Azumanga Daioh- The Animation: Needs Less Kimura

Azumanga Daioh was a slice of life comedy by Azuma Kiyohiko that ran from early ’99 to mid ’02. In April of ’02 the anime adaptation started airing. It was handled by J.C. Staff. We talked about them last week with Wolf Guy. They were also responsible for Shakugan no Shana, Nodame Cantabile & Toradora among others. Let’s just hope that this one is better than the last anime I reviewed from them.

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Story:

The basic premise for the series is that we have a bunch of quirky girls attending high school and getting into all kinds of shenanigans. A first for the anime I’ve reviewed, I know. Each episode is divided into segments and each segment features a different humorous scenario involving our main cast.

Yes, Azumanga Daioh has a very common, very basic slice of life comedy premise. However, to its credit, it does a superb job at executing that premise. It features quite a few fun, cute and charming scenes. Almost every single joke in the series is really funny. The jokes that fail all revolve around the same character, Kimura. His entire shtick is that he’s creepy and behaves in alarming ways that would get any teacher fired from a reputable school. A lot of his gags are both predictable and just aren’t funny.

Characters:

The cast isn’t particularly complex. They all have pretty basic archetypes that they rarely deviate from. However, the series absolutely excels at highlighting the quirks of the various characters and giving strong interactions among the main cast that allow them to play off of one another in ways that are absolutely hilarious and a good deal of fun. Which is another problem with Kimura as a character. With the rest of the cast, they can surprise you in their interactions. With him, the other characters get creeped out and/or angry and that’s pretty much it.

Kimura aside, the cast in this is really endearing. Ayumu is surprisingly adorable. Tomo is always fun. Sakaki, Kaorin, Kagura, Chiyo, Yomi, Yukari & Nyamo are all just great. You could put any two or more of them together and come out with a funny moment. Which the series does take advantage of quite a bit.

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Art:

The series tends to gravitate towards simple backgrounds and animal designs. However, to its credit, the artwork features a lot of strong visual gags the characters are nicely designed and the art style, though fairly simple, does really suit the series.

Sound:

The vocal cast in this is really good. Matsuoka Yuki, Asakawa Yuu, Nogawa Sakura, Kaneda Tomoko, Higuchi Chieko, Hiramatsu Akiko, Kuwashima Houko, Hisakawa Aya &Tanaka Rie are all not only strong actresses but also perfectly suited to their roles. Which is also true for Ishii Kouji, he really conveys Kimura’s unpleasantness perfectly. The music from Kurihara Masaki is really nicely done. It complements the series really well.

Ho-yay:

There’s certainly some. Kaorin has a really obvious crush on Sakaki. Kagura also seems to have one at times. I think she has the same definition of rival that Greta does. Although Kaorin would definitely be a better match for Sakaki. Do your best, Kaorin, Deutschland is rooting for you. There are also certain moments where Tomo and Yomi come across as more than friends. Although there aren’t many of those.

Final Thoughts:

Overall, Azumanga Daioh: The Animation is pretty delightful. If not for Kimura, it would probably be among the best comedic anime I’ve reviewed. His presence does hurt the series somewhat, but not too badly. All in all, it’s a lot of fun and I do recommend it. My final rating is going to stand at a solid 8/10. Next week I’ll look at Green Legend Ran.

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