This is review number one hundred and fifty one. I am close to completing the Spring 2011 lineup. I am hyping myself up to watch those goddamn 50 plus episodes though. I get Sket Dance but how the hell did Pretty Aurora get fifty episodes?!
Anyways, I’ll be reviewing Nichijou. It’s a twenty six episode anime similar to Lucky Star but it’s a lot more complex and complicated than that. It’s pretty awesome though so let’s read on.
The show is about the daily lives of various students. The stories often range from the typical settings like being in class, talking with friends and spending your free time alone and then there is those stories about robots, rice cakes and talking cats. It’s a show about normal everyday life with not so everyday musings.
Taking the Pants Off
I remember when Nichijou first came out. KyoAni was riding high on the moe revolution and after K-on made its mark, they released this anime. At first glance, it looks a hell of a lot like Lucky Star with its cute characters and school setting and this made people groan a bit. I know I did and I’ve avoided this anime ever since. I decided to watch this now though and it’s really just Lucky Star in a nutshell but Nichijou is more refined and definitely, more complex. There is this uniqueness to Nichijou that you can’t help but fall in love with and a cast of characters that really made the experience very fulfilling.
The show is really just a bunch of skits thrown together to fill up thirty minutes of air time. It’s the same as Lucky Star where the characters talk about stuff or do activities and the skit ends with a punch line or a gag. Lucky Star is about a group of friends though and honestly, it sparked the four girls in a slice of life setting phenomena that made moe that hated thing in the anime fandom. Nichijou, possibly trying to set itself apart, went the extra mile and featured more than one group of central characters. The show had a lot of characters and different series of gags spread across various episodes that makes up the show. There is a lot and it’s pretty intimidating at first. I’d like to describe each and every one of them if I wasn’t so goddamn lazy….
Fine. I’ll start with the different stories presented in the first half.
There are two main scenarios presented in the first half of the anime. The first one is about three girls spending their time in school. It’s the typical slice of life setting with the girls often just hanging out. The anime is Comedy though so the characters often get into arguments or random events in the skits they are in. Often times, they poke fun of each other and the skits also involve other characters. It’s the same setup with Lucky Star except it’s missing a girl. The familiar setup does help in identifying with the characters and the pace of the anime.
The second main scenario is about the everyday stuff happening in the Shinonome residence. This genius eight year old girl called “Professor” is living with a robot she made named Nano. Nano wants to be a normal person but the bitter fact of having robotic parts often saddens her. The setup is pretty much the same. The skits are composed of various activities the characters are involved with. This mostly includes household chores and groceries though. There is a lot of material to pull from the fact that one of the girls is a robot though and if you add it with the whiny loud yet cute attitude of the other girl then it’s a gold mine of possibilities.
The rest of the skits are about side characters mostly classmates of the main trio or faculties of the school. They start out as short skits but they eventually take a life of their own. The first noticeable one is about the teacher named Izumi Sakurai. She’s a young and often shy teacher who wants to take initiative and gain control of her class. She often stops students in the hallway who break school rules. These are also where a lot of the characters are introduced. It’s a simple skit. She would ask a student to stop breaking school rules but because of her shy nature, the conversation often changes direction.
There is also a skit about a son of a rich farmer and his complicated relationship with a tsundere who is packing heat. I believe the term is “gundere”. It’s a shame the gunderes slowly faded after this show. These skits mostly involve the tsundere having a massive crush on the guy but being a tsun tsun dere dere, she can never admit to liking the guy. Her way of coping is by showing the guy with bullets and ammos from pretty awesome looking guns and launchers. He isn’t hurt though, he just ends up covered in smoke. Their relationship gradually builds and the skits become more precise as the anime progresses.
There is also a skit about the Igo Soccer club. It’s a club where the game of soccer is combined with Go, a very smart board game. It’s a made up game made by Kenzaburo Daiku and there are only two members in it. The gag is that, since the game is made up, the characters don’t practice it and they mostly waste space in their clubroom. Kenzaburo and a girl named, Yuria, would spend their free time in the club room alone together. The skits mostly involve the awkward air in the room since the two characters can’t seem to connect. As the anime progresses though, Kenzaburo is shocked to learn there are actually people playing Go Soccer, a game he made up. Or at least he thinks he made it up.
Then there are those segments completely unrelated to the show called Helvetica Standard. It’s a simple skit but no familiar character is in it. It involves no named characters doing some comedy. At first it threw me off cause I thought it was related to the other skits but it’s not. It’s mostly about supernatural beings like Tengus or Shinigamis doing funny stuff. The segment isn’t hard to miss because it usually starts with Helvetica Standard plastered on the screen.
There are also some skits dedicated to some lone characters like the student with a Mohawk who really hates having a Mohawk. His hair doesn’t grow on the side so he feels bitter about seeing only hair at the top of his head. He eventually branches out doing skits where he disproves supernatural things with science but the gag is that he never sees anything supernatural. There are also some skits about a girl with a big ribbon on her head and another skit involving a guy with an afro. There is also a skit about the vice principal pretty much hating hard on the principal cause he used to be in that position of power.
These are the skits in the first half. As you can see, it’s a clusterf*ck of a lot of different stories involving different characters. The anime never had a problem balancing these stories though. Of course, the main stories get the most screen time but the other skits are given a decent spotlight as well. I admire this side of the anime because it’s pretty hard to do a slice of life anime with a lot of characters while making sure the show is funny. I’ve seen the same setup doomed before it even began but the show had balance and a smart way of presenting everything.
The two main scenarios are two different stories and they never cross path. You often see the characters of the other story appearing in the skits but they never talk or interact in the first half. The show was actually building up the moment that the three main girls collide with the Shinonomes. This happened in the second half and you tell there was a great progression of the skits after that.
The beautiful thing about the anime is that the skits are short so there isn’t enough time for the characters to grow. The show made sure though that each skit had progression towards the next so the characters can have a decent transformation. This was done while also balancing the Comedy and the Slice of life aspects of the anime. As the characters transforms, the skits gets a great transformation as well. The characters and the gags go hand in hand so beautifully that it really elevates the anime. As new characters are introduced and new skits are established, the anime never once lost its brilliant pacing and amazing balance of elements. It’s really outstanding.
The characters are obviously the biggest selling point of the anime. Slice of life characters pretty much do all the leg work but this anime is also Comedy. Comedy characters are often bland to make sure some funny traits of the characters can be repeatedly poked at. The characters in this anime started out bland like any comedy anime. The main trio is really just generic characters. There is the loud type, the quiet yet weird type and the level headed character. They were able to execute some gags pretty nicely but as the anime progress, the characters make a pretty decent transformation. There is no big story to tie the anime together so the anime rely on the skits to help in character development. By giving us new things about the characters we never knew about them, the skits got brighter and the characters were given depth. If you give enough depth to them then they pretty much transform into well rounded characters. The loud type is now this girl who sucks at her studies and really gets emotional when insulted. The quiet yet weird girl is actually into wood carvings and delivering punch lines in the most random of ways. The level headed girl is actually into yaoi and can pretty much match the loud girl in a screaming contest.
The awesome part is that every character in the anime had decent progression. It’s seriously unbelievable how precise the show is when it comes to the characters. It’s pretty impressive how characters are developed in the anime. I also love how the viewer will slowly establish a connection with the characters. I personally feel Nano’s sadness over not being able to get rid of her cute screw that sticks out of her back. I also feel a bit of sympathy over the pathetic teacher crushing hard on Izumi. The anime really established the characters pretty nicely and it often doesn’t matter if the show is Slice of Life or Comedy because the characters are pretty much all that matters.
The comedy in the anime is OK. There were some scenes that got me laughing hard and some scenes that didn’t get any reaction from me. Despite the gags not moving me, they were all executed pretty nicely. I often don’t need to laugh because I’m satisfied at how the punch line was executed. This proves effective during dragged out scenes like those skits about how Mio gets her wooden cube hairclip. The randomness of the scenes and the way the characters react to them was also nicely executed.
The final thing I really enjoyed about the anime is how the characters relate to each other. There are a lot of characters but there seems to be this “six degree of separation” going on in the anime. Characters from individual skits are related from other characters of another skit in one way or another. As you progress to the anime, the characters eventually make one big ball of closely linked relationships that is pretty amusing especially when you discover how certain characters are related to each other.
Sight and Sound
The character design is moe. Like I said before, KyoAni was riding the moe high when they released this anime. It’s a simple design that resembles the characters of Lucky Star a bit. The characters all have the same body type and they only differ on the color and length of their hair. If you’re not paying attention then some characters will certainly look alike and confuse you. It’s OK though because the characters all had interesting personalities that set them apart.
Background is pretty precise and KyoAni once again copied real places and made the characters walk on them. The vibrant colors that the studio love to do is present in this anime and the tremendous amount of details given to various scenes is pretty amazing. There is also this segment in the anime where I think they video tape a real place then they animate it. They add the real sound captured and also place some random characters in it. It’s pretty random but you can clearly see the detail work they do in their backgrounds, it’s outstanding.
The animation is top notch. Seriously, did you ever doubt KyoAni? I must admit that the rather simplistic look of the anime looks like it limits the studio in terms of animation but it doesn’t. They were able to add some flashy effects at some of the over the top scenes and they were able to dish out some frame by frame awesomeness like the principal wrestling with a deer. They also take advantage of camera angle because they do a lot of angle shots and panning shots that looks complex as hell. Probably the best parts though are the ones done in CG. It involves rotating cameras that zooms in and out of the characters while doing a 360 and even adding aerial shots just because they can.
The animation doesn’t end on flashy effects though. Much like Hyouka, where the studio adds artistic stylings to most scenes, KyoAni also add a bit of their animation mastery on certain scenes. There are simple moving sketches scenes, there are comic book styling scenes, and some other form of complex cinematography that really elevates this anime from the conventional Slice of Life show. You can really tell how much KyoAni loves making anime just from the way they were able to deliver their magical touch in an anime like this one.
The anime had two OP. Both of them pretty much possess the craziness of the anime. It involves a loud catchy beat and the characters dancing along. The OP sequences are pretty awesome though because it involves some bits and pieces of what you’d expect from the anime. It introduced all the characters and some of the gags in the show. The anime also had two ED sequences. It has a lot of ED songs though and no, I am not listening to each and every one of them. The first ED song is sung by Sayaka Sayaki. It’s a cute song and it is partnered with a cute sequence of two characters with KyoAni’s awesome animation touch. It had an Acapella and Bossa Nova versions as well. The second ED is a single shot of all the characters going home after school. It’s a panning scene with the characters just walking home from school. It’s a precise sequence that has a lot of individually moving characters and an independent camera motion. It’s so precise that KyoAni makes it look easy. It has a lot of songs in it. Every episode of the second half features a different song. It’s mostly homage to all the awesome people working on the anime. KyoAni is awesome enough to give the voice actors a moment in the spotlight. The songs are all different ranging from mellow ones to hyper loud ones.
There is also a wonderful scene at the end of every anime where a random object does the previous. They are narrated by different voice actors that aren’t involve in the actual anime. They range from popular ones like Yui Horie to relatively unknown ones or actors from the good old days. If you combine all the actors working on this anime though, I think there is close to a hundred different voice actors. KyoAni is gimmicky that way but it also shows just how passionate they are about anime. Total respect from the pantless blogger.
8/10 “It’s the perfect combination of Comedy and Slice of Life only KyoAni can produce.”
This is a no brainier. This show is a serious must watch because it had a complicated setup but it was presented clearly. The elements are balanced and for an anime about various skits, it’s unbelievably paced well. I highly recommend it.