Japanator Recommends: Sketchbook


This review was in real danger of becoming a "Japanator (Doesn't) Recommend" because this show is so slow. For the first episode or two, I shifted in my chair, wondering why a show I wanted to like seemed to be trying so hard to bore me to death. Something, anything, happen already!

But then I realized that the problem was me; I was so preoccupied with my to-do list, and all the other anime I needed to watch, that I was stifling the perspective necessary to meet the series on it's own terms. Once I took a few cleansing breaths and gave the show my undivided attention, this cute, classy, slice-of-life show became an absolute pleasure to watch.

Hit the jump to find out why Sketchbook will draw you in...I would say "see what I did there!", but I'm not sure I even want you to.


In the interests of full disclosure, I should tell you that reviewing Sketchbook; full colors is part of a larger project. I find that lately, I have not been spending anywhere near enough time drawing. This is important: I don't want THIS to happen again. So I decided that I would watch all the of the anime oriented around drawing in order to fire myself up to draw more, or guilt myself into drawing more if necessary. One of those two must be working because I just drew a lot of stuff, but I'm not sure which.

Of course, if the anime is really inspirational, then I run into the problem that I'm SO fired up to draw that I regret the many hours I just spent watching anime instead of honing my skills. Ironically, the better the show is at communicating the joys of creativity, the more I question the idea of spending time watching other people's drawings move around for my alleged enrichment.

You know, I meant for that point to be kind of glib, but it's way, way too close to home. In fact, I think it is home; it's making dinner. It's making pie. Anyway.

Speaking of things that sound glib but aren't, the easiest way to describe this show is that it's a cross between Azumanga Daioh and Kimi ni Todoke. I find I get annoyed when people describe shows like that, as though you could put two other shows in a blender (Mio in a blender! Ace!). It's overused and trite. However, in this particular instance, I think it gives you an excellent idea what this show is like. The Azumanga Daioh parallels are legion, enough so that I'm 99.9% sure it was intentional. However, while the show does aim for the Azumanga brand of humor, it also has the same effect on me that KnT does- I want to put on a big straw hat, pack a picnic basket and fall asleep in a meadow somewhere. Seeing the world through the eyes of Sora, a painfully shy girl who won't leave home without her sketchbook, is both refreshing and thought-provoking. By the way, Sora actually wears a straw hat.


Indeed, Ha-san. Indeed.

This is a show where the main character is just like Osaka, and lots of her friends are like Osaka, and they all take turns out Osaka-ing each other, and yes, it is amazing. However, the desire to conform to popular trends in anime is the source of my only real complaint with the show; the humor often falls flat. Strangely, the person who was begging for some action started rolling her eyes when the hyperactive antics began, and just wanted more time with Sora. Many of the subplots involving cats are cute, but the humor generally feels forced, like it was added to the show just for the sake of balancing out all those quiet scenes of Sora sitting on a rock and sketching. It doesn't work; people with short attention spans will not enjoy this show. Pandering for their attention is a waste of time.

There is so much more I could tell you about this show, but considering the fact that it's a 13-episode series, if I write much more it will take longer for you to read this then to just watch the thing. Quick points: people who draw will probably enjoy this show much more than people who don't. I admit that this is the case, but I can't put myself in the mindset of someone who doesn't care about drawing, so it's impossible for me to assess it from that angle. I'm pretty sure, however, that it's at least pleasantly watchable for all the non-sketchers out there, if not stellar- the show deals with other themes. Also, this show has the distinction of having one of the few foreign-exchange student characters who actually speaks Japanese as though it's not her first language. When she speaks English, it's not completely convincing, but hey, they gave it a solid effort. On that note, the voice acting overall is very good. Sora sounds adorable.

You may have noticed that I've told you very little about the plot, characters, etc., but there's no need- you already know. If you have ever watched anime, you already know. I made the mistake of talking about myself a lot in what's supposed to be a review, but for this show in particular, it's acceptable; I'm in a post-Sketchbook state. This show needs a label that says "Caution; Causes Introspection."

Okay, so I think we have our marching orders: you need to watch this show, I need to draw for five hours to make up for time spent watching this show. I'll report back with scans.

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Karen Mead
Karen MeadContributor   gamer profile

Hi, I'm a former newspaper journalist who got tired of having a front row seat to the death of print. There probably could be some interesting story there about a disenchanted reporter moving on ... more + disclosures



Filed under... #anime #Japanator Original #shoujo



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