The meandering lives of art school kids is detailed in this slice of life series that aims to tug on your heartstrings.
What They Say
The Girl with the Sketchbook
Shy and quiet Sora Kajiwara is a high school freshman. She is a member of the Art Club. On this day, Kasugano-sensei has instructed her students to draw whatever interests them most. However, Sora finds all her interests difficult to draw. While her classmates work on their assignments, Sora searches for her own subject.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga series written by Totan Kobako that's still ongoing, Sketchbook ~full color's~ is a thirteen episode series that adapts the slice of life show with its bits of mild comedy. In a lot of ways the show feels like a four panel comic in its pacing and structure as it moves from area to area while still working with something of an overall idea. It breaks down well in this first episode to introduce the characters and some of the setting without overwhelming you with them. Art clubs tend to have quirky characters, and there are a few here, but it has a more mellow feeling than anything else.
The show revolves around freshman student Sora Kajiwara who provides the narration for the episode as well. She's very aware that she's a shy girl who is easily flustered when she meets new people, and even those she's familiar with. Most things seem larger than life to her in some way, but she finds her peace in her sketchbook by drawing anything and everything that catches her eye. Her passion is drawing cats in their various forms, but like most living creatures they tend to not cooperate too well. But even with these animals she loves, she has something of a fear of them doing something. One scene shows her sketching a cat that's posed wonderfully for her, but the second it starts walking in her general direction she starts panicking over it. And not like you see in most series with it being exaggerated but more of a realistic controlled panic.
Through her narration we get an understanding of her love of sketching and why she prefers it over a camera, though sketching isn't always easy. The art club's current project is their toughest yet, at least from the students perspectives, as their instructor has told them to do something that they find interesting for the latest assignment. In the already under attended classroom, the students aren't sure what it is they should draw and there are some amusing internal discussions about it, such as how Hazuki's main interest these days is why a particular brand of miso dropped a hundred yen in price. Should she draw the miso? The new price? The hundred yen coin? It's an amusing insight into this character, as are the brief moments of sock puppet mastery by Natsumi who is trying to help her along in deciding.
Where the episode goes is likely an indication of what to expect as the series progresses. The kids head out into the world to see what interests them so they can sketch their project. Through this we meet other students that will have more of an impact later on as well as getting to see a bit more of Fukuoka. There are some comedy moments along the way and the silliness that comes from slice of life situations, such as putting too much of something on your food and so forth. It's very light and almost wispy, but it fits well with the characters and with the way Sora is. She drives the nature of the show and it's good to see that even as we get quirky characters introduced, nobody is obnoxiously loud or overbearing. They all feel more real world than not when it comes to their personalities.
There's a certain kind of mood and atmosphere that drives a show like this in the slice of life genre, one that easily puts off a segment of fans. Sometimes there are crossover shows, but I don't think Sketchbook ~full color's~ is one of those shows. It's got some beautiful animation from Hal Film Maker and I like the character designs a lot, but it's going to be almost too laid back for people looking for a bit more cohesiveness to their story. I liked what I saw here and am looking forward to more, but it hasn't won me over yet. Sora's an interesting lead character though and while there is the obvious setup of a potential romantic partner of some kind, it's not beating you over the head with it either. Cute, simple and sweet sums it up which is likely the entire intent.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.