Ten-year-old genius Chiyo, animal-loving Sakaki, loudmouth Tomo, athletic Kagura, weight-conscious Yomi and dim-witted Osaka are six friends who share laughs, good times, and a high school homeroom. With scary (and sometimes perverted) teachers, school festivals, penguin suits and general hilarity abounding, you can be sure that there's never a dull day in the life of one of these students!
StoryAzumanga 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. AnimationAzumanga 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. SoundThe 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). CharactersThe 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. OverallAzumanga 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.
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.
STORY: 4/10 I'm not sure how harsh I should be, since Azumanga Daioh practically created the modern school comedy genre, but the fact is that the plot boils down really simply to "six girls who go to high school together." Each episode is chopped up into five-minute segments and each one of them can be taken completely out of context and someone could still understand what's going on. Of course, there are little story arcs here and there but those are the exceptions rather than the rules. The story isn't even why someone would be watching a comedy series anyway, so give it a pass. I will say that the recurring themes of friendship, while subtle, are very powerful. I probably can't think of any series that has covered friends' relationships with one another better than Azumanga Daioh. Premise: 0/2 Pacing: 1/2 Immersion: 2/2 Setting: 0/2 Theme: 1/1 Complexity: 0/1ART: 7/10 When the art comes up, one thing is abundantly clear: cuteness is the main goal and it certainly is delivered. Azumanga Daioh was made back in the early 2000s, and it had some pretty good production values for its time. Having gone through the whole series multiple times probably has gotten me more acclimated to the tiny little bits, sort of those subtleties that can't be caught on just one time around, which is why I will say that the art manages to have a surprising amount of depth. Character designs are simple, but realistic, and while we've all seen school uniforms or mascot characters, something about the design in Azumanga just manages to stand out to me. Maybe it's the colors, maybe it's the general softness that the art appears to have all the time, or the mixture of cute and surreal (especially with the mascots) but the fact remains that in the slew of school series, Azumanga is one that is instantly recognizable. Another thing of note is that all of the characters bring a lot of personality, thanks to the amazing director of the series. Osaka's movements, for example, are usually very stiff and strange (likely a reference to her inflexibility that's established near the start of the series, or just her odd personality); in contrast to Kagura, who is really laid-back and free-flowing; or Sakaki, in which the viewer can see how deliberate all her motions are. One of the things I didn't even realize until my second time through the manga was how Osaka is always drawn with the reflection in her eyes on the bottom, while all the other characters have theirs on the top. Ultimately, Azumanga Daioh worked within the technology of its day without using any CGI or fancy effects, everything being done simply. This was probably deliberate, so as to allow the art style to be timeless. It isn't trying to be a visual masterpiece, but that's fine since the art does its job at matching the tone of the series. General Presence: 2/2 Visual Design: 1/2 Backgrounds: 1/2 Animation: 1.5/2 Attention to Detail: 1/1 Visual Effects: 0.5/1SOUND: 9/10 Honestly, I will say that this was one of my first experiences with subbed anime. I tried watching the dub, but couldn't really get behind it (it was Osaka's voice that killed it since I took one look at her design and sort of instinctively had an idea in mind of how she should sound). The sub is much better, with voice actresses who can not only fit their characters to a tee, but who have great comedic talent. They all sound distinct, and even as I got more used to the Japanese voice actresses and started hearing more from the girls I first heard in Azumanga, I can still go back to the series and find that their performances in here are distinct from pretty much anything else they've done. But if you don't like subbed anime, I will say that I consider the dub to be passable for the most part. The music is, as one would expect, very relaxed and laid-back. It matches the tone perfectly and uses a lot of strange instruments, most notably a liberal usage of recorders. I like it, it makes the music stand out a lot, especially when they could've used violins and the music wouldn't have made as much of an impact. While it's not a perfect soundtrack, the music in Azumanga Daioh fits the series perfectly and it can be very effective (the composition that plays over the final scene of the series is so touching I swear it makes me cry every time I hear it). Sound effects sound great and are used exactly right. When they don't need them, they aren't used - when they help the scene, they are used. Some of the more notable sound effects - like the floating sounds or the meowing heard various times - are actually ones that someone whose seen the series could identify as being from Azumanga Daioh. And the image songs are amazing. Just for the record. Voice Acting: 4/4 Music: 3/4 Sound Effects: 2/2CHARACTERS: 10/10 What's a series without good characters? Be it a drama, a comedy, or whatever the goal is, good characters are one of the most important factors. Quite honestly, it's the absolutely stellar cast of Azumanga Daioh that makes the show. Not only the six main characters, but the three teachers, Kaorin, and even the various cats all have unforgettable presence on screen. Over the course of the series, they aren't just the characters who deliver jokes to you, they are in fact your friends. There's a wide range of personalities bouncing off each other here, from serious to shy to hyperactive to plain strange and I think that's where I'll fudge the "Complexity" score (since I couldn't bring myself to NOT boost this rating up to max power), since they all act differently around everyone else. Yomi doesn't treat Tomo the same way she treats Chiyo, or Osaka, or Sakaki. Just like actual people, their relationships are distinct. Kagura doesn't join the group of friends just because she hangs out with Sakaki, she joins the group because she becomes friends with the other five. At the same time, having the benefit of all the exposure I do, it's also interesting to note some of the character traits that one wouldn't notice except with prolonged exposure to the characters, such as Sakaki being almost as airheaded as Osaka or Chiyo's terrible luck, usually resulting in slapstick. So while I do think that I might be generous to give "complexity" a full score, I also think it's one that I could easily defend. Presence: 2/2 Personality: 2/2 Complexity: 2/2 Memorability: 2/2 Development: 1/1 Pathos: 1/1 The ultimate guiding question when it comes to any comedy is "Is it funny?" And Azumanga Daioh constantly answers that with a big "yes." The comedic timing, both in the manga and the anime, is perfect - or if it isn't perfect, it's damn close. There's a reason this series has defined the modern slice-of-life genre, and that's because it's just really good. The only times Azumanga isn't being funny are when it will be tugging at your heartstrings, which is equally enjoyable. It's short, yes, but I actually think that the short size makes it better. It doesn't stay too long, knowing that all good things must come to an end. When the final episode comes around, you WILL cry, oh yes. And then you'll want to go back to the beginning and relive all those great memories. I've heard Azumanga Daioh as being "comfort food," and that's probably a good way to describe it. Maybe my own feelings for the series are biased, as it was one of my earlier anime experiences, but that doesn't deflate my love for it. Azumanga Daioh is easily one of the few anime that I love enough to say...FINAL JUDGMENT : 10/10
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