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Friday, March 24, 2017

Anime Hajime Review: Nichijou

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Nichijou. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

How in the hell am I going to do this? How does one synopsis Nichijou?

Most people live an ordinary life. They go to school. They meet with friends. They worry about their creator modifying them in their sleep. They’re ready to blow up their crush with heavy artillery at a moment’s notice.

You know, ordinary.

Every single day, we go from moment to moment. What those moments entail, well that’s part of the fun. Sometimes they make sense. Other times they don’t. And it’s the ones that don’t that are maybe the most special.

This is the story of such ordinary lives. Well, not so such a story. More like a series of strange, unbelievable happenings. The unexpected and the outlandish are normal here.

Hope you’re ready. If so, strap yourself in. You never know what’ll come flying through the air.

If anyone can do a better job than that, please let me know.

Series Positives

This has been Pre-Blog Month. Except Nichijou wasn’t just any re-watch. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve seen this show. Plus, what’s there for me to talk about anymore?

If you’ve seen my top anime comedies, you know what I think of Nichijou. Plus, I compare so many other shows to this one. I suppose I should take this time to explain in detail why I love this series so much. Except if you’ve seen it, you know why that’s difficult to do. Part of Nichijou’s charm is the fact that it’s hard to explain. But I’m going to try anyway.

It comes down to this. Think of a show that’s funny. Now I’m not talking humorous. I mean laugh your ass off funny. Next, add great writing and a ton of fun characters. Then give it a tone and feel which make it, with no exaggeration, a true one of a kind. And finally, give it a budget.

You’ve just made Nichijou.

Here is a for real series about nothing. If you’ve never seen this show you’re in for a ride. Don’t even think in terms of what’s going to happen between episode one and twenty-six. It’s hard enough to guess what’ll happen in the span of five minutes.

Nichijou was always moving. It didn’t like to stay in one place for long. It jumped around from scene to scene. Scenario to scenario. Each moment was filled with enough energy to crush lesser comedies. This show didn’t hesitate to go big and it went big all the time.

There were visual jokes, slapstick, and one-liners. Puns, expressions, physical comedy. Fast talking, dry humor, and sarcasm. Everyone was the straight man. Everyone was the wildcard. There was variety. The only thing you can expect from Nichijou is the unexpected.

When I said, this show got a budget, it went all out. Nichijou isn’t just one of the funniest anime out there, it’s one of the best animated. A lot of attention, a lot of detail went into every second of this series. All for the sake of illustrating some of the stupidest, most out-there things you can imagine. Did you ever think you’d see a school principal wrestle a deer? Of course you haven’t. But it happened here. And it kicked all kinds of ass.

Watch it straight through. Watch it at random. It doesn’t matter. Pick it up anytime, anywhere.
I love Nichijou. It’s fantastic. There are a million reasons why it’s so good. So, to focus our attention, let’s only look at the heart of it all.

The Characters

The cast is huge. There are so many characters here. Most of them don’t serve any kind of purpose. Often, they were in the background and on occasion they had a segment of their own. We didn’t get to know a lot of the people we saw. Then again, no one really served a purpose. Even our “main leads”.

I say “main leads” hesitantly because there wasn’t one single lead character. There wasn’t even a small group that would be considered the focus. There were six characters we spent the most time with. Even then, for a good chunk of this series, they were split into two separate groups.

And I’m not even going to entertain the thought. One group never trumped the other. Both were great. For a lot of the same reasons, but also for their own. It was never a downgrade whenever we switched between the two. But the type of humor did. That will come into play in a bit.

The first group we’ll refer to as the High Schoolers. This was made up of Yuko Aioi (voiced by Mariko Honda), Mio Naganohara (voiced by Mai Aizawa), and Mai Minakami (voiced by Misuzu Togashi).

Yuko was the brashest of everyone. She instigated much of the nonsense. When something went wrong, a lot of it was her fault. That’s a little unfair to say since there were also many things that did happen to her, that weren’t caused by her. But whenever s@#$ hit the fan, it had a tendency to fly towards Yuko.

Don’t feel too sorry for her. More often than not, she had things coming. She was perpetually lazy and always looked for the easy way out. This would come back to bite her. Yet her easy-going nature allowed her to take it all without being phased. She was genuine in her feelings. Though she kept looking for her new joke, it was never at anyone’s expense.

Mio was one you had to watch out for. She was the one who had to rein in Yuko’s antics. Either that, or she was the target of those antics. Even when she knew Yuko was setting up something, Mio would sometimes appease her anyway. On the surface, she was the even-keeled one. That was until someone pissed her off.

If pushed too far or something risked her embarrassment, Mio would turn violent. It didn’t matter who it was. Friends, family, law enforcement. She had a short fuse. Plus, she was one of the few people who knew how to hit Yuko in just the right way. So, when these two did go at it, it was pretty God damn entertaining.

Then there was Mai who was great. She said a total of thirty words in the entire show. But she never had to say anything. Her entire character consisted of f@$%ing with people. She was the biggest troll. Almost everything she did, served as a purpose of getting a reaction out of someone. The elaborateness of her pranks wasn’t what made them so effective. It was the fact they were so out there and strange. Why she did anything was a mystery.

The second group we’ll refer to as the Lab Crew. This group consisted of the residents of Shinonome Laboratories. These were Nano Shinonome (voiced by Shizuka Furuya), the Professor (voiced by Hiromi Konno), and Sakamoto (voiced by Minoru Shiraishi).

I’ll say Yuko was the funniest. That’s not a small feat since everyone was hilarious. But Nano was my favorite. She was such a sweetheart. It makes sense why I’d like her the most since she got an actual character arc. Even if she didn’t, she was so cute.

Despite her being an android, Nano was maybe the most normal person in this show. I know I sometimes forgot she was a robot. Yes, I know the huge giant key on her back was a constant give away. Yet it was still hard to see her as a machine. And damn it, I always felt so sorry for her whenever the Professor added modifications without her knowledge.

Speaking of the Professor, you can never forget this. She was eight. Some of her actions could be described as mean. Or you can seem them as the actions of an eight-year-old. Why would she have a sweet roll come out of Nano’s arm? Because that meant she could have a sweet roll whenever she wanted. Duh.

Plus, Nichijou did a great job mixing the Professor’s age with her intelligence. No matter how you saw her, she was your typical grade schooler. She just happened to have a genius level intellect. It was the latter of the two that didn’t come out that often. But the mere existence of Nano was enough to satisfy that part of her character.

Finally, we have Sakamoto. Like the Professor, Nichijou did an amazing job mixing his two major character traits. Of all the inhabitants of Shinonome Labs, he was the most adult. Yet he was also a cat. Sometimes, to his chagrin, those feline tendencies came out. Thus, it’s no surprise that Sakamoto and the Professor made for a great comedic duo.

Also, should I ever get a cat, you best believe I’m going to name it after Sakamoto.

Whenever the show was centered around one of these two groups, hilarity ensued. The High Schoolers were more energetic and wild. The Lab Crew was a little more docile and easy going. Both did their brand of comedy well. That’s why it was great when they would cross paths.

When these two group became one, Nichijou’s true magic came out. There are so many points where it’ll hit you. “Wow, I really care about these characters.”

Nichijou is hysterical. But there’s another aspect that can’t get understated. When it wanted to, this show knew how to be heartwarming. It knew how to make you smile.

Nano was always self-conscious about her being a robot. All she wanted was to be a normal girl. Thus, she did everything she could to convince people that was who she was. Except, it couldn’t be more obvious. This was something which refused to stay a secret. Then along came Yuka and her genuine Yuka way. With a smile, she told her friend Nano was Nano. And that was all there had to be.

That’s Nichijou. That’s why I love this series so much. That’s why it’s my number one anime comedy.

Series Negatives

Umm…Uhh…I don’t have the slightest clue what to say here.

Watch it. It’s good. Watch it again. Because it’s good.

Is this the type of humor for everyone? Of course, not. It’s the nature of comedy. If you like structure. If you like things to have a point. If you want story. If you want conflict. If you want characters to overcome obstacles. Then yeah, Nichijou’s not for you.

Even still, you should watch it. Or at least give it a few episodes.

If there’s something I have to say here, it’d be this. Nichijou worked better in its randomness. One shot events were this show’s bread and butter. Was there call back humor? Yes. Was it good? Yes. The only thing this did was make the series' watch anytime feel a little more constricted.

There was a shift in focus halfway through. It was when the High Schoolers and Lab Crew started interacting. It was a noticeable shift. But it wasn’t bad. It was just second. Had it been reversed, nothing would've changed.

Did all the jokes land? There were a few moments I didn’t laugh as hard at, I guess. Except there were plenty of other moments I couldn’t stop laughing at. It balanced out.

I’m stretching here because don’t have anything. This is a go-to show for me. If there are any flaws, I don’t care enough about them to notice. They’re certainly not going to get me to stop watching. So I don’t see the point of struggling to say something here.

Final Thoughts

Why did I even bother reviewing this show? I’ve made it clear on many previous occasions how good it is. Nichijou is often the benchmark to which I measure other series.

Well, there were two reasons why. One, I wanted to watch it again. Two, now it’s officially part of the site.

Nichijou's hilarious. The characters are great. The animation is stunning. It gets so many things right. There are few, if any, other anime like it. This is a one of a kind.

I’ll repeat myself here. I’ll repeat myself in the future. I’ll repeat myself for as long as I can. Nichijou is an absolute must. I give it the highest recommendation possible.

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