The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Azumanga Daioh

Title: Azumanga Daioh aka Azumanga Daioh: the Animation
Genre: Comedy
Company: J.C. Staff/Genco/Imagica
Format: 26 episodes
Date: 8 Apr 2002 – 30 Sep 2002

Synopsis: Yukari-sensei’s English class is an adventure for all those involved. Maybe it’s because Yukari’s maturity level is lower than most of her students and her rivalry with the Gym teacher, Nyamo, often involves the entire class. As if that wasn’t bad enough, there’s the pervy teacher, Kimura, who loves his job a little too much. Join Chiyo the child prodigy, Osaka the space cadet, Tomo the goofball, Sakaki the tall, quiet one with a soft spot for cute things, and the sarcastic and practical Yomi as they deal with these wacky adults on their journey through high-school.

The Highlights
Plot: What plot?
Symbolism: Yeah, right.
Comedy: Bizarre, not to everyone’s tastes; character based.
Characters: A loveable bunch that are easy to identify with.
Kawaii Factor: Through the roof.

If the summary makes it seem like there isn’t much plot in Azumanga Daioh that’s because there isn’t any. The directors focused exclusively on the characters and the comedy, which makes Azumanga Daioh unique among other anime in that everything works surprisingly well despite having little plot to hold things together. There are no mecha or ridiculous romantic hijinks; each episode is just another day in the life of the protagonists. Okay. Actually a strange, funny day, but even so Azumanga Daioh has a level of authenticity and down to earth feeling about it that I haven’t found anywhere else.

Azumanga Daioh’s comedy has its own kind of style, a style that will leave many people scratching their heads instead of laughing. I haven’t seen anything else that can make forty-five seconds of the same frame be so drop-dead hilarious. A lot of the humor comes from acid-trip dream sequences and things of that nature, when combined with the still screen humor will not click with a large portion of the audience. Even those who don’t laugh at some of the weirder moments will certainly laugh at the characters and character antics, which have universal appeal. There are also some of the best running gags out there that you’d have to be dead not to enjoy.

The best part of Azumanga Daioh is the characters. With the wide range of personalities in the cast, brought to life by fantastic seiyuu work, everyone will find someone to relate to. Not only will you see a lot of yourself in the characters, you won’t be able to help seeing aspects of your friends too. I had endless fun comparing the characters to my friends and taking a walk down memory lane to my high-school days, but I digress. There simply isn’t a group of more believable and fun characters out there.

Fans of cute things certainly won’t be disappointed with Azumanga Daioh either. From cute kittens, to cute costumes, to the biggest eyes on this side of Fruits Basket, to the epitome of cuteness herself (sorry Di-Gi-Charat fans) Chiyo, Azumanga Daioh oozes cuteness from every frame.

There is no better example of a “love it or hate it” anime out there than Azumanga Daioh, save FLCL. Due to the strong bipolar reactions, there have been a number of unsavory rumors spread about Azumanga Daioh. Pay no heed to what the rumors say; the only way to know if you will enjoy Azumanga Daioh is to watch a few episodes. The best comparison I can make would be to compare Azumanga Daioh to Seinfeld, the “show about nothing.”

The Rating: 8

Reviewed by: Kuma

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