The moment that the title sequence of Azumanga Daioh began I had the feeling that this would be a series I’d fall for. Why? Because, despite watching it by myself, it was able to make me laugh out loud – something that continued right until the very end. In this way, Azumanga Daioh really reminds me a lot of Nichijou, except that actual serialization happens between the vignettes.
In a nutshell, Azumanga Daioh a comedy series that takes place over three years of high school with six girls as main protagonists (and a number of students, teachers and a very toothy cat acting as supporting). This sounds like a lot of anime series out, especially a lot of bad ones, but where this really works is the characterization of the central six. All of them have very different personalities and they all act as foils of each other depending on the context of the sketch. In a very real way, you could make a pretty decent Buzzfeed-style personality quiz as to which character you are (me, I think I’m a Yomi).
Most heartwarming of all is how the group treat the series’ main focus: Chiyo. She’s a child prodigy who is five years younger than her peers, but the way that the group accepts her doesn’t feel overly saccharin or forced. I think it helps that the setting is a Japanese school rather than American, which means the idea of being a ‘popular kid’ is more out the window, which allows for such a weird group to form.
Also, whilst having very different characters, there are a good number of different humour strands present – meaning that if a joke doesn’t hit, the next one might be more in your wheelhouse. Sure, for the most part they lean on absurdist humour (from Osaka’s weird wide-eyed views on the world to the strange flying English-speaking orange cat-like creature that pops up in their dream sequences), but for me that’s the sweet spot.
It’s been a while where I felt legitimately sad to finish a final episode and I think Azumanga Daioh managed to pull that off because we were given the ultimate closure of the six friends graduating and going their separate ways. It’s sad, yes, but as one of their teachers says – it’s the way life is. This is definitely a series to put on the re-watch list for the future.