Friday, July 13, 2007

Azumanga Daioh - Anime Review

Rating: A+++

Synopsis: Six girls attend high school together in this hilarious and cute slice-of-life anime. The plots are all character-driven, maintaining a balance of mundane and wacky, despite the low-key ambitions of the series. We begin the series with the first day of High School and follow the girls through to their graduation.

Words fail me in describing Kiyohiko Azuma's Azumanga Daioh, but I will do my darndest. Even though this is a slice-of-life style anime, there's plenty to watch and like as we follow these six girls through sports days, culture fests, and summer vacations. The characters grow on you within the first couple of episodes, and from there you're hooked.

There is dramatic tension in the show, but it's caused by things like "Will Sakaki be able to pet the kitty?" Osaka's tendency to daydream or say strange non-sequitirs provides a great deal of surrealistic entertainment. Chiyo-chan's dilemma as a ten year-old high schooler gives the show tons of great scenes (such as the first time she ventures out at night to buy a new eraser, and runs from streetlight to streetlight in terror).

There is an entire episode dedicated to fan service, and instead of some sort of racy panty-shot laden episode, we get spoonfuls of cuteness as the class runs their Cute Cafe. With Chiyo-chan in her penguin suit, this episode will about kill you, as all you can manage to do is whisper "kawaii!"

    Main Character Guide (from left to right in image above):
  • (Yomi) Koyomi Mizuhara - Yomi is the voice of reason and most normal girl in the group. She wears glasses, is very athletic and smart, but is always concerned about her weight. She acts as the main restrainer on Tomo's schemes.

  • (Osaka) Ayumu Kasuga - A girl transferred to the high school from Osaka. She is given the nickname "Osaka" despite the fact that her dreamy, barely lucid style of thinking is very different from the stereotypical Osakan. A lot her daydreams and thoughts give the series its surrealness.

  • (Chiyo-chan) Chiyo Mihama - Chiyo's a prodigy advanced five grades to high school at 10. Ridiculously cute, Chiyo-chan attempts to fit in with her new older friends.

  • (Sakaki) Sakaki - Sakaki is a tall quiet girl who is good at school and sports without trying. Unfortunately, the one thing she desires most, a pet cat, is the one thing she can't seem to make happen (cats hate her, her mother is allergic). Her tallness and quietness give her a reputation for being "cool".

  • (Kagura) Kagura - Kagura is a very hard-working athlete who joins the girls in their second year. She spends a lot of time training, and though she sees Sakaki's innate athletic talent as competition, she usually ends up competing with Tomo.

  • (Tomo) Tomo Takono - Tomo is the school's self-proclaimed "wildcat", competitive and energetic. Tomo is incredibly impulsive and can be obnoxious at times, but her actions tend to be a catalyst for the show.

This is my favorite anime right now, and that is the highest recommendation I can possibly give. As soon as I sent back the Netflix discs, I made plans to buy my own. If you haven't seen any Azumanga Daioh, then get to it!

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