Thursday, November 18, 2010

Azumanga Daioh: Too.....Much.....Cute

Azumanga Daioh "group shot". L-R Koyomi "Yomi" Mizuhara, Ayumu
"Osaka" Kasuga, Chiyo-chan Mihama, Sakaki, Kagura, & Tomo Takino.
Credit: Kiyohiko Azuma, Dengeki Daioh, J. C. Staff & ADV
                                
                                                               
                                  Azumanga Daioh: Too.....Much.....Cute

                                                                by
          
                                                                   Jay Agan

  One of the shows I've put off bothering with (Not my kind of anime.) is Azumanga Daioh. On glancing at articles & seeing illustrations in passing, I concluded it was another of those insufferably cute shows for girls. Having just aquired hi-speed internet & nothing better to do, I decided to take this one in. Glad I did.

  The show is about several young women going through grades 10-12 & the situations (surreal & otherwise.) they encounter. Summer/winter semesters with their attendant classes, sports/culture fests, holidays/vacations & general "slice of life" high school experience. This story arc is repeated for each grade. While one might think this to be boring, there is more than enough variation keeping this series interesting throughout. The characters themselves keep things moving, lively &, at times, have you busting a gut laughing.

  The "cast" members are stories unto themselves:

  Excrutiatingly cute child prodigy, Chiyo Mihama: Top scholar in class but still with the mind of a child. Doing her best socializing with classmates five years older. Her "cooking is so fun" segment from episode one almost had me calling the EMS over what I feared was a sugar OD. This seemed to innoculate me for the rest of the series so I was able to continue.

  Remote, alienated Sakaki: Taller than most of the boys at school & quite self concious of it. Everyone misreads her detatchment as "being cool". Oh yes. She wants a kitty.....so.....bad (Can't have one. Parent allergies.). Cats don't seem to like her much. One in particular almost always puts the bite on her when she tries to pet it. You'd think it would occure to her the critter might be rabid.

  Sadistic, hyperactive, ritalin deprived, Tomo Takino: I'm against drugging children to make them compliant in school, but in this case, maybe they should put this one to sleep! LOUD (!) with a capitol loud & always roughhousing or ranking on someone (Usually Yomi.). Also likes messing with Chiyos' mind. ("Okinawa! OH KIN AH WAA!" "Oh! Shut up!")

  Studious, sensible, weight concious, Kayomi "Yomi" Mizuhara: A stabilising force in the group. Good for giving an occasional sock to the jaw of the hyperactive one. In spite of her exasperation with Tomo, they're actually good friends.

  Athletic go-getter Kagura: In a one sided sports/coolness competition with Sakaki. Not above participating in some of Tomos' stunts.

  Spacey, other worldly, Ayumu "Osaka" Kasuga: Originally from (Where else?) Osaka. Her mind, from somewhere beyond there.

  Whacked language teacher, Yukari Tanizaki: You'd think she was related to Tomo, the way she acts. Likes playing head games with everyone. Her teaching "style" is unique to say the least. Also drives like a freakin' maniac!

  Caring, attentive, phys-ed teacher Minamo Kurosawa: Another stabilising force & guardian of the kids, standing between them an a certain "strange" litt. teacher.

  Obsessive, lesbian wannabe, Kaorin: Has a crush on Sakaki (Who is either oblivious or just very good at ignoring it.). Constantly "beating herself over the head" about it. (Geez kid. Get a boyfriend or three. Find out what it's like on the "other bank of the river".)

  Unsuccessful pedophile, litt. teacher Kimura: This guy needs to be locked up! As the kids know what he is from the start & avoid him like the plague, the character is played for laughs. I had to keep reminding myself that Japanese humor is a little.....uh.....different.

  The latter two characters would pretty much keep this show off saturday mornings here & on Adult Swim. I admit, I laughed my butt off over some of the situations they were in. Howsomever, the scenes of Kimura focusing his attention on Kaorin are creepy to say the least. (Is it any wonder the kid is such an emotional basket case at times?)

  While not rushing out to buy the show (Again, not my kind of anime.), I must say I enjoyed watching it & even got a little sad when it concluded. It is, with some reservations, I recommend it to an older crowd.

  So. Do Kaorins' dreams come true? (Oh for cryin' out loud!) Does Kimura Score? (Good Lord! No!) Do the kids graduate let alone pass their college entrance exams? And, most importantly, does Sakaki finally reconcile with the little, gray, piranha kitty? (This is what had me follow this series to the end.) See the series & find out!

                                       Article copyright © 11-18-10 Jay Agan

Addendum: Some months after I wrote this article, I "broke down" & bought this series. Why? It's cute, funny, simple yet sophisticated & doesn't try to insult ones' intelligence. The only bad thing about this series is the ending. You DON'T want it to end (The graduation scene is a minor tear jerker!). The only recourse is to start the show over. Rats!

Azumanga Daioh article: Where Are They Now? here.

Azumanga Daioh, The Abridged Series: An Episodic Review here.

Azumanga Daioh: Well THAT Was Dumb here.

Azumanga Daioh X Peanuts: Some Ruminations here.

Beyond Wrong & Wonderful: An Evangelion/Azumanga Daioh Crossover Fan Fiction here.

Not So Oblivious: An Azumanga Daioh Sakakai/Kaorin Fan Fiction here.

Wikipedia review here.

Go to Main Page here.

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