Azumanga Daioh - Reviews

sothis's avatar
Nov 21, 2004

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.
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.
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).
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.

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
ThatAnimeSnob's avatar
Apr 4, 2012

The very first anime which introduced me to the term moe. 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 mashed 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. The humour of the show is focused on presenting 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 also 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 in a naughtier and more complicating way, thus provide an antithesis to the still pure minds of the girls.

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 in several 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 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 conclusion, 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.

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 still 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 also point out how despite being 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…

In terms of value it gets the maximum score for being a cornerstone in moe history. My enjoyment out of it was 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.

7/10 story
7/10 animation
7/10 sound
7/10 characters
7.5/10 overall
Sniipyu's avatar
Jul 29, 2020

I started watching this with the intention of laughing, and damn I really did find the right anime!

The peaceful hilariosity of the whole thing just makes it unique in a way that's quite difficult to understand unless you actually watch the show, not just read this review. Basically I loved it. The animation was well ahead of its time as well, to be honest, I wasn't expecting it to be as good as it was. And everything else... well I'm too lazy to write about all that but basically I can say that Azumanga Daioh is REALLY ONE OF THE BEST SHOWS OUT THERE!! 

[Osaka really makes the show special] 

8/10 story
10/10 animation
10/10 sound
10/10 characters
9/10 overall
krofire's avatar
Feb 1, 2023

J.C.Staff’s High School comedy dates to 2002 an amazing 21 years ago. It really doesn’t look its age at all. We would go as far as to say it is an ageless classic in a field dominated by an awful LOT of anime in this sub-genre. So much anime comedy is based at High School and is focussed on the lives of female friendship groups. Typically, they do not have any particular story but are held together by the strength of the characters and the sheer insanity of their adventures together. The strength of “Azumanga Daioh” is in the character interplay and the way the 26 episodes neatly follow their lives over the entire three years of High School. Nominally the show is built around child genius Chiyo Mihama who skips forward five years to start High School at age 10. Around her a friendship group forms consisting of a bunch of quite eccentric, colourful and boisterous girls for whom every day is an adventure. One character, a tall & quiet busty girl called Sakaki, dominates proceedings as she entertains us with her numerous misadventures with cats. She loves all things cute but due to her mother’s allergies she cannot keep a cat. Instead, she tries to pet any small fury animal in sight and often gets bitten for her pain.

Describing the main characters would be a lengthy undertaking as they are all so well fleshed out. What makes the show so adorable is that the friendship group also managed to include two of their homeroom teachers Yukari Tanizaki and Minamo Kurosawa who have been friends themselves since school. The two are close but fight like cats and dogs. The strangest character is a third teacher – an eccentric man called Kimura whose weird behaviour gets him the reputation as being a bit of a perv amongst the girls. He is strangely depicted in the manner of a zombie yet the girls soon learn that he has a really nice wife who turns up at their Sports Day. Needless to say, there is an awful lot going on the show and it defies all summarisation. It is the sort of anime you do not have to pay too close attention to as it was built around even shorter episodes. You could completely zone-out for ten minutes at a time and not really miss anything. It isn’t that there isn’t a lot going on, it is just that it is easy to pick up at any point. It is actually worth paying attention to as it is very, very funny. If we have a criticism it is that the timing of the some of the animated humour was a little off with the animators milking a visual joke well beyond its sell-by date. Pay some attention to the hilarious behaviour of one girl Ayumu "Osaka" Kasuga whose air-headed, open-mouthed, antics left us in stitches. Quite unique. We loved this show even if we didn’t always watch it too closely. It relishes in quite a few nice touches – particularly towards the end as the girls face their graduation. The show also has elements that are extremely weird and surreal. It represents quite an investment in your time but we think it is worth it. A fine example of the slice of school life comedy genre. Maybe it has few outstanding points but it is riddled with good ideas and occasional comic genius. Make some time for it.

8/10 story
7/10 animation
7/10 sound
10/10 characters
8/10 overall
lawnmower16's avatar
May 3, 2012

I love this anime. It was the first one I ever watched, and it will always hold a special place in my heart.

That being said, after returing to this and watching a few episodes again I can say, reluctantly, that it's a little too slow-paced. The comedy is lacking a lot of the time, and there are many jokes that rely on long periods of silence or repetition, or things like hastily animated character sprites moving slowly across the screen, which can be good sometimes, but this show perhaps does it to a fault. The animation is fine, but having become accustomed to newer styles and HD visuals, it looks really dated.

Much of the comedy requires knowledge of Japanese culture, which is fine with me, but may be off-putting to some viewers. I was lucky to watch this as my first anime, because I may have dropped it otherwise due to it's slow humor, and jokes that seem like ripoffs, but are, in fact, the originals, because this show is OLD, or, well, old for a school-life anime. 

But the reason I like Azumanga Daioh isn't because it is funny. I like Azumanga Daioh because of the loveable characters, and the emotional moments, highlighted by some of the best music ever to be paired with anything. When some actual semblance of a plot begins to form in the later episodes is when the show really wins in my book. One of the later episodes has probably my favorite moment in any anime ever. The last episode brought me to tears several times. Due to the off chance that somebody reading this may not have already seen it, I will say no more about this. Watch it if you haven't. I recommend it to anybody who likes the slice-of-life genre.

8/10 story
8/10 animation
10/10 sound
10/10 characters
9/10 overall