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.