Or: The End of the Second Era
At the end of the first era, we bore witness to the exiting of Arisawa. Arisawa is a third year whom we meet by coincidence when revising for her university entrance exams late one night. We see her again once said exams are taken and passed. The third time is at her graduation. She is seen off with a congratulations and a high-five. Arisawa’s exit is confident and forward-facing.
The second era ends with the exiting of Sae and Hiro. This exit is neither as confident, nor as forward-facing. There are tears, there is uncertainty, there is melancholy.
‘A voice, fleeting, to the sky, the top of the sky, that’ll someday vanish…’
Hidamari Sketch is primarily known for both its relaxed nature and Ume Aoki’s distinctive style. The series started out as a 4-koma, featured in the magazine Manga Time Kirara Carat, aimed at the seinen demographic, and could arguably be considered emblematic of the format’s light comedic air. Yet, as I have waxed lyrical on before, not all 4-koma need amount to soothing fluff.
At a glance, the series might appear to be an example of an ensemble cast, especially if one first approaches the series via the anachronistically-ordered anime. Yet, as one soon realises, the series is essentially a coming of age story centred about the character Yuno, and so we follow our curiously-shaped-hair-clip-wearing heroine on her journey through her final three years of school.
For the first three volumes we become accustomed to the cast and, aside from a story about a visiting stray cat, all seems happy and carefree. In the fourth volume, however, a slight shadow is cast. A hint of things yet to come.