Wow. If I didn’t randomly surf around the web, I wouldn’t have found and known about this very short clip. It’s called Azumanga Daioh The Very Short Movie. At first glimpse, hearing the name of the title not only brought back that nostalgic anime series without a plot, I thought it was going to last like about 1 hour or at least 30 minutes.
 
But WTF?! It only lasts nearly 6 minutes! That’s right. You didn’t hear me wrong. It’s only half a dozen minutes. So why on Earth did they call this a very short movie? Besides making a joke out of it, this particular ‘movie’ is actually a promotional teaser trailer shown in cinemas to promote about the upcoming series back in 2002. That seemed like a long time.
 
This short clip starts off with the girl’s quirky English homeroom teacher, Yukari, who seems to be handing out the test results to her students and enjoying mocking those who didn’t do well. Yeah, some teacher she is. Of course when it is Chiyo’s turn, she’s like being sarcastic by saying she doesn’t have anything to worry about. She doesn’t. Yup. Chiyo scores a perfect 100. When jealous Tomo finds out about it, she loudly declares her 31 marks, adding up hers with Osaka’s 42 points and Kagura’s 30 points to give the total Bonklers group a total of 103 marks! Thus beating Chiyo’s score. Haha. I remember these trio formed Bonklers being the least smartest within their group of 6. And because Chiyo isn’t in their Bonklers group, they think they have beaten her. Ah, just let them be.
 
But don’t despair Chiyo. For Yomi praises her and says that there isn’t anything that she can’t do. However Chiyo says that she isn’t good with tongue twisters and tries that famous bus gas explosion line (basu gasu bakuhatsu) and flops. But to Yomi, she still finds her damn cute when her tongue is tied. Meanwhile Sakaki is pondering about her injured hand being bitten by a cat earlier in the day and wonders if it was in a bad mood and thinks she should give it flowers the next time. Remember that Kaorin girl? Yeah, that Sakaki-obsessed-cum-stalker girl? She’s still fantasizing and about being with Sakaki.
 
Later as class continues, Osaka notices Chiyo’s pigtails and tries to touch them. However before she could land her hands on them, they both dropped off! Osaka tries to put it back but it just fell off. Poor Chiyo. Tears start welling up in her eyes before she bursts into her shrieky cry. The class gathers around them and wonder who this little girl is. Yomi tries to pacify her with a lollipop but Yukari shows her cold side by asking Chiyo to go away since she thinks she’s a kindergarten kid. How heartless. Chiyo continues to cry louder. Osaka tries to find her pigtails and when she spots them under the desk, the pigtails leap away and outside the window! Chiyo in her panic too climbs outside the window and slides down to grab her pigtails back. But it’s futile since her pigtails keep bouncing away.
 
Then I don’t know what Osaka is thinking because she came up with a conclusion that in order for Chiyo to find her pigtails, she has crossed the sea of lettuce, traversed the carrot mountains, looked for them in the northern lights and travelled around the world for them. Huh? But it is revealed that Osaka was just having a dream. As she open her eyes in the middle of class, everyone has gathered around her and Yukari doesn’t look to amused. Osaka asks Chiyo if she has found her pigtails and of course she doesn’t know what she is talking about. With that, Osaka thinks everything is wonderful. All’s well, ends well. Huh? I just want to mention that the ending theme of this ‘movie’ sounds a little funny and weird and some of its lines too are a little peculiar. Like "A panda farting". Uh huh.
 
Then there is another shorter clip lasting almost 4 minutes. This time it is called Azumanga Web Daioh. The purpose of this particular web-released trailer was to gauge whether it is plausible to release the series through the internet. Because of the overwhelming response, the producers decided to change their initial plan of a web-based anime adaptation into a TV series instead.
 
In this piece, we see Chiyo bringing a video camera to class for a project. When loose cannon Tomo finds out about it, she snatches it away from her and handles it like a piece of trash. Hey, it’s somebody else’s belongings, you know. Please handle with care. Tomo plays with the camera by zooming in and out of Chiyo to make her look big and small. As she continues filming, Kagura then notices that she is on camera. Tomo tells her to do something flashy. Kagura tries to think hard and in her little panic, gives a spinning kick towards the camera. Argh! Blackout.
 
Luckily the video camera isn’t broken yet and we see Tomo running with it through the hallways as Yomi yells at her not to break it. Tomo reaches the staff room and asks Nyamo where Yukari is. She finds her sleeping at her desk. Yukari suddenly wakes up in her surprise, staring at the camera before shortly falling back asleep again.
 
Finally, the gang puts the video tape inside a box and seals it. Osaka then goes to bury the box underneath a nearby tree and it seems that the video is supposed to be some time capsule for posterity. Once she is done, Osaka walks away when a construction worker places a signboard "Danger! Do Not Enter! From: Waste Management Company" next to the tree. A tractor then starts tearing down the tree and everything in its path. Haha. There goes their time capsule and hard work. But I guess it’s better this way because it would save the future generations from knowing what embarrassing and useless things that have been recorded.
 
Ah well, it certainly does bring back nostalgic memories of the Azumanga Daioh TV series. I guess the promo clips were too short for me and before I know it, it is already over. One thing I noticed about Azumanga Web Daioh is that in this short clip, the voice actresses are totally different from the TV series and ‘movie’. For instance, Ayako Kawasumi voices Osaka as compared to the TV series’ Yuki Matsuoka and Satsuki Yukino as Yomi instead of Rie Tanaka. They just sound different.
 
It’s been awhile that there has been no news about any sequels or whatsoever release for this series. As far as I remember, the TV series did end with the 6 best friends continue to go and hang out together even after graduation. It’s not like I have the urge to go re-watch the TV series again but perhaps when I’m older or there isn’t anymore ‘good’ animes to watch. After all, I can always count on impulsive hyper active Tomo, slow Osaka and one kind Yukari for laughs. Ah, remembering those good ol’ Azumanga Daioh days…
 

Azumanga Daioh

Azumanga Daioh

November 11, 2006

This has gotta be one of my favourite gag animes of all time. Yup, I’m talking about Azumanga Daioh. I felt that one needs to have some basic knowledge about Japanese culture and language first before watching this series. That’s because most of the puns and jokes are somewhat associated with it, though some are more direct. Even with the help of fansub notes explaining certain things here and there, I’m still a little lost. But at lease it made me aware of what it’s suppose to mean (though I didn’t really get it at times nor should I have really laugh out loud instead of just meak out a meagre smile).
 
As mentioned in most reviews, this anime basically doesn’t have a plot. Meaning, you don’t have to worry about following every single episode just to understand the storyline. Although, it would be good to watch every episode in chronological order as there’re some developments here and there as the story progresses.
 
If the series doesn’t have a plot, then what is it all about, then? In short, it’s just about the lives of 6 ordinary (maybe not so ordinary) high school girls and how they go through 3 years of their lives there along with their teachers. That’s it. Yeah, just their daily experiences and adventures during their high school years. Mix it with lots of havoc and insanity, especially the unique personality of the characters, you know the outcome already, right?
 
Speaking of characters, let’s have a look at them first. First off, we have the super filthy rich squeaky-voiced Chiyo Mihama. Don’t let her small body size fool you. She’s actually a 10 year old genius. Yeah, she’s too smart for elementary school and therefore has to start at high school level. But sometimes I look at it, she may be a little ‘dumb’. In order words, too smart for her own good. Though, she’s quite a lovable character, she always seem to get bullied, especially by Tomo and Yukari. And because of her small stature, she often feels as though she’s burden to the group, thus having low self-confidence at times, usually during physical activities. But with her other friends around (well, at least some of them) she manages to pull through with their support and encouragement. Chiyo also has a pet dog named Tadakichi, which is bigger than her, if you compare it side by side.
 
Next up is Tomo Takino. As many would describe her as the loose canon. Yeah, in the series, she’s mainly the troublemaker and instigater of many unwanted events that could be avoided. Because of that too, she’s loud, hyper, outgoing and crazily insane, sometimes saying things which doesn’t make sense, and doing things without considering its consequences (most probably for the heck of it). So basically, her role and job is to irritate everyone around her and get on their nerves. Can I consider her to be sadistic? Maybe that’s how she gets her kick. She loves to challenge people just to make a point but usually ends up at the losing end. Also, she’s not very good in studying and is often trying to take the easy way out. Slacker.
 
In my opinion, I think Yomi Mizuhara is the most ‘normal’ and ‘mature’ one among the bunch, though, she may have some weird personality herself. Like she’s very concern about her weight and would go to any lengths to try different diet programmes for it. Unfortunately, she never gets to stick to them as she’s always tempted by her favourite foods. She and Tomo are childhood friends and are quite close to each other. It’s really ironic though that these 2 are close buddies in this love-hate relationship. Uh-huh, Tomo seems to enjoy teasing her and usually gets on her nerves. Sometimes she might just yell back or ignore her totally. Also, she’s quite a horrible singer.
 
Then there is Ayumu Kasuga. I have a hard time remembering this name (just like the other characters in the series). That’s because, I remember her by her nickname, Osaka. A transfer student from there, she got her nickname on her first day in class by Tomo. And everybody agrees unanimously to call her that without question. To best describe her in 1 word, ‘slow’. Yeah, one of those blur case kind. And sometimes she may be too slow to know what’s going on and by the time she realized or reacts, it’s already over. Easily distracted, absent-minded, daydreams a lot, you wonder how her mind functions. And there’s one part where she answered all those trick riddle questions so smoothly and correctly. Makes you really wonder. Simple-minded and her dreamy voice makes her quite a lovable character.
 
I guess when there’s a group, I’m sure there must be one who’s taciturn-like. Yup, that’s the case for Sakaki. Being the tallest and bustier one in the bunch, she’s quite athlethic, shy and doesn’t talk much. Because of this, she sometimes get drawn into things she doesn’t want to do just because she’s too shy to voice her objections or disagreement. So no choice, she has to do it lah. Underneath that serious looking face, Sakaki actually love cute stuffs, especially cats! Yeah, she gets all soft whenever she sees them, real ones or even pictures or stuff toys. However, cats don’t seem to like her and always bite her hand whenever she reaches out to pet them. How ironic. However, in the end, she manages to befriend some mountain cat and manage to keep it as her pet.
 
The final one in the group is Kagura. Also another athlethic one, the tomboyish Kagura only joins the gang later in the series, that is, during the start of the second year of the school term (actually it was part of Yukari’s scheme to put her in the same class with her for some school athletic competition). Initially views Sakaki as her rival, but eventually that rivalry simmers down when she becomes part of the group. Just like Tomo, she’s quite competitive and isn’t good in her studies. But at least she has her physical attributes to make up for it.
 
Also, there seems to be another girl, though not officially part of the group, but I felt that her presence could’ve been so. Yup, she’s Kaorin, an avid admirer of Sakaki. She gets excited easily whenever Sakaki’s near her or even when she’s daydreaming about her. Unfortunately, Sakaki’s oblivious to Kaorin’s affections and only sees her as a normal friend. Not that she shrugs her, but rather not aware of it. Kaorin only got to be in the same class with Sakaki during her second year. After that, her final year, she’s transferred to a different class from Sakaki, much to her horror. Why isn’t Kaorin part of the official 6? That’s mainly because she’s always missing out on joining the 6 in their activities. Yeah, like how the gang invited her to Chiyo’s summer house only to her disappointment that she’s got some other compulsory activity she must attend to. So sad. Or else it could’ve been The Magnificent Seven or The Seven Samurais. I’m having a weird depiction/fantasy of them in western cowboy outfits and Japanese samurai outfits. Okay, maybe it’ll be better off with just the 6 of them.
 
The series doesn’t really focus entirely on those girls, but at times, their teachers as well. The homeroom teacher for the 6 girls over the 3 years is Yukari Tanizaki. As an English teacher, I find her character quite appalling. For instance, in the first episode how she steals a student’s bicycle to get to school just because she’s running late. And yeah, she’s got this must-win attitude and is a typical sore loser whenever she loses. Uh-huh, ‘kiasu’ type. But so funny lah everytime like that happens. She’s always trying to challenge (and even freeloads) her other friend, Minamo, who’s also a teacher, just to be better than her. Usually, Yukari loses most of the time, and if she wins, she’s got bragging rights so big that I think you could hear it all the way across the galaxy. I love her when she gets all angry and argues with that high speed squeaky voice. So amusing.
 
As contrast to Yukari, the gentle and rational Minamo Kurosawa is a much better and nicer person as compared to her. Nicknamed Nyamo by Yukari, she is the P.E. teacher in the school. And oddly enough, she and Yukari are something like childhood friends too, having attended the same high school together during their younger years. Because of her easy going nature, many students like her, much to Yukari’s jealousy, of course.
 
And the only recurring male character in the show, another teacher in the school, is Kimura. He’s always having his mouth agaped wide open. Also, he’s quite a pervert himself. But he does his perverted ways in a rather ‘zombie-like’ manner. Not that the active and desparate kind you see in Green Green. And surprisingly, he has a beautiful wife and daughter. How did this ever happen? Beats me. Also surprisingly, later in the series, he becomes obsessed with Kaorin when she’s in his class in her final year, much to Kaorin’s horror. Well, things never do change for some people.
 
Also, there’s this weird looking orange cat. You can catch a glimpse of it in the opening and ending credits. And at times will be randomly floating/flying/drifting for some unknown reasons in some random scenes. Besides that, this orange cat, has been nicknamed Chiyo’s dad. Why? That’s because Sakaki has some weird dream about visiting Chiyo’s home and in that dream she meets him. And ever since, any reference made to that orange cat would be refered to as Chiyo’s dad. However, since he only appears in Sakaki’s dreams, the rest of the gang doesn’t really understand or confused whenever Sakaki says so.
 
Of course, I can’t blog on the entire episode of the series. Mainly that’s because I’ve forgotten some of them. Hehehe. So what I’ll do is that I’ll blog on those memorable and enjoyable ones. The ones which made me laugh and also some important points of the show. And maybe some really weird ones too. Each episode may span several minutes long or just a short one, and the subject of the current scene may also end quickly and changed to the next one.
 
There’s this part in episode 2 where Osaka is having hiccups. So the gang (especially Tomo, who’s all geared up for it) tries to cure Osaka of this problem such as scaring her. In the end, the good news is, she’s cured. The bad news is, somehow her hiccups were passed on to Chiyo. Is it mere coincidence? Then there’s this weird part in this episode where Osaka’s daydreaming about Chiyo’s pigtails. Yeah, she took off and put back on her pigtails and thought that she’s some sort of robot. And Chiyo’s flying using her pigtails in the dream. Weird.
 
It’s summer vacation time in episode 5. Chiyo invites the other girls along with Yukari and Nyamo to her summer house near a beach. The funny part is where they need to split themselves into 2 cars to arrive there. It is here that Chiyo is ’emotionally scared’ by Yukari’s terrible and reckless driving manner. Poor thing. Though, we don’t get to see how amazingly fast or reckless she drives, but with Chiyo’s body language, you can pretty much guess how bad it is.
 
Yukari promised her students that she’ll buy them some juice if they win the school sports festival in episode 6. Yeah, you can see her hyper ‘win-or-else’ attitude. Also, this is where Kagura makes her first appearance. In the final lap of the race, it was between Sakaki and Kagura, though the former won. And when the girls asked Yukari about their juice, she changed the subject and ran away. *Smack*. Actually, she and Nyamo made a bet earlier on. When Yukari collected the money from her, Nyamo quickly took it back as some repayment of debt. Back to square one. Oh boy.
 
Then there’s that weird dream episode 8. Like Osaka is dreaming about Chiyo’s pigtails, Sakaki visiting Chiyo an Chiyo’s dad, Tomo as some beauty queen hero, and Kaorin being rescued by Sakaki on a white horse. Real weird.
 
As the second school term starts in episode 10, all the 6 girls (and even Kaorin, much to her joy) are in the same class with Yukari. Yeah, she’s the mastermind behind this. Also, Osaka was panicking because she didn’t see her name along with the others in the same class at first. That’s because, it was written in her nickname rather than her real name as what Osaka’s been looking for. Blur girl.
 
In episode 13, some big test is coming up. Tomo harrasses Yomi for information, much to her annoyance. But Tomo’s not alone, she’s also got Osaka and Kagura, who’re also ‘useless’ when it comes to studying for the exams. The 3 formed a study group, called ‘The Bonklers’ for the test but ended up debating about the name of ‘Bruce Lee’ into ‘Blue Three’. And probably Jackie Chan too if they had the time. As expected, the 3 failed when the test results were announced. Yeah, a jealous Tomo decided to combine all 3 of The Bonklers marks to beat Chiyo’s 100 marks, and boast how much 3 heads are better than 1.
 
Another summer vacation trip to Chiyo’s summer house in episode 14. This time Chiyo pretty much knows the experience of being in the same care with Yukari, and the thought of that renders her in shock. Brings back bad memories, huh? And Kaorin’s joining in too. Her first time experience with the group. Beside the girls having fun, it is this episode where Nyamo gets drunk and lecture the girls about some ‘adult’ tales and experiences. Nyamo initially didn’t want to let Yukari drunk in the first place so she had to finish the whole alcohol herself. And how the girls listens in astonishment! We won’t get to hear what she’s talking as the background music’s being played and there’s just showing off her lips moving. Must be very intriguing stories, huh? Except for Chiyo who’s still too young to understand what’s going on, the next day the other girls ‘respected’ her, though Nyamo didn’t remember what had happened the night before.
 
Tomo is extremely jealous of Yomi in episode 18. Because Yomi had just returned from her Hokkaido trip. Yeah, she keeps hitting Yomi. Then this is the funny part that I liked. At the canteen, Tomo got into one of her jealousy fits as usual and is gonna hit a panicking Yomi with a tray. Just as she’s about to hit her, Yukari came in and Tomo hit her face. Then in a slo-mo part as Tomo removes the tray from Yukari’s face, revealing a pair of evil glowing red eyes, Yukari then took 2 trays and incessantly whack Tomo. Hahaha. And for the girls to make for Yomi’s Hokkaido trip, they decided to visit some amusement park called Magical Land. Unfortunately, Yomi fell sick and can’t go along with them, much to Tomo’s delight and ‘revenge’.
 
As the girls head into their 3rd year of high school in episode 20, they are now seriously thinking about their future. Well, I guess this episode is a little more serious than the rest. Like how Chiyo decides to go study abroad in America, Sakaki wanting to become a veterinarian, and Kagura wanting to excel under sports field. Also, in this episode, Kaorin’s 1 year bliss of being in the same class with Sakaki is over. Uh-huh, she’s in a different class now with Kimura and though she tries to have good thoughts about him, but he’s still the same. Oh, Kaorin, you’re really in vain and in pain.
 
Another weird behaviour from Osaka in episode 19. Yeah, she seems to be fond of yawning and even teaches Tomo and Chiyo how to yawn. I guess they must be bored, aren’t they? Hahaha. In episode 21, the class went on a school trip to Okinawa. There’s this funny part where Tomo tries to throw Chiyo off the cliff. As Chiyo’s screaming frantically, Osaka tries to come to her rescue, but being path being blocked by Yomi (yeah, she ‘bumped’ into her). But she was too slow, even though Chiyo’s out of danger, she’s still trying to save her. It’s over already lah. Also, it is here where Sakaki befriends a mountain cat. I like this funny part too where they’re visiting a museum. At a section where it’s exhibiting on mountain cats, Chiyo explains to Sakaki how a mountain cat will look like when it grows up. Then Osaka point to some boney exhibit of a mountain cat and says "And this is how it will look like after that". Chiyo and Sakaki looked on in shock. Hahaha.
 
Oh yeah, I don’t remember which later episode is it. But the one where Tomo is asking some trick questions and Osaka got it all correct. After she answered them all, Chiyo suggests that Osaka could be a teacher. When Yukari heard of this from Tomo, she became angry and frantic, ran down and confront Chiyo yelling at her that if she thinks that all teacher (it’s her actually) are like Osaka, then she’s really off the mark. I think Yukari really got the wrong idea. She thinks Chiyo is associating Osaka’s blurness with her. Yup, she does. Misconstrued. Hahaha.
 
Another school sports festival in episode 23. I love the part where Osaka has been practicing so hard for some bread eating contest. But when the day comes, she’s so prepared but to her horror, she found out that it was a bread with a different filling that she had to eat. And she thought all her efforts were wasted. Oh well, seems she’s slowly nibbling it anyway. Yeah, another one of Yukari’s attempts to beat Nyamo. This time promising the class Korean BBQ. And the funny part was how she shouted "KOREAN BBQ!" suddenly as a reminder for her class to win. Another hilarious part is where Yukari and Nyamo were racing together, as Nyamo overtook Yukari, Yukari then purposely jumped and collided with Nyamo, thus they both went out of the race, all in chibi form and still frameshot action.
 
Sakaki had a showdown with Kamineko (that grey cat who’s always bitting her hands whenever she tries to pet it) and its horde of followers in episode 24. Fortunately, that mountain cat from Okinawa manage to save Sakaki from it all. In the end Sakaki decides to keep it as her pet. But since her parents are allergic to cats, Chiyo offers to keep it with her at her house until Sakaki becomes independant and has a place of her own to stay. And what’s with Osaka’s obsession with the kotatsu.
 
In episode 25, all the girls are taking the entrance exam, except for Chiyo because since she’s planning to go overseas and study, she’s exempted from it. And then there’s that strange good luck charm ritual from Osaka saying that one will have good luck and pass the entrance exam if one manage to break the chopsticks equally…?! Well, while the rest were in the exam hall, Chiyo broke many of them in hopes for them to pass their exams. I guess she believed in Osaka. But the funny part is, when the exam results were announced, Yomi was the only one who didn’t pass. Even Tomo and Osaka manage to make the grade. How ironic! Yomi must be real shock and depressed as she has to try again. Or else she may be left behind.
 
In the final episode, it’s graduation day for the girls. It was a heartbreaking scene to see Chiyo crying at the graduation ceremony. As the other girls try to comfort her, I couldn’t help felt sad for her. Well, even Yukari seems to be heartbroken too. At least, that was my impression when she entered her classroom dejectedly. But actually she’s feeling so because she lost her wallet! Much to the shock of her students (some things do never change). Later when someone returns her wallet, her gloominess is lifted and she ran all the way to Nyamo’s class to brag about it. It looks like Nyamo’s having a better thank you and farewell from her students, much to Yukari’s jealousy. And poor Kaorin still has to put up with Kimura’s perverted antics. As usual, Osaka has another of that weird behaviour. This time some sneezing allergy.
 
But there’s some good news. Yomi finally passed her entrance exam. Yay! As the girls realized that they’re no longer high school students, but they’re always together and will continue to do so, as they decide to make a visit to Magical Land once more. I guess it’s official then. Kaorin won’t be part of the group. Oh well, off the 6 of them goes to have fun.
 
Overall, I kinda enjoyed this anime with all its crazyness and hallariousness. Throw in a bunch of interesting, zany, wacky, weird and bizarre characters, and you’ve got a perfect combination for a gag comedy. Though there’re some points where I didn’t really get it. But generally it’s okay.
 
Another thing I like about this series is the background music. Yup, most of the background music has that fun type of mood, which perfectly suits the scenes in the series. Though there’re some slow and sombre ones, and some really fast paced ones, the fun ones are the ones that made me go bubbly and lively each time they’re being played. Also, the opening and ending themes are really weird. I mean real weird. Not only the tune, the voice and the way they sing it, but also the animation in the sense of what the characters are doing in the opening and ending sequence. Though, didn’t find the music attractive nor did it caught my attention and made me go ‘I-must-have-that-song-no-matter-what’.
 
The animation and drawing I could say is just okay. I don’t know, but I felt that the characters in the series look ‘one kind’. What I mean is that somehow I find that the general facial attributes for the characters are the same, they just have different hairstyles and accessories. Because of this, the girls here aren’t as cute as compared to my treshold of pretty kawaii bishoujos. But this isn’t a big thing.
 
My favourite characters in the series are Tomo, Yukari and Osaka. Each time when they appear, I would be greatly anticipating some funny antics from them without fail. I guess without them, the series won’t be as half as funny or crazy as it should be. And probably the lives of the other girls would be better off, but that would be very boring, don’t you think. So think of them as the spice in life.
 
Hey, wait a minute. I’m having this strange feeling that the odd pair of Sakaki and Chiyo has a uncanny and peculiar resemblance to Mori and Honey of Ouran High School Host Club, and Sachiko and Yumi of Maria-sama Ga Miteru. Don’t you think they’re ‘similar’ in a way?
 
In conclusion, I would recomend those people new to the anime genre to watch this series. It’s definitely worthwhile and you won’t regret it. You’ll certainly be laughing all the way (okay, most of the time anyway) and in time when you think back about this, you’ll surely crack into a smile or laugh to yourself like an idiot (I know I did). Also it may offer you life lessons, like how NOT to be like Tomo, Yukari or Osaka. Hehehe.