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Category:    Home > Reviews > Anime > Animation > Slice Of Life > Comedy > Girls Life > Action > Adventure > Fantasy > Sports > Hidamari Sketch: Sae & Hiro Graduation (2013, plus 2 OVA Specials)/Onyx Equinox: Complete Collection (2020)/Taisho Baseball Girls: Complete Collection (2009/all Sentai Blu-rays

Hidamari Sketch: Sae & Hiro Graduation (2013, plus 2 OVA Specials)/Onyx Equinox: Complete Collection (2020)/Taisho Baseball Girls: Complete Collection (2009/all Sentai Blu-rays)

Picture: B/B/B+ Sound: B+/B+/C+ Extras: C Main Programs: B+/A-/A-

Now for more anime, including the latest in an ongoing series...

One thing in life is that life always changes, as graduation nears the girls of Hidamari Apartments realize that one day they will have to say good bye. After three years, Yuno has found friends and family at Hidamari Apartments, but now they have to say goodbye to Sae and Hiro in Hidamari Sketch: Sae & Hiro Graduation (2013.)

Hidamari Apartments is a boarding house for girls in art school, it is filled with eccentric girls and 'weirdos', they are funny and drive each other up the walls but, in the end, they become come friends, family and sisters for life. As Sae and Hiro near graduation, the girls hold back their tears and remember the times they shared... and hope one day they will be able to do the same for others in the years to come.

This was a short 2-episode OVA about the graduation of 2 of the characters from the series with a heartwarming farewell with a tear-jerking song reminding people of friendships and how times shared is precious. The series is based on short 4 panel comics. Extras include clean opening and closing animations and trailers, plus you can read about earlier releases in the series elsewhere on this site.

Episodes include:

Entrance Exam Sketch - As Sae and Hiro finish their finals, they wait to hear from the colleges they applied to see if they got in.

Graduation Sketch - Sae and Hiro remise about their first days at Hidamari Apartments and the girls prepare to say farewell.

The gods are at war fighting each other for blood sacrifices of the Aztecs, Olmec and Mayan. However, the God Quetzalcoati makes a bet with the God Tezcatlipoca that he will pick a champion to save humanity, the lowest of the low, to seal the gates to the underworld and stop the Gods of the Underworld. Izel, a young boy who recently lost his older sister to a human sacrifice is now told by the gods he must seal the gates to the underworld with Onyx which is toxic to the gods, however if he fails, humanity will be erased in Onyx Equinox: Complete Collection (2020.)

Izel curses the god for taking his sister when she took his place as a sacrifice to the god, only this time it's war. For the gods to go to war with one another would require even more blood sacrifices. The gods send a mystical jaguar Yaotl to guide Izel, but all Izel wants is to join his sister in death, or have his sister returned from the land of the dead. Izel is joined by twin brothers Yun and Kin controlling a magic ball together. Zyanya is a Zapotec huntress cursed with a monster's body and strength. And finally, Xanastaku a girl blessed with mystic magic to heal and fly.

This is a 'Western' animation, (not quite anime) it's style is similar to Korra the Avatar about non-Western characters and culture. The series is well drawn and has a very interesting story. However, the series is for a mature crowd with violence, characters being dismembered, nudity and swearing. While the story was rich, it is not surprising it was reviewed more harshly by Western/American critics because they are afraid of non-Western ideas, the adult subject matter and minority main characters. It was a pity they didn't make a second season. Extras include trailers.

Episodes include:

The Last Day - The God of the Underworld, Mictlantechutli destroys an entire city stealing the blood of all the humans and starts war with the gods. Izel is a boy who recently lost his kind older sister to the human sacrifice to appease the Gods to protect them. He tries to commit suicide, but instead he is saved by the gods.

Jaws of the Jaguar - Quetzalcoati make a bet with Tezcatlipoca on the fate of humanity. Izel is saved by Yaotl, an emissary of the gods to help him seal the gates to the underworld.

Thicker than Water - Izel is sent to find a mystic artifact to lead him to the gates, but meets again the man who sold him and his sister to slavery. He joined by Yun and Kin after their city is attacked and destroyed by monsters.

The Stranger - Izel, Yun and Kin are saved by the mysterious Zyanya who tells them she will help them if they come and save her city and her people. But Zyanya has secrets of her own.

Predation - Izel, Yun, Kin and Zyanya are hunted and injured by killer apes but they get help from a mysterious witch.

What She Carries - Izel, Yun, Kin and Zyanya find themselves teleported to a city where people have wings and they are taken prisoners. They meet Xanastaku a young girl with mystic powers, they manage to seal the gate under her city, she leaves with them.

The Underworld - Izel and his friends get transported to the underworld and they must find a way out.

Run - Zyanya returns to her city, but they discover she made a terrible deal with the god of the underworld. She is given the body of a monster and told to bring Izel to him in exchange for her people. They fight and defeat Mictlantechti only to discover it was all planned by the Queen of the Dead, Tzitzimiti.

Death From Above - Izel and his friends find sanctuary in a village protected by the sacred rivers, but then the village is attack by demons from the sky and completely destroyed down to the last child.

Death From Below - Izel and his friends after suffering so much and seeing so much destruction head towards the last gate.

The Last Year - The past of Yaotl is revealed, he was once human and the lover of Tzitzimiti. Everything was planned by Tzitzimiti to free Yaoti's soul and recover his memory.

and The Bet - Izel and his friends learn about the bet of the Gods. And their lives were only playthings for the Gods amusements. Izel makes a choice, that the Gods were wrong and they are no longer going to follow the will of the Gods. Instead, they reject the gods and fight against all gods.

Finally, girls can play baseball too! After the war, baseball was one of the few things that Japanese were allowed to keep their spirits alive. It's 1925, and Japan is in the middle of reinventing itself and westernizations. But it is still a male dominated society, Akiko and Koume begin an all-girls baseball team going against traditions, when it was still considered 'immodest' for girls to play sports in Taisho Baseball Girls: Complete Collection (2009.)

Japan was changing, with westernizations and new technologies, trading in traditional clothes for suits, kimonos for sailor suits... but girls were still expected to stay at home and become good house wives. Akiko and Koume start a baseball team after learning Akiko's fiancee told her that he believes girls should belong in the kitchen. The girls gather together to prove that girls can play just as well as boys.

This was a slice of life anime and about breaking stereotypes a group of high school girls starting something new, just because it's never be done before doesn't mean it's wrong. Extras include Tokyo Bushi, clean opening and closing animations and trailers.

Episodes include:

That Which the Boys Do - Koume meets Akiko who asks her if she would like to start and form an all-girls baseball team.

A Long, Loversick Spring Day - Koume and Akiko search for other girls who will join the baseball team.

Nine Girls Take Their Place - The girls play their first game, but lose and begin to understand how much harder they have to work if they want to compete with the boys.

From Here - After a crushing defeat, the girls get depressed and Koume must find a way to reignite the spirit of the girls to not give up.

Days of Racing Through Flowers & Butterflies - The girls begin their baseball bootcamp and training, but before they start playing, they need to find a 9th girl to fill their missing position.

The Ball Flies About the Field - The girls begin practicing and learning about baseball by practicing with an elementary baseball team.

Girlish Pranks in the Streets of Azabu - The girls sneak out at night to challenge random baseball players to a baseball 'showdown'.

Star of Azabu - Koume is recruited to fill in a stand in part for a movie part to the other girl's jealousy.

A Restaurant Full of Misunderstandings - After finding a baseball picture of a boy in Koume's room, Koume's father thought Koume has a crush on another boy.

What Am I Supposed To Do? - It's before the big game and of course, the girls have a 'special' training camp at a hot spring and a 'test of courage'.

Totally on Edge Despite Ourselves - Akiko's mother finds out about Akiko on the baseball team and grounds her, it's up to Koume to rescue her and bring her to the final game.

and Covered in Dust & Dirt - The girls play off with the high school boys, but can they prove girls are just as good as boys?

Now for playback performance. The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers in all three cases look really good, making us again wonder if Sentai will ever make any 4K discs. Onyx has an especially good, rich use of color. All three also use DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless mixes in Japanese only, save Onyx, in English only. Oddly, it is Taisho that is sonically lacking, which is a shame since it looks so good.

- Ricky Chiang


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