Max Reviews Mokke

Show: Mokke (from Kanji, meaning “Unexpected”)
Genre: Slice of Life, Supernatural
Studio: Madhouse, Tezuka Productions
Director: Masayoshi Nishida

Release: 2007

Episodes: 24 (+ 2 on DVD)

As a little kid, I was a bit of a mythology and folklore hipster: while everyone could list the names of the major deities in the Classical myths, I thought that too mainstream, and decided instead to educate myself in the stories of ancient Japan. Nowadays I can’t really remember anything significant about Japanese folklore and mythology, but that hobby is what got me interested in this anime at the time, although I hadn’t watched it from start to finish it until just recently (like, 3 days ago).

SYNOPSIS

The story focuses on sisters Mizuki and Shizuru Hibara. Shizuru is the older sister and has the ability to see things from the “other side” as they call it, which is the world of spirits and demons inspired from Japanese folklore that exists parallel to the real world whose denizens remain invisible to most. Mizuki, however, is easily possessed by such creatures and oftentimes winds up in dangerous or challenging situations because of this condition. Living in the city, the stress and inexplicability of the Hibara sisters’ abilities is too much for their mom and dad to handle (the idea being that folklore and tradition have been forgotten due to urbanization), so they have them live with their grandparents in the countryside who are familiar with the world of spirits—especially their grandfather. Each episode is a self-contained story, detailing a struggle the Hibara sisters face with monsters from the other world and the lessons they learn from each encounter.

 

INTERPRETATIONS

This anime provides a good comparison to Mushishi (another anime I reviewed with a similar premise and style). They are both similarly structured, in terms of storyline, and both focus on phenomena caused by otherworldly beings outside of the normal human’s perception. In addition, they are both influenced by ancient Japanese folklore and culture. To me, the first noticeable difference between the two is the interactions between that of the natural and that of the supernatural. In Mushishi, the “mushi” are often the root of a problem and each episode has an element of mystery as the main character, Ginko, attempts to discover the true nature of the mushi. But in Mokke, the creatures are less clearly defined or classified: they are not species, like the mushi are. In addition, they are often not the cause of troubles, but more of symbols or manifestations of them. In one episode for example, a classmate accidentally breaks Mizuki’s camera which contains pictures of the entire trip. Frustrated and angry, Mizuki is persuaded by a wandering Yama-Uba (like an old mountain hag) to stand up to her and demand an apology. Later, however, the same monster turns on those feelings of anger and nearly devours Mizuki, except that she uses her tactic against her, standing up to the demon with enough resolve to make her turn away. Also different from Mushishi is the dynamic between the sisters that plays out in many episodes. Shizuru is shy and apprehensive, and seeing demons and ghouls around people every day unnerves her. Mizuki is outgoing and energetic, possessing a naivety that leads her into troublesome situations. From their experiences, both of the Hibara sisters learn lessons about coping with others, accepting and rejecting fate, and being observant of the world around them. Another aspect of the show that fits with this scheme is how little screen time and focus the actual monsters and demons receive (although there are a few exceptions). For example, in one episode, one of Mizuki’s friends becomes depressed over losing a scarf given to her by a close friend. Mizuki is determined to help her find this scarf, but as the days wear on, her friend’s sadness and the fruitlessness of the search takes a toll on Mizuki, which manifests itself as a hazy snake-like monster (referred to as a Jatai) that begins to constrict her movement and leave wounds. Yet, the only time Mizuki actually confronts the monster (and when the viewer sees its true form) is only for about a minute at the end of the episode when Mizuki finally overcomes her burden and finds the lost scarf. This emphasis on the troubles of humans, rather than on the monsters and the supernatural in the story, truly makes it feel like an echo to folkloric tales and makes this anime meaningful. This is comparable to Death Note, in which the Shinigamis aren’t the main focus of the show, but the humans who are borrowing their power.

 

OPINIONS

I didn’t think this a necessarily revolutionary anime, but it is unique in its style of storytelling which seems to parallel folkloric tales of the past, in order to teach us lessons about the future. I felt that there was a strong connection between the “other world” and the natural world itself, which is not surprising, considering that a lot of folklore can be considered a metaphor for the real world. People, plants, animals, and earth all coexist and interact in various ways, some that are observable and predictable, and others that are not. The use of tales from Japanese folklore are meant to bring to light some of these relations. One tricky theme from the show that illustrates such complexity of the world is the idea of facing your fears and how and when to do so. Some of the creatures that harass Mizuki and Shizuru can be dissuaded by simply looking at them or ignoring them. Others, if paid too much attention to, may cause you to go insane or even simply kill you. Also, not all of the creatures are evil and not each of them can simply be “cured” or banished with charms. Some may be actually just overly needy and taught a lesson or two.

FINAL NOTES

I will admit, it doesn’t have stellar animation, nor the most memorable characters (besides the grandfather, he’s badass). And you might be irked by the simplicity in design of some of the monsters encountered in the show; although many of the references to mythological anecdotes and ideas sound very well crafted: if most of them weren’t ever actual traditions in Japan at some time, I’d be surprised! However, Mokke is more about ideas and concepts than characters and designs. Like Mushishi, it focuses on philosophical ideas and observes connections between humans and nature. It attempts to draw to your awareness the world and people around you and the greater interconnectedness in all things.

Max Dunevitz is a UF student who enjoys meaningful and insightful anime and video games that challenge the status quo. His hobbies include programming, the arts, music composition, mathematics, and community service.

Stephanie Reviews Golden Time

Show: Golden Time— Genre: Comedy, Romance— Episodes: 24

This week we’ll be looking at Golden Time, a 24 episode dramedy about some college-age folks. It ran from October 2013 to March 2014 on Japanese television, and was simulcast on American websites like crunchyroll.

On his first day of college, Tada Banri just wants to fit in and be normal. An accident took his memories the previous year, and he spent a long time in hospital before getting back on his feet. Despite his amnesia, he’s trying to be an average college freshman. Of course, he’s already running late for his entrance ceremony, so he picks a likely fellow freshman and follows him. Mitsuo Yanagisawa is warm and friendly towards Banri, and they become fast friends. Just as they’re reaching the college, one of our other main characters makes her debut. Koko Kaga pops out of freaking nowhere and assaults Mitsuo with a bunch of flowers.

Seriously, this is our first introduction to Koko.

And so it begins. Koko is obsessed with Mitsuo, and everything unfolds as you expect it might. He’s not interested, she’s obsessed. I expected Mitsuo to come around, as that’s the norm for most romance shows, but at some point Koko realizes she’s becoming a stalker, and doesn’t like the direction her life is going.

Koko realizes she might be a tad shallow at the moment.

Banri tries really hard to fit in, but the only other friend he’s made is actually from his old high school. She goes by Linda, and there is a complicated subplot that unfolds with her. She’s extremely useful to Banri in helping him with his memory problem.

Everything you would expect is there. There is a beach episode, a festival episode, an episode where the freshmen all pick clubs. The depth here is in the characters, not what they’re doing. Amnesia is a tired premise, but they play it well. This show pulled me along for a variety of reasons, not least of which is because it’s set in college, not middle or high school. The characters already sort of know what they want to do with their lives, they know who they like and it’s not a new sensation for most of them. And it’s funny. This show sneaks into your heart when you’re not paying attention, and you don’t even realize you care until it’s too late. The sad parts are tragic, and the comedy is really on point. There’s a lot of this kind of thing:

Of course pieces of Banri’s memory come back to him here and there, and it gets complicated fast. The second half of this show is definitely way more interesting and better paced than the first half, although the first 13 episodes are interesting enough.

Also, this show is full of crazy surprises.

NANA is his neighbor? What?

My love for this show built up over time. By the end though, I was rooting for our characters to have their happily ever after. Bring tissues.

All in all, I give this show 7 out of 10 Golden Tanukis. In my opinion one of the better anime to come out of last winter/spring, but I had to get several episodes in to really get attached to the characters, and it gets really confusing at times. Details that should be pointed out as important aren’t, and not in a clever Sherlock Holmes sort of way. Some of it is really obtuse. The characters shine through, however, and all in all it was an enjoyable experience. And all the opening and ending theme music is done by Yui Horie, who I love.

On another note, it occurs to me that all of the shows I’ve reviewed I’ve rated pretty well. I suppose the first few weeks I just wanted to share my recent enjoyable findings with whoever cares to read them. Next week I’ll try to dredge up something truly awful, just to round things out.

If you have any suggestions on reviews, feel free to reach out to me here or on the gator anime facebook page. If I’ve seen it, I’m happy to write about it.

Until then, I love you all <3

Stephanie is a UF alumnus who enjoys baking, reading, cats, and the internet. Also anime. OK mostly anime. 

Stephanie Reviews Nagi no Asukara

Show: Nagi no Asukara— Genre: Drama, Fantasy— Episodes: 26


Nagi no Asukara 凪のあすから, AKA Nagi-Asu: A Lull in the Sea ran in Japan and was simulcast on crunchyroll October 2013 through April 2014. When trying to explain this show to others, I feel like I’m voicing an old movie trailer: *ahem* In a world where sea gods are real, where merpeople are forced to go to middle school on land, one lovestruck teenager fights the odds to reconcile an age old conflict between land and sea.

It’s actually way more nuanced than that, but I love those old trailers. In Nagi-Asu, merpeople exist in the bays of Japan. The local sea town is called Shioshishio, its land counterpart is Oshiooshi. (Shio means salt)

Sea people look, act, dress, and are cultured just like land people, but they have a special layer of stuff on their skin called Ena that has to be moistened from time to time, or they can’t breathe. Because of an unusual amount of salt flake snow, the local sea middle school has been closed, so all of our main characters are transfers.  They all share the same genetic trait of very light blue eyes. They begin their year by quietly protesting the closure of the school by wearing their old uniforms to the new land school.

Screw that land school. Sea uniforms all the way.

Sea snow is a real thing in real life, you can learn about it here →http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marine_snow

Although officially it’s considered one long season, there is an opening and ending theme change after episode 13, as well as a time jump.

I like this anime because it gets me more interested in the world they live in than involved with the characters. There is a really fascinating political dichotomy between the two towns, a unique arrangement with blurred borders. This features heavily in the second half of the show since the beginning pieces of round two aren’t about our main characters at all.
The whole concept of Shioshishio is based on the idea that Japanese deities are real and literal things. According to legend, the sea god fell in love with a girl chosen to be his sacrifice, and so the first sea person is created. Their origin harkens back to Adam and Eve, as all the current citizens of the sea town are directly descended from that pairing. I found this particularly interesting because the voice of the sea god is a character with real implications to our main crew

and he’s super hot.

There is a lot of tension between the sea town council and the land town council, specifically about regulating the worship of their sea god and fishing, both of which are naturally related to the people who live under the water, but not as obvious to the land townfolk. That’s where our hero, Hikari, comes in. Although at first he holds some pretty firm prejudices, eventually he’s motivated to mediate between the two groups to help everyone get along. He also spends a lot of time fumbling through his feelings for his friend Manaka.

That’s a good sign, right?

There is a lot of social commentary about familial obligation lurking just below the surface here. If you fall in love with a land person and leave the sea, you are cast out, never allowed to return.
It’s about family and friends and love and burgeoning adolescence, but more than that it’s about societal roles. Loss of family members, estranged relationships, second marriages. At first glance this show is light and fluffy, but it quickly becomes obvious that the content gets at the root of what makes life worth living. Lasting friendships, familial love, faith. All wrapped in an enjoyable package of fairly typical middle school life.

This show gets 9 out of 10 Golden Tanukis. The characters and their world are full of depth, and little pieces of it have been flitting around in my head ever since I finished the last episode. Watch it, you know you want to.

Until next week, try not to get hexed!
Stephanie is a UF alumnus who enjoys baking, reading, cats, and the internet. Also anime. OK mostly anime. 

Amatsu Reviews Monthly Girl’s Nozaki-Kun

Show: Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun— Genre: Comedy, Romance— Episodes: 12

Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun (English title: Monthly Girl’s Nozaki-kun) is a romance comedy centered around Chiyo Sakura, her crush Umetaro Nozaki, and his other assistants.  Sakura confesses her love for Nozaki, but he mistakes her as being a fan and when they go to his house she ends up inking manga pages for him.  As she leaves she figures out that he’s actually a popular shoujo manga artist with the pen name Sakiko Yumeno.  Figuring that even though Nozaki is too dense to notice her feelings despite his line of work Sakura decides to work with him in order to spend more time with him and get to know him more.  In the course of the anime more characters are revealed that are either Nozaki’s other assistants or serve as inspirations for his characters.

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This anime aired from July 6th to September 21st, 2014 in a twelve episode season directed by Mitsue Yamazaki.  Dogakobo is the animation studio that animated Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun and they’ve animated shows like Yuruyuri, GJ-bu, and Makai Ouji: Devils and Realist.  The opening is a jazzy and catchy song called “Kimi Janakya Dame Mitai” and is performed by Masayoshi Ooshi.   The ending is “Uraomote Fortune” and is performed by Ari Ozawa.  In North America Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun is licensed by Sentai Filmworks and can be seen on crunchyroll.

http://www.crunchyroll.com/monthly-girls-nozaki-kun

Normally I’m not into romance comedies, but there’s a reason I love this anime.  This anime breaks a lot of stereotypes with the characters.  The main character, Nozaki, is completely oblivious to Sakura’s feelings and misinterprets a lot of her words and actions.  Despite his rather aloof looking face he’s quite eccentric when it comes to his manga.  So much so that the other characters often get caught up in his antics in the search for inspiration or examples.  He even fanboys over his editor.  While he is male he plays the role of the typical shoujo heroine.  Meanwhile the actual heroine of the anime plays the “straight man” or tsukkomi role.  She does have her shoujo moments mostly when trying to confess to Nozaki though so it’s not complete.  She does have to deal with everyone’s antics though as she is the most normal character of the series.

The rest of the cast is paired off other than one person, the third character we’re introduced to: Mikoto Mikoshiba affectionately called Mikorin.  Mikorin is an assistant to Nozaki and appears to have a punkish and flirty attitude.  However he’s actually shy and quickly gets embarrassed afterwards.  Unbeknownst to him, Mikorin is actually the character inspiration for Nozaki’s heroine.   He has a “Kohai notice me” relationship with Sakura.  Other breaking of normal stereotypes is Masayuki Hori, president of the drama club who is tsundere with his crush, Yuu Kashima.  Kashima also breaks stereotypes as she is the “school prince”.  Hirotaka Wakamatsu of the basketball club also has tsundere characteristics as he’s in a love/hate relationship with Yuzuki Seo a very blunt, rude, and tomboyish character.

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Not only does this series rewrite character stereotypes, but it also makes fun of situational stereotypes.  For example sharing an umbrella.  In case with Nozaki and Sakura they attempt to share, but their height differences leaves them both soaking wet.  While with Kashima’s popularity she ends up in a mass of umbrellas that block the road.  There’s so many other situations that happen yet don’t turn out as expected.

Onto the voice actors.  Nozaki is voiced by the excellent Yuuichi Nakamura who has played as several main characters such as Alto Saotome from Macross Frontier, Tomoya Okazaki from CLANNAD, and some supporting characters such as Ringo Tsukimiya from Uta no Prince-sama.  Meanwhile the seiyuu for Sakura, Ai Ozawa, has only had one main role as Nosomi Moritomo from The Rolling Girls and two other supporting roles.  Ozawa is the only really new seiyuu as the rest of the cast has multiple main roles.  Miyuki Sawashiro, Ryouhei Kimura, and Yuuki Ono to name a few from the rest of the cast.

Over all I give Gekkan Shoujo 8 out of 10.  Mostly because Sakura and Nozaki do not truly break away from the typical roles they’re in.  The other parts is because I want more of this series.  The last episode cameos character that are from the manga so I feel that while it can be taken as a declaration of a second season it’s in bad taste to do so in that method.

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Amatsu Otome moved down to Florida late December 2013 and has been attending Sante Fe in order to get enough credits to get into UF by Fall 2015.  She’s an avid anime watcher, part-time gamer, part-time cosplayer, and full-time college student.

Buried Gems: No Matter How You Look at it, it’s Your Guys’ Fault I’m not Popular!

WataMote_Manga_v01_cover

Show: WaTaMoTe— Genre: Comedy, School — Episodes: 12

          The difference between comedy and tragedy is a lot blurrier than one might assume. A great deal of comedy is watching bad things happen to people and finding their reaction amusing, snickering at the absurdity of the situation, or even taking glee in karmic retribution. One of the greatest errors you can make in writing a tragedy is to write too over-the-top or making the characters unsympathetic, and in many ways a tragedy is as simple as making the audience feel sorry for characters as opposed to laugh at their misfortune.

Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dō Kangaete mo Omaera ga Warui!, translated to the title above and often referred to as “WataMote” to save time, is one such series that dances back and forth over the line between comedy and tragedy (even if it mostly ends up as a comedy). Best described as dark comedy slice of life, WataMote is published online in Japanese. A spinoff manga, called Watashi no Tomodachi ga Motenai no wa Dō Kangaete mo Omaera ga Warui (translated as No Matter How I Look at It, It’s You Guys’ Fault My Friend’s Not Popular) has also been released. A 12-episode anime ran in 2013, and it adapts the manga fairly closely, diverging slightly but overall maintaining the same feel. It can be streamed on Crunchyroll.com subbed legally for free. As a caution, the opening is absolutely ridiculous.

The audience follows the adventures of Tomoko Kuroki, a nerdy high school girl who wants to become “more popular.” She tries to make new friends, start up a club, act cool, invoke anime clichés, and overall tries her damnedest to be popular, thinking that being in high school should be the most exciting time of her life. After all, she knows how it all works out in anime and visual novels.

To say her attempts at becoming popular fall short would be a massive understatement. Tomoko can barely have a conversation with most people, immediately freezing up and getting nervous. Only her family and best (ONLY) friend are immune to this, and even then, she often annoys her family as well. In addition to coming with “get popular” schemes so fast and of such ineptitude to give the likes of Homer Simpson a run for his money, whenever she tries taking the simple, direct path she fails miserably.

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            Besides her attempts to be popular, another recurring setup is watching her manage to get meaningful interaction with the few people that can stand her (or at least have to). She frequently torments her brother Tomoki (who could probably be the straight man in something like Daily Lives of High School Boys), and several plots involve her hanging out with her middle school friend, Yuu, who adjusted far better than Tomoko did, despite also being nerdy. Beyond her family and Yuu, there are few recurring characters; most of them are rather incidental.

Now some of you may be wondering why watching a girl try desperately hard to make friends is funny. It isn’t always; in fact, sometimes it’s downright cruel. What ultimately swings the pendulum from tragic to comic is in Tomoko, herself. She is deeply flawed as a character, although it doesn’t really relate back to her shyness and inability to converse. Tomoko is petty, hypocritical, judgmental, and overall totally self-centered. Her appearance comes across as creepy more often than endearing. She’s not particularly intelligent, nor is she at all good-natured or even civil to most people. Since the audience follows from her point of view, we even hear most of her inner musings on the people around her, most of which isn’t pretty.

So this gives us our comedic out; as much as we can sympathize with her plight, a lot of the bad things that happen to her are her own damn fault. Even worse is that a lot of the time she seems really close to finally making some progress, only for her to ruin it at the last minute by being an idiot. Though on the other hand, the few times something good happens to her are genuinely enjoyable, perhaps to sort of make up for when the universe seems to just hate her, as opposed to it being her fault. Even though it’s mostly a comedy, genuinely depressing moments are common enough.

Your enjoyment of WataMote really depends on how much humor you can find in watching Tomoko’s misadventures. It’s black comedy at its finest, and if that isn’t your cup of tea, you probably won’t enjoy the series. Some people might find Tomoko either too sympathetic to enjoy the humor or too unsympathetic that she becomes annoying. The comedy might skew a bit obscure when it comes to references to Japanese media, but I don’t think it detracts. There’s also a surprisingly large amount of sexual humor and innuendo, which while I find amusing, might turn some readers off.

Amusingly enough, WataMote has a large amount of western fans, most of whom (including yours truly) were introduced via word of mouth on Internet forums. It’s rare that I find a character endearing even as I simultaneously find her unpleasant. I hope she finally gets somewhere, even if I know she’ll suffer a lot trying to get there. It’s just depressing enough that a sense of drama is never truly forgotten, but it remains humorous and even kind of uplifting at points, given Tomoko’s sheer tenacity (one of her few good traits). If you’re a fan of dark comedy or quirky slice-of-life, I’d say give it a shot. A bunch of lunatics on the Internet can’t be wrong, after all.

Derek Delago is a UF student who is also an anime club officer. He loves anime, video games and rock.

Stephanie Reviews Speed Grapher

Show: Speed Grapher— Genre: Drama, Mystery— Episodes: 24

This week we’re going back in time a bit. This review also comes with a warning, as it is the first series I have reviewed that is not approved for all ages. This show (but not this review) contains some light nudity, and plenty of gratuitous violence.  Speed Grapher is a 24 episode series from 2005 that follows Tatsumi Saiga, a former war photographer who now snaps shots of political figures for a newspaper.

In our first few episodes, Saiga learns of and infiltrates a fetish club full of politicians and super wealthy patrons called the Rappongi Club. He is discovered trying to get a photo of the club’s “Goddess”, who bestows her blessing on Saiga by swapping spit with him.

Isn’t she lovely?

It turns out that the club’s Goddess is none other than Tennozu Kagura, 15 year old girl, and heir to a bajillion dollars.

Her blessing is for real though. She has the power to grant anyone their deepest desires. When Saiga was a wartime photographer, he took lots of pictures of people getting shot and blown up, and he has a bit of a fetish about it. This new power manifests itself as the ability to destroy stuff by taking pictures of it.


Saiga’s innermost desire bears a striking resemblance to pinkeye.

Saiga uses his newfound power to escape the crazy sex dungeon club, and he takes Kaguya with him. The rest of the series unveils others who have been given superhuman powers, and our protagonist duo have to fight for their lives. Thematically, the plot focuses on corruption in politics, organized crime, and the power of manipulation. Kaguya’s mother in particular is a piece of work. The main villain, Choji Suitengu, is one of those I love to hate. He is evil and smart and manipulative of those around him. Delicious.

Suitengu’s got racks on racks on racks

Saiga uses his, uhm, connections with a local police officer, Hibari Ginza, to help Kaguya and himself along. She’s one of my personal favorite anime characters ever. Ginza doesn’t take crap from anybody about anything, and she gets stuff done.

Ginza will self defense the crap out of you.

Speed Grapher has a definitive ending, and it stays good from start to finish. I give this show 9 out of 10 Golden Tanukis. I love this show. It’s full of action and the characters are emotionally damaged in a way that makes them relatable, even though their world is far removed from my own. Morality is a squishy grey area. It’s suspenseful and dirty and bloody and awesome. That being said, it’s not one I would sit down with my folks to watch. The fetishism throughout the show can be intense, and although there aren’t any explicitly pornographic scenes in it, there are a lot of adult situations. It also took me a bit to get over the fact that Saiga is in his 30s and Kaguya is 15. I think it’s important to note that although Kaguya is portrayed as somewhat of a sexual object in the eyes of the Rappongi club and its associates, I didn’t think she was particularly portrayed that way to the audience. Her feelings and experiences are what matter in the context of the plotline, not her body.

The next two weeks will be scary shows in honor of my favorite spooky holiday. Thanks for reading!

Stephanie is a UF alumnus who enjoys baking, reading, cats, and the internet. Also anime. OK mostly anime. 

Flashback: Azumanga Daioh

Show: Azumanga Daioh— Genre: Comedy, Slice of Life, School — Episodes: 26

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I’d like to begin this article by apologizing. I’m sorry. I’m sorry for turning the video below into a meme among some of the Gator Anime community.

Azumanga Daioh was first a “yonkoma,” essentially a comic strip that read from top to bottom, published in Dengeki Daioh magazine. It’s primarily a comedy, but it integrates a lot of slice of life elements and occasionally more emotional moments. The anime would follow a couple of years later and adapts a lot of the stories and gags. It is classified as shonen, which may surprise readers given the nearly all-female cast and the focus on high school girls doing…high school girl things. Surprisingly, it paid off, and a lot of later shows, such as Lucky Star and Nichijou, would follow a similar concept.

The story follows the misadventures of six high school girls, three of their teachers and the incidental people around them. The girl with (arguably) the most focus is child prodigy Chiyo, who enters high school at the age of 10, and has to spend a lot of time learning about how high school works. The character with the most development is probably Sakaki, the tall, athletic and dreadfully shy girl who strikes fear into the hearts of everybody, none of the qualities she wants. The other main girls include Tomo, a hyperactive jackass, Yomi, Tomo’s ever suffering friend and complete opposite, Osaka, the polite, imaginative, ditzy, and overall kinda weird girl, and Kagura, the emotional sports junkie.

Other important characters include their teachers Yukari Tanizaka and Minamo Kurosawa, both of whom get a few stories to themselves. Yukari is essentially a grown-up Tomo (though lazier and a little smarter) while Ms. Kurosawa is very sweet and, of course, Yukari’s best (and probably only) friend. She gets incredibly tired of her antics. There’s also Kaorin, a girl who has a crush on Sakaki (mostly played for humor), and Mr. Kimura, the perverted, but ultimately harmless goofball that mostly just acts as a jump scare to the girls.

Most of the series is just following the characters in their everyday lives and watching the experiences and adventures that arise from their interactions. Most episodes are just a series of events that don’t always have much to do with each other; the girls will be having a conversation one moment and be walking home the next. The comedy is mostly very situational and character-based, but some parts approach sketch comedy. Some sketches are nothing, but the tangents and rambling by the girls as they sit in class.

While most of the stories are played for humor, a lot of character shines through in how they bounce off one another. This is where the slice of life elements are more apparent, though it usually swings back to comedy pretty quick. The humor can also intertwine with actual character development. Watching Sakaki continuously try to pet cats is both funny and kind of heartbreaking at the same time, for example.

The anime is an incredibly faithful adaption of the manga, consisting entirely of jokes and plots from the manga. It mimics the yonkoma’s usage of “beat panels” by having long moments of silence as a character’s expression changes or otherwise reacts. This might be a bit odd to viewers of faster-paced comedies like Nichijou or Daily Lives of High School Boys, but it lends it’s own charm. The music is very memorable, really cutesy and odd, highly fitting the series. The opening and ending themes are both very good as well; the opening theme sounds very upbeat and quirky while the ending theme is very somber.

The English dub I highly recommend. Though I don’t recognize most of the voice actors, I must give a nod to Luci Christian and Jason Douglas, both of who perform excellently as Yukari and Chiyo’s father, respectively. The biggest thing you’ll be missing out on is Norio Wakamoto, once again as Chiyo’s father, and as always, he’s awesome.

As for flaws, the show might be too slow-paced for some people to be engaged, and while I find that part of the charm, it might not be for everyone. Being a comedy series, it’s of course very much up to the individual if they find it funny.

Honestly though, I find very little fault in Azumanga Daioh. The manga is a ton of fun and, despite it’s format, has a lot of characterization. For most people, I’d actually say to check out the anime, given its masterful translation of the yonkoma, and I feel the slow pace of the show really heightens the slice of life elements. It isn’t for everyone, but I think it has more of a universal appeal (as far as anime is concerned) than other shows in its wake, and it never ceases to make me smile and feel content when I’m watching it.

Derek Delago is a UF student who is also an anime club officer. He loves anime, video games and rock.