Yuno and Miyako have been hanging out together for a pretty long time by the point that this latest episode of Hidamari Sketch rolls around - but just how much do they really know about one another?
It's this question which dominates the first half of this week's instalment, as the two of them use a class involving drawing their own hands and faces to ponder just how little they know about both one another and themselves despite all the time they've spent talking to one another. It's enough to make them both want to spend even more time chatting, leading to a sleepover (and in-depth discussion of curry eating practice) and some rather surprising compliments flying from both parties.
For the second half of the episode, our attention turns to Hiro, who is behaving in a manner anything but her usual self as she largely forgoes food and keeps relatively quiet. So, just what's bugging her? Perhaps inevitably, her thoughts are turning towards graduation and her future... a future that she seems entirely unwilling to embrace at present. So begins the single most emotional thing to come out of Hidamari Sketch - a reminder that nothing lasts forever and everything is fleeting, although such moments can be eased by good friends with good advice.
It's really the second half of this episode that stands out for me - as a reader of Yen Press' English releases of the original manga I knew this was coming, but Hiro's turmoil is an incredibly emotionally charged one on so many levels. For starters, picking Hiro - normally the "mother goose" of the group - as the girl unable to face change is striking in itself; then, on other levels, her realisation that one day she'll have to say goodbye to her high school life echoes our own deep-seated knowledge that one day this series will have to end; on yet another level, her troubles evoke memories of having to say goodbye to good friends and good times in my own past. To be honest, it made me cry in both manga and anime forms, and it's a beautifully quiet and subtle portrayal of something that everyone will most likely recognise from their own lives. If slice of life anime does one thing well, it's reminding you how close you've become to its characters at moments like this, and for a series so focused on (successfully) getting laughs it's done an expert job of getting under my skin and pulling my heartstrings here. It's a thing of beauty, but boy is it sad and poignant to consider - thank goodness that even these sad moments were also infused with just the right doses of considered, simple humour to ease us through.