It’s Friday again, and that means time for an anime review, and this is one I particularly recommend, especially if you’re looking for a nice anime with lots of useful vocabulary. Granted, I recommend this anime even if you’re not learning Japanese, as it’s really fun. That anime is Azumanga Daioh!
Plot Overview: This is a slice-of-life anime, meaning that we just following the lives of six girls throughout their three years of high school. In other words, it’s a show about nothing, Seinfeld style. There’s no intricate plot, no deep characters, or anything of the sort, yet it’s highly addicting to watch.
Basically, these three characters enter high school together (in Japan there’s only three years of it) and we watch them up until graduation. The whole thing takes place in only one season and is full of neat little situations.
Artwork: The artwork is incredibly basic, although it offers one thing I really like about it – no weird-looking characters. By that I mean everyone has either black or brown hair, and it doesn’t stick up in weird, impossible directions. The anime tries to stay within the limits of reality, as much as is possible whilst still remaining entertaining, and I welcome the change. That’s not to say those little blue-haired girls aren’t cute, but I find it distracting in anime of this style.
Animation: Again, extremely basic, and you can tell that a lot of it is recycled throughout the episodes, especially as the series draws to a close. It can be distracting, but the charm of this series is in the characters and situations, not in how amazing it looks. Granted, I feel that it could have been improved, but it doesn’t detract from the show so much as to make it unwatchable. Indeed, I watched it marathon style, and while some of the animation made me cringe a bit, it didn’t make me dislike anything.
Action: Any action present in this anime comes in the form of a sports festival or a wild daydream by one of the characters. Oh, and if you count Yukari’s driving…
Music: Okay, it’s not exactly The Vision of Escaflowne, but there’s some memorable little tunes throughout the show. The melodies are simple and do their job, but they don’t really do more than their job. The characters carry this show from start to finish, whereas nothing else plays that big of a role in it.
Character Development: There’s a bit of it here and there; about as much as can be expected from an anime of this genre. Sakaki comes slightly out of her shell, and there’s a few other things as well. Mostly these kids just grow up, which is both joyful and sorrowful.
Tone: If I had to compare this anime to anything, it would be Charlie Brown. Whilst simple, it captures us. Granted, it doesn’t have any religious or social commentary the way Charlie Brown delivers, and the adults are actually present and audible (sometimes perverted), but it retains that simplicity. It’s about a group of friends and their interactions throughout high school. There’s no dating (although they appear a bit curious about relationships), but Japanese high schoolers aren’t as big on the dating scene as Americans and other Westerns.
This anime is extremely funny, however. The situations are the kinds that anybody can find themselves in (great for sentence mining if you can find a decent transcript), but they are always a great deal of fun to watch. Don’t believe me, here’s a few clips.
Pacing: This is a hard one to talk about. It’s slow, naturally, but it’s not too slow. Actually, I thought the whole thing went by pretty quickly, and was a bit sad that not more episodes were made. Oh well. There’s always the manga it’s based on.
Dubbing: I’m not a fan of it at all. I think it’s mostly due to Osaka’s southern accent, because apparently when you dub an Osakan, they should speak like they’re from the deep south. Granted, it tends to get lighter and thicker depending on the whim of the translators, or the voice actress, but it’s annoying. I much prefer the Japanese voices.
Recommended? Of course! Granted, some people will find it not to their liking, but for those of us who enjoy a good laugh and a slice-of-life theme, then this is easily one of the best anime you’ll find in this genre. The characters are all likable and relatively down-to-earth, and you’ll definitely find their antics endearing. If you’re looking for an anime that is relatively simple to follow (you know, if you’re trying to wean yourself off of subtitles), then this one gets a very high recommendation from me.