After reviewing the first three seasons, we’ve finally arrived at the final season of Hidamari Sketch. And while there isn’t a whole lot separating the four seasons, but you could make an argument that this ended up being the best of the bunch.
Synopsis: Studying at the Yamabuki Arts High School has been a dream-come-true for Yuno, and she’s learned so much already! And not just from her instructors, but from her friends and neighbors who’ve become her second family and made the Hidamari Apartments such a safe and nurturing home. But as the day of her “big sisters” Sae and Hiro’s graduation draws slowly closer, it’s time for Yuno to start seriously taking on the same role for Nazuna, Nori and the other budding young artists who’ve entered Hidamari’s protective cocoon. And it’s also time to tackle some really challenging artistic assignments. That doesn’t mean there won’t still be time for fun with Miyako and all the others, but it’s definitely time to pencil in her plans for the future. And sometimes that means you have to put the art before the course!
Like the third season, Honeycomb focuses on Yuno and Miya’s second year at Yamabuki, which is also Nori and Nazuna’s first year. In the case of Sae and Hiro, their impending graduation leaves a lot of uncertainty as to the direction they’ll choose to go in the future, so this situation is probably the closest thing to character development you’ll find in the entire series. It’s not a situation that’s drawn out and played up for drama, but this brief yet rather serious instance is a welcome respite from the usual antics we see from the residents of the Hidamari Apartments.
However, that doesn’t mean that this season is lacking the fun and randomness that has been the backbone of the series, as those elements are most definitely still there. New Year’s festivities, a trip to Hokkaido for Sae & Hiro, a swimming competition, and the Yamabuki Festival are but a few of the scenarios that turned out to be really entertaining, and maybe it’s me, but it felt like the girls were doing a little more than they’ve done in prior seasons. Still, we don’t actually get to Sae and Hiro’s graduation, though, we gotta leave something to look forward to in the OVA, right?
All in all, the final season had the random moments that you’ve come to expect from slice of life anime, but also a little bit of looking ahead to the future for a few of the girls. This has been a long road littered with a countless number of enjoyable moments, and Honeycomb was arguably the high note for a series that has never lacked the charisma or charm to constantly keep people entertained.
Moving on to the characters, let me start off by saying that my general apathy towards Nori and Nazuna has managed to subside, at least somewhat. Even though they remain my least favorite characters in the show, this season did a better job of incorporating the two of them in with the group, making them feel more like integral characters rather than tacked on additions that aren’t on the same footing as the longtime regulars.
There was even the slightest hint of subtext involving the two first years. In the grand scheme of things, it was hardly anything, yet I think that this season had more subtext than season three, and that applies to all three pairings. In addition to the previously mentioned Nori x Nazuna, some Yuno and Miya moments are sprinkled throughout Honeycomb, so even though it’s hard to take that pairing all that seriously, it’s a ship that refuses to go quietly into the night.
Though, the most satisfying difference between x ☆☆☆ and Honeycomb was the revival of Sae x Hiro. After a promising uptick in x 365, season three was a flat-out disappointment in this regard, yet this season changed all that and not only gave us nearly as many moments as x 365, but also the sweetest moment involving these two, so far. Hiro didn’t have Sae all to herself—as Natsume also shared a few cute scenes with her—so I’m glad that this season wasn’t another letdown for fans of either Sae x Hiro or Sae x Natsume.
Lastly, all of the supporting characters continued to entertain, and overall, the balancing act involving all of these characters was handled quite well, so everyone was as well represented as you could hope for. There aren’t too many slice of life series that reach as many episodes as this one has, but when you have so many likable characters and multiple ships, the already sizable episode count still doesn’t seem to be enough.
At this point, do I really have to say anything about the visuals and sound? Generally speaking, the production values remain largely unchanged, with neither the animation nor the sound being terribly impressive, yet they remain more than adequate for this type of anime. The new season’s themes are probably on par with that of previous seasons, and overall, you could have copied and pasted this section from any of the other Hidamari Sketch reviews, because the same still applies.
Throughout its four season run, Hidamari Sketch has been a consistently entertaining affair for slice of life fans, with entertaining characters, amusing situations, and a certain charm that’s easy to take a liking to. I’d be lying if I said I enjoy this series as much as the Yuru Yuri‘s, KinMoza‘s, and GochiUsa‘s of the world, but this is still a very worthwhile watch for fans of cute girls doing cute things.