Azumanga Daioh

Azumanga Daioh

Azumanga Daioh anime series cover art
Azumanga Daioh

Series Overview

Azumanga Daioh (Azumanga Daioh: The Animation / あずまんが大王 THE ANIMATION) is a 2002 comedy anime. While the series might look its age at first glance, it actually holds up surprisingly well. It’s available in HD and the comedy is timeless. If you like slice of life comedies, you’ll like it.

As you might expect, Azumanga Daioh follows the daily lives of high school girls. That’s not a unique premise. But, the 26 episodes of the series cover all 3 years of high school, which isn’t common. We get to see the girls from their first day of high school to their last, and how they grow over that time.

The appearances of the characters also change (somewhat) as the series progresses. Chiyo’s pigtail positions change a bit, Kagura gets a tan, and Tomo’s hair length changes. It’s not major, but it does help with keeping track of the passage of time.

Something I like about this series covering 3 years is that we get to see how past experiences affect the girls. For example, there are 3 separate summer vacation episodes. And because of that, we get to see how Chiyo’s reaction to driving with Yukari-sensei changes each year.

We also get to see 3 years’ worth of sports festivals, documenting the rivalry between Classes 2 and 3. Well, the rivalry is actually between their homeroom teachers, Yukari-sensei and Kurosawa-sensei. And, it’s also actually a one-way rivalry, with Yukari-sensei taking the rivalry way too far. It’s a fun mini-series within the main series.

As I always say about slice of life series, it’s the characters that make or break them. Luckily, the characters of Azumanga Daioh are great. The core group consists of 5 main characters. And there are another 5 supporting characters who are good too.

Main & Supporting Characters

Let’s start with my favorite character, Chiyo Mihama. She’s an elementary schooler who skipped grades all the way up to high school. And even in high school, she’s at the top of her class. But, I’ll explain why I like Chiyo so much in the next section.

Sakaki is a highly-developed girl who fills the kuudere (silent, cool type) role in the group. But, despite her outward appearance, Sakaki loves cute things. Her favorite animals are cats and she likes the character Neco Coneco.

Ayumu “Osaka” Kasuga is a transfer student from Osaka, Japan. Everyone calls her Osaka — including the teachers and class list. Her defining characteristic is that she’s exceptionally dimwitted. It’s almost as if her head’s empty. But, that’s what makes her so good.

Sakaki, Osaka, Chiyo, Tomo, and Yomi from the anime series Azumanga Daioh
Sakaki, Osaka, Chiyo, Tomo, and Yomi

Tomo Takino and Koyomi “Yomi” Mizuhara are friends from middle school. These two are complete opposites. Tomo is loud, good at sports, and dumb. Yomi is responsible, good at academics, and obsessed with her weight.

One of the major supporting characters is Kagura. She’s pretty much a second Tomo. She’s a dumb, sporty girl. But, unlike Tomo, she does have some common sense. She moves from Class 2 to Class 3 after the first year.

Kaori “Kaorin” is in a different class from the rest of the girls after the first year. She’s moved into Kimura-sensei’s class. While Kaorin has an obsession with Sakaki, Kimura-sensei has an obsession with Kaorin.

Finally, we have Minamo “Nyamo” Kurosawa and Yukari Tanizaki, the teachers of Classes 2 and 3. Other than Chiyo-chan, Yukari-sensei and Kurosawa-sensei are my favorite characters of the series. I wouldn’t have minded if the series focused almost exclusively on those two.

Also, Yukari and Nyamo are in a relationship and nobody can convince me otherwise.

Chiyo-chan, the Perfect Comedian

As mentioned, Chiyo-chan is my favorite character. And it’s not because she’s actually an elementary school student. Chiyo is simply the funniest of all the characters. But, Chiyo never intends to be funny. What happens to her and how she reacts is what’s funny.

An example of something that often happens to Chiyo is that she gets hit by things. This isn’t a gag where objects come flying out of nowhere and hit her. It’s a gag where she always happens to be in the way of something coming toward her.

And even if Chiyo knows the object or person is coming, she’s incapable of saving herself. This leads to the second thing I like about Chiyo, which is the sounds she makes. Specifically, the sounds Chiyo makes when she’s distressed or injured are the best. Chiyo shrieking can always make me laugh.

Sakaki, Chiyo, Yomi, Tomo, and Osaka after graduation from the anime series Azumanga Daioh
Sakaki, Chiyo, Yomi, Tomo, and Osaka after graduation

Finally, there’s how Chiyo reacts to people teasing her. She tends to take the things other people say a bit too literally. Tomo often says things with the explicit intention of causing Chiyo distress. And, every time, Chiyo gives her the response she’s looking for.

Yukari-sensei also makes Chiyo cry, though I’m not so sure she’s always joking. This might be my favorite way Chiyo gets tormented. We know that Yukari is terrible at being an adult. But to Chiyo, Yukari is her trusted teacher (except when she’s driving). So when Yukari says something mean, it destroys Chiyo.

Chiyo is so good because despite being a prodigy, she’s still a child. She can’t keep up with her classmates in sports. She doesn’t understand their sarcasm. And she’s small enough to get in the way without people noticing she’s there. She’s the perfect punching bag — I mean comedian.

Conclusion

In the end, I gave Azumanga Daioh a 7/10 it’s a good comedy anime. But, I wouldn’t say that it’s particularly special. You’ve probably seen clips or memes from it, though. So, that’s one more reason to watch it.

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2 Replies to “Azumanga Daioh”

  1. 1. Tomo and Yomi have been friends since grade school
    2. I get why you say Nyamo & Yukari are a couple, but they are cis gendered Asian women. Contextually for when the series was made LGBT humor was played more as a negative. They’re just adult Yomi & Tomo

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