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Here’s another interview that came with the x365 BD Box! This time, it’s a talk between important figures in the Hidamari anime’s production: Ryutaro Usukura, Yuma Takahashi, and Junichiro Tanaka.


Trial-and-error anime Hidamari Sketch

Let’s start off with introductions. What is your name and your involvement in Hidamari Sketch?

Tanaka: I’m TBS Producer Junichiro Tanaka. I’ve been involved in Hidamari’s production since the very beginning.

Yuma: That’s right, you chose the initial staff, didn’t you?

Tanaka: Yes. From choosing a studio, to director and scriptwriter… I conferred about different options, and was able to draw up a list.

Yuma: I’m Yuma Takahashi from Aniplex. I’ve been the publicity producer since the very first season. I make information booklets, plan events, and manage various other things related to advertising.

Usukura: I’m Usukura from Lantis. I’m in charge of all things music, like assisting our music producer Shigeru Saito. All of Hidamari’s music is so enjoyable. Overseeing the process has been a valuable experience for me.

Because you three have been so deeply involved in Hidamari’s production, would you mind reflecting on everything since the first broadcast and sharing any stories or memories from that time?

Yuma: I don’t often get the opportunity to talk about these things, so I’ll do my best to dust off my memories.

Yes, please go ahead!

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We finally have more information on SHAFT’s next Hidamari project! A new PV was released but sadly the official uploads cannot be viewed outside of Japan. Fortunately, someone has kindly provided a Dailymotion mirror. (Edit: It’s now on Nico too.)

The BD/DVD release date is November 27th. It will be a two-episode OVA (like xSP). Episode 1 is “February 1~20: Exam Sketch” and episode 2 is “February 28~March 1: Graduation Sketch”. According to Amazon the total runtime is 50 minutes, meaning they aren’t extended episodes like some have hoped. Limited edition discs will include a drama CD, case, booklet, and audio commentary. It is currently unknown when the episodes will pre-air on TV. Edit: Turns out they will not air on TBS until after the BD is released.

By the way, this is just a minor detail but the new PV has the closeup I wanted of Sae and Hiro’s yearbooks. Sae’s was signed by Mitsuya (“I think you have nice glasses”), Tayama, Minori, Kiritani, Nonokichi, Mariko, and one illegible name (**mori?). Hiro’s was signed by Kiritani, Nono, Kiri, Yokko, Mochi, Yuki, and Yumina (“Hiro, marry me!”). So keep these names in mind if you want to become the next Hidamari King.

This is an interview included at the end of the Honeycomb Production Note. Director Akiyuki Shinbo, Character Designer Yoshiaki Ito, and Design Assistant Tatsuya Oishi talk about capturing each character’s personalities through their character designs and room layouts. Yoshiaki Ito also makes some brief comments concerning the more minor characters.


Ume Aoki: The renewed character designs for Honeycomb paid great attention to my own artwork and incorporated my character pointers. They were carefully considered so the oddities that often result from animating the manga’s drawings were eliminated. Now that the designs have been replicated so well, I feel that Hidamari has truly evolved from manga to anime throughout its four whole seasons.

Akiyuki Shinbo: The anime’s character designs are renewed every season to follow the evolution of Aoki’s artwork. I think the unique use of colors in Honeycomb is very close to matching that of Aoki’s artwork today.

We wanted to reproduce the 4koma manga atmosphere from the very beginning in regards to art. Our goal was to make it clear that you know it’s Hidamari when you see it on the screen, no matter what scene it is. We applied all our experience up to this point, so I think that made Honeycomb even more stable. Hidamari has the most designs out of all SHAFT’s series, doesn’t it? Honeycomb is the compilation of six years’ experience.

Yoshiaki Ito: In season 1 I did the character design and room layouts, and worked together with Tatsuya Oishi on the art designs. Oishi drew the roughs and I finished the final designs. The small details come from his good taste.

In the anime there are some incorrect aspects of each room’s layout. Everyone’s room is about 6 tatami mats (~9.2m2 or ~100 ft2) large, which isn’t really that spacious. The rooms were rearranged to let them fit neatly on-screen.

Tatsuya Oishi: It started with Director Shinbo’s orders. He wanted to show Hidamari Apartments from a small set of fixed camera angles, with only one angle for each girl’s room. The Hidamari Apartments themselves are also shown at only a select few angles.

At first I was wondering how I should make the concept art fit these orders. Then I finally grasped it the moment I turned the scenes colorful with no drab colors at all. I created a style that would show colors and lines neatly, show light objects with light lines, and be fit for inserting photographs. I tried to make scenes that would seamlessly with the lines in Ryubido’s backgrounds.

About each room, I aimed to give the girls stylish rooms like you’d see in classy select shops. They’re art students after all. Even things like the mailboxes employ modern art motifs too. No matter how they were done, I wanted to make things look sharp and stylish. As for the color schemes and such, I made color balance my first priority. I picked the color of each door starting from Yuno’s character color being pink.

It was fun seeing how each episode, Ryubido added buildings like TBS’s “Big Hat” broadcasting center to the frontal shot of the Hidamari Apartments.

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Something came in the mail on Monday! It’s the second Hidamari anime guidebook. The first anime guidebook was called Hidamari Sketch Album and covered all episodes from the beginning of the series to the end of x365 (including EX). Hidamari Sketch Days follows a similar format, but physically, it’s not a compact book like its predecessor. (Apologizes for the low-quality photos.)

DSCF9101It’s A4 size, making it even larger than Hidamari Sketchbook. The first 96 pages are printed in full color. The remaining text-filled 32 pages, 18 of which are interviews with anime staff, are printed in black and white.

The book starts out with a condensed timeline of the Hidamari franchise. It lists the original air dates for each season, release dates for all books and CDs, and dates of events like Hidamatsuri. The manga Kaori Mizuhashi drew to win the title of Ume’s assistant at the most recent Hidamatsuri is printed on page 127.

Next is the character section. There are a few pieces of reference art for facial expressions and poses (differentiated by season), some of which might look familiar if you’ve also read the Honeycomb Production Note. My favorite features of the first anime guidebook were the galleries of the girls’ casual clothes worn in each episode, so I’m glad to see they’re back in this book. 30 episodes worth of clothes is a lot, so each Hidamari resident has at least 2 pages! For Yuno, Miyako, Hiro, and Sae, there are small boxes at the bottom of each page that showcase memorable moments for that character from past seasons. On Nori and Nazuna’s pages, there are pictures of all Ume-sensei’s rooftop appearances that include what her spoken lines were, if any.

There’s a page dedicated to each episode from the x365 specials, Hoshimittsu, xSP, and Honeycomb. Each episode’s page features a brief summary along with several captioned screenshots. If you were worried about any moments of poor animation being immortalized in print, fear not, all screenshots appear to come from the corrected Blu-rays.

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The bottom section of each page makes note of continuity references in the episodes and any tiny details Shaft threw in (for example, the pictures on Hiro’s fridge being different from usual). Unfortunately, unlike in Hidamari Sketch Album, there isn’t a section where Ume gives her thoughts on each episode.

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There’s even a teaser page for the upcoming graduation episodes! However, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. The format and number of episodes are still unknown at this point in time. See under the cut!

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Time to sidetrack into a review for a moment!

So, Honeycomb is pretty special to me in a number of ways. First, since I didn’t get into Hidamari until several weeks after Hoshimittsu ended, it’s the first full-length season I’ve been able to enjoy while it was airing. Second, even though I don’t actually keep a list of what my top 10 chapters are or anything, at least 5 of what may be my all-time favorites were adapted. And third, 10 of Honeycomb’s 20 segments were based on chapters I “tried my hardest to interpret” so I’ve grown quite attached to them.

Opening

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Not my favorite but it grew on me, and at least Nori and Nazuna finally get to sing. The only thing I wish were different about the animation is the part at the end where Yuno looks onto the minor characters. It’s kind of creepy and unsettling how they don’t move at all, as if they’re only some delusion of Yuno’s. Some small movements like Arisawa waving her hand or Chika moving her head a bit would have been a really nice touch. Is this too much to hope for as a Blu-ray improvement? I know that’s a lot of characters to animate but it looks so jarring as it is.

I hope I’ll be able to get the OST, since I like a lot of the new tracks, particularly what seems to serve as the season’s main theme (it first plays when Sae finds Yuno and Miyako spying on her in the first episode).

Animation

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Hahahaha. The only full season where I’ve watched both the original TV broadcast version and retail version was Hoshimittsu, so I expected at least some of these problems. All I can say is that I look forward to the Blu-rays.

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