely displayed anything that could be considered genuinely yuri. She and Kuwahara ended every season below 1.0U, the only tracked characters to do so.

Kuwahara (13Y, 1,502 seconds)
With only 22 appearances in the show averaging just over a minute each and a scant 13 yurilevels, Kuwahara ends as the least gay character in Hidamari Sketch. “Character,” even, is a charitable description: Kuwahara acts more as a plot device, appearing only when one of the main characters gets sick or when Yoshinoya needs a foil. When she did appear, Kuwahara was professional and straightforward, rarely getting opportunities to exhibit genuine affection or kindness toward anybody. It also hurt her that many of her appearances showed her with Yoshinoya, with whom she had a strained friendship at best.

Untracked Characters
Untracked characters were generally one-offs with little impact on the show. The only significant exceptions were Kishi Maiko and Arisawa (neither of whom appeared in all four seasons) and Mami and Nakayama. In retrospect, Mami and Nakayama should have been included as tracked characters since they appeared frequently and consistently in the series. It is likely neither would have earned very high overall readings due to their role as throwaway classmates or Yuno’s acquaintances.

9/30/13: Corrected draft inconsistency in Hiro's analysis and slightly unclear wording in Natsume's analysis.
1/14/13: Incorporated data from Sae and Hiro Graduation OVAs.

Data Analysis: Change Over Time

The central question that instigated the Hidamari Yurilevel Project was a number of anonymous members of /a/ asking during livewatch threads of xHoneycomb episodes if Hidamari Sketch had always had as much yuri content as it did in xHoneycomb*. This is the primary focus of research in the investigation, and with all necessary data now collected, the investigation can now put forward a possible answer.

Figure 01: Season Aoki Readings

The short answer is that yuri in Hidamari Sketch does increase over time, by approximately 63.5 percent over the run of the show.
Extra-diegetically, there was always some yuri content in Hidamari Sketch, much of which was centered on Sae and Hiro. However, the intended initial genre of the show as a healing series meant the series focused on daily interactions and small moments of friendliness, keeping stronger, more romantic subtext out of the picture for the most part. Over time these iyashikei elements were dropped as Hidamari Sketch moved toward becoming a slice-of-life comedy. As the show was built around character interactions, these new humorous elements tested the established relationships of the Hidamari residents by increasing their romantic tension. Seasons Three and Four then switch over entirely to an examination of the how characters relate to each other and romantic elements become increasingly prevalent. The addition of Nori and Nazuna also changed the structure of the show from group-based interaction to pair-based, allowing for greater intimacy between characters in scenes.
Intra-diegetically, a simple answer to why yuri increases over time is that the Hidamari residents become closer to each other as time passes. There is evidence in-universe for this to be possible. Sae and Hiro as first-years, as shown in xHoshimittsu 09, are close but not as overtly a “married couple” as they are as second-years or third-years. Yuno and Miyako, similarly, are friendly to each other as first-years but become more intimate and more open about their feelings in xHoshimittsu and especially xHoneycomb. Nori and Nazuna bonded relatively quickly and don’t follow this pattern as closely, but in xHoneycomb compared to xHoshimittsu they are much more integrated into the Hidamari unit, supporting the theory on a larger scale.

*: It should be noted that, despite combing through the Foolz archive of /a/ posts from said threads, I have not found any posts actually asking this question, and this comes entirely from my own recollection of said threads. It is therefore possible nobody ever actually asked this, and the project was a massive exercise in futility. That said, no semi-scientific investigation is ever futile, as any and all research is a contribution to the sum total of human knowledge.

1/13/14: Incorporated data from Sae and Hiro Graduation OVAs.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Season 4 Overview

As outlined in the Project Overview, the Hidamari Yurilevels Project is designed to provide data which can be used toward answering the twin questions of whether or not Hidamari Sketch becomes gayer over time and which Hidamari is the gayest. Approaching these questions requires the investigation to examine individual seasons of the show in addition to the series as a whole to examine the data and trends particular to each season. The analysis of Hidamari Sketch xHoneycomb will observe patterns within the season for episodes and characters, determine an overall Aoki reading for the season, determine overall Ume readings for each character for the season, provide explanations for these figures, and compare the figures with the overall readings of Season One, x365, and xHoshimittsu.

Analysis of Episode Readings
The episodes of Hidamari Sketch xHoneycomb and Sae and Hiro Graduation have been listed below, ranked from highest Aoki reading to lowest:
  1. Sae and Hiro Graduation 02: 2.5517A
  2. Episode 05: 2.2899A
  3. Episode 06: 2.1334A
  4. Episode 02: 1.9007A
  5. Episode 07: 1.8994A
  6. Sae and Hiro Graduation 01: 1.8836A
  7. Episode 12: 1.7965A
  8. Episode 09: 1.6684A
  9. Episode 01: 1.5968A
  10. Episode 10: 1.5519A
  11. Episode 08: 1.5285A
  12. Episode 03: 1.3773A
  13. Episode 11: 1.2993A
  14. Episode 12: 0.8582A
Figure 01: Aoki Readings per Episode - Season 4

The linear regression gives a steady but small increase in yuri as the season goes on, mostly prompted by the increase from the Sae and Hiro Graduation episodes. Readings generally stayed within 0.5 Aokis of 1.5A, the only outliers being 04, 05, 06, and Sae and Hiro Graduation 02.
Like the previous season, nearly every episode this season (other than 08 and 12) had at least some degree of lewdness. There were some episodes, however, with especially significant or notable lewd content, which were 01 (shots of Sae and Hiro bathing together, hand-holding), 02 (Nori and Nazuna touching Miyako’s erogenous zones), 04 (swimsuit episode, Yuno asks Nori to strip), 05 (Sae and Nori’s 69 position, shots of Nori washing herself), 06 (Yuno and Miyako bathing together, Sae and Hiro hugging), and 09 (the Landlady rubbing herself on Nazuna). These are nearly half the season in total, which, though a troubling figure, is about identical to the proportion of lewd episodes to total episodes in Season One. However, xHoneycomb is distinct from Season One (and any other, for that matter) in that of the six gayest episodes of the season, four were significantly lewd, including two of the three episodes above 2.0A. This is a total reversal of the relationship yuri and purity have had throughout Hidamari Sketch: in xHoneycomb, lewd content correlates to stronger yuri overall. The most likely reason for this result is that, where lewdness in other seasons consisted of things like swimsuit episodes and Yoshinoya’s antics, lewdness in xHoneycomb tends to come from physical contact and intimacy that sometimes becomes outright erotic (such as in Episodes 02 and 04). This particular form of lewdness conveys closeness between the involved parties and tends to raise their readings, and because it came across more in this season it affected yurilevels more than usual.
The higher-yuri episodes in this season, like in other seasons, focused on the relationships between the Hidamaris. Episodes 09 and 12 surround how the Hidamaris interact with each other and the close relationships they share with each other, 09 through a litany of nostalgic continuity references and 12 through displaying the affection the younger Hidamaris have for Sae and Hiro, and consequently they earned moderate Aoki readings. The gayest episodes in xHoneycomb, however, extended these relationships to show the romantic or sexual angles in them. Episodes 06 and 07 have the strongest elements of romance in the season, particularly Episode 06 with its storylines of Yuno and Miyako admitting mutual attraction and Sae and Hiro comforting each other about their impending separation, while 02 features outright erotic contact centered on Miyako. Sae and Hiro Graduation 02 ended as the gayest episode of the season in large part from the examination of Sae and Hiro's first meeting and the start of their eventual romance. Episode 05 played on already-established yuri subtext by paralleling Nori and Nazuna’s relationship to Sae and Hiro’s.
The only notably low-yuri episodes were Episodes 03, 04, and 11. 03 and 04, in contrast to the high-yuri episodes, had a focus outside of the Hidamaris’ relationships, being the beginning of the school year and the Yamabuki swim meet respectively. 11 also had less focus on the Hidamaris with its Part A plot of Yuno, Miyako, Mami, and Nakayama cleaning out Yoshinoya’s house, but the second half should have made up for it by following the Hidamari Christmas Eve party. The yuri derived from 11’s Part B was mostly friendly in nature and little romantic subtext, so curiously, the episode’s weak reading could be because the Hidamaris were too friendly to each other.

Analysis of Character Readings
Like xHoshimittsu, xHoneycomb kept a focus on the central cast and used secondary characters sparingly, though often to considerable effect:

Figure 02: Ume Readings per Episode - Season 4

The Hidamaris’ readings stay close to the episode reading, though again they have considerable variance within episodes with one character often standing out compared to the others. Yuno, Miyako, and Nori all had fairly consistent readings, though Yuno’s yuri generally declined as the season went on and Miyako’s generally increased. Sae had several low-yuri episodes at the beginning of the season but got higher readings later on, while Hiro had the opposite trend happen to her, earning slightly lower Ume readings in the second half of the season. Nazuna’s Ume readings were entirely unpredictable; she earned the highest Ume reading of any Hidamari this season in Episode 02 (3.350U) but ended at or near the bottom of intra-Hidamari character rankings in other episodes, though in general she too rose and fell with the episode’s general Aoki reading. The only consistently-gay side characters were the Landlady and Natsume, while Yoshinoya and Kuwahara continued to earn low readings if they earned any at all. Chika was almost absent this season, only receiving readings once in Episode 10.

Season Yurilevel Readings
Overall readings for the season were determined by taking all the scenes in xHoneycomb and treating them as one very long episode, adjusting the Methodology’s formulae accordingly. Season Four had 16,214 seconds of scene time across 348 scenes, with a total of 1,444 yurilevels recorded.

Season Four: 1.7309A
xHoneycomb increased over xHoshimittsu by approximately 22.9 percent, the largest increase between any two seasons. The only outliers in terms of episode length were xHoneycomb 08 at an unusually low 1102 seconds and Sae and Hiro Graduation 02 at a very low 1025 seconds, but otherwise no particular episode had significantly greater weight on the season average than another.

  1. Natsume: 3.124U
  2. Landlady: 2.776U
  3. Hiro: 1.984U
  4. Sae: 1.843U
  5. Nazuna: 1.718U
  6. Yuno: 1.680U
  7. Miyako: 1.469U
  8. Nori: 1.419U
  9. Chika: 1.325U
  10. Yoshinoya: 0.676U
  11. Kuwahara: 0.620U
Natsume tops the overall character rankings for the third season running, which isn’t a surprise since her characterization is centered around her affection for Sae. Second place goes to, of all characters, the Landlady, whose minor 1113 seconds of scene time in the season were mostly in her very high-yuri appearance in Episode 09, significantly skewing her overall reading. Among the Hidamaris, Sae and Hiro return to preeminence with Hiro’s maternal role and good relations with all the other residents securing her as the gayest against Sae’s total dependence on and deep care for Hiro. Nazuna’s especially strong readings in episodes like Episode 02 and 08 and overall need to be cared for by the others put her slightly above Yuno, though compared to the previous season she fell about 0.2U. Yuno and Miyako’s increasingly romantic relationship raised both of their readings significantly over xHoshimittsu, and Nori’s blunt nature and role as straight man in xHoneycomb’s comedy scenes held her at the bottom of the Hidamari rankings. Chika’s reading, like the Landlady’s, is mostly the result of just one episode (Episode 10), which itself wasn’t notably gay. Finally, as in every single season so far, the two least gay characters are professional, straight-laced Kuwahara and hyperthymic Yoshinoya respectively.

Figure 03: Yurilevels of Tracked Characters - Season 4

The readings of the Hidamari residents specifically are also being tracked from season to season, since the data lends itself well to determining who the gayest Hidamari is. The order for this season is Hiro, Sae, Nazuna, Yuno, Miyako, and Nori.

Figure 04: Yurilevels of Hidamari Residents - Season 4

Comparisons with Previous Seasons
Season Four of Hidamari Sketch is quantitatively the gayest, with overall Aoki readings and most characters’ Ume readings being higher than any other season. Season Three’s trend away from iyashikei toward comedy continued in this season, with all but a few episodes having more than one storyline and rarely including moments where some event was not happening. Other seasons had a very tight focus on Yuno as a main character, following her daily life and reactions to events, but xHoneycomb again continues xHoshimittsu’s move away from this attention and devotes considerable time to every Hidamari resident. Much of the season was structured to focus on one pair of Hidamaris at a time, which could possibly be part of the reason there was more romantic subtext in xHoneycomb than other seasons.
xHoneycomb recorded more yurilevels than Season One or x365 and is just barely above xHoshimittsu’s 1,429. Much of this high concentration of yuri went to Yuno and Miyako, both of whom saw their Ume readings increase for the third season running. Sae and Hiro’s return to a more romantic dynamic helped their yurilevels significantly, while Nori and Nazuna both declined as a result of more scene time and slight changes in their character roles which separated them to a greater degree than any other pair received.

Figure 05: Yurilevels of Hidamari Residents - Seasons 1, 2, 3, & 4

Evaluation of Expectations for Season Four
The Season Three Analysis predicted that Hidamari Sketch xHoneycomb would “likely continue many of the trends seen in xHoshimittsu and build on them, so there will probably be further yurilevel increases in general” and that “[Nori and Nazuna’s] readings will probably not increase very dramatically, but I expect the other Hidamaris will increase significantly over their xHoshimittsu readings.” xHoneycomb did build on xHoshimittsu’s trends of more evenly-split focus, comedic stylings, and increased romantic subtext, all of which raised yurilevels on the whole. It was also correct to predict that Nori and Nazuna’s readings would not increase significantly, though slightly wrong to assume there would still be an increase, and to predict that the other four Hidamaris would see significant increases. It was also predicted that xHoneycomb would feature side characters to a greater degree than xHoshimittsu, but this was not the case and the two seasons had the secondary characters at a similar, somewhat low level of attention.

Expectations for Future Seasons
Beyond Hidamari Sketch Sae and Hiro Graduation, there is little to speculate about the direction Hidamari Sketch will take, or if Hidamari Sketch will continue at all. If the series does continue, it will either focus solely on Yuno, Miyako, Nori, and Nazuna, in which case the trends in their relationships and respective group roles from xHoneycomb will continue, or new characters will move in, in which case there will be a similar effect to Nori and Nazuna’s arrival in xHoshimittsu of elevated readings as the new tenant(s) are gradually incorporated into the group’s dynamic. In both cases, I would expect yurilevel increases, but whether they will be minor or significant is unclear.

Final analysis and interpretation will begin within the week.

8/28/13: Updated information about Hidamari Sketch Sae Hiro Sotsugyou-hen.
12/10/13: Updated name of graduation episodes to reflect the translation used by Nutbladder.
1/13/14: Incorporated data from Sae and Hiro Graduation OVA episodes.