Azumanga Daioh by Kuzu Ryu Sen

Also Known As: Azu Dai, Azu Daioh, Azu
Genre: Comedy
Format: 26 Episodes
Allegiance: GENCO
Director: Nishikiori Hiroshi
Vintage: 2002
Intelligence Agency Report by: Kuzu Ryu Sen
At first glance, one would expect a day with Class 1-3 to be as normal as with any other class. As one walks in the door, there’s the 10 year old genius girl with the pigtails reading. When the bell rings, there’s the screeching of the teacher struggling to make it on time. During class, there’s the tall quiet girl looking out the window at what appears to be a very cute cat-shaped cloud, with another girl staring at her with a red face… Directly in front, there’s the girl from Kansai staring blankly into air. Behind, the two childhood friends are arguing loudly again and whacking each other with their textbooks, but it’s fine because the teacher is too distracted by what’s happening in the class next door. Ah, just another day in the world ofAzumanga Daioh.

Field Agent Report by: Kuzu Ryu Sen
Overall 9.25

I know what you’re thinking. A comedy about a group of girls going through high school; that’s either got to be filled with pointless fanservice and cheap slapstick, or else be the most boring thing in the world, right? Guess again, becauseAzumanga Daioh bucks the trend easily with its amazing cast, outstanding humour, and ability to rekindle touching nostalgic moments.

The thing that makes Azumanga Daioh great is its characters. Everyone in the show has a unique personality that is absolutely priceless. Back that up with ample screen time for everybody and outstanding seiyuu work and you have a recipe for hilarious comedy. With really no plot to speak of, one would think that the jokes would eventually get old, butAzumanga Daioh’s format doesn’t allow for it. Each episode is made up of 5 mini-episodes, and the rapid pace that comes as a result ensures that Azumanga is as enjoyable at the beginning as it is at the end. Although the mood is largely comedic and light hearted, Azumanga is particularly good at producing some very touching moments, and older viewers are sure to remember their high school days fondly (or not so fondly) while watching. In particular, the ending is very good at eliciting a powerful emotional response.

Unfortunately though, this show is not for everyone. A lot of the humour is directed at a certain niche, and like other cute comedies (Di Gi Charat for one), there will be a group of people that will hate this anime. Also, to fully understandAzumanga Daioh, a fairly decent grasp of Japanese culture is required. This is, after all, a show about normal life in Japan. Lastly, there are certain parts involving detachable pigtails and flying cats that just make less sense than the last two episodes of Evangelion. Just try to take them in stride, and not let them worry you too much.

In the end, Azumanga Daioh is a hilarious outlook on life, and can be watched over and over starting from any point in the series. It’s an anime that focuses on the little things in life, and how often these overlooked events are just as special as the major milestones.