After four seasons and several specials, we’ve finally come to the end of the road for Hidamari Sketch. All good things must come to an end, so for the girls of the Hidamari Apartments, this is where we say our final goodbyes.
Taking place directly following Honeycomb, this OVA focuses on the days and weeks leading up to Sae and Hiro’s imminent graduation. Under normal circumstances, Hidamari Sketch is a generally high-spirited affair that doesn’t take itself all that seriously, but for this last hurrah, things are a little more subdued than usual, especially in the second episode.
That’s not to say it’s gloomy, because it’s not. As sad as it is to have two of the characters moving on, the mood almost feels a little celebratory at times. After all, Sae and Hiro are one step closer to their future goals, and with everyone still together (at least for the moment), it’s moments like these that are worth cherishing.
The first episode of x 365 showed us how Yuno and Miya first met, so it’s only fitting that in the final episode of the series, we finally get to see Hiro and Sae meeting for the first time. With the two of them moving on to different schools and different career paths, it was nice to see their first interactions and how they came to be so close.
As much as I would have liked to have seen Hiro or Sae have a change of heart and choose to attend the other’s school of choice, you get the sense that regardless of distance, the two of them are going to remain close, no matter what. That said, compared to seasons past, the amount of subtext is still down. Given the limited time frame of only two episodes, it’s understandable, but I would have killed to have seen a nice, long hug between them.
Then again, for us, it may seem like the end, but for them, it’s only the beginning of their lifelong journey. If they’re as close as everyone believes they are, they’re going to have many more moments together, so it’s probably for the best that they ended up sharing so much time with their soon-to-be former neighbors.
Sae’s other not-so-secret admirer, Natsume, only gets one brief scene here, but for me, it was the sweetest thing in the entire OVA. Like Hiro, Natsume will also be attending a different college than Sae, so seeing Sae comfort her as she comes to terms with the fact that she’ll no longer be able to see Sae at school, was really heartwarming. She never had the biggest role in the series, but that didn’t stop Natsume from becoming one of my favorite characters in the show.
Taking a backseat to their senpais are Yuno and Miya, and even though they continued to exhibit the qualities that we’ve come to expect from them (Miya keeps on making them fat jokes about Hiro), they too were emotional at one point. Throughout it all, they’ve were right there for each other, but other than the constant support they provide for one another, their relationship continues to be nothing more than platonic. Then again, they did have another bath scene together, so this ship isn’t running aground anytime soon.
Nori and Natsuna don’t really play major roles in this OVA, as all of their scenes take place when they’re together with the other girls, so fans of those two might be a little disappointed with their lack of meaningful screen time. And the same can be said for fans of Yoshi. However, she does appear in a scene towards the end that makes it clear that she’s never gonna change, and it would be a crime if she ever did.
As the title of this OVA would suggest, Sae and Hiro are the stars here, and if anyone had any doubts as to their importance to the group, they were likely put to rest after these last two episodes. Overpowering the melancholic mood is a mood that is still distinctly Hidamari Sketch. Same charismatic characters with great chemistry, same enjoyable moments, and same pairings that remain so easily shippable. In short, I think this was a really good way to close out the series.
A lot of the familiar background music from previous seasons is back, but it felt like the music took a slightly more poignant turn this time around, and there was even an insert song to accompany the graduation ceremony itself, so this turned out to be a pleasant experience, on the musical front. The OP from Honeycomb makes a return, but for the second episode, an all-new ED (by Yuno and Miya’s seiyuus) closed the show.
Visually, this is another year after Honeycomb so it’s not much of a surprise that this OVA looks at least as good as that. The tried-and-true Shaft style seen in the series eventually became second nature to me, and even now, in 2017, I think some other slice of life anime looks kind of dull in comparison. For example, Doga Kobo has produced some good ones lately, but a lot of them look so similar. The same can’t really be said of Hidamari Sketch, so I’m gonna miss that unique look.
Overall, this series has been a mix of the ordinary (the music) and the extraordinary (the art style), but this OVA adds a little more seriousness to the equation, resulting in some music that’s perfectly fitting for the occasion.
At the end of the day, Hidamari Sketch: Sae Hiro Sotsugyou-hen is a bittersweet farewell to two girls (and a series) that has provided plenty of good times to fans of cute girls doing cute things. It’s great that Sae and Hiro got a proper send-off, and even though this OVA wasn’t as lighthearted and comical as the previous seasons, it still retained the spirit that has made the series such a success over the years.
Pretty much required viewing for fans of the series, this is as good a way as any to go out, and even though it wasn’t quite a masterpiece in my eyes, Hidamari Sketch never failed to entertain me, and these girls will most certainly be missed.
Any word on when this will be released in the US?
The previous OVAs have appeared on the Complete Collection BD/DVDs for each preceding season, but this one wasn’t included on the Honeycomb Complete Collection (which barely was released in August), so I’m not really sure.
Looking at Sentai Filmworks’ upcoming release schedule, there’s no mention of this, so it’s not looking too positive. If you really want to own it, your best bet might be to import it…