ANIME EVOLUTION SERIES
Full list of the review series can be found on this page, 3rd post from bottom:
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.
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.
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.
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!