Opening this entry causes the sound of a creaky rocking chair to fill the space you’re reading this in. Yes, there’s a rocking chair at tea ‘n more. Serious.
I’m gonna keep this one simple and sweet. For you see, the anime I’m reminiscing about is also short and sweet. Swort? Sheet? Ehhhhh…
Yep. Azumanga Daioh. Chiyo-chan’s high school misadventures. There you go, I just summed up the premise of the series in 5 words or less.
Azumanga Daioh followed Chiyo-chan, a genius girl who got skipped ahead to high school. As you would imagine, skipping a few grades can leave the person a tad naive about the world. Fortunately, Chiyo makes friends with a group of girls that are the quirkiest in the school.
From the left: Ayumu “Osaka” Kasuga, Chiyo Mihama, Koyomi “Yomi” Mizuhara, Tomo “Wildcat” Takino, Sakaki, and Kagura.
What made this anime/manga series special is that there was no overarching plot. These girls didn’t have to save the world, fight monsters, or pilot a giant robot. They were simply going to school. And having weird dreams. With talking cats voiced by Norio Wakamoto. And dealing with perverted teachers. It was surreal and delicious.
Every girl had their own personality quirk to them that made them stand out. Osaka’s a spacey airhead who’s got a VERY skewed view on life, Chiyo’s still trying to figure out just how to be a high school girl while skipping middle school, Yomi’s obsessed with her weight and annoyed with her best friend, Tomo. Tomo is….energetic. Sakaki’s popularity is shadowed by the fact that she’s obsessed with cute things. Kagura’s occupied with her one-sided rivalry with Sakaki. The teachers…are just as crazy as the students are.
Each episode had the girls encountering some new situation, and would deal with the situation the only way they knew how. By being themselves. For better or worse. The series was brilliant in its execution. It portrayed Japanese high school life as not dramatic…but as simple and fun as…well, high school.
I picked up the box set some time ago, and you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t get it. Go. Now. Or Sakaki’s cat will bite you.
Azumanga Daioh was one of the first anime series I watched when I first got into college. Man…has it been that long?