Archives for category: Character

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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A while ago on eBay someone listed a set of 30 photocopies of Hoshimittsu settei (animator’s reference drawings). Normally I would have ignored it but one of the samples caught my eye. I thought $1 each was a little pricey for mere photocopies on plain white paper, but then again, the price wasn’t completely outrageous like most Hidamari listings there. I felt it was worth it just for this one sheet, so I decided to go for it. I’ve never seen the original article but this does appear to be legitimate.


It’s pretty similar to the height comparison chart found in the Honeycomb Production Note, minus Mashiko (poor Mashiko). In fact, the art used for everyone but the Hidamari residents is the same. The labeled scale this one has is invaluable. Previously, the only confirmation we’ve had of characters’ heights was a chart that comes from season 1’s Hidamari Sketch Settei Collection Volume 1.

Here are my estimates for everyone’s heights based on this chart. Ones in bold have been confirmed through the aforementioned source. Please note that this chart disregards how the characters are shown posing in their stock art and instead resizes the artwork appropriately. For example, Hiro is clearly not standing up straight but she is still scaled to the 155cm mark. Basically, ignore the poses and focus where the top of their head lines up, that’s their intended height.

Principal: 151cm (~4’11.5″)

Yoshinoya: 158cm (~5’2″)

Natsume: 162cm (~5’4″)

Nori: 157cm (~5’2″)

Nazuna: 152cm (~5’0″)

Yuno: 144cm (well, 144.3~5) (~4’9″)

Miyako: 165cm (~5’5″)

Hiro: 155cm (~5’1″)

Sae: 167cm (~5’6″)

Chika: 153cm (~5’0″)

Landlady: 174cm (~5’8.5″)

Mami (not pictured): 155cm (~5’1″), according to page 229 of the Honeycomb Production Note.

The photocopy appears to have some distortion that’s especially noticeable near the Principal. I consulted the Honeycomb chart  (it does a better job indicating where Nazuna’s height is measured from) which makes it clearer that Chika > Nazuna > Principal. Granted, Chika or Nazuna could have grown between the two seasons, but I don’t think SHAFT takes that stuff into account.

Things definitely get a little fuzzy around the 150cm mark, so let me know if you have any better estimates.

I only recently started reading the 2ch threads on Hidamari, so this morning I noticed an old discussion where people were joking around and creating fake first/last names for characters who don’t have one or the other. But then I noticed something odd about how a certain character’s name was written. I decided to do a little research.

I present to you this entry on Yahoo Answers Japan:

Question: About Hidamari Sketch’s Natsume. Is “Natsume” (夏目) her surname or given name? It’s likely to be her given name, right?

Answer: I think it’s her surname. Though there are exceptions, it appears that the residents of Hidamari Apartments and those associated with them are referred to by given name, and everyone else only goes by their surname.

Voted Best Answer: It seems like her surname. It would be different if it were written as 棗. So that means she doesn’t have a given name…

–> Asker Response: Thanks for answering! Now that I think of it… I often thought it was her given name, but it’s strange to use the 目 kanji for that, huh~ I’d like to see Natsume’s face flush like it’s on fire from Sae calling her by her first name.

This completely blew my mind. I never put the pieces together before. It makes so much sense! Here’s the biggest piece of visual evidence:

She finds her shoe locker number by searching for “Natsume”. This isn’t for Ume’s convenience; there really is no reason to use given names in place of surnames in a situation like this. The anime shows the board she’s looking at and it makes perfect sense at this angle because of Japanese name order. Her first name is presumably off-screen to the right.

But let’s investigate this board even further. They’re cut off, but the name above hers might be 戸由 (Toyoshi) and the name below hers is very likely to be 新見 (Niimi). Those are without a doubt Japanese surnames. Now, know that the Japanese equivalent of alphabetical order is gojuuon order. In gojuuon order, the syllable “Na” is right between “To” and “Ni”. If I could make an an English analogy, this board is like looking at an attendance sheet listing “Anderson, Brown, Clark” which are all last names obviously in alphabetical order. So what I mean is, the way “Natsume” is presented on this board among other last names is confirmation it is a last name. (Japanese fans also use this board as their evidence.)

Obviously Natsume introduced herself to Sae as, well, Natsume. But remember that Arisawa did the same thing to Yuno. Natsume’s friends simply call her Natsume with no honorific, not with -chan that’s more often used with first names alone. Not to mention Natsume’s mother does not call her by any name when they are talking about the entrance ceremony at dinnertime.

The asker makes the best point of all: the way Sae refers to her. It’s always hard to tell with Sae because she uses the fewest honorifics out of everyone, but it’s extremely true that Natsume would have a completely different reaction if she were being called by her first name. I can’t believe this flew over my head.

So yeah, color me surprised, I had not the slightest idea this entire time. Needless to say, my article on character names has been amended.

Edit 2/23/13: I was invited to a Skype group of about 30 Japanese Hidamari fans and decided to ask them too. Here’s the conversation we had, translated:

Me: Is “Natsume” a family name? Or is it her first name?
Fan #1: It’s her family name.
Fan #2: Yeah, last name.
Fan #3: Definitely a surname.
Fan #4: There’s never been an official announcement so it’s not completely settled, but…
Fan #2: If it were a first name it wouldn’t be written in kanji, it would just be なつめ.
Fan #5: Natsume is a family name like it is for Soseki Natsume.

This appears to be a mistaken implication retconned later in the anime.

The line in question was spoken in S1EP08 during an anime-only scene expansion about the contents of Sae’s latest publication.

Since everyone knows about the true nature of Sae’s writings, it is implied that she and Hiro are filling the roles of Kensuke and Nanami. This episode aired on March 2nd, 2007.

However, the July 2008 chapter included a strip that contradicted the above, and was later adapted in S3EP01b.

Abbreviated to avoid an extremely tall image.

This sounds like they each had first impressions at the apartments, and therefore first met there, rather than in their childhood. There’s also the additional complication that Hiro’s hometown is in Yamagata while Sae’s is somewhere else in the country.

I believe this was just a case of the anime writers overstepping their boundaries a bit and correcting themselves afterwards. It’s not like they were certain the anime would continue as far as it did and that problems like this would later arise. If you are convinced about the anime canon, though, you could make it work by saying Sae and Hiro met by chance somewhere in Japan as young children but only Sae remembers. However, that season 1 scene is the only evidence you have to assert that they knew each other beforehand.

Edit one year later: Thanks to the graduation OVA, we can call this rumor dead and buried!

My artwork progression chart isn’t the best for tracking down the minor characters accurately, so I’ll be making a few posts locating them in the series. “Appearance” defined as being present in some form during one chapter or episode segment, not by scene.

First up is Natsume of art class B.

Manga appearances to date: 12

Anime appearances to date: 32 (as of Honeycomb episode 12)

(Chart is slightly outdated at the moment)

Click for full size! 1680×1270 2MB PNG

Compressed 733KB JPG here. Last edit: 6-2-12, completely forgot S3EP03b.


– Only 8 of her anime appearances so far are from the manga.

– For her first two scenes in the anime, her hair is different. The animators gave her a second braid, probably because they couldn’t tell what the back of her head was supposed to look like.

– Sending the fan letter to Sae was an anime-only event.

– Although we know she took an art history class, we still haven’t seen any of her artistic work.

– She appears in every x365 episode except 4, 5, and 11! She has only one instance of back-to-back manga chapter appearances.

And here’s the list. The idea to make a chart didn’t occur to me until after I finished this, so the anime section of this will get quite redundant considering what you see up there. At least it saved me from having to upload so many individual pictures.

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