In my rush to get out my thoughts about the latest episode of Mawaru Penguindrum, I completely forgot to mention some minor changes to my site. First, you’ll notice that I’ve added four new banners in addition to two older banners to my site since they were just too good and very fitting of my site to pass up. You’ll also notice that I’ve changed the Flickr widget, so now you can conveniently view my photos in a slideshow without having to go straight to my Flickr photostream (I finally found a way to get around the wordpress.com no-Flash-allowed policy). I’ll admit that I haven’t been able to take more photos lately due to college, but this is still a nice change for my site. Also, I’ve updated my Recommendations, this time adding a separate page for anime movies and OVAs. Check it out if you’d like. Links have also been updated as well, with the addition of some new and veteran blogs that I have been very fortunate to discover! So with all the update announcements done and over with, it’s time to move onto another series up for review (albeit admittedly late…).
Next up in a series of seasonal anime finales, we now turn to Nichijou, a comedy, slice-of-life, school-life anime produced by famed Kyoto Animation. Nichijou is actually a difficult series to describe fully, as it has so many various wacky, random comedic acts. But at the core of the series, it focuses on the characters, most notably Aioi Yuuko, Naganohara Mio, Minakami Mai, Shinonome Nano, Professor, and Sakamoto.
While the title suggests a story of simple, everyday school life, the contents are more the opposite. The setting is a strange school where you may see the principal wrestle a deer or a robot’s arm hide a rollcake. However there are still normal stories, like making a card castle or taking a test you didn’t study for.
Nichijou is a hilarious, quirky slice-of-life comedy series and has several different segments such as Helvetica Standard, Like Love, etc. In addition to the segments, we also have two distinct separate story-lines eventually merging into one halfway through the series. One storyline focuses on the everyday, yet abnormal, average lives of Shinonome Nano, Professor, and Sakamoto, and the other storyline focuses on the school lives of Yuuko, Mio, Mai, and the majority of the Nichijou cast.
In the storyline with the robot girl Nano, the young genius Professor, and the talking cat Sakamoto, we follow their seemingly average days in their home for the first half of the series. Nano is a young robot girl created by Professor, and she is quite possibly the most normal of the cast, personality-wise, and she does have a complex about that large, clunky key in her back as she wants to be more human-like. Professor is a young genius, who’s very childish and, of course, slacks off munching on snacks or playing with poor Sakamoto. Sakamoto is a black cat given the ability to talk, thanks to a translator scarf invented by Professor, and he’s usually the voice of common sense and reason in the series, although he does end in quite a lot of sticky situations!
The other storyline involves the majority of the cast in a high school, your typical cliche setting, but here, we see so many students and teachers alike with all their own quirky idiosyncrasies! Yuuko is the super-energetic baka, Mio is the normal, secretly fujoshi, and Mai is the quiet, ultimate troll (but she really does have trouble expressing her feelings, heh). We also have a large cast here, which includes the goat-riding, flamboyant Sasahara Koujirou (Mio’s crush), the tsundere guns/heavy weaponry-toting Tachibana Misato, Nakanojou Tsuyoshi with his trademark mohawk, the easily flustered teacher Sakurai Izumi, the principal (who’s a very talented wrestler), and so much more. I won’t go into much details about the characters from here on, since it would take quite a long time to do so. So, we’ll be moving onto the segments, the adventures, and the consistent quality of Nichijou, shall we?
Out of all the segments in Nichijou, I will talk about just two segments, Helvetica Standard and Like Love, for the sake of shortening this post length. The first segment, Helvetica Standard, to be honest, makes little sense to me, but it is apparently based on a manga read by Annaka Haruka, a Go Soccer club (Go Soccer appears to be a real sport in this series…) member. She’s the one with the large red ribbon on her head and is seen reading the manga in the clubroom. Helvetica Standard is a show within a show, is how I would describe it. In this segment, the recurring theme appears to be of the afterlife, as we do see a grim reaper often and some angels as well. This could be a play on part of the word, “Helvetica”, with “hel” or “hell” being referred. I could be over-analyzing this, so let’s talk briefly about the font’s background and meaning, shall we? The font, Helvetica Standard, was developed in 1957 with the express purpose of creating a neutral typeface, one that has no intrinsic meaning in its form. Thanks to my knowledge in typography, I do think that this works very well with Nichijou’s animation style, as you often see several images where white space (neutral space) is used prominently. And… that’s pretty much all I got on Helvetica Standard. By the way, have you noticed that the English portion of Nichijou‘s title is in Helvetica Standard font?
Like Love is yet another different segment, one that is so much more poignant and so familiar to most of us. It actually create a strong contrast from Nichijou‘s comedic narrative, since the segments depict scenes that are so very much like real life. So, this segment makes Nichijou all the more hilarious and more charming as we can easily focus on each individual piece of an episode, thanks to the strong contrast. There are also some nearly static shots that are also quite sweet and calming at the same time, like the shot below. I believe that these beautiful, film-camera-like shots gives us a chance to reflect on the sweet moments of our everyday lives while providing a small break from the comedic segments. For a further read on this segment, do check out this nice post on Like Love by ajthefourth from a great duo team blog, The Untold Story of Altair & Vega.
Nichijou, as expected from Kyoto Animation, has had great consistent animation quality and humor. It has even been compared to Azumanga Daioh, which had a similar style of comedy as well. Now I know that some of you may be complaining that KyoAni should have focused on an action series or something else for all their reputation, but I think that Nichijou is a nice series with great, subtle storytelling told through the light-hearted comedic and subdued slice-of-life segments. So my response to my post title question, “Has KyoAni Come Up With a Great Series Again?” is: Yes, KyoAni has done a very well-done job on this series, even if it wasn’t received warmly. While the first half had some misgivings, it does get better in the second half if you can stick with it. If you’re looking for a series that can deliver some laughs and some quiet, nostalgic, everyday moments, this is the series for you. Also, the openings of Nichijou are just so darn fun to watch and catchy to listen to!
P.S. Mai-chan is my top favorite Nichijou character. I mean, just look at her below! She’s so cute!