So here it is, the moment we've all been waiting for... and by that, I mean the moment we've all been quietly dreading. It's time for Sae and Hiro to graduate from both Yamabuki High and, of course, Hidamari Apartments.
Before that though, let's not get ahead of ourselves, as both seniors have to fret over exams (which seem to be of varying difficulties for the two of them - nothing that some speed lines can't fix though), and then even worse fret while waiting for letters of acceptance or rejection from their preferred universities. Of course, a sweet and calm series like Hidamari Sketch aren't going to pull the rug out from under any character's feet here, so it's not exactly surprising that they both make their top choices of further educational establishment, even if the episode still manages to make a little sport out of generating some tension and emotion from it.
While it's happiness and celebrations all around, it's Yuno who wears her heart on her sleeve in terms of the impending departure of two good friends, and of course that day arrives before she knows it, with a heartfelt and positive graduation ceremony punctuated by the sweet yet sad sight of Yuno and Miyako supporting each other as they face the fact that their senior friends are about to move on. It's via Natsume that the real emotional crux of the second episode arrives, as her attempt at a cheerful au revoir to Sae breaks down utterly, turning this 'blogger's smiles to floods of tears in record time. Good job Natsume, good job. Thankfully, things finish on a poor positive note, as Yuno's feelings of loneliness are blown away by the realisation of the sheer number of friends she's made since moving in to Hidamari Apartments.
Given that I came into this OVA expecting to both laugh and cry (possibly both at the same time), it's a case of mission accomplished for these two episodes - its setup meant that it wasn't the most wall-to-wall hilarious instalments of Hidamari Sketch, but there were just enough gags and one-liners to keep the smiles and laughs coming, and some genuinely sweet moments to enjoy (not least reminiscences of Sae and Hiro's first meeting) as well as that one downright tear-jerking moment. I'm not sure if I want this to be the end of Hidamari Sketch or not - my brain says yes, but my heart says no - but if this is the last we see of the Hidamari Apartments crew in animated form, then they've certainly left a legacy of innumerable fond memories, silly jokes, and that one time that Natsume made me bawl my eyes out.