I really intended on writing my own review today. Then I ended up sacrificing some hours to the gods of Tech Support and by the time I was done, I just couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t. Sorry. Bravely, George R. has leapt into the gap to save my shattered nerves and so, I commend him and his review to your care. It’s all yours, George!
I enjoyed the first Hidamari Sketch novel enough to go right on and try the second one, and I was not disappointed. Hidamari Sketch: Hidamari School Life (ひだまりスケッチ―ひだまりSchool Life) concentrates on Yuno’s life at school, as opposed to the first one at her apartment. We are again treated to a set of short stories, where the characters are the focus, not the action.
Autumn has come to Hidamari-sou and tomorrow is the day for everyone to change from summer to winter school uniforms. I’ve always been amused that the Japanese schools change their uniforms according to the calendar regardless of what the weather may actually be. Apparently consistency schedules trump practicality.
Aoki Ume, the manga-ka, has again done the illustrations. Each of the four chapter illustrations show one of the characters partly wearing the blazer of their winter uniform, as if they aren’t sure if it’s suitable for the current weather or not. Their characters clearly show through in they way they handle their blazers.
I like the way Yuno still looks at the world with innocent pleasure, and enjoys simple things like her new uniform. This gets her thinking of how she might grow during the rest of her school career, though maybe only a few millimeters. She even tries out standing on cushions to see how the world will look from a taller perspective.
The other residents of Hidamari-sou are fun to meet again. Miyako is as off-the-wall and full of energy and appetite as always. She has a good heart, but ends up causing trouble and amusement. Sae and Hiro are the “Yuri couple” that everyone knows of, though this is more told to us and hinted at than actually shown. In fact, if you take off your Yuri Goggles and tilt your head, all the Yuri can disappear.
In addition to new uniforms, Autumn brings falling leaves. As Yuno and Miyako rake them up at school, Miyako’s thoughts naturally turn to food, in this case roasting potatoes in a bonfire. Miyako’s solution to the school forbidding this is to bag the leaves up and have the bonfire at Hidamari-sou. Yoshinoya-sensei joins them as do Hiro and Sae, though Hiro only agrees to join if Sae promises to keep her from overeating. They all try the potatoes and agree the leaves lend an especially good taste (they sounded so good I made baked potatoes for dinner). The principal comes by and tells them they shouldn’t be doing this unsupervised (I agree Yoshinoya-sensei doesn’t quite count). They convince him to join them and help pass on this school tradition of roasting potatoes instead of stopping them.
Autumn also brings exams, and Yuno finds her room has too many distractions to let her study successfully there. Sae promises to help, and the four meet after school in the library. Yuno sees how each of them have different individual methods, and we are treated to some more teasing about Hiro supporting Sae while she’s writing her novels. Yuno finds that this environment and study partners really do help. Time comes for them to leave and Sae gives Yuno the “certain victory” she promised earlier, a collection of her and Hiro’s tests from last year as a study-aid. Their sempai helped them out in the same way last year.
A student teacher comes to Yuno and Miyako’s class to do her practice teaching. Maejima-sensei is polite and reserved, and Miyako thinks she looks a tall version of Yuno. Yoshinoya-sensei wanted to be her mentor, and she went to great effort cleaning up in preparation for her arrival. Her running around confused Miyako and Yuno, in fact. However, the principal puts Maejima under the teacher in her field, Modern Japanese.
Lunchtime in the cafeteria after Maejima’s first appearance is crowded, so Miyako invites her to join the Hidamari-four at their table. When she finds the four know each other from living at the same apartment, Maejima says she often visited friends living there while she was going to Yamabuki-high. Yoshinoya-sensei later joins the table, to Maejima’s delight. We find that she actually was Maejima’s inspiration to go into teaching.
When Maejima-sensei has finished her observing and stands up to try teaching the class, Yoshinoya bounds in to “help” with her combat nervousness. I think it’s actually her concern rather than the make-up that helps Maejima. Maejima does pretty well teaching until the principal and assistant sneak into back classroom door to observe. This quite flusters her, and it takes the attention and good wishes of the class to calm and restore her spirits so she can continue.
Maejima returns to the university after completing her classroom practice. She sends the class a letter thanking them for helping and inspiring her, both while she was there and with letters afterward. She closes thanking both the class and Yoshinoya-sensei and resolves to become a good teacher so she can return to Yamabuki-high.
I think Higurashi Chaboh manages to capture and maintain the essence of the characters, and they’re what drew me to Hidamari Sketch in the first place. Maejima fits well with the rest of the cast, in fact Higurashi-sensei was able to use her to improve my opinion of Miyako and Yoshinoya. Their interactions with her show they both have caring hearts under their annoying behaviors. These two are the favorite characters of some. I still find them annoying at times, but am happy to also see them in a better light.
Now, if only Higurashi-sensei would write a novel focusing on Sae and Hiro.
Art – 6
Story – 6
Characters – 8
Yuri – 1
Service – 1
Overall – 7
If light novels in Japanese aren’t your thing, I still recommend the Hidamari Sketch manga. The four-panel format doesn’t allow as full a story as a novel, but Yuno and friends are just as fun. Yen Press has done a good job with their English versions, too. Here are reviews of the first and second English volumes.
Erica here. Thank you George! This Light Novel sounds like a relaxed, pleasant time spent with characters we like to spend time with.