Drop what you are doing, because this seasons God-tier show has arrived to place its wide faces on your watch list. It's the return of Hidamari Sketch, with the school-going art girls starting a fourth season of apartment-based shenanigans. It's another anime from Shaft, so you know from the outset that it's not going to be your run-of-the-mill anime. The past three seasons have certainly shown that this is the case.
But can Miyako's everlasting hunger and Yuno's colourful bath times hold up for another course of twelve or thirteen episodes? Can we really handle the width of these faces? Time will certainly tell, but join me after the jump for my first impressions on the matter.
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Ever wondered what your daily life would be like if you were a young, enthusiastic, female art student? Shaft has you covered, as Hidamari Sketch shows you exactly what it would be like. Yuno is as close to a main character as this show gets due to her end-of-episode monologues, but all six tenants of the Hidamari Apartments get a good share of the limelight. While school and art makes up a large part of the show, it's usually life in the apartments that takes centre stage.
The two newest members of the main cast were only introduced in the previous season, so expect them both to get a lot of screen time to make up for lost ground. However, there are other characters that like to show up every now and again. There will be frequent appearances from the landlady, Yoshinoya-sensei and the principal, but it seems this new season may be introducing some friends of Hiro and Sae into the 'regular character' pool.
The first episode jumps straight back to the Hidamari Apartments as if it were a natural extension to the previous series. There is some subtle name calling for first-time viewers, should they need to work out who is who, but fortunately there are no cumbersome re-introductions to stop the natural flow of the episode. In fact, the new characters that are friends with Hiro and Sae are shown off very early. Get the introductions out of the way in the beginning, then get on with the series. Smart move, by all accounts.
The fact that Hidamari Sketch is a 4-koma manga continues to shine, as the show continues to hop from one topic to the next. Hiro and Sae take the reigns for the first episode as the it focuses on a school trip, with the other four girls and Yoshinoya-sensei getting some scenes around this. Perhaps we can make something of 'Cooking with Yuno'?. I'd buy it.
You'll notice that the opening theme has a significant lack of clapping and whistles, as it takes a slightly different approach for this season. In some respects it's a good thing, as I'd be lying if I said that the other openings weren't starting to feel all too similar. On the other hand, this particular tune sounds like it's come straight from a character CD, as it doesn't feel as intense and attention-grabbing as they have been. To its credit, it makes up for it by being darn catchy. Come the end of the series, I think we'll be enjoying it just as much as the older openings.
Hidamari Sketch has always had a reputation for an extravagant yet eye-catching art style, and this season certainly doesn't disappoint. Shaft is constantly improving on its signature use of vibrant colours and patterns, and you can really see the effort that has gone into just the first episode. It seems to have evolved ever so slightly from the previous season, as the character drawings look just that little more like their manga counterparts, and the colour seems to have a pastel hue to it. It's not really something that needed to be improved, but it certainly looks great.
Hidamari Sketch x Honeycomb is the same old show we've come to love, just with enough changes made here and there to keep the sweet taste. I imagine you'll have seen this already if you've stuck with the previous three seasons and OVAs, but for those of you that are new to the show, I'd highly recommend checking out the older episodes first. You're certainly not missing out on plot details, but learning more about the characters makes it all worth it.
[You can attempt to handle the wideface on The Anime Network!]
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