Azumanga Daioh, a.k.a "What?"

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I think that shall be the new title for Azumanga Daioh around our household, "What".

It's similar to the ol' "Who's on First?" skit. For when I sat down to watch the first 'episode' - which, apparently, consists of a bunch of 5-minute skits piled together, not unlike Monty Python or most other 4-panel animes, my first reaction was pretty much "What is this?" i.e. What = is this. Thus, this (Azumanga Daioh) is 'What'.

If I've confused you, you're probably in the same state of mind as I was when I finished Azumanga Daioh, or at least the first episode.

It's safe to say that this is a bit tentative on my 'watch list', as with the watching of new shows such as Wangan Midnight and the catching up of old shows such as Shuf!Memo/Da Capo/H&C/Tsukihime/TH2/ONE/KimiGa - it's a bit of a large crowd.

So, after the jump, we'll delve into why Azumanga Daioh is shaping up to be cut from the list - or is it?

I'll confess that my first viewing of Azumanga Daioh is a bit tainted - aside from the fact that I'm blogging ancient shows - I might as well start watching Astro Boy now or something.

I've read the Azu-Manga (look, a verbal pun) a few times, all 4 volumes of it, and enjoyed it a bit, which is what tipped me off to watching the anime. However, perhaps I was 'spoiled' a bit by already knowing the gags in some of the more faithful renditions of certain comic strips, such as the Deadly Cat gag. (I call it deadly cat because I've already forgotten the characters, as tends to be for the first few episodes)

In addition, I'm beginning to fear that I'm becoming one of the KyoAni slaving masses, as I attempt to make all sorts of Lucky Star comparisons, given that both of these are comic strips turned into anime, and as thus rely on short skits and gags.

So what, at this point, after one episode, is missing from Azumanga? I can think of two things personally. One, is the geek gags. Konata's video game obsession, the references to so many franchises, the little things that make you smile and go, 'I got that.' Two, the raw cute factor of Lucky Star at times. Now I admit I'm biased but Tsukasa and Miyuki take the cake any day over Chiyo and Meganekko.

Not that the Azumanga characters are expressly bad. They have their good parts. Naive loli perfect woman Chiyo, super hyper...uh...other girl (the one who punishes herself), not Osakan Osaka, and cool glasses girl. It's just that, sometimes, the gags feel a bit...overused.

Maybe it's just that I can see it coming. They spend so much time building up, say, the cat chomp gag, or fleshing out the Look At Me I'm Hyper gag that by the time it kicks in it's getting old already. Like, Chiyo cooking and singing in the first episode. Cute? Yes. Done 4 times, in 2 pairs of 2, with the same lines each time? Stretching it.

Also, side note: don't take it as an offense that I don't know anyone's names. It happens with me for the beginnings of all the animes. The thing is that in Azumanga though, is that the characters aren't, as I put it, color coded (by hair). Not that that's a bad thing, I mean, I don't mind that Azumanga's a bit realistic with characters and all. Although, perhaps that is a bit of a detracting factor, that I want sort of an escape anime, something that you wouldn't see in real life.

Another issue that's common in comic animes; transitions. The closest Azumanga comes is 1) eyecatches and 2) Chiyo's cooking scenes. Work on that a bit.

But, to be honest, I think the problem may lie more in my tastes than the anime itself, otherwise Azumanga wouldn't be such a huge hit. Not every anime is instant-win; I can't expect every anime to appeal straight to my plot-driven, meganekko-obsessed senses. I've developed a saying: "Once you go plot, you can't go back." It just seems hard, after watching anime about girls falling out of trees and turning into foxes, and anime about a summer a thousand years ago, and anime about time travelers, aliens, and espers, to be watching an anime about...nothing. Lucky Star, I'll admit, is in the same vein as Azumanga, but I think the second factor I watch for is the adorability (moe) factor, which Azumanga ditches a bit in pursuit of more straight-up comedy.

Still, I'll continue watching Azumanga Daioh, if not for only a few more episodes. It took me 3 or 4 episodes to catch on to Lucky Star - or, for that matter, many big name anime such as Shuffle - and I'll give Azumanga the same brooding period. After all, even I was against Tsukasa at first (blasphemy!).

Although, I do worry, that I come off as a bit of a crazed fanboy when I keep saying how much I heart Lucky Star in comparison to my ambivalence over Azumanga Daioh.

But in the end, I do have one thing that will always be good, and that is meganekko plus plus.