Another season of Hidamari Sketch comes to an end in an episode of new beginnings - New Year beginnings, to be more surprise.
In fact, this finale of Honeycomb is a pretty by the numbers New Year's Eve/Day episode, involving lots of sitting around eating under a kotatsu before paying a visit to the nearest shrine and with a visit to a bathhouse shoehorned into proceedings.
Within this setup, we get to enjoy Nazuna mix up what she's saying and what she's writing on some New Year greeting cards (a rare moment when I get to empathise with her, which has to be worth something), the younger quartet fret about not stressing out their seniors amidst thoughts of final exams and them moving on from Yamabuki (or not, as the case may be) which of course only makes things worse, another bout of terrible luck according to Yuno's fortune, and a chance for Natsume to say Happy New Year to Sae. Awww.
As always with this show the devil is in the detail, that particular detail being some well-crafted humour, and while this wasn't the funniest episode of the series is once again generated some laughs while being generally relaxing and fun at the end of a really rough week - exactly the kind of scenario that this show is designed to act as a salve for. On a wider note, this series perhaps wasn't as sharp as Hoshimittsu and suffered from what almost seems to be the traditional slow start to each season, but on the flip side of that it also offered up some of the funniest jokes that the series has ever crafted to leave me dying with laughter on a few occasions, and proved that it has an emotional core that is beyond solid by utilising the pending graduation of its seniors in a massively tear-jerking fashion. At its heart though, I still adore so much about this show - even though Honeycomb delved a little too far into fan service territory at times it still holds a sense of innocence about it for the most part, and at this juncture each season is like being invited to spend some time with a few good old, long-lasting friends - you know their foibles and the stuff they do that might bore you, but you're willing to see past that and simply enjoy the good times instead. Roll on season five... or at least some more special episodes to go with this season's Blu-Ray release.