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Manga / Sketchbook

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Kajiwara Sora and her friends in the art club sketch what they see and make observations on life. That's really all there is to it. Sketchbook features beautiful scenery, plenty of feel-good moments, and cats. Can't forget the cats. It's just the kind of series that puts a smile on your face.

Sketchbook is a Slice of Life manga written by Totan Kobako, which originally ran in the Shonen anthology Monthy Comic Blade from 2003 to 2014, and resumed serialization in Monthly Comic Garden 2014 onwards. A Thirteen Episode Anime, titled Sketchbook ~full color'S~, aired in the Fall 2007 anime season.

After 17 years of serialization, Sketchbook ended its 208 chapter run in 2019.

For more stories about wacky art classes, compare running mates Hidamari Sketch and GA Geijutsuka Art Design Class.


Sketchbook contains examples of:

  • Adaptation Distillation: The manga consists largely of Japanese word jokes, but only some surrounding Kate found their way into the anime. At the same time...
  • Adaptation Expansion: The stories that did find their way into the anime had more gags and runtime devoted to them, to the point where they feel like very different versions.
  • Alternate Character Reading: The Suzukaze of "Suzukaze Combo" can also be read as "Ryoufuu", the names of both members of the group.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • Additional information about the characters, their situations, and what they do outside of school come in volume extras. You'll rarely see it occur in the manga itself.
    • All of the sexes of the cats are available in the fanbook. To make a long story short, Milk, U, and Doku are undetermined, Kuma is male, and the rest are female.
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  • Animal Talk: There are times where Mike and the other cats are given some screen time and we hear what they’re saying. It’s established that they can’t communicate with humans other than with writing. This is especially imperative when Sora gets sick and is trying to feed Mike and Haa spoiled sardines and they can’t tell her the food has gone bad.
  • Anime Accent Absence: Averted with Kate, also combined with Surprisingly Good English.
  • Author Appeal: The mangaka seems to be quite fond of cats and apparently knows quite a bit about animals in general—especially bugs and fish.
  • Balloon Belly: Natsumi in episode 12.
  • Beach Episode:
    • Chapter 79 serves as this for the club, but they have theirs towards the end of summer. It goes about as wacky as you would expect.
    • Another Beach Episode happens in Chapter 138.
  • Beautiful All Along: When Tsukiyo puts up her hair in the manga, nobody recognizes the girl with the pretty face.
    • Also Asaka when she untied her hair.
  • Blinding Bangs: Tsukiyo.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: Kurihara is once asked about the number of whiskers a catfish has—whether it's four or six in total. The answer is both, but they have four when young and six when matured.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Ryou and Fuu are both quite good at studying, but their grades end up terrible because they always write joke responses instead of actual answers.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
    • Ryou and Fuu tend to talk to the audience at regular intervals. This doesn't bother the other characters too much since those two are already known to be rather ... eccentric.
    • One of the cats chapters has Buchi give the strays a translator device. The device actually gives off bits of trivia the author forgot to mention previously...not that the cats really get that.
  • Brought to You by the Letter "S": Ogi's Mega Neko Mop has a marking that looks like an "M" on its forehead, something that Sora immediately notices and laughs about.
  • Bungling Inventor: Kamiya is good at construction, but her inventions are always strange or impractical.
  • Call-Back: Kuga covering herself in the art room curtains in chapter 65 echoes a rather infamous scene in chapter 34 when she does the same while meeting Shibata, and again in Chapter 143 where she just runs around in the curtain.
  • Canada, Eh?: While it rarely comes up, Kate is Canadian and sometimes mentions places in Canada. She, however, doesn't even remember her own home country's capital city.
  • Canon Immigrant: Minamo, Daichi's little sister, first appeared in the anime adaptation, but was introduced into the manga about two years later in chapter 97. They had to do a minor explanation for new readers when she showed up again.
  • Catchphrase: Sora's "uh huh".
  • Cat Smile: Kurihara Nagisa is never seen without one.
  • Character Development: EVERY single character goes through this, but it applies most to Sora. Compare to how she introduces herself to Natsumi, Hazuki, and Kate to how she introduces herself to the waitress at the diner in the last episode.
  • Charm Point: Mentioned in Kuma's first scene. He finds that his best points are his wide and spaced out facial features.
  • Cherry Blossoms: One of the funniest scenes involves a cherry blossom viewing party.
  • Christmas Episode: Chapter 154, though it takes place on December 6th. Instead they replace a "Christmas" celebration with one for St. Nicholas Day (which is held on the 6th), but largely treat it the same as a Christmas party.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Ryou and Fuu, although most of the cast is a bit wacky.
    • Arguably Sora fits just as well.
      • The big difference is that Ryou and Fuu seem to do it on purpose, for fun. Sora doesn't notice there's something off with herself.
    • Kokage has her moments as well.
    • In fact, it'd probably be faster to list the characters who aren't Cloudcuckoolanders.
  • Class Trip: The Art Club eventually has their club camp, but their funding is so little that Kasugano has all the students board up and take a bus...back to school.
  • Clucking Funny: P-chan, Kasugano-sensei's pet, which goes everywhere with her, even school.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Sora, upon finding an unfamiliar bug, decides to call it a korogisu because it looked like a grasshopper (kirigisu) and a cricket (koorogi). As Kurihara can attest, that is the bug's (a Prosopogryllacris japonica) actual name.
  • Cute Kitten: A Five Cat Cast by the mid volumes—Mike, Haa, Grey, Kuma, and Buchi, who all get their fair share of strips and focus episodes. There's a few other cats that show up in the manga too.
    • Ironically, by the logic of their universe, this trope is subverted. The cats that get most of the screen time are stated to be ugly, or very unconventionally attractive, which Sora likes. The only explicitly cute cat in universe, Yutanpo/Nise (Mike the 2nd), is often ignored by the other cats and the narrative in the early series.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Kokage.
  • Demoted to Extra: Tsukiyo Ooba's role, already not that big in the manga, has been assigned only a few seconds of spoken dialogue in the anime—which is a shame, since she is a genuinely funny character.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Played for laughs when Kurihara introduces a kind of planarian and mentions that it can regenerate parts of it that get cut off. Kate promptly pulls out a box cutter knife while smiling happily.
    Narration box: Kate had a very angelic smile.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": Mike is a calico, or mike in Japanese. Other calicoes fall under this as well, but for the purposes of identification they call those calicoes another name.
  • Evolving Credits: Changes slightly depending on the cast.
  • Eyes Always Shut: The club president and Juju. Also Asakura-sensei, who appears in the manga from time to time and does magic tricks.
    • Lampshaded—when the art club goes to see fireworks, they all decide to squint at the fireworks and see what that looks like. No one can tell if these two are squinting or not.
  • Failed a Spot Check:
    • In Chapter 102, Kamiya and her sister Sekka start putting up fliers for Kuma, thinking he got lost after he doesn't come home for five days. In comes Raika with Kuma in tow, wishing them luck in putting up missing posters for the cat in his hands.
    • One chapter has Kamiya make a device that lets bikers do turn signals when they ride, so they don't have to take their hands off the handlebars. It's only seconds after she showcases it to president Ujyou that she realizes her device still needs at least one hand to operate, making the whole effort redundant.
  • Family Theme Naming: "Sora" means "sky". Sora's brother is called "Ao", which means "blue".
  • Festival Episode: Chapter 54 serves as this, with the Art Club of course attending.
  • First Name Surname First Name: In the final episode, this is how Sora introduces herself to the waitress.
    • Well, Asou was gonna introduce her to the waiter before she interrupts and says this trope because of it.
  • Flying Saucer: In "Mike-san and Flying Objects", Mike becomes convinced that she saw a UFO and ends up discussing the nomenclature of it with Haa and Kuma.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Ao and Sora's relationship in a nutshell. While Ao is the younger brother, he's constantly exasperated by Sora's antics and airheaded nature, usually playing her minder at home.
  • Forgettable Character: Ooba's series-wide gag is that nobody in the club can remember her. She eventually takes some measure of pride in this fact, even congratulating Sora for capturing her lack of essence in the final cast image (i.e. Sora forgot to include Ooba in the drawing at all).
  • Friend to All Living Things: Subverted in that the cats don't view Sora as such. Double subverted at the end of episode 11. Played straight with Kurihara's love for all things living.
  • Fukuoka Regional Accent: Natsumi. Strange enough, nobody else talks this way, even though the series takes place in Fukuoka.
  • Funny Foreigner: Kate. Her cat Buchi counts as this for the feline cast.
  • Generic Cuteness: Many of the female characters can be hard to tell apart other than hairstyle in the yonkoma, especially since they tend to make blob-faces a lot.
  • Genki Girl: Kate is a highly energetic person in any language.
  • Goldfish Scooping Game: Sora decides to think of it as "goldfish saving" (the same in Japanese). She then decides it sounds better without the "goldfish" part.
  • Gratuitous English: Kate, being the English speaking foreigner, often exclaims things in her native language. She also has quite a bit of Intentional Engrish for Funny in addition to her heavily accented Japanese in the anime.
  • High School Rocks: Sora's fellow club members and teachers may be eccentric, but they're also absolute sweethearts.
  • Hive Mind: Ryou and Fuu, elevated to sometimes creepy levels in the anime.
  • How Is That Even Possible?: Ryou and Fuu, in their typical way, even make Othello a crazy game. They once had a tie that involved a clean black/white split across the board. Negishi responds with the trope name in perplexion.
  • Huge Schoolgirl: Juju, although it doesn't particularly bother her or the others.
  • Inner Monologue: The main reason Sora even needs a voice actor.
  • Irony: During a drive home, Kasugano finds a sign that warns against the temptation of looking to the sides while driving...when the sign itself was just on the side of her peripheral vision.
  • Iyashikei
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover:
    • Sora doesn't officially have a cat (Hangou is just a stray that likes coming over), but she's your typical Friend to All Living Things...however, the cats are all afraid of her because she keeps giving them expired food, which her brother calls her out on. Not that she's aware of their displeasure, of course.
    • Ujyou turns out to be a cat magnet in Chapter 107, and he doesn't even have to bait them with food.
  • Large Ham: Tsukiyo tends to be... rather melodramatic.
  • Last Episode, New Character: Tsukiyo and Soyogi-sensei in the anime.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: When Ueno expresses some disgust at a particularly odd colored fish, Asou tells him to start thinking of things in monochrome to ignore the weird palette.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: Every single name Sora christens the stray cats with takes on this form. Best seen when she formally names Hokuro and Hige, who have a splotches that look like a mole and a mustache respectively.
  • Literal Metaphor: Chapter 110 features Kamiya making a mouse firework into a literal mouse shape. She does note the irony that regular mouse fireworks were called such because they scuttled along the ground like mice, yet hers is stationary.
  • Look, a Distraction!: During the club dodgeball game, Kuga manages to score an out on Ujyou by making him think a cat was brushing up near him. Kuga being weak, she only barely manages the victory by having the ball scrape the side of his arm.
  • Lost in Translation: A lot of the early scans of the series translate many Japanese puns literally. They have notes explaining the joke, at the very least. For example:
    • Buchi asks Haa the directions to "Canada Town" (full English), the area where he lives. What he's actually trying to look for is Kanada-machi, the Fukuoka town.
    • A good number of the jokes about animals rely on the Japanese pronunciation of their names, such as the one listed under Contrived Coincidence above.
  • Luminescent Blush: In the final episode, the shy Sora's entire face turns a luminescent red as her teacher compliments her artwork.
  • Mega Neko: Kuma is a rather fat cat, and by and large the biggest of the feline cast.
  • Money Dumb: Zigzagged. Hazuki is always trying to penny-pinch and conserve money as much as possible—because she impulse-buys cute things and doesn't have much left over for stuff like food or supplies.
  • No Cartoon Fish: Insects and other creepy-crawlies, including fish, tend to be drawn in a more realistic style—unless it's funny.
  • No Communities Were Harmed: Although never mentioned explicitly, the series appears to take place in Shime, Fukuoka.
  • No Ending: The final published chapter wasn't very conclusive for the story nor for anyone's character arcs. While it did feature quite a few side characters coming back for the occasion, the chapter itself was just about a party celebrating the addition of two new members of the club, with the extra comic afterwards explaining the existence of the final chapter's color page/magazine cover.
  • No Hugging, No Kissing: It's a coed art club, but there's very little, if at all romance going on between the members. The most one gets towards that development is Kasugano throwing some Ship Tease towards Negishi and Kuga, but that's it.
  • No Mouth: Kokage is depicted without one, which the other characters mention is a "poker face". Her eyes still make expressions besides her usual half-lidded stare, sometimes.
  • Noodle People: Appear commonly in manga. Especially when characters are in shock or disbelief.
  • No True Scotsman: Joked about in Chapter 11; Sora looks at the stray cats who don't respond to the toy she presents them with, and ponders if they "aren't really cats" since it's such a popular cat toy.
  • Obfuscating Insanity: Word of God (in the notes), says that the socially-awkward Kuga pretends to be stranger than she actually is as a way of communicating with others, although pretending to be strange has become part of her nature.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Asou eventually figures out that Kate's bewilderment at the Japanese language is at least partially feigned for laughs.
  • Older Than They Look: Daichi’s little sister is frequently mistaken for being an elementary student when she’s actually a middle school student. During the tree viewing, she wears her school uniform so that people would believe her.
  • Once an Episode: You can't truly get through a chapter without Kurihara discussing animal facts.
  • One Dialogue, Two Conversations: During the second beach trip, Asakura talks about a school of manybar goldfish (ojisan) that Kurihara found. Kasugano misunderstood and thought she was talking about a group of human ojisan (old men), which only made her more confused as Asakura describes the fishes' children being captured and thrown back into the ocean.
  • One Steve Limit: There is more than one "Mike-san" that exists in the story, and even more than one per district; however, Kajiwara's cat Yutanpo (also a calico like Mike) is referred to as Nise to avoid confusion. Other calicoes referred to as "Mike-san" are here referred to as Tama and Doku.
  • Otaku: Kurihara Nagisa, one of the rare examples of an otaku about something other than anime. She likes nature, especially insects.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: For an Art Club, they don't do much art. Occasionally they will get supplies for their work or try to make a piece, but for the most part they will talk about other topics or have fun. Lampshaded in Chapter 54:
    Ryou: When you think about it, it's a bit of a mystery whether or not everyone is doing art.
    • Even the final chapter gets in on this, with new club member Kirishima admitting that she was interested in the Art Club but didn't expect to actually do art there.
  • Phenotype Stereotype: Kate, more so in the anime than the manga.
  • Precious Puppies: Inuo, a bit of a clueless pup and one of our token recurring dogs in a cast of cats (alongside Kuro).
  • The Quiet One: Sora, who's actually the protagonist. Though she does Inner Monologue to the audience quite often.
    • In the manga, there's no confirmation as to whether or not she ever speaks at all. None of her dialogue (if it is that) is conveyed with speech bubbles.
  • Real-Place Background: The anime contains locations from the city of Fukuoka, but the show proper takes place in Shime, a nearby former mining town. Shime's old coal mine winding tower is often used as a backdrop.
  • Recognition Failure: Sora has problems recognizing her own best friends when they change their hairstyles. On the other hand, she can easily tell the difference between four calico stray cats by their faces.
  • Refusal of the Call: Kirishima and Ogi repeatedly deny joining the Art Club throughout the series despite being somewhat cast regulars. They finally relent in the very last chapter.
  • Right in Front of Me: When Natsumi comments on Hazuki's increasing lack of presence come Chapter 133, she says that the latter is becoming more like Ooba. While Hazuki has her worries about badmouthing Ooba behind her back, they ultimately let it slide since she's not in the room...or so they think, because in true Ooba fashion, she's right behind them without them noticing.
  • Running Gag:
    • Sora renaming the fat cat that lives around her on a whim. It gets Running Gagged when she settles on naming him Hangou.
    • Kamiya coming up with crazy art projects playing on words or just for fun.
    • Kasugano breaking art supplies with her antics.
  • Scenery Porn: The anime moreso than the manga, but when the cast goes outside the series really likes to hammer in the beauty of nature.
  • Schoolgirl Series: There are a few male characters that get quite a bit of focus, but the anime focuses on Sora, Hazuki, and Natsumi while the manga focuses on everybody, who just so happen to have a bigger proportion of girls to boys. Kasugano's Manchild personality and the focus on the wackiness of the art room cement this series as a Schoolgirl one.
  • Sensei-chan: Kasugano-sensei. Kurihara-sensei to a lesser extent.
  • Ship Tease: In the anime's version of the in-school training camp, Kasugano waxes hypothetical about Kuga and Negishi getting together. While Negishi denies that anything is going to happen, Kuga looks away and softly responds that she doesn't dislike him.
  • Shout-Out:
    • To ARIA, with the "president" of the Aria Company as the mascot of a bowling center. Also, at the very end of the last episode, there's a picture of President Aria and Akari meeting Mike and Sora.
    • A discussion about Paracerura tattaka turns into a shoutout to Hamtaro in the manga.
    • Sensei is shown singing Yuki Nagori's "Iruka" in order to pass the time away waiting for her instant ramen to cook.
    • According to the extras, the sock puppet Kerokichi is made to resemble the Fraggle Rock muppets.
    • In chapter 60, Tori mentions that the pose she made opening an automatic door looked like one of Ken Shimura's poses.
    • In Chapter 91, Sora mistakes the nagatogariba moth for Nagato Gulliver.
    • The song Sasaki sings for Minamo in one chapter features lyrics to the Japanese theme song of The Impossibles.
  • Shown Their Work: Some of the insects seen later are discussed in the notes.
  • Shy Blue-Haired Girl: In the anime, Sora plays this trope completely straight. (In the manga, her hair is just drawn black, but it's still blue in colored pages and covers.)
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Daichi and his sister Minamo. He’s very grumpy, gets loud when he’s mad, and is reluctant to be around Inuo while his sister is cheerful, doesn’t get mad, and loves being around Inuo.
  • Something Completely Different: episode 5 and a good chunk of Shuuchoban, done from the cats' point of view.
  • Stating the Simple Solution:
    • Kasugano loves cooking things on a gas grill, and shown to do it multiple times. In comes Asakura, who tells her fellow teacher to use the stove they already have in school.
    • When Ryou, Fuu, and Sora make sushi, Negishi pulls out an electric fan to help cool off the rice faster. Sora, who liked using a hand fan for the endeavor, gets mad at him for suggesting it.
  • Stealth Insult: When Sasaki explains the basics of music notation to Minamo, the latter praises her for her knowledge "despite how [she] usually looks" like a space case.
  • Surprisingly Good English: Kate and her cat Buchi have pretty decent use of the language in the series, though there are some hiccups at times.
  • Token Mini-Moe: Minamo.
  • Those Two Guys:
    • Ryou and Fuu are rarely seen without each other; which is rather a good thing, considering their very different style of humor from the rest of the cast.
    • The Going Home Club members and Sora's classmates, Kirishima and Ogi, are also a pair of this type.
  • Two-Teacher School: Kasugano and Asakura are about the only important faculty members to mention in this series. Somewhat justified on account of it focusing on the Art Club, of which Kasugano is the advisor for and Asakura is a veteran of.
  • The Unintelligible: Gure (or Grey), who can only meow (probably because he's the youngest).
  • Verbal Tic Name: Woo is called such by Sora because that's the sound his cries make when he talks.
  • Visual Pun: At times, Kamiya likes to make art pieces as literal versions of phrases or names. For example, she made a ballpoint pen as a ball with a pen tip stickijg out of it, and a mouse firework in the shape of a mouse.
  • Wacky Homeroom: Wacky Art Club, same thing.
  • Why Are You Looking at Me Like That?: Kasugano gets some accusatory stares from her students in Chapter 81 when they find that one of the club busts is broken. Well, sure, she did it, but they didn't need to jump to that conclusion so soon.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?:
    • Juju Sasaki is terrified of caterpillars, though she develops a tolerance for the cuter ones, as long as they don't touch her.
    • Kurihara loves nature, and collects things like insects and reptiles. But even she draws the line at yellowjackets.
  • Yonkoma
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: The anime versions of the characters have much more saturated hair colors compared to the colored manga illustrations. Natsumi, for example, has her brown hair turned into a dark pink.

Alternative Title(s): Sketchbook Full Colors


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