Azumanga Daioh

Azumanga DaiohType: TV Series
Episode Count: 26
Genre: Slice Of Life / Comedy
Vintage: 2002

Version reviewed: Japanese Subtitled
Date of Review: 28 Aug 2007

Grade: A
Grade revised 07 Jan 2010 (was B)

If only your own high school years were this fun.

Plot Summary
Azumanga Daioh follows the lives of six girls over the course of their years at high school.

The Review
Yes, the plot – such as it is – is really that simple. The only grand scheme going on in this series is the progression of time over the three years of high school for the girls in the show. As such, Azumanga Daioh is all about the characters, so it helps to know who they are…

First, there’s new transfer student Chiyo Mihama – or Chiyo-chan for short. She’s a genius 10th grader, and she’s only 10 years old. Her pigtails are legendary, and she’s from a well-to-do family with a very big house. She’s adored by the entire school. Then there’s Ayumu Kasuga, but nobody calls her Ayumu. She’s been dubbed ‘Osaka’ by her classmates, since that is where she transferred from. Ayumu, err Osaka, does have an Osakan accent, but that’s not her most notable trait. She is a total space cadet. Spouting random thoughts and observations, telling bizarre jokes, and living in her own little world is what makes Osaka special.

Tomo Takino is annoying. And loud. And brash. That’s her specialty. She also turns just about everything into a competition. This is unfortunate for Koyomi Mizuhara – or just Yomi, Tomo’s friend since childhood. She and Tomo have been in the same class since elementary school. Yomi is always putting Tomo in her place. She’s generally good at academics, and is pretty normal among her group of friends. Her weakness is that she is overly self-conscious about her weight (she’s not overweight at all, actually), and is always trying and failing to keep to the latest fad diet.

There’s also Sakaki… nobody knows her first name. Outwardly, she seems cold and distant, and even kind of scary to those that don’t know her. This is partly because she is very tall for a high school girl. Underneath the imposing exterior, however, is a girl with a fatal weakness for anything that is cute, especially cats. She does her best to hide this from everyone, though, and as a result is actually a lonely person. Kagura (nobody knows her first name, either) didn’t join the group until second year (11th grade). She’s also the competitive type and is good at sports. Kagura is nowhere near as annoying as Tomo is, though.

Rounding out the cast are the teachers and secondary characters. Yukari Tanizaki is the girls’ homeroom teacher and is a total slacker. One wonders how she even became a teacher in the first place. Even her students call her Yukari-chan! Her subject is English. She often crashes at the home of her best friend,  PE teacher Minamo Kurosawa. Yukari just calls her ‘Nyamo’, though. While Yukari still acts childish, all Nyamo can do is shake her head and wonder about her friend. They are similar to Tomo and Yomi in that respect. One other teacher that we see is Kimura-sensei. He creeps all of the girls out when he tries to get overly friendly with them. Or when he insists that the girls attend classes in their swimsuits. Finally, the most notable secondary character is Kaori, nicknamed Kaorin. She’s a girl in the same grade as the main six, with an enormous crush on Sakaki. She’ll do anything and everything to be near Sakaki, and when they work together during things like the school Culture Festival, it’s pure bliss for her. Unfortunately for Kaorin, her affections for Sakaki seem to be one-sided.

And there you have it! Azumanga Daioh is 26 episodes covering 3 years, and all of the hilarity that ensues when these characters do the things that high school kids do. Each episode is arranged as a series of five short vignettes, and captures the feel of its four panel comic origins. Great fun with great characters, this is a series that almost everyone should be able to find something in to enjoy.

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