After a grueling first week of college classes and business, 7 straight nights of sleeping without a blanket or a pillow (necessitating the use of a beach towel and some sweaters to cover myself, which were uncomfortable), sending my glitchy hearing aids out to be fixed, and the moving-into-dorm process complete, I’m now glad to say that I will finally most likely to be able to have more free time as is custom for a college student. So that’s my update. Moving on.
One of the most well-known comedy anime series, Azumanga Daioh is a comedy classic that aired in 2002, quite a long time ago! As any experienced veteran anime fan will know (like myself), Azumanga Daioh gained a big popularity at its time due to its comedies induced by the multitude of the cast, with several characters with her own strange quirks and unique personality.
Azumanga Daioh is about high school life through the eyes of six girls with unusual personalities: Chiyo (the 10-year-old genius), Osaka (the resident airhead), Sakaki (the shy one prone to cat bites), Tomo (the loose cannon), Yomi (the short-tempered one) and Kagura (the resident jock).
Azumanga Daioh doesn’t really have any specific plot, being a comedy, slice-of-life, and school life series. So,why is it so popular? The main defining points that made this show one of the best and nostalgic anime series for me, were the characters, of course, with their own idiosyncrasies. As you’ve seen from the given synopsis, we have six girls that come together to deliver hilarious moments in their school lives. Since the plot isn’t as important (it’s a slice-of-life comedy, so of course it wouldn’t have a perfect plot), I’ll talk about the characters instead (thereby changing this review into a post on characters).
First, we have Kasuga Ayumu, affectionately called “Osaka” because she is a transfer student from Osaka. You would think that she’s the stereotype of an Osakan (loud, exuberant, fond of flashy jokes), but you couldn’t be any further away from the truth, as she is actually the opposite of the stereotype, being absentminded, unmotivated, and slow. Despite this stereotypical contradiction, Osaka is still a big favorite amongst fans, and she has a very vivid imagination that comes into play multiple times throughout the series and is easily amused by things that most people would find bizarre or just plain weird.
Now, on the other hand, we have a character who would more accurately fits the stereotype of an Osakan, but is not from Osaka, Takino Tomo. Tomo is a boisterous, energetic, and very impulsive girl; the opposite of Osaka. Tomo has a tendency to be very annoying to the rest of the cast, and together with Yomi, they are both an unintentional comedic double act with Yomi often playing straight man and reeling in Tomo’s antics. Tomo, together with Osaka and Kagura (who appears later in the series), also have the worst grades of the cast in school, and this certainly pops up quite a bit delivering some laughs.
Reeling in Tomo’s antics, Mizuhara Koyomi, also affectionately called “Yomi”, plays the straight man and is the main voice of reason in the show. Tomo is the most normal girl of the cast, and she carries herself as the most mature and serious. She also has a tendency to go on diets, much like what normal girls would do nowadays (well, I think that’s what girls do nowadays, but I could be wrong, what with the rising obesity). Her academic and athletic skills are above-average, and her manners of speaking is more masculine compared to the rest of the cast. Despite what you might think, she does have her own charms plus her cute and funny moments.
Mihama Chiyo, affectionately called “Chiyo-chan”, is the smartest and the youngest of the cast, having skipped 5 grades to high school. Normally, grade-skipping is unheard of in Japan but this series does explore the funny potential of a child prodigy in high school with the addition of Chiyo to the cast (which resulted in some amusing situations!). Everyone, with the exception of the teasing Tomo, treat Chiyo-chan nicely because of her innocence and youthfulness, and she is so cute! Chiyo-chan, because of her diminutive size, has a lack of confidence in sports and fails horribly at sports along with Osaka, but that’s part of her own charm!
A tall, soft-spoken, busty girl with a strong physique, Sakaki is often mistaken as a mysterious, cool beauty who’s unparalleled in athletics. In reality, she is actually a very shy sensitive girl, with an extreme fondness of cute things such as animals. Unfortunately, animals dislike her and Sakaki often gets depressed that she could not pet the animals as well, plus her mother has allergies so pets are out of the question. Another running gag is that of Kaori, a side-character, who has yuri tendencies toward Sakaki, and she’s prone to delusions and always trying to get close to Sakaki, ahaha.
Sakaki also has an unintentional rival, Kagura, who’s sporty and a bit more impulsive tomboyish girl (but not as impulsive as Tomo). Kagura views Sakaki as an athletic rival, since she honed her athletic skills through hard work whereas Sakaki is a natural athletic. Kagura is primarily from the swimming team, but is well-rounded in all other sports as well. And while she does excel in athletics, unfortunately, her academics are not up to par, in fact having some of the worst grades in school along with Osaka and Tomo. Kagura is definitely one healthy, robust girl!
Along with the main cast of characters, we also have several side-characters who are also funny in their own way. We have Kaori, who has yuri tendencies toward to Sakaki, Tanizaki Yukari, a teacher with very unconventional methods and varying mood, Kurosawa Minamo, a very kind normal gym teacher, and Kimura, a creepy and possibly perverted teacher who always has his mouth gaping open. In addition to human characters, there are also some animals as well such as Kamineko, a cat that always bite Sakaki with his bear-trap-like teeth, Tadakichi-san, Chiyo-chan’s dog twice the size of Chiyo-chan, and Maya, an Iriomote Mountain Cat who becomes close to Sakaki. Azumanga Daioh‘s main strength lies within the widely, varied cast as you can see. It would take quite a long time to talk about each character respectively, but as this post is getting long, I’ll have to leave that for later.
The animation quality is actually good for its time back in 2002, and the character designs are pretty nice but nothing too special. My favorite characters are either Sakaki, Kagura, or Yomi, because of their great personalities and I do love Sakaki’s cute side, Kagura’s healthy attitude, and Yomi’s normality. As this anime series is based on a manga series, it actually is quite faithful to the original material. This series doesn’t attempt to be the best nor try not to fail, but it did very well with its jokes and hilarious situations. I’d definitely say that this was a great series for its time, and it certainly did garner a huge popularity as well. I recommend this great series and also the original manga that this series was based on as well for some great laughs!
P.S. There’s also a strange, recurring cat character mascot for Azumanga Daioh, named Neco Coneco, who you see in the second to last picture. Neco Coneco is a recurring joke in itself, and it is certainly another one part of Azumanga Daioh‘s quirky charms.
EDIT: Yerocha pointed out that Neco Coneco is actually the white kitten-on-top-of-cat plushie that appears in the series sometimes. The orange cat-thing is Chiyo-chichi, which appears often in Sakaki’s dreams and strange situations. Sorry for the mix-up!