Sunshine Sketch, Vol. 9

By Ume Aoki. Released in Japan as “Hidamari Sketch” by Houbunsha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Manga Time Kirara Carat. Released in North America by Yen Press. Translated by Sheldon Drzka.

Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It’s been thirty-three months since my last Sunshine Sketch review. This is mostly as it’s been that long since the last volume – the series is coming out at a far slower pace now, so it’s taken a while to get the new volume to these shores. That said, it really doesn’t feel like we’ve been away. There’s not quite as much art class here, though we do see several of the student doubting their art progression. The majority of the volume is devoted either to the class trip that Yuno and Miyake and company take to Kansai, as well as visiting Hiro’s college and starting to think about where they want to go to school after graduation. Yuno shares the cover with Matsuri, the new girl introduced last time, and she seems to be nice, sort of like Miyako without the weirdness. It does beg the question, though: the series survived Sae and Hiro graduating, can it survive Yuno and Miyako too?

Of course, Sae and Hiro are at their nearby colleges, so they do manage to show up here as well, when Yun o and Miyako visit for an open campus tour. This allows us to get in several “lol, Hiro is pudgy” jokes, which aren’t very funny, as well as Hiro tossing Miyako like a caber in revenge, which is. As for the school trip, the characters of Nakayama and Mami, Yuno and Miyako’s classmates, are greatly expanded on here so that we can have the standard “we are in a group of four” field trip fun. Nakayama seems to be terrified of anything “naughty”, which leads to a few amusing gags, but Mami is more “generic friend”. The group visits temples, has pillow fights, etc., and we occasionally cut back to Nazuna and Nori, who are back at the apartments missing them.

Despite Sae and Hiro’s appearance, there’s little yuri tease there. Instead it comes from Natsume, who is also at college with Hiro and whose tsundere love for Sae does not really seem to have diminished, and Miyako, who does her best “Sae-san” impression a couple of times on Yuno, and we see that the subtext may not be quite as broad as it was before but it’s still there. At one point, it’s lampshaded that no one at the school is boy crazy at all. Funny, that. It’s almost like Ume Aoki knows what would make her lose a large portion of her audience. That said, for the most part this series is still meant for those who like 4-koma slice of life stuff, and runs on the charm of its main cast. Yuna and Miyako are still the best things in it. I’m hoping it won’t be another thirty-three months before the next volume.

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