Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Hidamari Sketch Sae and Hiro Graduation 01

Hidamari Sketch Sae and Hiro Graduation 01 includes the six Hidamari residents and Chika, as well as one of Hiro’s friends. The episode centers on Sae and Hiro’s college entrance exams and subsequent wait for their results.

Scene 01: 00:10 - 00:44
C: Yu
Yuno wakes up on the first day of Sae and Hiro’s university exams. She gets out of bed early in the morning to make Sae a lunch, which from the emphasis she has put on the day on her calendar and from her determination in getting out of bed despite being cold is conveyed to be a task Yuno believes is very important for Sae’s success. This is reinforced by her light-hearted movements as she cooks the meal, which show her willingness to inconvenience herself for Sae’s benefit. Yuno’s desire for Sae to do well does not have significant tones of romantic yuri, but as a gesture of friendship it earns Yuno a 2.

Scene 02: 00:47 - 01:31
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na
Sae and Hiro say goodbye to the other Hidamaris before leaving to take university entrance tests. In addition to Yuno’s lunch for Sae, which doesn’t affect her readings here since she was already earned yurilevels for it in the previous scene, Nori is shown to have made a lunch for Hiro. Nori has never been portrayed as a particularly strong cook (she relies on a printed-out recipe to make a dessert in xHoshimittsu 12, fails to help Nazuna [who herself is a canonically poor chef] cook a meal in xHoneycomb 01, and admits to having no experience with making fried foods in xHoneycomb 05), so it is unusual that Nori would prepare a meal. The most likely explanation for Nori’s behavior is that, like Yuno, she is emotionally invested in helping Hiro succeed and was thus motivated enough to cook for her, earning Nori a similar increase to Yuno in the previous scene. Hiro accepts the lunch with some warmth, but her overall reaction seems too polite to affect her readings. Miyako tells Hiro not to eat the lunch before lunchtime, and looks proud of her advice after saying it, showing that she also wants to help but in a way that is not significant enough to earn her as strong an increase as Yuno and Nori had. After the other Hidamaris have said their goodbyes, Sae tells Hiro that they have to leave, reinforcing their dominant-submissive dynamic by having Sae leading Hiro and Hiro happily following, which raises both of their readings. Before they go, Miyako leads the others in the “Hidamari Cheer Squad” chant from xHoneycomb 10, another display of support that earns them each slight friendly increases. Nori ends with 3, Miyako, Sae, and Hiro with 2, and Yuno and Nazuna with 1.

Scene 03: 03:06 - 04:58
C: Yu, Mi, Hi, No, Na
Hiro returns from an exam. Despite meeting the others in Nazuna’s room, Hiro still enters by saying “I’m home” (ただいま, “tadaima”) and is greeted with a unanimous “welcome home” (おかえりなさい, “okaeri nasai”), conveying that all of them feel equally at home in any part of Hidamari Apartments, a comfort around each other that elevates all of them significantly. Yuno and Miyako both worry that Hiro is becoming sick from stress, giving them slight increases. Yuno is also helped by her offer to make lunch for Hiro again, which Hiro receives comparable side-readings from for her gratitude and for saying how much she appreciates that the others are showing her so much care. Yuno ends with 3 and everyone else earns 2.

Scene 04: 05:00 - 06:00
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na
Sae returns from her exam. Her cheerful demeanor worries the others, particularly Yuno and Nori, who evidently have a desire to keep her from being happy that will detract from their overall readings. Sae reveals a bag of sweets she brought for everybody, a friendly gesture that helps her slightly, and the other Hidamaris subsequently stop worrying about her, though this is more a selfish desire for desserts than any reconciliation toward Sae. Yuno shows friendly sympathy for Sae and Hiro as they take their exams, and Sae quickly focuses Yuno’s sympathy away from herself and toward Hiro, likely since as the previous scene showed she is having a more difficult exam period. Hiro accepts this redirection, so both she and Sae receive increases from Sae’s selflessness. Overall, Sae receives 2, Yuno and Hiro get 1, and the rest stay at 0.

Scene 05: 06:05 - 06:53
C: Yu, Mi
Yuno expresses concern about the future while Miyako clips her toenails. Miyako responds to Yuno’s misgivings about university exams by asking if she doesn’t want to take any, a simplistic but well-meaning effort on her part to understand Yuno’s feelings that she expounds into a philosophical musing about the purpose of exams, which cheers Yuno up with partial success. Throughout the discussion, Miyako is clipping her toenails, showing an extremely high level of comfort both in Yuno’s room and around Yuno herself. Yuno’s annoyed reactions suggest that she doesn’t believe Miyako’s comfort is warranted, lowering her reading for the scene to a 1 while Miyako receives a 3.

Scene 06: 07:02 - 07:35
C: Hi, Hiro’s friend
Hiro finishes her exam. Her friend asks if Hiro will be eating another lunch made for her, demonstrating a pattern of observing Hiro that raises her readings slightly, and Hiro’s smile and laugh as she responds shows her enjoyment at having the lunches prepared for her. Hiro’s comment that the lunch is cute reinforce her yurilevels from appreciating the help she is receiving from the other Hidamaris, raising her to 2 overall. Her friend ends at 1.

Scene 07: 07:37 - 08:12
C: Yu, Mi
Yuno discusses the artistic intent of her lunch for Hiro. Her chosen dish of wieners is homonymous with the English word “winner”, which is both esoteric given neither Yuno nor Hiro speaks English as their first language and also assumes Hiro enjoys eating wieners, so Yuno doesn’t receive an increase for her choice of food. Her eagerness to help Hiro by making her lunch does show care for her, however, so she earns a slight increase overall. Miyako, meanwhile, is content to help Hiro by eating on her behalf, which is simply an attempt to justify her eating rather than any selfless action. She stays at 0 and Yuno ends at 1.

Scene 08: 08:17 - 10:33
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na
Sae receives her exam results. She initially opens the wrong envelope, frustrating the other Hidamaris who crowd their heads around each other as they complain about Sae’s carelessness; they receive a slight net increase, mostly since the positioning of their heads would suggest at least some of them are rubbing against each other. As Sae opens the correct envelope, Hiro has her hands clasped and her eyes closed to resemble prayer, showing an intense desire for Sae’s success relative to the others who sit normally and receiving a moderate raise. Hiro is also the first Hidamari to help Sae look for her ID number on the list of accepted students and congratulates her most loudly, actions which both reinforce her previous increase. Miyako then leads a general cheer and congratulation, increasing her readings moderately and the others’ slightly, but Sae is too uncomfortable with being admitted to the university that she does not readily accept their praise, keeping her from earning side readings. Toward the end of the scene, Hiro notes with what seems to be some measure of worry that she will be receiving her first results soon; Sae attempts to soothe her by resting a hand on her shoulder and reassuring her that she will be accepted to her first pick, earning both of them strong readings for showing that the two conflate comfort with physically connecting with each other. Hiro is visibly cheered up by Sae’s efforts and shows her gratitude by hugging Sae’s waist. This time Sae gets embarrassed by Hiro’s gesture, for which there are two likely explanations: either Sae is uncomfortable with Hiro’s sudden intimacy, which is somewhat plausible given Sae’s general reluctance to open up to others, or that Sae is embarrassed with expressing said intimacy in front of the other Hidamaris. The second is slightly more plausible since as of xHoneycomb 06 Sae has no problem hugging Hiro, and even with a degree of uncertainty included it still helps Sae significantly for suggesting that she considers aspects of her relationship to Hiro private. She ends with 3 while Hiro receives 4; Miyako earns 2 and the others end at 1.

Scene 09: 10:37 - 12:51
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na
Hiro receives exam results from her third and first pick universities. While waiting for Hiro to open the results for her third pick, Sae is noticeably leaning toward Hiro, showing strong emotional investment and receiving a moderate increase for it. Hiro is accepted and the others congratulate with Yuno and Sae being the first; they receive slightly stronger increases than the rest for this. Nazuna responds to Hiro’s comment that her fourth pick university rejected her by suggesting the grader was bad at art, suggesting Nazuna believes Hiro’s art is sufficiently complex or advanced enough to go over the heads of professional artists, a faith in Hiro’s skill that elevates Nazuna significantly. When Hiro opens the results from her first pick, Sae is again leaning in intensely which again aids her readings considerably. Hiro learns she has been waitlisted, a term which Yuno and Miyako are unfamiliar with. Miyako suggests to Yuno that waitlisting is like being a benchwarmer (a second- or third-tier baseball player used as a substitute), conveying that, unlike Nazuna, Miyako doesn’t believe Hiro is good enough to be accepted immediately into the university, which will hurt her readings. Hiro says that she will receive a notice of acceptance or rejection in a week, prompting Sae to grab hold of Hiro’s waist and call for a miracle to happen, similarly to how Hiro did in Scene 08. Like in Scene 08, the combination of her close physical contact and demand of divine intervention on Hiro’s behalf gives Sae a very strong yurilevel increase, while Yuno, Miyako, Nori, and Nazuna all receive slight side-increases for subsequently praying for Hiro. Since this moment is a repetition of the end of the previous scene, Sae and Hiro receive similar increase to then with Sae in Hiro's role and vice versa. Sae earns 4, Hiro and Nazuna 3 each, Yuno and Nori 1 each, and Miyako 0.

Scene 10: 13:03 - 13:17
C: Yu, Mi
Yuno and Miyako wait for Hiro’s test results to be delivered. At the beginning of the scene, Yuno appears to be leaning toward Miyako, but Miyako later sits up, showing that Yuno was just leaning toward Miyako (which is still a bit gay, but not as strongly as actually resting on Miyako’s shoulder would have been). Yuno and Miyako are both stressed in sympathy for Hiro, an emotional resonance that earns them each moderate readings which are strengthened by their hastiness to rush outside for the mail in the hopes that it is Hiro’s admission decision. Both end with 2.

Scene 11: 13:18 - 13:45
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi
Sae and Hiro join Yuno and Miyako in waiting for Hiro’s test results to be delivered. Hiro apologizes for making Yuno and Miyako worry about her, a considerate remark that helps her slightly, but Yuno insists it doesn’t trouble her to be concerned about Hiro, helping her similarly. The four grow anticipatory at seeing another courier approach Hidamari Apartments, strengthening Yuno, Miyako, and Sae’s yurilevels for their sympathetic anxiety that are reinforced by their frustration at learning it’s a pizza deliverer. Everybody ends with 1.

Scene 12: 13:47 - 14:51
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na
Hiro’s test results are delivered. Nori and Nazuna apologize to Hiro for getting her hopes up by ordering pizza, though because only Nazuna’s apology seems regretful while Nori tries to laugh the incident off, only Nazuna is helped by apologizing. When the actual test results arrive for Hiro, the other Hidamaris all bow and thank the deliveryman, receiving slight increases for again showing emotional investment in Hiro’s exams. Hiro is too nervous to open her results around the others and moves away before doing so, suggesting the Hidamaris are not a source of comfort to Hiro and holding down her yurilevels for the scene. The process of her opening the envelope focuses on Sae just as much as it does on Hiro, with the scene placing her in the center of the others as they watch from afar, zooming in on her eye while Hiro reads her results, and showing only her reaction after Hiro reveals she was accepted. By giving such strong emphasis to Sae during an event that is happening to Hiro, Sae is being presented as an equally important player in Hiro’s affairs as Hiro herself is, continuing a motif throughout the series of portraying Sae and Hiro as two halves of a whole. It raises them each to 4, while Nazuna earns 2 and the rest receive 1.

Scene 13: 14:55 - 17:17
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na
The Hidamaris celebrate Sae and Hiro’s admissions. Like in Scene 08, Miyako is the main instigator in getting everyone to applaud Sae and Hiro for their success, earning her a moderate increase and giving Yuno, Nori, and Nazuna slight side increases for participating. Yuno asks Nori if she ordered pizza to celebrate, helping her for assuming Nori would be selfless enough to reward Hiro for her admission, but Nori admits she ordered it for dinner and the delivery was only coincidence which prevents her from being benefitted by her action. Hiro expresses excitement about no longer having to study, but as she does so she looks at Sae and asks “right?” (ね, “ne” [a tag question particle]) twice as if she is asking for Sae’s permission to relax. She only does so when Sae confirms her statement, another show of submission from her that raises both Sae and Hiro’s yurilevels significantly. Miyako pretends to interview Sae and Hiro about what they want to do with their exams finished, an interest in them that aids her readings slightly; Hiro is the only one to answer the question directly while Sae completely defers to Hiro’s wishes by agreeing to everything Hiro suggests, helping Sae significantly for her desire to make Hiro happy. Later, Nori and Nazuna suggest that Hiro could work at a restaurant because it would provide her with free food, which both suggests they think of her as little more than a glutton but is also a sincere recommendation intended to help her, so it has no net effect on their readings. Overall, Hiro ends with 4, Sae ends with 3, Yuno and Miyako with 2, and Nori and Nazuna with 1.

Scene 14: 17:17 - 18:31
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na, Ch
Chika sends Hiro her congratulations. Nearly every line Chika has in this scene is spoken with an extremely excited tone that conveys her overwhelming joy for Hiro, moderately raising her readings since nothing in her delivery suggests anything stronger than close friendship. Sae, in contrast, is annoyed with her sister throughout, becoming openly hostile when Chika asks for chirashizushi the next time she visits Hidamari Apartments and when Chika tells Sae she needs to learn to cook before living on her own at college*, and her readings are consequently held down considerably. Yuno earns a slight increase for figuring out from Sae’s reactions that she was speaking to Chika, displaying an ability to read and understand Sae’s emotions, while Hiro gets a moderate increase for showing genuine rather than polite happiness at hearing Chika congratulate her and ask to visit as a celebration. Hiro and Chika each end at 2, Yuno at 1, and everyone else at 0.

Scene 15: 18:31 - 20:27
C: Yu, Mi, Sa, Hi, No, Na
The Hidamaris continue to celebrate. Yuno asks Sae and Hiro if they are full, a concern for them that helps her readings slightly. Nori and Nazuna are made happy by hearing Hiro say it was a satisfying meal, helping them because it reflects their desire to help Hiro. Sae credits the others with getting her into university by giving her their support, giving her a moderate increase for her gratitude and Hiro a similar increase for agreeing. After their sentiments are shared, Nori tries to involve Nazuna in the conversation asking if she’s happy to hear their thankfulness, helping her for wanting to incorporate Nazuna into the group; meanwhile, Yuno and Miyako smile happily at each other, conveying their pride in each other’s work toward Sae and Hiro’s success and giving them both slight raises. Miyako’s increase is offset by making fun of Hiro’s weight, and Hiro’s angry and violent response hurts her as well. Yuno responds to Sae and Hiro by saying that she felt compelled to help out of concern for them, showing either a sense of obligation or sympathy toward Hiro, which either way is enough of a closeness toward her that she receives a moderate increase. Miyako’s repeated references to the Hidamari Cheer Squad come across as an intention to focus the conversation on herself and her actions, a selfishness that detracts from her readings. Hiro says she literally slept better at night knowing the other Hidamaris were there for her, a strong friendly appreciation which aids her moderately; Yuno receives a slight side increase for being pleased by Hiro’s remark. Yuno ends with 3, Sae and Hiro with 2, Nori and Nazuna with 1, and Miyako with 0.

Scene 16: 20:33 - 21:29
C: Sa, Hi
Sae and Hiro relax together on Hiro’s bed. An establishing shot of a tea kettle on a stove burner suggests that the tea that Sae and Hiro are drinking was prepared and served in Hiro’s room. It doesn’t receive any comments or attention from them, but Sae and Hiro are very clearly drinking from matching mugs with two stripes, with Sae’s colored blue and Hiro’s colored pink to match their respective hair colors. Matching colorless mugs would have been easily explainable as generic cups with no special meaning, but with the color coordination it’s evident Hiro owns them solely for the two of them to drink from together. In all honesty, any examination of the rest of the scene is merely a formality, because having matching personalized mugs is an embarrassingly cutesy romantic gesture on Hiro’s part that Sae appears to embrace happily, and will be certain to overshadow anything else that happens. Sae tells Hiro her nervousness about exams only ended when Hiro received her acceptance letter, bolstering her yurilevels for treating their exams as one connected event and being just as invested in Hiro’s success as in her own. The rest of the scene is mostly easygoing small talk which conveys a sense of peace around each other that further strengthens their readings. Both end at 4.

Scene 17: 21:35 - 22:00
C: Yu
Yuno bathes in green water. In a drastic change from most bath scenes, Yuno is noticeably melancholy as she ruminates about Sae and Hiro’s fast-approaching departure from Hidamari Apartments. Her observation that nobody has mentioned they will leave suggests that for the Hidamaris in general and Yuno in particular, the thought of the two leaving is too upsetting to talk about even among her closest friends, and at the end she expresses a fear that she will emote as she says goodbye to them, belying that Yuno worries she does not have the emotional strength to cope with their loss. Both of these convey Yuno’s extremely close attachment to Sae and Hiro, and her desire for them to stay with her indefinitely easily earns her a 4.

Final Yurilevel Readings: (both Aokis and Umes are out of 4)
Episode: 1.8836A
  1. Hiro: 2.811U
  2. Sae: 2.716U
  3. Chika: 2.000U
  4. Nazuna: 1.811U
  5. Yuno: 1.676U
  6. Nori: 1.440U
  7. Miyako: 1.124U
  8. Hiro’s friend: 1.000U

Readings were high but not exceptional, reflecting the overall mood of close friendship. Sae and Hiro, as the focus of the episode, naturally received the highest yurilevels, displaying both warmth toward the Hidamaris and a strong level of intimacy toward each other. Yuno performed exceptionally well in this episode by her standards, earning yurilevels in every single scene she appeared in and ending with a relatively high Ume reading, but was still overshadowed in the final rankings by Nazuna’s strong marks in Scenes 9 and 12. Conversely, Miyako did poorly throughout, mostly because she acted as a sidekick to Yuno without having a significant role in the episode otherwise.

Further analysis will continue with Hidamari Sketch Sae and Hiro Graduation 02.

*: [NOTE: SPOILERS FOR HIDAMARI SKETCH MANGA] Chika’s comment here suggests that Sae and Hiro decided on what universities they wanted to attend independent of where they would live. In the manga, however, their first picks of universities were chosen at least in part because they were close enough to allow the two to live together in one apartment (although the investigation tends to refrain from referring to the manga, the implications such a development implies could not be overlooked). This plot point therefore appears to have been dropped from the anime adaptation, though it is possible that either it will be addressed in a future continuation of the Hidamari Sketch anime or that they will still be living together and Chika simply hasn’t been told yet.

12/31/13: A note in the original version of this post insinuated that "Sae and Hiro Graduation" was a mistranslation of the Japanese title 沙英・ヒロ 卒業編 (“Sae ・Hiro Sotsugyou-hen”) by Nutbladder; it is actually Studio Shaft's official translation. The original version of this post also erroneously said that Sae and Hiro's university choices were specifically chosen to be close enough to let them live together; the revelation that the universities were close together and their choice to live together were actually in two separate chapters.