The opening episode of Hidamari Sketch Hoshimittsu swelled the ranks of Hidamari Apartment's tenants to six with the introduction of Nazuna and Nori, so needless to say episode two of the series gives us at least a little more time to get to know this pair of new characters.
This (surprisingly brief, to be honest) introduction comes courtesy of what now seems to be a Hidamari Apartments tradition, with the new girls invited to a welcoming party which (of course) features sweets and cake aplenty... although not as many strawberries as first planned. Thanks for that, Miyako.
To break the ice, Miyako has cunningly devised what I can only call "the dice of conversation", inciting topics such as hamburgers and other random things. From this, we get a good idea of just how shy and unsure of herself Nazuna is, while Nori waxes lyrical about PCs and related subjects even though nobody else in the room can understand her. Nori, I feel your pain, welcome to almost every day of my existence. Anyhow, all of these little titbits pale into comparison to the big news which is revealed after the freshmen's opening ceremony - Nazuna isn't actually attending Yamabuki High as an art student at all, but rather for general education purposes instead. Nazuna then explains the exact series of events which led to her attending this particular school, while asserting that she's useful at pretty much everything that one needs to be good at to live alone - An admission that even seems to leave the other girls a bit stumped for what to do.
For the second half of the episode however we rewind back to the previous summer, and the pre-Nori/Nazuna days, as Miyako sets fire to her hair in an unfortunate barbecuing incident, leading to a decision by Yuno that they should both go and get a haircut. Off they head then to a local salon (complete with discount vouchers provided by Hiro, the queen of the store reward card) run by a pair of twins, and a period of haircut-related hilarity ensues. If nothing else, this serves as proof that Miyako can be quite the beauty with just more frequent use of conditioner.
So, here we are at the final paragraph, aka "the bit where I gush like a shocking fanboy about Hidamari Sketch". Again. Once more, this franchise seems to get everything just right, keeping its pacing sedate (but never overly so) while throwing in enough great visual and verbal gags to make an episode well, worth watching and watching again, be it Yunnochi's seemingly never-ending trip upwards in the salon chair or the wonders of Miyako's question game. To be honest, I thought this second episode would be dominated by newcomers Nazuna and Nori, but they were actually given quite short shrift here, and although their roles in the show have perhaps been cemented a little further it's still tricky to see exactly how they're going to fit into the grand scheme of things - The fact that Miyako had another round of her game ready to go for when the newbies left perhaps somewhat echoes the viewers sentiment that "hey, isn't it more fun when it's just us regulars around with nobody else to bother us?". Then again, sometimes I wonder if anything could possibly ruin Hidamari Sketch for me; it certainly seems like a pretty tall order at the moment.