>DVD Review: Growing up with Friends, Food and Art

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“Hidamari Sketch” is a warm, fuzzy slice-of-life that will get any fan interested in art and friendship.

Don’t let the cute intro fool you–“Hidamari Sketch” is one of the best slice-of-life series with moe characters. Although the first season is only 14 episodes long, it sucks you into the everyday life of four of the kindest girls you’ll ever want to live with for the rest of your life.

Unlike other moe shows, this series is more like a chronicle of an entire school year from January to December. It takes you right into a special art high school, where the four girls are learning how to perfect their craft. The girls, Yuno, Miyako, Hiro and Sae, have known each other for half a year.

Right from the start, this story strays dramatically from the typical formula of uber-cute moe. Rather than focus on the characters’ adorable love for guitars or anime, the characters actually spend time talking together. They talk about a wide range of topics, such as the romance novel that Sae is usually writing.

Each character has unique traits that actually complements their friendships and their art skills. For instance, Miyako overeats and tends to joke around too often. Although she often goofs around by drawing anime-style characters, she has a knack for capturing her best friend’s unusual facial expressions in a drawing.

You’ll even notice how all the characters’ art skills improve. Anime fans will love watching Yuno as she learns to harness her artistic talent to create beautiful, life-like drawings. They’ll even enjoy all the subtle moments when Yuno sits in the bathtub, reflecting on everything happened during the day.

Yuno even learns to appreciate all her friends’ humorous habits and customs. At one point, she has to borrow Miyako’s “horror” alarm clock. The alarm is literally a goofy voice recording of a woman who is screaming at the top of her lungs.

Even though “Hidamari Sketch” isn’t the most dramatic or most well-drawn, it has a simple visual touch that looks amazing on screen. Many of the anime textures include actual photographs. For instance, the escalator in a shopping area includes actual photographs which might have been manipulated through 3D animation magic.

Every backdrop is like a work of art. The stairs turn into abstract horizontal lines moving up or down the screen. The textures are sometimes shaded with dot patterns, rather than in different gradients. The anime even includes a photograph of the actual sculpture of Brutus, pasted into the high school classroom setting.

These are just a few of the many reasons why “Hidamari Sketch” is a huge hit in Japan. The show ran for two seasons and it is about to start its third. It’s one of the only moe shows where the girls actually act like mature grown-ups. Although “K-On!” is receiving all the buzz this year for its exciting rock music, no one should ever overlook the wonderful “Hidamari Sketch.”

Image courtesy of photobucket.com

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Filed under Hidamari Sketch, moe, shoujo

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