Azumanga Daioh

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sothis's avatar By sothis on Nov 21, 2004

Story
Azumanga Daioh is a show about nothing, literally. Think of it like Seinfeld, but with high school girls and more hilarity, and you've got all the bases covered. The episodes revolve around six girls and their daily life at a high school, which always ends up being random in some way.

The comic formula is hilarious, and is almost flawless. Many scenes will make you scratch your head and wonder "eh?" while simultaneously laughing, while other scenes make you laugh by repeating the same thing over and over and over and over, far past the point where you think it should have just stopped the joke. The best comic relief was definitely the male teacher who was always hitting on the girls, who had a trademark jaw drop constantly. He would randomly be thrown into the episodes very spasticly, making anyone with a sense of humor laugh out loud. I think that's the beauty of Azumanga Daioh: it relentlessly attempts at making you laugh by throwing you off guard by whatever means necessary, and it succeeds. So really, don't go into watching Azumanga thinking you'll get any sort of a plot. There are only a few episodes that are linked somehow, but the rest do follow a timeline (the girls making their way through three years of school, up to the satisfying conclusion).

My only minor complaint would be the same as any random humor show: they never seem to maintain a constant hilariousness the entire way through. I don't expect this by any means, but I also always would prefer a shorter show with nothing but hilarity, as opposed to 26 episodes dragged out with some episodes that just don't cut it in my book. Granted, Azumanga has the highest percentage of purely funny stuff to generic laughs than most comedic series I've seen (others include things like Haunted Junction, Abenobashi, etc), but it still would have been nice to keep the same level of humor the entire time. Because of the randomness, as well, I don't think this is a series to watch all in a row, unless you are doing a marathon and are really in the mood for a comedic burst. Otherwise, watch a few episodes once in awhile, intermixed with a different show you also are watching. This keeps the humor fresh and doesn't burn you out.
Animation
Azumanga has a very minimal style of animation, with not a lot of detail or shading, but hey, it doesn't really need it for the content involved. Randomness and humor abound, so there are a great deal of chibis and deformed scenes that take place. The spastic nature of the show is reflected in the spastic animation and color schemes, and it works very well. The emotions of the characters are drastically exaggerated by using huge eyes or ridiculously overdone expressions, and this helps the humor a great deal. There isn't much else I can say about the animation besides this. There is no CG used and no crazy special effects, just minimal shading and artwork, and tons of crazy scenes.
Sound
The music in Azumanga is quirky and light, just like the tone of the show. Sometimes band instruments are used such as flutes or drums, which help to amplify the bizarreness of the scenes. Quite frankly, the music was perfectly placed with the tone and mood of the series, but I still deducted a few points because the music did get a bit repetitive over time. No new songs were introduced and the same few songs were played over and over. Yes, repetition was the point of the humor at times, but the music could have had a face lift once in awhile for good measure. The outro song was one of the catchiest I've heard and I'm not sure why. Voices were great for everyone involved, and really helped as far as the exaggerations for some of them (Osaka and Chiyo, for example).
Characters
The character development was basically non-existant, yet I still gave this section a 9.5. Why? To put it bluntly, Azumanga Daioh has some of the most hilarious characters I've seen, who all fill their incredibly exaggerated role perfectly. Chiyo is the little girl who is the epitome of cuteness. Her voice helps with this persona, as well as giant watery eyes when she gets upset, and her little girl ways of doing things. Sakaki is obsessed with cute things and is super quiet, and always blushes whenever she sees a cat or dog, yet (for the comedic effect) she always is bitten when she tries to pet things. Tomo is the most obnoxious character by far and is always yelling and pissing people off. She's why I deducted the .5, as she was irritating as hell. Yumi is probably the least developed character -- her one quirk is that she is obsessed with her weight. Then there's Osaka, an extremely slow and stupid girl who tends to always make you laugh with the idiotic things that come out of her mouth. And finally, Kagura is athletic and competitive. These six characters are fairly extreme to begin with, but them morph into super extreme characters by the end of the series. Osaka seems slow at first, but becomes almost braindead by the end of the series, for example. It's like watching old Simpsons versus new Simpsons... Homer is way more defined and hilarious in the later series than the first, and Azumanga is the same. The entire series is about pushing the limits of comedy, and the characters help out with this immensely.

More characters are on the front lines than these six, though, such as the forgettable Kasumi (who has a weird crush on Sakaki), the two rival teachers (Yukari-sensei being the violent and drunk of the two), and the guy who steals the show: the male teacher obsessed with the high school girls. His jaw is always dropped and he's always coming up with creepy and inappropriate things to say, and that makes him all the more hilarious! Literally every scene he was in made me laugh out loud, and that's a feat for any series.


Overall
Azumanga is a great watch for any fans of comedy. Out of all the random series I've seen, Azumanga definitely has the highest concentration of randomness and laugh out loud moments, combined with hilarious characters and wacky moments alike. If you like comedy series, I can't see why you haven't watched this yet! And if you haven't, pick it up right now, since you'll surely like it. Two thumbs up in my book.
8.5/10 story
8/10 animation
8/10 sound
9.5/10 characters
9/10 overall
angelsreviews's avatar By angelsreviews on Jul 14, 2013

This all too cute little anime was actually unforgettable. The story line is pretty much a slice of life comedy but it has no romance which is a nice change. At first, without ever hearing about the show, I thought that this would be a romantic comedy or teen problems like all the other slice of life shows that I had watched but luckily it wasn’t. It’s a lot like Lucky Star but a little more realistic with characters you can relate to. It has pretty much no actual story so the characters keep the show going and do they ever. Each character is pretty much someone that you know or a mixture of who you know from the hyperactive girl to the girl who was a little too mature looking. Also, against the idea of every other school slice of life out there, the characters actually do grow and each season of the show (and I use the term Season loosely) is one of their grades from freshmen to senior and has them actually graduating at the end. That is not really a spoiler because the show is so random half the time that you never know which way you’re going to be pulled towards.

The Animation is rather good and fluid, but keeping a very simple tone to it. The artwork doesn’t really have much detail and I actually like it for that since it keeps its innocence and makes you look at the characters personality more. Sometimes they will even point out the characters different traits from Chiyo-Chan’s pigtails to Sakaki’s large breasts. They even make fun of themselves at times.

The Voice acting is perfect in both English and Japanese, Jessica Boone sounds just like Tomoko Kaneda in Chiyo’s voice. Some jokes work better for me in Japanese then in English but either area works for both.
The Music is cutesy but sometimes is annoying that it gets stuck in your head. The Opening is stuck in my head to this day and I can’t get it out!

This is one that you need to watch! It’s so cute!

7/10 story
7/10 animation
6/10 sound
7/10 characters
9/10 overall
mustardbomb's avatar By mustardbomb on Sep 15, 2012

This anime is awful, as it is incessantly asinine. If asininity is your type of thing, then great, you like complete bullshit, but this is an anime with no storyline (it is not even notable when compared to other animes like this; I have never seen less of a story). The characters are 'developed' since that is the only thing the anime focuses on, but all of the characters are pitiful in some manner or another. The anime will spend thirty seconds to a minute repeating the VERY same moment or delaying something, so be prepared for that. Of course, the art is awful (yes, I am sure that the creators picked this style to make the anime 'sweeter' and whatever, but it still looks fucking terrible). The music was repetitive and not substantial at all, despite the introduction and ending having fairly good music. I would have rather spent ten hours watching Liza Manelli go down on Oscar the Grouch than another fucking minute of this anime.

?/10 story
?/10 animation
?/10 sound
?/10 characters
1/10 overall
Diachy's avatar By Diachy on Dec 21, 2011

Azumanga Daioh is a quirky "typical" goofy school life anime. It lacks in purpose. I did get some enjoyment out of watching the series, however I did get a little bored. It seems as if the whole purpose of the show is simply to exist and nothing else. The Animation is nothing amazing but it is still aesthetically pleasing.

4/10 story
8/10 animation
7/10 sound
6.5/10 characters
6.5/10 overall
roriconfan's avatar By roriconfan on Apr 4, 2012

ANIME EVOLUTION SERIES
Full list of the review series can be found on this page, 3rd post from bottom:
http://anidb.net/perl-bin/animedb.pl?uid=251338&show=userpage&do=blog&blogid=29009&page=0

TEASER: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=huWKSYUX5Fs

This is the very first anime which introduced the term moe to the industry. There were other shows older than it which were also about cute girls doing cute things but this is by far the one which centred solely on the element and created a subgenre of school comedy that became overabundant in the following years because of its success. Although many will rush to say it was Haruhi which managed to that (as they will say the same about everything else), since Azumanga came first and set the rules of the game I am willing to say it was Haruhi which took pointers from Azumanga and without it, it wouldn’t be the way it is.

Being the very first, means that by default it is also the most simple in its presentation. It’s moe without fan catering otaku jokes, or guitar product placements, or love for sweets. Many would see it and think it is boring for being plain … which is not true. To me moe means to like watching cute girls doing cute things ONLY. All the rest of it are in my eyes nothing but manipulating extras that are there to full you into buying products not related to the nature of the show (such as the constant Haruhi references in Lucky Star ) or tease you into doing things (such as the girl bands in K-On ). Although being inspired to do things thanks to a show is a good thing, it is still in effect emotional manipulation bent on taking advantage of your brain having turned to mash potatoes and being open to suggestive commands. Can you imagine using moe to infuse you with war mongering feelings? … Hey wait a second, they made Sora no Oto ???!!

Well Azumanga does not do that and it’s the reason I consider it the first and the purest of them all for being JUST moe. It is JUST about girls in school doing simple yet silly things without any sort of major conflict or tension. Still, I must admit that there actually IS a sort of tension in the form of seeing the girls coping with their simple daily problems. Nothing major but it is highly humorous to see how they manage to make a joke out of the simplest thing; a thing not so present in later similar shows. Because indeed, the humour of the show is made specifically to present them as completely naive (but not stupid) to even the most fundamental aspects of their lives. It will feel like their brains lag in processing data or their imagination makes them come up with some really hilarious line of thought that it is silly and innocent at the same time.

The type of humour is not working for everyone of course; there are dozens of different ways to make a joke and in order to like this show means to enjoy this sort of treatment. I for example liked it because it was very relevant to the way the girls thought, it was fitting the mood of the show and it was even ingeniously stupid at several moments.

The plot is not always about the girls. At times it focuses on their teachers and other relatives, thus giving you the feeling the world is not autistic. The adults are stupid too but do thing more naughty and complicating, thus provide an antithesis to the still pure minds of the girls. That element offers variety and even a better attachment to reality.

The story is as usually unimportant but does give you the feeling there is a progress. The series covers entire years of their daily lives, after of which they graduate and separate. On each year you will see how they take part on several mainstream school activities and ethic holidays, each time as if they are trying to improve themselves by correcting last year’s mistakes. That not only provides a feeling of how time moves in repeating schedules of the daily routine but also how each time is unique and different than before. I liked that a lot; it wasn’t that aimless and made you keep recalling previous events in order to get the joke. Thus it was smart silliness.

Another thing I liked is the number of the main characters. Unlike following moe shows which are always about three to five girls only, Azumanga has almost a dozen, and not JUST girls but teachers as well. Each one has of course a simple personality but their distinctive quirks and interactions create a very interesting blend, both complicating and humorous.

In other words, despite Azumanga being the first moe and with no extra fuss like otaku jokes or bands, still manages to be more complicating and variable next to its descendants and thus more quality material in my eyes.

The production values are not bad either. They transmit the feeling of the show perfectly, with simple yet likable character figures, minimal but practical backgrounds, almost monotonic but this way humorous voices, and some really crazy songs that are cute and silly at the same time. It all works fine in the context of the premise and one should not consider them as bad or plain. It wouldn’t add anything to the lot if there was more to it. I must say that for a J.C. Staff production, the girls are not turned to sluts; fan service is kept to minimal and most of it is implied rather than shown. If only most shows from that dreadful studio were subtle like this one…

Value is still getting the maximum score for being a cornerstone in moe history. My enjoyment is high; it is still a mostly aimless show about cute girls but the fact they had no product placement and offered a feeling of progress makes it much more enjoyable. I was even left with a sad feeling when the show was over and the girls now separated, each going to a different place and having a different life with different people. That after effect is priceless and not found easily in any other show of its type.

And now for some excused scorings.

ART SECTION: 7/10
General Artwork 2/2 (properly cute)
Character Figures 1/2 (generic)
Backgrounds 1/2 (basic)
Animation 1/2 (basic)
Visual Effects 2/2 (stylish)

SOUND SECTION: 7/10
Voice Acting 2/3 (silly but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Music Themes 3/4 (not great but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)

STORY SECTION: 7/10
Premise 1/2 (simple)
Pacing 1/2 (semi-episodic)
Complexity 1/2 (not much)
Plausibility 2/2 (nothing weird in it that needs explaining)
Conclusion 2/2 (solid)

CHARACTER SECTION: 7/10
Presence 2/2 (funny/cute)
Personality 2/2 (cheesy but well founded)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 1/2 (subtle but it’s there)
Catharsis 1/2 (subtle but it’s there)

VALUE SECTION: 9/10
Historical Value 3/3 (all-known)
Rewatchability 2/3 (high if you dig its style)
Memorability 4/4 (extremely perky to the point of forever remembering it)

ENJOYMENT SECTION: 8/10
Very good for an early moe specimen.

VERDICT: 7.5/10

7/10 story
7/10 animation
7/10 sound
7/10 characters
7.5/10 overall