Synchronise watches! Just as we roll on through December here in the real world, so Hidamari Sketch also makes its way onwards towards Christmas in this week's episode.
For starters, that means some snow for the the Hidamari Apartments gang to enjoy, and although Yoshinoya's latest outfit isn't particularly conducive to enjoying the cold weather Yuno and Miyako seem to know how to make the best of it, even if it involves making up a game that involves both a snowball fight and studying at the same time. Indeed, from this point forth, it's studying that takes the drivers seat, as we get to enjoy some of the apartment block's relationships as they pertain to studying, which includes Nazuna making herself useful for once by keeping Nori off the Internet.
Moving onwards, our focus shifts towards Hiro and Sae as once again their final year of high school looms large - indeed, even a visit from Chika doesn't detract from this, as she brings news of Sae's test exam results while also questioning her choice of colleges to apply to as they seem to suggest concern for both Chika and her family's finances over Sae's own well-being. While the other residents quite literally offer to cheer on Sae and Hiro as they move towards their graduation, we finally get to see a softer side of Chika and Sae's relationship which feels far more sisterly than the veiled emotions of previous meetings between the two of them when push comes to shove.
After making me laugh harder than ever over the past couple of episodes on occasion, this week's instalment was always going to have to work hard to do the business - thankfully, it did still make me laugh a number of times, even if it wasn't quite to the same extent as previous outings as once again more serious matters and the prospect of the group being broken up loom large in a decidedly bitter-sweet way in the latter half of the episode. Still, it's nice to see Hidamari Sketch tackling the issue head-on rather than aiming or hoping for some eternal high school days, and if nothing else it truly adds a different dimension to the show which is pleasing in a very different way to everything that has come before within the franchise.