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[Bluray box art]
AKA: ひだまりスケッチ 沙英・ヒロ 卒業編 (Hidamari Sketch: Sae/Hiro Sotsugyō-hen)
Genre: Slice of life.
Length: OAV, 2 episodes, 24 minutes each
Distributor: Currently licensed by Sentai Filmworks.
Content Rating: PG-13 (Mildly mature elements.)
Related Series: Three TV seasons and follow-up OAVs.
Also Recommended: Sketchbook ~Full Color's~, Azumanga Daioh, Aria, Ninja Nonsense, Tamayura, Yuyushiki.
Notes: Based on the manga by Ume Aoki, licensed in North America by Yen Press under the name Sunshine Sketch. It is currently running in Japan in Manga Time Kirara.

Hidamari Sketch: Sae & Hiro Graduation OAV


Heading into the final exams and getting the answers from their respective schools of choice, the residents of Hidamari Apartments are now more than ever painfully aware that Sae and Hiro will graduate, which also means they will leave the apartment complex. Will there be tears, or will Yuno, Miyako, Nori, Nazuna -- never mind Natsume -- be able to see them off with a smile?


Going by what Tim's been telling me so far, I do know that the complex will eventually get new residents, so I think it's safe to say that the show must go on. Whether that extends to the anime, though....

Hidamark Sketch has really kept me on a waiting streak as of late. Granted, by the time I decided to give the show a go, the first two seasons were already available on release, but man, it feels weird reading the start of my review for Honeycomb where I complained about having to wait three years for an official release, which is just a third of the time I had to wait for this special. It's a 2013 release. This is 2022. That makes this a wait of eight or nine years, and this isn't even a rescue license.

And was it worth waiting for? I'd have to say... yes. Unlike most of the rest of the show, the two episodes here are very topical. Which is to be expected, as our circle of friends will have to say goodbye to two of their own, one of which even served as a pretty big pillar of support for the others. (Literally big, Miyako would sometimes jokingly suggest, earning her a few lumps from the aforementioned pillar.) The OAV also brings to mind some of the episodes in Honeycomb -- particularly the one centered around how Hiro wanted to stay at Yamabuki High School as a teacher, where, in one of her rare serious moments, Yoshinoya-sensei pointed out why that was a bad idea. Then again, that's just the kind of show Hidamark Sketch is; people keep taking their lumps over their indiscretions, but you could never imagine the show without a single one of them in it.

"Will there be tears?", I asked in my synopsis, and the answer to that is "Yes, very often, mostly for very comedic effect". That, again, isn't anything new in Hidamark Sketch -- it's funnybone is still firmly in place, and I wouldn't have it any other way. This show is one of the few shows who could get away with switching moods at the drop of a hat, and while it's also one of the most consistently funny comedies I've seen in anime, period, it also had several moments of the kind of sweetness I wouldn't even call sugary. I mentioned Natsume's moment in Honeycomb, and she also has one of the standout moments here when she meets up with Sae, desperately trying to keep the walls up but quickly reduced to tears.

Not long after, we get the best kind of example why this show is so amusing. Without giving away the joke too much, our remaining four have their moment of selfishness, giving the audience a laugh out of it. The payload being the confused look in the faces of our graduates, which is a Hidamari staple to be sure. Even in two episodes as serious as these, there are times for a laugh or ten, and that's how it should be.

Visually, the show is more or less akin to the latest seasons; the animation is decent, even if it's not quite on the level of what we got to see in x365 or Hoshimittsu, its saving grace being the varied visual effects the show creatively uses. The voice acting is also pretty spot on for everyone, which includes the late Miyu Matsuki's ever lovable Yoshinoya-sensei, even if she plays a rather minor part in this OAV. The opening and ending themes are the same as in Honeycomb, except for the very end, where a new ending song is played.

The main lesson to take from Sae & Hiro's Graduation OAV is that even if your friends are going away, that doesn't mean the relationships with them are over. As someone who has seen a lot of his friends move to different parts of the country, I can definitely vouch for that. That being said, I had to wait for eight years for this, and I haven't heart a thing about any more Hidamari Sketch anime at work, so this will probably also be the last we see of the rest of the girls as well. Then again, I was worried for the longest time that I wouldn't even be able to watch this OAV special, but here we are. And for that, I am glad.

A bittersweet, but still fun send-off to this fantastic little slice-of-life.Stig Høgset

Recommended Audience: The bath scenes remain, so there's still some mild fanservice to be had. Even with that, I wouldn't say this show has anything even remotely objectionable.

Version(s) Viewed: Region A Bluray, Japanese with English subs.
Review Status: Full (2/2)
Hidamari Sketch: Sae & Hiro Graduation OAV © 2013 Aniplex/Shaft/Hidamari Apartments Administration.
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