The festivities at the end of December seem to be at fault for putting off the finale of this show so long, but hey, the Hidamari Sketch ladies didn't appear to be all that fussed about it. It may have been our fourth exciting outing into the world of art and schoolgirl apartment buildings, but was it one too many? That sounded ever so slightly creepy, so you might want to keep the answer to yourself.
In all seriousness, it's not at all uncommon that anime with so many iterations start to lose their way a little, so I was certainly wary going in to the Honeycomb flavour of this long-running series. It's also why I'm not holding out high hopes for the new series of Minami-ke that starts soon, but I digress.
With another twelve episodes of wideface action, I think I'm just about ready to wield my mighty gavel and bring judgement on this show.
The show follows six female students and their antics inside and outside of school. That's all for a synopsis of the story, as I feel I'll only be regurgitating what I've mentioned already in the First Impressions article three months ago! The differences between this season and the three that came before it are few and far between, though there are some changes worth a mention.
The biggest, I think, is that characters outside of the main six plus Yoshinoya-sensei and the principal were getting a lot more screen time than usual. Perhaps this was due a natural transition with Ume Aoki's manga and how the jokes have evolved with time, as it is certainly noticeable. Even older characters were stopping by for a joke or two. This is by no means a criticism, as it was quite refreshing to see some different faces mixing things up a little.
I still feel that Nazuna and Nori still aren't getting enough screen time to themselves, and I was a bit disappointed to see them feature most often in the 'full group' scenarios. Yuno and Miyako, as the main duo, get plenty of time to themselves and as a couple. Hiro and Sae also featured plenty, as a lot of the story in Honeycomb focused on their final year of school and their future plans. Sure, there were a few scenes here and there where Nazuna and Nori were centre stage, but it really didn't feel like it was enough. I certainly enjoy their characters, and it seems that their lack of presence has been a problem since back when they were first introduced.
These last few episodes seem to have been gearing up to the end of the school year, meaning that Hiro and Sae don't have too long until they graduate and leave the school and apartment behind. Perhaps it was due to this that the episodes actually appeared to be chronological this time around. Who knows if they will ever leave, though, especially when Ume Aoki can keep placing scenarios into her already established timeline. That probably sounded way more complex than it is, but she really hasn't touched more than perhaps a month or so of the two years the duo have shared the apartments with Yuno and Miyako.
It was interesting seeing the return of Natsume in the final two episodes of the season, as she'd only briefly been involved in Honeycomb before this. Strange, really, as she seems to be more of a character than most of the irregulars. That, and she is also meant to be graduating, so you'd think she'd be around more often. Having her little tsundere moments make for some pretty funny scenarios, that's for sure.
And of course, what better way to ring out the series than with another visit to the bath house? Shaft seem to be pushing the boundaries on nudity with this series, and while I maintain that these scenes are largely in good taste rather than to push Blu-ray sales, they're certainly getting a bit more... detailed. Not enough to sell the series, nor put you off, so it's pretty inoffensive.
While I really do like the new opening music, I still feel that the departure from the clap-centric whistle heavy cheerful tunes that came before it wasn't a great decision. Opening music is the best way to get a mood set for an anime, so it sounding like a character song wasn't helping out. I love the song, I really do, but I'm not sure it was a good choice of opening music. Season five needs more whistle!
The art has seen a few changes itself this time around, and while you could argue that the art was fine as it was, it is certainly turned out to be a positive. The most basic scenes are now a lot more striking with art that resembles the manga a little more, and the pastel colours stop it looking like every other slice of life you've already seen. You can also expect a little more Shaft lunacy, as their habit of dropping in photographs and crazy-looking still frames is certainly there to be seen. It makes it a little more lively, so it's very welcome.
As I stated in the First Impressions write-up, Hidamari Sketch x Honeycomb is the same old show we've come to love. Sure, there are a few issues here and there if you're looking for them, but at the end of the day, you already know whether you're going to be enjoying the show or not. The opening may have been an odd parting from what we're used to, but if you enjoyed the last three instalments, it's not going to be a massive issue. Just grab your own whistle and go nuts during the opening if it's a huge concern!
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