This was something that I planned to post about a month ago following SDS’s solid post on Nazuna from Hidamari Sketch × ☆☆☆ on his blog, about how her self-doubt, shyness and passiveness are understandable in her new living situation (suddenly, all alone in a place where everyone else does stuff that she can’t!). In the comment section, someone made a mention in the comments that you could place Yuno in Nazuna’s shoes from when she started at the apartments, and I’d agree with that. But I think what separates the two, and what makes people harp on Nazuna when comparing her to everyone else in the show, is a matter of initiative.
As I’ve written before about Yuno, one thing I like about her is the fact that she’s trying hard to be more comfortable with herself. Throughout the seasons we see that she still doesn’t necessarily have a huge idea about what she wants to do in the future, and that she still doesn’t necessarily have a lot of confidence in her artistic skills. Of course, usually comparing them to Miyako’s skills doesn’t help, and it’s interesting to note that whenever she seeks advice about what she wants to do/gaining confidence in herself, she never goes to Miyako for that (though part of that is probably because of Miyako’s personality, to be sure).
However, she still makes the attempt to ask others for help and guidance to improve herself, and she takes those pieces of advice into heart. As always, it’s a learning process, and she’s slowly becoming more sure of herself as the show goes along. What definitely helps Yuno is that she has a starting point to go from in talking with people are going through the same experiences that’s she’s going through. But you get the feeling that even if she didn’t have that comfort zone, she’d still try to find her way through any troubles by herself, even if it takes a longer, tougher time to do so (as some of her wallowing spells would suggest). Her determination to try the hit the Weeping Woman rock at the cost of defacing it in × ☆☆☆ episode 9 was proof of that.
From the brief bits of Nazuna that I’ve seen from this most recent season, I don’t see much of that sort of drive in her character. If I wanted to say it best, while Yuno’s a “I can’t do it, even though I tried my best” type of person, Nazuna seems more like a “I can’t do it, so I won’t even bother trying” type of person. As SDS noted, she is in more of a disadvantage in trying to really feel like she belongs with the other residents of the Hidamari apartments and her worries are justified, but her nature is also that of a very passive person, to the point where one could say that it’s lampshaded in the episode where boys all seem to help her out in some way because of it. That coupled with her self-doubt and clumsiness in some instances makes her a probable amalgamation of several elements that people dislike in “moe” characters. And it definitely brings a more depressive element to the normal happy fun times of the show.
Because Nazuna seems hesitant to say or do anything at least once in most of her appearances in × ☆☆☆, it’s easy to say that’s all she does, and it’s easy to get annoyed by this aspect of her personality. In fact, I do enjoy it when Nori gets on Nazuna’s case during these times where the latter refrained from doing things because she felt she wasn’t good enough to do them, or when she casts herself in an unnecessarily negative light. And I enjoy these moments because they at least making her see things in a different light, that things aren’t as bad or as lonely as they seem, and at best challenging how she thinks about self. While one could say the same thing about Yuno whenever she goes into her “woe is me” modes, the fact that she’s able to do this by herself nowadays makes a world of difference, in my opinion.
Judging by Nazuna’s history, it seems like the effort to imbue her with more confidence and willingness to take initiative by herself will take a while to do. But in a place where she’s surrounded by very supportive people, we see that at the end of × ☆☆☆ she’s at least starting to feel more comfortable living with others to start asserting herself more, if just to take pictures with her phone. Compared to her at the start, it’s incremental, but satisfying progress.