Thank you, thank you George R. for providing us with another guest review. My head is exploding and I’m running out of the house, and like magic, there in my inbox is a review. Phew. Anyway, once again, our applause and thanks to guest Reviewer here at Okazu, George!
After enjoying Memories Off 2nd ~ Precious Hearts, I decided to find more that Higurashi Chaboh had written. A novelization of Hidamari Sketch caught my eye. I enjoyed the manga (the first three volumes are out in English as Sunshine Sketch, Volume 1 and Volume 2 have been reviewed here on Okazu) and was curious to see how the transition from 4-koma comic to light novel would work, so into my amazon.co.jp cart went Hidamari Sketch: Youkoso Hidamarisou E (ひだまりスケッチノベル―ようこそひだまり荘へ.
The illustrations are spot on, though few, but that’s to be expected since Aoki Ume, the original manga-ka, did them. While they’re good pictures of the characters, they don’t illustrate events in the story.
I feel the strength of Hidamari Sketch lies in the characters and their interactions as they go about their daily lives. This holds true for the novel as well. If you’re looking for a deep, involved plot, this is not the place to find it. But I still find myself entranced by the residents of Hidamari-sou.
This novel also begins with Yuno getting ready to move in and start high school. This is her first time living on her own, and both she and her parents have to make an effort to let go. They do, and Yuno is able to have a fun and busy time in her new apartment.
We’re then introduced to the rest of the residents as we follow Miyako as she wanders around seeking fun and food. Miyako lets nothing get between her and food, going so far as to ask Yuno for hikkoshi-soba, the noodle dish that instead should be given _to_ Yuno on her moving in. While some readers enjoy Miyako, I find myself sympathizing with Sae’s irritation at her antics. She does keep things lively, though. Thankfully the other characters make up for her.
Sae and Hiro, the two upper-classmen living at Hidamari-sou, make a nice couple, though what form their feelings for each other take is never explicitly stated. In addition to being a schoolgirl, Sae is a published author. Thanks to Hiro’s care and feeding last year, she was able to finish her prize-winning story and turn pro. Since then Hiro has become an indispensable part of Sae’s personal life as well
as her literary creation.
In addition to caring for Sae, Hiro becomes the defacto “mother” of our little “family” at Hidamari-sou. Miyako even refers to her as Oku-sama (someone else’s wife or mother). This naturally leads to Sae being called Otou-san (dad), much to the embarrassment or annoyance of Hiro and Sae. If Sae and Hiro are the “parents,” then Yuno and Miyako fill the roll of “children,” with Miyako being an lively and sometimes irritating sibling to the cheerful but unsure Yuno.
I like the way Higurashi-sensei chooses to flesh out the characters by giving Yuno and Miyako the school assignment to draw portraits of people they care for or feel grateful to, and to put these feelings into their drawing.
We get to know Yoshinoya-sensei better when she comes over for a “home visit” to Yuno and Miyako. She seems completely focused on two things, cosplay and her students, almost to the exclusion of all else. She’s an interesting foil for the others, and is probably the most immature of the bunch. For example, she figures that an unoccupied room in Hidamari-sou that the landlady neglected to lock is free for her to store her various costumes in. If it weren’t for her genuine care for her students, I’d be have a much lower opinion of her.
The last adventure of the novel has Yuno taking care of Yuta-kun, the child of the landlady’s friend. Miyako stops by and drags them both through the fun of a game of hide-and-seek which ends up bringing in Hiro and Sae as it runs through their rooms. Everyone has a fun time, especially Yuta, and Yoshinoya-sensei even comes by and captures a group photo of them all as a memento for him.
Art – 6
Story – 6
Characters – 8
Yuri – 1
Service – 1
Overall – 7
I had a good time reading this novel, even though “nothing happens” in it. All the characters are firmly planted in my mind, and I’m looking forward to meeting them again in the second novel. Yes, I enjoyed this enough to buy the next one. I share Erica’s wish to see further Yuri adventures of Sae and Hiro, though I doubt these will appear in the second novel. I’d also like to share a meal with the girls,
talking about cooking with Hiro, writing with Sae (and also read her work, though it would embarrass her) and art in general with the others.