Stephanie Reviews Engaged to the Unidentified

Show: Mikakunin de Shinkoukei— Genre: Comedy, Romance— Episodes: 12

This week we’ll be taking a look at Engaged to the Unidentified. This adaptation of a weekly comic strip aired in Japan under the title 未確認で進行形 Mikakunin de Shinkōkei (which translates to Unconfirmed and In Progress) between January and March of 2014. There are 12 episodes, each building on the last, as each episode we come a bit closer to finding out the truth about our main characters. When Kobeni Yonomori turned 16, she was informed that she had a fiancee.

aren’t they cute?

This is a plot device I’ve seen before, but always with the genders reversed. Kobeni’s betrothed, Hakuya Mitsumine, comes to live with her, along with his little sister Mashiro. Surprisingly, Kobeni is all right with this without being particularly for or against the marriage. We see her have more inner reflection on her situation than I expected to see.

Life is hard when you’re a betrothed teenager.

At first glance, this show seems like it’s going to be full of the same overworked plot points seen in countless romantic comedy/slice of life shows that have come before it. This is not the case. This show doesn’t pull any punches, drops major plot twists like it’s nothing, and is ridiculously funny. Mashiro, along with Kobeni’s sister Benio, fuel the comedy side, and it is wonderous.

Something about aliens?

way too many!

For his part, Hakuya is a quiet, reserved, deep thinker. He’s super smart, and very emotionally sensitive, but not obnoxious about it.

Poor guy just wants to build stick palaces in peace.

Although there is a good bit of foreshadowing so that you know something is different about Hakuya and Mashiro, they don’t broadcast it so loudly that it falls flat when they start revealing their family’s secrets. The romance between Kobeni and Hakuya is adorable, and feels genuine. Unlike many romance shows, the story entirely revolves around the main female character; what she feels and what she wants are most important.

All in all, I give Engaged to the Unidentified 7 out of 10 Golden Tanukis. You’ll survive if you don’t get around to seeing it, but it’s definitely worth seeking out. I would recommend this show if you need a laugh and a d’awww. Until next week, here’s Mashiro, doing some gratuitous dancing.

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

Stephanie Reviews Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day

Show: Anohana— Genre: Comedy-Drama, Romance— Episodes: 11

Anohana: The flower we saw that day, in Japan known as あの日見た花の名前を僕達はまだ知らない。 Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai., literally translated to  “We Still Don’t Know the Name of the Flower We Saw That Day.” is an 11 episode series that ran in Japan in 2011. There was a film released in 2013, and a second film will come out in 2015.

Left to right, that’s Poppo, Jintan, Anaru, Atsumu, and Tsuruko.  

There are 6 main characters, who span a variety of personalities. The story is told from the perspective of Jinta Yadomi, also called Jintan. He was the leader of a group of childhood friends who called themselves the Super Peace Busters. Meiko Honma, who everyone refers to as Menma, is the ghost of a little girl who was friends with the group but died in an accident. She moves the plot along, nudging Jinta out of the house and trying to reunite the group. We also have Naruko Anjo, aka Anaru, who’s a popular and pretty girl, and struggles with her image as shallow and vapid. Atsumu Matsuyuki has grown to hate Jinta, as he blames him for Menma’s death. He is athletic and popular and bears a weird secret. Chiriko Tsurumi, aka Tsuruko, is the introvert of the group. She and Atsumu are close friends, and have a complicated relationship. Lastly we have my personal favorite, Tetsudo Hisakawa, who everyone calls Poppo. He’s hilarious. A drop-out, he actually sets up in their old Super Peace Busters base and works part time jobs to save up money to travel.

Here’s Jintan, leading the Super Peace Busters through the woods when they’re children, back when everything was beautiful.

The bare bones of the story are simple– Menma is the ghost of a little girl who died tragically, and she needs to have her wish fulfilled to move on to the next world. It’s up to our main character, Jintan, who is the only one who can see Menma’s ghost, to convince their other childhood friends to help fulfill Menma’s wish. Only, Menma doesn’t remember what her wish is, because she’s a ghost, and therefore has to follow ghost rules to figure it out. Watching Jinta try to convince everyone he’s not crazy is entertaining in and of itself, but that’s not the heart of the show. The real charm of this show lies in rekindling friendships they all once thought was damaged beyond repair and seeing the different kinds of people they’re growing up to be.

There are a lot of feelings.

This show  is unexpectedly touching. I found myself tearing up from time to time (read: a lot of the time). I couldn’t pick out a character to relate to, but I still felt connected to them by the end of the series. The writing does a good job imparting the themes of friendship and trust without shoving it down the audience’s throat, and there are a few plot twists I did not see coming. All told, I enjoyed it more than I thought I was going to.

I give it 7 out of 10 Golden Tanukis. I’d watch it again, and I recommend it to anyone who would like to experience major feels. I’m looking forward to the second movie next year 🙂

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. 

Max Reviews Digimon Tamers

Show: Digimon Tamers 
Genre: Action-Adventure, Science Fiction 
Studio: Toei Animation 
Director: Yukio Kaizawa 
Episodes: 51

 

As a 51-episode anime for kids, there is a long, slow-moving plot with many predictable twists and frequent, lengthy flashbacks. As a result, you really can’t write proper a review unless you consider the entire plot, so spoilers beware!

SYNOPSIS

Digimon Tamers is the third season of the Digimon animated franchise. If you’re not familiar with the Digimon universe, just imagine Pokémon, except that the “creatures” chiefly exist within the “digital network” of communications between computers and electronics and are considered incapable of materializing in the real world. However, each season of Digimon presents an entirely different perspective of the “digital” world and Digimon themselves. In Digimon Tamers, Digimon are actually trading cards that are played with using a “Digivice” and can be interacted with on a computer. Three children, however—named Takato, Li, and Ruki in the Sub; Takato, Henry, and Rika respectively in the Dub—have their Digimon “bio-emerge” into the real world—Guilmon, Terriermon, and Renamon respectively. They soon team up to stop other Digimon that have begun appearing in the real world as well to uncover the secrets behind a shady organization called Hypnos. The three “Tamers” meet up with some side characters—including Takato’s crush, Juri (she becomes quite important later)—and Digimon Culumon (Caulmon in the Dub) and Impmon. They eventually have to journey into the Digital World to rescue Culumon who has been kidnapped where they find that there is a computer program, called the D-Reaper, which has been threatening the digital world for ages. The team eventually leaves the Digital world only to find that the D-Reaper has invaded their own world. It takes the efforts of the once evil Hypnos organization, the original programmers of the Digimon trading cards, and the Tamers to defeat the D-Reaper and ensure the safety of the Digital and Real worlds.

Whew!

QUICK PROS AND CONS

Pros: The character designs are interesting and surprisingly relatable for children, there is a meaningful over-arching plot that has deep implications and interpretations, the jams are pretty sweet, and the overall feel of the show is a somewhat serious, which is unique for a children’s show, from my experience.

Cons: You could seriously cut the number of episodes in half and maintain the same consistency of plot. There is a lull in the action in the 20 or so middle episodes when the Tamers are have to go up against a group of Digimon called the Deva, an arc that really unnecessarily extends the story. A few of the characters provide little to the plot development but are given significant screen time and there are a few scenes, like a few battles, which seem overly convoluted and unexplained. However, I imagine that all of these can probably be attributed to various contracting deals demanding a longer season and the fact that Digimon Tamers is for younger audiences.

OPINIONS

One thing I really enjoy about this show is the amount of effort that was put in to maintaining a childlike simplicity while concurrently devising a meaningful plot with occasionally dark situations and characters. For example, you can compare visually some of the posters for Tamers to the first series of Digimon: Digimon Adventure. It’s clear that Tamers takes on a darker and more serious approach. The focus on the three central Tamers is apparent throughout the show and they occasionally deal with problems that really resonate with our own, like social acceptance, forgiveness, empathy for others, and refusing to face the real world. The soundtrack of the series is excellent as well, employing many genres of music to convey each character’s beliefs and personality.

Digimon Adventures

Digimon Tamers

 

 

compared with…

 

 

Here is a video of each Digimon’s “digivolution”. It’s like Pokémon evolution, except that it’s temporary. You can just watch it to 2:08 to get the gist: the art style and music is pretty dark and intense. Also, each Digimon is not necessarily hero material. Guilmon is supposed to be a virus type Digimon and is very mischievous, and Renamon is pretty much a tsundere character that likes being alone.

]This is a dark and somewhat disturbing scene from one of the later episodes, where Juri is recalling the traumatic experience of discovering her mother’s death while the D-Reaper overtakes the city.

INTERPRETATIONS

Digimon Tamers also communicates quite a few ideas on technology. The plot itself is propagated through the interaction of a technological world and a real one. The fact that Digimon are coming to life is not just a neat idea, it’s a sign that technology and humanity are merging and changing. In the end, the ultimate enemy is a creation of humanity, the D-Reaper, which, interestingly, alludes to the real life program of a similar name that was used to eliminate the world’s first computer virus—a tiny bit more on that here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creeper_(program)

Kind of makes you think about where technology is headed in today’s world

The great computer scientists of the mid-20th century like John von Neumann and Alan Turing recognized the life-like attributes of a digital network of computers and the possibility of “digital organisms” existing in the invisible matrix of signals and electronics, obscured from our view—even before the Internet was invented! On an even higher interpretive level, I feel that the Digimon franchise, and especially Digimon Tamers, is a realization of this idea. In both the Digimon universe and ours, the digital world as a whole is, in a sense, autonomous and is often beyond the control of humans, despite our daily reliance on it for communication and entertainment. Therefore the name Digimon “Tamers”.

FINAL NOTES

If you like the simplicity of children oriented material but also enjoy deep plots and relatable characters, then you should try this anime. Just be patient, as it is a children’s show, so not all of its 51 episodes are mind-blowing! If you stick it out, you’ll find that Digimon Tamers is an exceptional anime by the standard of kids’ shows and is a wonderful show in itself as well.

 

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 Another

Show: Another— Genre: Mystery, Horror— Episodes: 12

As promised, this week we’ll be delving into the realm of the spooky. At just 12 episodes, Another packs a terrifying wallop. Based on the novel of the same name, it ran on Japanese television from January through March of 2012. Be warned: this show is addicting and gory and terrifying. Our main character, Sakakibara Koichi, is (predictably) a transfer student. He’s moved to the area to live with his aunt and grandparents due to an illness that keeps him hospitalized for the first few days of the school term. It takes him more than a few days to get fully caught up when he gets back to class, however, as there seems to be something especially disturbing about his classmates, particularly Misake Mei, a strange girl with an eyepatch that Koichi initially ran into at the hospital.

spooooky

While Koichi shows interest in Mei, he’s not entirely sure she’s real. Her desk is worn down and scratched up, even though the ones surrounding it are pristine, and no one else seems to want to interact with her.

Concerned that she might be being bullied, or that he might be going crazy, Koichi tries to befriend her, only to be sent away with the warning that their class is “much closer to death” than other classes. Other classmates warn him to follow ALL the rules, but refuse to tell him what he’s doing wrong.
It takes a frustratingly long time for Koichi to learn why everyone is behaving the way they are. The production staff definitely know what they’re doing, though. Just as you’re ready to give up on the mystery, the story throws you its first hook. The viciousness of the death scenes in this series are a sharp contrast to the sluggish pacing of the plot between. It’s a delightful balance that lulls you into a false sense of security only to rip away characters when you don’t expect it.


Situations including a lifelike doll shop, a creepy mansion in the woods, a secret library, and an abandoned school building are only a few of the delightful backdrops for our terror. As the plot progresses, it only gets more interesting. The characters are complicated and relatable, despite their supernatural surroundings. There is plenty of heart pounding action, sprinkled with all the tropes you expect from a high school drama; a beach trip, a school retreat, rumors of classmates supposed love affairs– the works. The art is amazing. This show will tear your heart out repeatedly, in the best way possible.

I give Another 9 out of 10 Golden Tanukis. Drop what you’re doing and watch this show.

Here are our character enjoying watermelon at the beach. Let it soothe your feelings.

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.

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.