Azumanga Daioh Disc 1 - Hook, Line, Sinker

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So, as you may recall from a few days ago, I watched the first episode of Azumanga Daioh, and didn't think very highly of it. I thought it a pointless, plotless anime with overused and overstretched gags that were occasionally funny but mostly predictable.

Now, if you will direct your attention to the title of the post, you will notice that my post is covering all of the first disc of the Azumanga anime. Incidentally, the first disc contains nine episodes - much more than a usual R1 release of 3 or 4, for some odd reason (but, the poor Japanese rarely get more than 1 or 2 at any case).

Which, implies, correctly, that in the span of a few days that I have watched 8 episodes of Azumanga Daioh. I think that means I don't hate it anymore.

So, why? What changed me into a convert?

I think there are a lot of valid reasons, and some common ones I use to judge how much I'd enjoy an anime.

For some reason, the OP song to an anime seems to be a good barometer. I've got Last Regrets (Kanon) pretty much on perma-loop on my computer, Tori no Uta (AIR) is a good song in the same vein, the Shuffle! series songs (YOU, innocence, Remember Memories, even whatever the Tick! Tack! OP is) are good for a bit of a more rock-ish Japanese feel, and even the retro (relatively) Cardcaptor Sakura themes are great for a bit of cheery feel-good-ness.

Not to mention the plethora of Haruhi - Yuki muon madobe nite, Cool Edition, Kimidori's Hare Hare Yukai, the list goes on.

I haven't been able to figure out what it is about the OP that's so important - I could understand if it was maybe the animation that goes along with it, but since I usually just listen to the MP3s over and over, that's likely out - unless the case is that I associate the music with the anime, and start visualizing.

Anyway, I've gone incredibly off track, but the point is that the Azumanga Daioh OP song, "Fancy Hearing Cake" (which is a random name for a random song for a random anime), has grown on me. It's certainly not top tier, but it seems that it's certainly passable to listen to every 25 minutes (or however long an episode is). I didn't expect to like the song, and perhaps I don't, but it's similar to the Mikururururururun song in that "This is the worst song ever and it's sung badly and I hate it and why am I still humming it" kind of way.

As for the anime itself, another boosting factor is what I like to call the Halo Character. It's similar to the concept of the halo car I've read about in magazines, where one superbly awesome supercar, like the Ford GT or whatnot, will boost perception of all other vehicles by that manufacturer. As such, the Halo Character in anime is one that is so incredibly awesome that it brings up the whole anime - usually, one which could stand, theoretically, on their own for an entire episode without looking my interest. Want examples? Look up. Yeah, at the banner.

For the anime at hand, I think I've found a halo character in Osaka. It seems that spacey, perhaps innocent, characters are the amusing type to me, with the rise of Tsukasa in Lucky Star, and now Osaka in Azumanga Daioh. Perhaps it's because I can relate, being quite the slow-witted person at times myself. And so I find the antics (or lack thereof) of these characters very amusing. And, so, with the second episode being almost entirely around Osaka, life was good.

The third factor, for Azumanga Daioh, was environment, strangely enough. This isn't one that I usually factor in to an anime's enjoyment, but it seems you really have to be in the right mood to enjoy Azumanga Daioh. For, it seems, a lot of people in America like to get things done. We multitask, with our laptops and Blackberries and cell phones and coffee and so on. We don't have time to sit around for half an hour to enjoy an anime which has as much content as cotton candy.
As such, when I sat down to watch Azumanga for the first time, it was two days before a project was due for school, and the day before finals week. I didn't really have time to burn, so it really didn't click to turn my mind off for half an hour and enjoy the senseless antics of the cast. This, I imagine, is the time for what I call 'thinking anime', like many Key series, maybe even Haruhi at some of its deeper moments. These are anime where you can actively get involved in it, get involved in connecting the dots and figuring out the plot.

Azumanga, from what it seems so far, is more of a 'summer' anime. It's the anime for when you don't want to think, when you want to just sit around and relax, when there's nothing else to do, when you don't need to keep track of the time, like during a slow summer day. And with my first slow summer day being yesterday in the period after the last day of school, Azumanga just...clicked. It's perfect for sitting down in the afternoon in a catatonic state, and getting up to go to bed at night after watching 4 hours worth of episodes.

In a sense, I'd call it almost like a lot of American TV and sitcoms, in that there's not a lot of thinking involved, but there is a lot of humor involved.

Not a lot has changed about the show itself, to be honest. The gags are still repeated numerous times - a "Sakaki-gets-bitten-by-cat" counter could probably rival the Uguu-o-meter at any rate - and some scenes are just screaming 'reused/cheap footage'. Perhaps it's just that we're getting into the fresh content, the ones I don't quite remember from the manga, that makes it a bit better for me.

Perhaps the Yukari-mobile is just that much more funny (especially as one who recently obtained a driver's license) in real-time. Who knows?

But, in the end, Azumanga Daioh seems to be an interesting show after all, at least under the right conditions. And with the onset of summer for joyous schoolchildren everywhere, it just might be time to sit down, clock out, and chill to the tune of Chiyo being naive, Sakaki being cool, Yomi being a meganekko, Osaka being spacey, Yukari being a Good Driver, and Kaorin being a fangirl. (see look, I remember names now!)

Except for Tomo and Kimura. Those two are just annoying.



I didn't find Azumanga very interesting either when I first watched it. But then like any other 4-koma based anime, it quickly captured my liking.

Although Hidamari Sketch captured my interest pretty fast. =/