Watching Azumanga Daioh was a very interesting experience for me. First broadcasting in 2002, this show is essentially the progenitor to all the Slice of Life comedies that would become so prominent in the years to come. Watching this must be like what watching Gundam '79 feels like to fans of the Mech genre and it's really eye opening how much of my favourite Slice of Life shows like Kiniro Mosaic, Is The Order a Rabbit?, Non Non Biyori and K-On were obviously influenced by this show.
For a show that is over a decade old at this point, Azumanga Daioh still looks very good, even by today's standards. The art style used is quite simple but this works in the show's favour and looks great for the type of show it is. It easily allows for some great use of exaggeration for comedic effect which always works fantastically. Even the character designs themselves allow for ample comedic opportunity with many a laugh being had at Chiyo's pigtails and Osaka's face is just inherently funny, even when she isn't doing anything. The music is also pretty fantastic. The soundtrack reminded me quite a lot of Non Non Biyori in terms of its instrumentation and general tone which is a great thing considering the Non Non Biyori soundtrack is also very good. The voice acting is also top notch. I chose to watch this show in Japanese so I can't really comment on the English cast but the Japanese cast all do a brilliant job. My favourite would have to be Tomoko Kaneda as Chiyo who delivers the absolutely perfect adorable voice for one of the cutest characters I've seen in an anime.
The heart of this show really is its characters and they are really the main reason to watch. The cast consists of 6 girls who are just tons of fun to watch and have really great chemistry together. Normally in shows like these it can be very easy to grow to love a single character but this is one instance where I find it incredibly hard to pick a favourite. Each girl brings something unique and has their moments that makes you really adore every character. Except maybe Yomi. Her personality trait was being normal which in a cast like this, is just kind of boring. Even though it is incredibly hard to play favourites, if I did have to pick, I'd have to go for Sakaki. Sakaki, I think, has the most episodes dedicated to her solely and this played a large part in my love for her. Her love of all things cute and her really unfortunate relationship with cats on top of her general shy personality just made her a fairly tragic character (In the context of the show of course) and the end of her arc with the cats was such an incredibly gratifying moment and was one of the highlights of the show.
In general, the comedy was also fantastic. Barely a single episode would go by where I wouldn't be in fits of laughter at least once and takes Yuyushiki's place as the most consistently hilarious show I've seen. There are just such a large variety of jokes and types of comedy here there really is something for everyone. I think my favourite comedic moments were when it would go all surreal (which I'm guessing was in influence for Nichijou) as that created some incredibly baffling and funny situations that I couldn't even imagine.
I'd say that if you like Slice of Life or High School Comedy shows at all, even a little, you owe yourself to check out this show ASAP. A lot of anime I love are directly inspired by this show and Azumanga Daioh goes up there with the best of them.
Original Publish Date: 14/12/15