Three shows where nothing really bad happens

One of the reasons I love Hidamari Sketch, besides the cuteness dosed with Shinbou’s surreal imagination, is its happy, nonthreatening nature. Nothing seriously bad will happen to these characters, so I can bask in viewing their peaceful lives. Unfortunately that doesn’t leave much for me to talk about. But one thing the new series cannot escape is that fact that Hiro and Sae are third years; the franchise can’t go on forever. I wonder how the show will handle this bittersweet fact. We get some idea from episode one of Honeycomb.

Guess whose idea this is?

We get an opening where Yuno wakes up vaguely homesick but the noises from the other rooms snaps her out of it, Hiro cooking, Sae’s fax, Nori and Nazuna outside and Miyako … doing whatever the hell Miyako is doing. It’s a good way to wake up and it settles us comfortably back into the Hidamari world (that intro timer and the flock of birds also help), but after Yuno and the others discover Sae, Hiro and two other girls (are they going to expand the cast?) planning their class trip to Hokkaido, Yuno realizes that time is passing. Never mind, most of the episode is preparing for the trip (Yoshinoya, naturally, wants to go, so dresses as a sea urchin) or going on it.

Yuno does her best to set an example.

It’s a little odd to find two of the main characters separated from the others. Yuno feels it too and so decides to step up and be an example to Nori and Nazuna (Nori probably doesn’t need any help, but Nazuna …), but she’s not a fool about it. She tries to help them rescue Nazuna’s botched stew, but only when they turn to her. Sadly, Hiro is apparently the only one who can cook in that place, but Yuno simply vows (in the obligatory tub scene) to try harder tomorrow. Exactly the sort of mindset that makes her valuable to everyone there, not just the underclassmen.

Shhh!

Speaking of bathing we get a scene of the Hokkaido trip where Natsume is encouraged by her friends to talk to Sae in the hot spring, but alas the poor girl is too shy. Besides, Sae’s with Hero. Poor Natsume. Three years is a long time to be unhappy like this. I was hoping she’d have lightened up by now. Otherwise the trip goes by without incident, possibly because Miyako’s not there. Sae and Hiro are good characters and a cute couple, but without the four girls together it feels incomplete. That goes for back home as well. There was something lacking in the underclassmen scenes. Well, they’ll be back soon, and the show indulges in enough of the usual routine to make it feel comfortable. Happy to see the show back, even though I suspect it will be the last series.

I haven’t seen the To Love Ru franchise before, so FOR RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY I watched most of the original series. The trouble is there’s still plenty of gaps in my knowledge of this intricate and compelling backstory, er, who am I kidding? So now there are three Deviluke girls, and a little green haired one, all living together and taking turns making Rito’s home and school life, er, exciting. Rito hasn’t chosen a girl yet but Lala doesn’t care if he picks her and Haruna at once. Her sister Momo doesn’t stop there; she wants Rito to choose any girl he wants, or all of them. Hey, kings have concubines, right? This might be old news for followers of this franchise, but the first episode of Darkness is devoted to reintroducing characters and their basic desires, which usually means Rito. It’s surprisingly low-key, by To Love Ru standards, almost dull. The big drama this week are the aliens trying to get Yami to get off her butt and kill Rito for a change, and this story is unfinished. I hope this isn’t a sign that the series is going to get “serious” on us. This is an amiable and ecchi franchise and I hope they remember that.

I figured Polar Bear’s Cafe would more or less be over by now, but now they’ve added a new OP. The new one has a lot more of Sasako, so maybe she’s going to get more screentime. And when we get to the action it’s hard not to notice that the number of animals has expanded as we get a baseball match between the cafe and Grizzly’s bar, or basically, herbivores vs. carnivores, apart from Penguin, oh, and Giraffe … and Anteater. Okay, just forget that analogy. Some of the herbivores’ abilities are unexpected: Penguin, when not on the mound, is a savvy player with great on-base speed. Lesser Panda has a great arm. Naturally it comes down to a duel between the bears. Oh, we also learn about jacu coffee and the tastes of various roasts. Altogether it feels like a completely new season for the series.

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