Friday, August 16, 2013

Hidamari Sketch xHoneycomb 11

Hidamari Sketch xHoneycomb 11 includes the six Hidamari residents, Yoshinoya, and Natsume, as well as Mami and Nakayama. Part A follows Yuno, Miyako, Mami, and Nakayama as they organize Yoshinoya’s art book collection, and Part B surrounds the Hidamaris and Natsume celebrating Christmas Eve together.

Scene 01: 00:08 - 00:30
C: Yu
Yuno uses the restroom. No yuri to note.

Scene 02: 00:30 - 00:51
C: Yu, Mi
Yuno lets Miyako into her room. Yuno offers Miyako tea, but aside from that there is little in this scene other than yuri-light friendliness between the two, so Yuno gets 1 while Miyako stays at 0.

Scene 03: 02:26 - 03:03
C: Yu, Mi, Yo, Mami, Nakayama
Yuno, Miyako, Mami, and Nakayama arrive at Yoshinoya’s house. The four all receive initial slight increases from having willingly agreed to help Yoshinoya, as shown in Scene 05 when Yoshinoya asks for volunteers instead of forcing some of her students to help. Yuno and Miyako have a brief moment of shared nostalgia for when they visited Yoshinoya’s house on New Year’s Day (see x365 13), but neither of their emotional responses are strong enough to convey significant yuri, preventing it from affecting either of their readings. Before allowing them into her home, Yoshinoya forces the students to sign nondisclosure agreements, conveying a distrust of them that keeps her readings down so that she ends at 0. The students all earn 1 each.

Scene 04: 03:04 - 03:17
C: Yu, Mi, Yo, Mami, Nakayama
Yoshinoya prepares her students for organizing. Though it is not made explicit, it is probable that the cleaning uniforms the students wear are provided by Yoshinoya, but whether or not they are custom-made or Yoshinoya has worn them previously is unclear. They all still receive slight readings for accepting Yoshinoya’s clothes. Yoshinoya describes Yuno’s outfit in particular as “right on the mark” (ばっちり, “bacchiri”), a praise of her appearance that earns her a moderate increase. Yoshinoya ends at 2, the rest at 1.

Scene 05: 03:18 - 03:32
C: Yo
Yoshinoya petitions her students for help. Since her appeal is not aimed at women in particular, it is not evident of yuri, keeping her at 0.

Scene 06: 03:33 - 05:19
C: Yu, Mi, Yo, Mami, Nakayama
Yuno, Miyako, Yoshinoya, Mami, and Nakayama begin cleaning Yoshinoya’s collection of art books. Mami asks to looks at Yoshinoya’s elementary pictures, which she, Yuno, and Nakayama all express delight at seeing, earning slight increases that are cancelled out by their disappointment that she did not marry early. Later, Yuno throws herself onto Miyako’s body, but as a reprimand for not listening to her, associating close physical contact with punishment and thus decreasing rather than increasing her readings. Yoshinoya ends the scene by offering them tea, receiving a 1 for her polite gesture; she is the only one to end with any yurilevels.

Scene 07: 05:19 - 06:14
C: Yu, Mi, Mami, Nakayama
Yoshinoya’s alarm goes off. The students are visibly embarrassed for Yoshinoya after hearing her lengthy and pathetic alarm message, keeping them all at 0.

Scene 08: 06:16 - 08:45
C: Yu, Mi, Yo, Mami, Nakayama
Yuno, Miyako, Mami, and Nakayama finish cleaning Yoshinoya’s mess and meet her brother. Yoshinoya offers to give the others one art book from her collection, describing them as pieces of her soul. Her attempt to share her innermost self with them earns her a significant increase, but as soon as she describes it in such terms the students back away from accepting, hurting their readings. Yuno, Mami, and Nakayama are all shocked at the entrance of a strange man and young boy, with Mami screaming uncontrollably, displaying complete surprise and alarm at the idea of Yoshinoya having engaged in heterosexuality and earning each of them moderate readings (Mami’s increase is stronger); Miyako appears delighted and later plays with the boy, a comfort around men that further hurts her readings. She ends at 0, Yuno and Nakayama end at 1, and Yoshinoya and Mami each receive 2.

Scene 09: 08:45 - 09:10
C: Yu, Mi, Yo, Mami, Nakayama
The students and Yoshinoya load art books in the brother’s car. Yoshinoya asks her brother to drive safely because her students will be in the car with him, a concern for them that earns her a 2. The others are sufficiently touched by her worry that they all receive 1s.

Scene 10: 09:12 - 09:49
C: Yu, Mi, Mami, Nakayama
Yoshinoya’s brother drives to Yamabuki High School. Mami watches Yoshinoya sleep, but it is in a non-yuri fashion since she complains about Yoshinoya sleeping and consequently her yurilevels aren’t affected. Yoshinoya’s brother warns the others that hurting Yoshinoya would make her cry, making Yuno and Miyako smile. Their happiness at the possibility of Yoshinoya crying over them conveys a desire for Yoshinoya to care strongly about them, earning both of them a 2; Mami and Nakayama remain at 0.

Scene 11: 09:50 - 10:04
C: Yu, Mi, Hi
Yuno and Miyako are dropped off at Hidamari Apartments. Yuno and Miyako agree they had fun during their day spending time with other women, earning both 1s. Hiro leaves her room and greets them, then invites them in for tea, a polite warmth that also gives her a 1.

Scene 12: 10:05 - 12:11
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na
Yuno and Miyako recount their experience at Yoshinoya’s house. Yuno and Miyako smile after saying Yoshinoya gave them books, showing gratitude that slightly increases their yurilevels. Miyako finds a photo of Yoshinoya and her brother which flusters Sae and Hiro since they believe it is a picture of Yoshinoya and her lover, showing a discomfort from heterosexuality and receiving significant increases each. Sae later says marriage isn’t necessary to live a good life while looking at Hiro, who then disagrees with the comment; Japan has no same-sex marriage, so Sae’s comment could be interpreted to mean that she does not expect to marry (even possibly that she intends to cohabitate with Hiro), reflecting an acceptance of her own yuri tendencies, while Hiro’s comment are a rejection of her similar lesbian nature. Miyako refers to Yoshinoya’s nephew as cute, holding her at 0 for her appreciation of a male. Yuno receives 1, Sae receives 4, Hiro earns 2, and Nori and Nazuna both stay at 0.

Scene 13: 12:14 - 13:19
C: Sa, Nt
Sae talks to Natsume at the school shoe lockers. Her approach to Natsume is gentle, showing none of the reciprocal animosity she and Natsume once had and conveying a rapprochement between the two that earns Sae a moderate increase. Natsume, however, immediately goes on the defensive, telling Sae she isn’t doing anything and attempting to leave for home immediately after. Sae then invites Natsume to visit her at Hidamari Apartments, modifying her invitation to be to Hidamari Apartments’ Christmas Eve party. The offer stuns Natsume, and the inclusion of Christmas in the conversation totally unhinges her as she attempts to come to terms with Sae’s invitation, seemingly interpreting it as a romantic proposal in light of Christmas’s role as a romantic holiday in Japan. Eventually, she agrees to spend Christmas Eve with Sae, validating her yuri from this scene to give her a 3 while Sae receives 2.

Scene 14: 13:19 - 13:25
C: Sa, Nt
Sae leaves Natsume. Sae waves pleasantly at Natsume as she leaves, treating Natsume as a friend and earning her a 1. Natsume, still in shock, pinches herself to make sure Sae’s offer is not a dream and hurts her face in the process. While this shows she finds it difficult to believe Sae would be friendly toward her, an anti-yuri interpretation of their relationship, it also inadvertently reveals that she finds it normal to dream about Sae, conveying a very yuri affection for her. The two balance out to give her 3.

Scene 15: 13:32 - 13:57
C: Sa, Hi
Sae and Hiro prepare to leave for the Hidamari Apartments Christmas party. They both earn initial increases for Sae sitting comfortably in Hiro’s room, conveying a normalcy in being physically close to each other that suggests strong intimacy. Hiro gets upset from Miyako mocking her, though since Miyako’s comment actually is mockery her interpretation is correct and she consequently does not receive a decrease to her readings. Both end at 2.

Scene 16: 13:58 - 14:26
C: Yu, Mi, No, Na
Miyako, Nori, and Nazuna arrive at Yuno’s room for the party. Yuno is ashamed to learn that Miyako, Nori, and Nazuna heard her singing while she was cooking, an embarrassment that here does not convey yuri since Yuno does not want them to see her doing so. Nori and Nazuna are shown to be laughing at her, hurting her readings for their mockery. Yuno later calls Nori’s okonomiyaki (a Kansai-style pancake-like dish) cute, a compliment of her work that raises Yuno to 1. Miyako, Nori, and Nazuna all stay at 0.

Scene 17: 14:29 - 14:42
C: Yu, Mi, No, Na, Sa, Hi
Sae and Hiro join the others. Sae thanks the others for cooking dinner and reveals she has been keeping in touch with Natsume through text messages as Natsume approaches the apartments, both of which are low-level friendly actions that collectively earn Sae 1. Everyone else remains at 0.

Scene 18: 14:42 - 14:46
C: Nt
Natsume stands at the threshold. Her voice has an element of uncertainty, conveying a worry about her imminent rendezvous with the Hidamaris that keeps her at 0.

Scene 19: 14:47 - 19:53
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na, Nt
The Hidamaris and Natsume have a Christmas Eve party. For approximately twenty seconds after Natsume enters, her expression is reserved or angry, conveying a discomfort at being in Hidamari Apartments. She is able to recoup some of the resulting decrease since she softens once Yuno and Miyako greet her. Hiro thanks the other Hidamaris for cooking dinner, which Yuno replies to by saying Hiro shouldn’t always have to cook for them, earning both of them moderate readings for their gratitude over food. Hiro also praises Nazuna’s karaage (see xHoneycomb 05), stirring pride out of Nazuna to give her reciprocal yurilevels from the moment; Nori mentions that Nazuna trained her to cook karaage at some point, but the event was never seen in the show so they will earn moderate readings for it here. Nori and Nazuna then put on blindfolds and attempt to cut a cake together, amusing Sae and Hiro in a warm, yuri manner rather than a mocking one. The resulting misshapen slice begins to fall over, but before it does Natsume reaches out to stop it, indicating she has fully integrated herself into the other Hidamaris’ activities at the party and signaling comfort around them (reinforced by her high five with Miyako soon afterwards). She notes with a start that this is unusual for her as she is getting along with the Hidamaris despite not usually getting along with anybody, which places the Hidamari residents in a special category above others that Natsume feels closer to. Sae, however, just explains this as a side effect of being in Hidamari Apartments*, a somewhat non-yuri explanation that shifts the cause away from the relationships between the characters and onto being an attribute of the physical location. Presents are then distributed among the group at random, so because no gift can be intended for a particular recipient nobody’s yurilevels are affected by what they give, though how they respond to what they receive can still convey some yuri. Nori gets a watch from Nazuna, which she passionately tries to refuse, terrifying Nazuna. Both of their readings are decreased due to Nori’s denial of the present and Nazuna’s fear of Nori. Hiro then receives a cheesecake voucher from Nori and hugs her in gratitude, but because the cheesecake could not have been meant for her Hiro could just as well be hugging any other character, and consequently her physical intimacy with Nori does not convey yuri here. Natsume is given a large, cat-shaped pillow by Miyako, which Sae offers to carry to Natsume’s train station for her, receiving a slight increase for her offer. Before Natsume leaves, Yuno asks to take a group photo of the other Hidamaris and Natsume, moderately increasing her readings for her desire to memorialize Natsume’s visit, conveying she greatly appreciated Natsume’s presence. Overall, Natsume earns 4, Yuno, Hiro, Nori, and Nazuna receive 2, and Miyako and Sae get 1.

Scene 20: 19:53 - 20:06
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na, Nt
The Hidamaris see Sae and Natsume off. Yuno, Miyako, Hiro, Nazuna, and Nori all express some brief gratitude toward Natsume for visiting or ask that she come over again, earning slight increases for their friendliness to her. Natsume earns reciprocal readings from thanking them. Sae remains silent, but she earns comparable readings for carrying Natsume’s pillow for her. In all, everybody ends at 1.

Scene 21: 20:09 - 21:07
C: Sa, Nt
Sae and Natsume walk together. Natsume makes an offhand remark that she had previously imagined what it would be like to live at Hidamari Apartments, possibly suggesting she has fantasized about living near Sae in particular, a desire for closeness which earns her only a moderate increase for ambiguity. She likens the mood of Hidamari Apartments to how she felt reading Us at Daybreak, which Sae realizes with mildly yuri-embarrassment is one of the stories she has written. After a moment of awkward silence between the two, Natsume confirms that she is a fan of Sae’s writing and goes on to show an understanding of her stories’ characters and plots. The extraordinary amount of thought she has put into Sae’s works could be a direct result of the fact that they are Sae’s and not another author’s, which again is ambiguous but helps her slightly. Sae responds to the whole affair with shocked embarrassment, but seems happy to hear Natsume appreciates her writing on a deeper level than casual reading, helping her yurilevels moderately. She ends at 2 and Natsume earns 4.

Scene 22: 21:12 - 21:31
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na
Sae returns to Hidamari Apartments. Hiro asks Sae if she and Natsume started fighting instantly, decreasing her readings for believing Sae and Natsume have a very strong animosity that can only be restrained when other people are around. When Sae denies she fought with Natsume, Nori quickly takes on a mischievous, borderline-lewd facial expression and comments that something good must have happened between Sae and Natsume, earning an increase inverse to Hiro’s decrease for believing Sae and Natsume have a secret mutual affection that can only be restrained when other people are around. Hiro adds to Nori’s statement by saying Natsume’s new pillow will quickly become useful, insinuating Natsume will need to use the pillow to vent either excess emotion or unbecoming impulses and significantly raising her yurilevels. Nazuna’s confusion at the turn of events does not affect her readings. She, Yuno, Miyako, and Sae all end at 0, while Nori receives 4 and Hiro earns 2.

Scene 23: 21:33 - 21:42
C: Nt
Natsume rolls around on her bed thinking of Sae. Her primary concern in this scene is how she will be able to face Sae now that Sae knows she is a fan of hers. Up to this point, Natsume has attempted to project a lack of affection for Sae despite in reality having a strong affection for her (see x365 10 and 12, xHoshimittsu OVA 01, and xHoneycomb 01). Her purposeful distance and rivalry with Sae suggests a fear of becoming close to her, which, in context of her previously-noted borderline personality disorder, is likely a fear of being abandoned by Sae (or being abandoned again, depending on your interpretation of xHoshimittsu OVA 01). In Natsume’s mind, if she doesn’t push Sae away herself, Sae will eventually leave her anyways. This should cause her to totally separate herself from Sae, but Natsume has ended up visiting Hidamari Apartments on Sae’s invitation twice, showing she still wants to be close to Sae. The combination of her desire for a strong emotional relationship wtih Sae and her fear of Sae’s abandonment earn Natsume an easy 4.

Scene 24: 21:46 - 22:08
C: Yu
Yuno bathes in purple water. She expresses happiness, but since the rest of the scene deals with her anticipation of Christmas this happiness may be unrelated to having spent the evening with the other Hidamaris and Natsume. Consequently, she stays at 0.

Final Yurilevel Readings: (both Aokis and Umes are out of 4)
Episode: 1.2993A

  1. Natsume: 3.600U
  2. Hiro: 1.897U
  3. Sae: 1.603U
  4. Yoshinoya: 1.395U
  5. Nori: 1.388U
  6. Nazuna: 1.237U
  7. Yuno: 1.105U
  8. Mami: 0.883U
  9. Nakayama: 0.530U
  10. Miyako: 0.501U

The very yuri-light first half of the episode balanced out the strong readings from the second to give the episode somewhat poor readings on the whole. Yuno, Miyako, Mami, and Nakayama received low yurilevels from their lack of yuri action or initiative in Part A, while Yoshinoya’s pleasantness toward her students and Sae’s advances toward Natsume gave them relatively high readings. Everybody else’s Ume reading matched within slight variance their reading from Scene 20, a moderately-yuri scene that took a quarter of the episode. Repeatedly shifting attention throughout the scene to include everybody prevented any one character from having an especially strong yuri moment, with Natsume’s sole exception being enough to put her at the top of the episode’s character rankings with nearly double Hiro’s U reading. Ordinarily the shared attention to every character is not a significant detriment to yuri (it is, in fact, what allows the system of dividing character yurilevels by number of characters to function properly), and it is especially surprising that the setting of Christmas-time would not provide more romantic opportunities, but on the whole everybody was too friendly and not gay enough to earn significant yurilevels.

Further analysis will continue with Hidamari Sketch xHoneycomb 12.

*: The investigation put forward this hypothesis at the end of the write-up for Hidamari Sketch x365 01. I am happy to see Studio Shaft is paying attention to me, because it’s about time they did.

8/17/2013: Nori and Nazuna erroneously received 1s in Scene 20, giving them Ume readings of 0.782 and 0.631 respectively and the episode an Aoki reading of 1.2257. This has been corrected.

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

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