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.
Azumanga Daioh Review:
It’s sad for the fact that I have not reviewed this anime yet and I haven’t watched in about a year and half! Well, better get started before I forget, it’s not like there was too much to remember in Azumanga Daioh to make a full fledge review! So let’s get ourselves some floating cat things for Dads and review Azumanga Daioh!
Azumanga Daioh is a 26 episode + 1 OVA long anime done by Studio J.C Staff back in 2002. It was originally, plot twist, a magazinecomic by Kiyohiko Azuma and spawned some mangas, too.
This anime is rated TV-PG for its small use of language. Viewer discretion is not really advised.
The story for Azumanga Daioh you could say is obvious…nothing. Well, in a way, it does have a story of a sort but nothing of any sort. Chiyo is a very young girl who moved up to highschool due to her intelligence and now has to make new friends. Along the way she meets Tomo, an energetic and annoying girl who always gets in trouble, Ayumu, a weird transfer student from Osaka who gets the nickname Osaka because of it, Sakaki, a very quiet and shy girl, and Yomi, a more of a hot head and the leader of the so called “group.” Together the friends go on silly adventures and interact with new friends like Chiyo’s Dad, a yellow cat-bird thing who can speak Engrish!
So judging by that, there is a story of “some sort” tied into but overall it is about nothing. Just…nothing.
The characters are the most crucial part of an anime about nothing. Azumanga Daioh passes that test. All the characters follow the Steins;Gate trail, or the other way around, whereas all the characters have cookie cutter or stereotype personalities but have a little bit of something added to them to make them a lot better than average. And to say, Azumanga Daioh does this pretty well, my favorite character being Osaka because of absolutely how weird and random she is!
Now let me get one thing clear…as far as I remember, there are absolutely NO male characters in this show besides Chiyo’s Dad and the perverted teacher. Sure there are some that have speaking roles and appearances, but overall there’s only just two. I just want to tell you that so you can get a better understanding of the cutesy feel of this show and why. Because it’s swarmed with girls!
The animation for Azumanga Daioh I have nothing to say because it is not special at all. Sure it’s fluid and solid, but it’s not anything worth noting. It’s not really impressive for its time and it’s actually pretty dated. So be cautious if you want to watch this anime because if you like newer anime, the style and animation in general and maybe even a couple character designs might annoy you.
The music for this anime is not very special either. Sure the opening and ending fit the show exceedingly well and it’s cute and catchy and upbeat, but Azumanga Daioh is also one of those silent animes where there wasn’t very much music or at least memorable music. I’ll sort of forgive because I haven’t seen this show in about a year and a half but I digress.
Is Azumanga Daioh doing a great job for what it’s doing? Yes. Is it cute, funny, and creative? Yes. Is it something you should absolutely go out of your way to watch and ignore any other animes like it? Not really. You have all the time in the world to watch this anime, you don’t need to go out of your way to watch so soon. This anime is something that it memorable for many scenes, but you can easily wait to watch it another day. Is it bad? Hell no! But is it perfect? Hell no! If you like slice of life comedies like Lucky Star and Hidimari Sketch, Azumanga Daioh will be something you definitely love. Otherwise, you have all the time in the world to watch it another day! So now, I leave it at that!
Next Review: One Week Friends
(If you have any questions or corrections about this review or Azumanga Daioh, contact me! :D)
Story: Azumanga Daioh is a classic slice-of-life anime that loosely revolves around Chiyo, an 11-year-old prodigy who enters high school early, and her group of eccentric friends. The episodes are comprised of short comedic vignettes that are sometimes bizarre or surreal in nature. Since Azumanga is a slice-of-life anime, the story isn't really that great (there basically is no plot, other than fairly typical things that happen in the characters' daily lives) and can sometimes even be boring. Azumanga Daioh's strength lies in its characters and humor (especially the surreal scenes), rather than in its plot. If you're expecting something as plot-driven as Death Note, stay faaaar away from this anime.
Art: I'm no art expert, but this show masterfully utilizes exaggeration for comedic effect. In the course of one episode, you might see gigantic heads, characters suddenly turning into chibi, and extremely bendy limbs. I haven't seen any other anime use this kind of art and animation style to their advantage as much and as well as Azumanga Daioh does. The characters are fairly simplistic in design, but are all cute in their own ways.
Sound: I ended up watching maybe over half of this anime dubbed, simply because I needed something else to do (*cough* play New Leaf *cough*) while watching it. The voice actors in both languages are absolutely perfect for the characters they play (Osaka's spacey Japanese and weirdly Southern English voice actors were spot-on), although Chiyo's English voice actor can be really annoying. When it comes to opening and closing songs, the opening is iconic in my mind. It's playful, catchy, and is accompanied by hilarious scenes that perfectly depict each character. The closing song is very pleasant, as well.
Character: Even though every character in Azumanga Daioh is basically one-note, they're all very relatable and lovable in their own ways. My personal favorites were Sasaki, a tall, silent girl who has a secret love of all things cute (come on, is it even possible to dislike her?), Osaka, a spacey dim-witted girl who provides a lot of the surreal humor in the show, and Kagura, a peppy tan jock who is basically a more palatable version of Tomo, a really loud and obnoxious girl who can be grating very quickly. Side note -- even though Azumanga Daioh does have a lot of surreal scenes, some of the comedy is basically just Tomo or their teacher Yukari being loud and obnoxious. I found that this type of scene, with Tomo or Yukari screaming shrilly, wasn't really as effective as the surreal or bizarre parts and seemed sort of childish (I know that was the point, though). However, even though some characters are annoying (Tomo, Yukari) or boring (Yomi), I saw myself in each character and knew I would miss them when their last scene ended. Except for the teacher Kimura. Kimura is just creepy and, not even trying to sound overly sensitive, but I didn't even think his purpose was that funny. He mostly unsettled me instead of making me laugh.
Enjoyment: Even though the show can be boring and is essentially pointless, this anime was worth the watch because the characters are so lovable and the humor was ridiculous. I was probably stupid to play Animal Crossing through half of this anime because I suspect I would have enjoyed it more than I already did (and I enjoyed it quite a bit). This is a classic slice-of-life anime for a reason -- the humor is top-notch, the characters are silly and cute, the art style is perfect, and it has just enough sentimentality and emotion to make any loner like myself be on the verge of tears at points.
Overall - 8/10. I wish I could give this a 9, but there's basically no story and it was very boring and repetitive at times. Maybe I'll hike the rating up when I re-watch this again in a few years.
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!