I thought this would be a fitting follow-up to my Madoka Magica review, because...
Yup. (For anyone who can't read that, the screencaps are pointing out the Aoki Ume/Shinbo Akiyuki connection between the two series.)
Even though I gripe about Yuruyuri every time I mention it, I like this series. Go figure. Like Yuruyuri, Hidamari is a slice-of-life (I almost said "4-koma", even though Yuruyuri isn't a 4-koma; it feels like it should be) about a group of girls who hang out- in this case, Yuno, a cheerful, hardworking first-year art student living in the Hidamari Apartments with three other art students who attend the same high school: her nutty best friend Miyako (my favorite) and two second-years, motherly Hiro, who worries about her weight even though she's slim, and butchy Sae, who writes light novels under a pen name. You also have Yuno and Miyako's cosplay-loving homeroom teacher Yoshinoya-sensei, the Principal, who checks Yoshinoya-sensei's antics even though he's kind of a weirdo too, and Hidamari's laid-back, chain-smoking landlady.
The characters play off each other well, but what distinguishes Hidamari from the gajillion other series with a similar premise is how each episode takes place on a different day of the year, not in chronological order (the first episode takes place on January 11, the second on August 21, then June 17, May 18, February 13, etc; the last episode takes place on December 25, before the events of the first episode), and the quirky SHAFT/Shinbo art and animation, which will sell the series for some people and drive other people batty. I like it.
As for the yuri, there are some "hints" about Sae and Hiro in the series proper, but...in the second of the two OVA specials included in Sentai's release of the first season, Hiro receives a love letter in her locker. Sae just about has a nervous breakdown over the possibility of Hiro dating the person who sent the letter (when Yuno and Miyako hear that Hiro got a love letter, they first assume that Sae sent it), but after Hiro turns the sender down, Sae's on cloud nine. There's really no way not to see yuri there.
Unfortunately, Sentai's DVD release is bare bones on extras, unless you count a clean OP and ED. (It's also streaming on the Anime Network.) Apparently, it still sold well enough for them to license not only the second season, but the third one also.
Hidamari won't keep you riveted to the edge-of-your seat, but it's a good choice for a gentle comedy to relax with.