Type: TV Series + Specials
Episode Count: 13 + 6
Genre: Slice of Life / Comedy
Vintage: 2007 / 2008
Version reviewed: Japanese, Subtitled
Date of Review: 31 Mar 2016
The grammatically incorrect apostrophe appears in the title card for this series, and all promotional materials, so that is how I have presented it here.
More slice of life perfection.
Sora Kajiwara always carries her sketchbook wherever she goes, in case she sees something she wants to draw. A shy and quiet girl, she is part of the Art Club at school and, when not chasing cats, enjoys her days with her two best friends: Natsumi and Hazuki.
Once more, a slice of life series proves to be as difficult to review as it is simple. While preparing for this review, I did find something interesting out about Sketchbook, which only confirmed something I’ve long suspected in general when it comes to anime. As I watched the original Japanese commercials promoting the series, I noted the time it aired: around 1am. There are indeed anime series produced with the intention of airing them during the dead of night, and in the case of Sketchbook, that makes full sense with how it is paced and presented. At such a late hour, sometimes you just want something which doesn’t require recalling intricate plotlines. Sketchbook is as easygoing as an anime series gets. Watching it is quite relaxing indeed.
Sketchbook has no overarching story to speak of. Even the passing of the school year doesn’t really play into it, other than showing what kinds of things the characters can do depending on what time of year it is. As usual with slice of life shows, it’s the cast which propels the show, and Sketchbook’s is a fun one. It begins with Sora (voiced by none other than Kana Hanazawa), who is shy, quiet, and just a bit spacy. She is easily distracted by cats, and they are her favorite subject to draw. She also has her own unique trademark of a vocally reinforced double nod. This comes as little surprise, being a series directed by Junichi Sato, whose leads often have their own peculiar little phrases.
The rest of the cast is equally fun to watch. Sora’s friend Natsumi is easily excitable and loves puppets, always bringing a pair with her everywhere she goes. Completing the main trio is Hazuki, who is always minding her change purse and acting as the voice of reason. Later on, they are joined by a Canadian girl named Kate, who amuses with her somewhat broken Japanese. The Art Club’s faculty advisor Hiyori is your standard lazy adult, always wanting her students to have fun even if she can’t afford to give them proper outings. She also loves chickens. A lot. I also enjoyed the just plain weird upperclass students Fuu and Ryou. There’s also the dark Kokage, who has an interesting sense of humor. All of these characters and more (including side stories featuring talking cats) make the world of Sketchbook a delight.
The DVD release of the series also includes six short picture dramas which tell their own side story. These are done in an animation style recreating paper puppets on sticks, making them fun to watch as well.
Sketchbook ~full color’S~ is a great little series, even if it has an unnecessary apostrophe in its title. Slice of life fans don’t need to be sold on it, as it’s a sure bet. If you haven’t gotten your fill of high school art students from Hidamari Sketch, Sketchbook should be next on your list of shows to watch.