Title: Nichijou aka Everyday Life
Company: Kyoto Animation
Format: 26 episodes
Dates: 3 Apr 2011 – 25 Sep 2011
Synopsis: Yukko fails at school. Mio is an amateur yaoi manga artist in denial. Mai loves playing pranks on her friends. Nano is a self-conscious and insecure robot created by the Professor, an 8-year old genius scientist. Sasahara Koujiro, Mio’s crush, rides a goat to school. Welcome to everyday life.
Animation: Interesting, innovative, refreshing.
Humor: Hit-and-miss; very hit-and-miss.
Production budget: Immense.
Every once in a while, we watch shows that we can’t quite put our fingers on. Nichijou is definitely one of those shows. Essentially 26 episodes of 5-minute vignettes, Nichijou deals with everything under the sun except everyday life.
Nichijou has a large cast, but is primarily focused on two groups of characters: Yukko, Mio and Mai, a trio of friends who attend the same high school; and Nano, the Professor and Mr. Sakamoto, a strange family consisting of an 8-year old scientist, a robot and a talking cat. There’s no real continuity to speak of and the characters remain essentially stagnant throughout the show’s 26-episode run.
Without the aid of plot continuity, Nichijou mainly tries to sell on humor. This works about half the time. Some of the jokes in Nichijou are side-splittingly funny. At least once per episode, I found myself literally rolling on the floor, unable to breathe. At the same time, this show put me to sleep on numerous occasions. The show’s humor ranges from complex, surreal meta-humor to incredibly shallow visual gags. Perhaps it’s the breadth of the show’s humor that makes it so hit-and-miss. The show refuses to pin itself down and assaults the audience with jokes of every nature. Inevitably, some of those jokes are going to go over certain viewers’ heads.
Despite the inconsistency of the show’s jokes, Kyoto Animation should be commended for the immense amount of money they invested in Nichijou. The show passes production quality checks with flying colors. Background music is always spot-on, voice actors are at their very best and animation quality is spectacular.
Some of Nichijou’s best moments come when it experiments with animation. Several vignettes violate and bend the norms of anime, to great effect. The single most memorable segment in Nichijou comes in the form of a five-minute skit of Yukko and Mio attempting to build a house of cars, completely set to programmatic music with no dialogue. It’s in moments like these when the animation staff at Kyoto Animation truly displays their animation expertise. It’s refreshing to see Nichijou’s jokes being complemented by innovative new methods of expression.
Ironically, Nichijou’s most charming moments come when the show’s not trying to be funny. A series of small, 20-second clips called “Like Love” showcases cute and heart-warming instances of human compassion and kindness. Other segments, especially ones with the Professor and Nano, depict familial love and affection. In these more serious segments, Nichijou’s excellent production quality really shines through.
Ultimately, Nichijou can be seen as a comment on modern life – surreal, absurd and random. It does not make any attempt to explain or offer insight on the human condition. All it offers are jokes – sometimes funny, sometimes not – occasional doses of heart-warming charm, and a lot of very, very pretty colors. What it lacks in humor, it makes up for in enthusiasm and creativity. Perhaps the entire show could have been condensed into one single episode… but that single episode would have still been worth watching.
The Rating: 7
Reviewed by: Akira