I’ve been sorely in need of a new jolt of fun with Yuno and friends ever since I heard that x365 was coming out. I mean, reading the manga can only do so much, especially when you realize how much that Shinbo/SHAFT add onto some 4koma to make the anime that much more exciting. And the first (and second) episode(s) have made me a happy man. The fact that I re-watched the first episode 3 times in three days says something to me, in addition to probably watching the raws as they come out as well. So I’m figuring that since I’m spending some more time and effort on Hidamari Sketch x365 than most everything else that I’ll be watching in probably this year, I might as well do something with it. Starting here, I’ll attempt to make a post on every episode of x365 regarding some of the themes that worked for me in some was as I continue to watch. We’ll see how long this goes as I start up med school year 2 in two weeks, and if I can always manage to get something that I can wax insanely for every episode, but let’s see how far I can go with this. Don’t expect later entries to be quite as long as this one, either.
The screenshot or concept that worked on me the most from this episode was the shot of Yuno standing alone with her head down in an empty room. We see this in three instances: 1) before Yuno takes the exam as she’s surrounded by featureless bodies all expressing “PRESSURE”, 2) during the skills exam, and 3) as she tries to strike a conversation with Miyako. The latter two instances were the ones that grabbed me the most, as they didn’t just illustrate Yuno being all alone, but also Yuno’s overwhelming self-doubt and lack of self-confidence. And I’ve felt the same way about myself a lot of the same time in the same situations. Whether or not I really was “good enough” to do whatever task was in my hand. Whether I actually knew what I was doing or not in this situation where I only have myself to rely on. Whether or not people would accept my attempts to get to know them, and as such, accept me and get to know me. I wouldn’t call them moments of indecision, but moments of quick and almost debilitating worries about what ifs, and those can keep you wallowing in unnecessary bouts of despair.
As we’ve seen in the first season Yuno every so often has these moments of worry, a prime example being episode 9, where she frets about not having a concrete dream about what she wants to achieve in the future. Yet we notice that there’s at least a definite change with what she does with those moments. In this first episode of x365 set at the beginning of everything, she internalizes these feelings and keeps them to herself for the first half of the episode. In the first season, we saw that “now”, Yuno either expresses these thoughts to people she knows and trusts, or has someone pick up on them and try to move her away from whatever’s needlessly getting her down. After all, that’s one reason why friends are there for you.
This is also why the moment of Yuno awakening from her paralyzing anxiety following the first time Miyako says “Yunocchi” works very well for me. For someone who starts out on the Hidamari Sketch franchise with this first episode of x365, they could say that in that moment, a great, beautiful friendship started. Accompanied with “foreshadowing” of what does happen in the future with quick shots which we’ve seen in the first season, we see that same lonely Yuno in the room, now known to be a gym, only here she’s able to lift up her head in surprise, relief, and joy, while this new force in the form of X’s bursts through the doors and illuminates the place. You could say that reaction was over the top, but I don’t think so myself.
With that gesture of giving a nickname to Yuno not out of convenience, but because of interest, you could see that in Miyako, our protagonist had discovered someone who wants to get to know her as much as she wanted to get to know them. It doesn’t take much to lift the weight of self doubt off your shoulders if you have someone that’s willing to help you out with it, as we’ve see in the first season and specials when Miyako recognizes when Yuno’s worry and attempts to assuage those fears time and time again. Everything has changed, as Yuno isn’t alone anymore with a new found friend and comrade, so it does make sense that the setting of “lonely Yuno” would change as well. Though for some who see it as the start of maybe something more as well, I find that I can agree with that from all that I’ve seen so far from the first season. Course, the setting on my yuri-tinted goggles has been high enough for things like this, so speculating, wishing and hoping is never a problem for me.
You could say that the tension between feeling the weight of being alone and the satisfaction being independent was another interesting theme in the first episode. While we see literally and figuratively Yuno’s struggles with being alone, we also see her happiness and interest in being able to take care of herself. One scene that gets me is her step over the school gates (OH CG! :D) after letting go of her mother’s hand before doing so. In that sense, we get a symbolic divide between Yuno fending for herself as she steps into the school, and reliance on others just outside of the gates, as Yuno’s mom is present and ever ready for support if necessary.
Though that example might be cheesy, another scene that got me wasn’t too marvelous, but subtle enough, containing just that simple step back from Yuno (around the 9:45 mark) as her mother reaches out to her on her moving day. It’s a tiny gesture that I think spoke volumes about how willing Yuno was to believe that she could take care of herself, despite showing that she might still need a little help after knocking her head on the moving truck’s mirror. I can’t help but thing the X’s along the moving truck’s way, moving down a road to heaven (around the 10:15 mark), were mirroring their bearer’s excitement to starting something new, whether it’s new opportunities or new adventures that await (man college was so fun). Despite her being asleep in the process.
I guess my last thoughts here aren’t too related to the ones above, but I liked Miyako’s mention that most people in Yamabuki high school apparently considered Hidamari apartments the place where the weirdos from the art department lived, and the following highlights of each of the residents that we know. Granted, Miyako, Sae and Hiro have their idiosyncracies, but I don’t really see them as such, which probably has a lot to do with the person I am and the friends that I have at the same time. Besides that point, I did like Yuno wondering about whether or not she was a part of that group as well, since it reminds me of my times in college. While it wasn’t the same situation, people did tell me randomly sometimes that I was the most normal of the friends that I had that shared an interest in watching anime. I spent some time needlessly wondering about what the rationale for that opinion was, especially since it shouldn’t matter as long as I’m me and I have fun. But it did keep me from doing classwork at the same time, so I guess things evened out. Ah, those were the days. :3
Next Episode: Calling You