Anime Challenge #6: Anime that never gets old

I’m not one to rewatch, reread, or replay anything unless I’m really really impressed with it. However, those that do make the cut either have extremely rich narratives or they’re comedies that have stood the test of time.

Azumanga Daioh review

Azumanga Daioh is over ten years old and it’s still just as hilarious today as it was back then. It popularized 4-koma series and provided a formula for later series to emulate. Series like Lucky Star and K-ON! defintely ride on its coattails, although each provides its own nuances that make them enjoyable on their own rite.

So what is it about Azumanga Daioh that makes it just as fresh to me as it was when I first watched it? Where’s the rewatch value? Well, it’s a simple series. Many anime are narratively complex and that’s one of the medium’s best features, but part of Azumanga Daioh’s appeal–and the appeal of 4-koma series in general–is that they strip away the drama and complexity to present something markedly different from other anime genres. People don’t expect anime to be like Azumanga Daioh, and it’s series like these that helped me realize back in the day that anime is a medium, not a genre.

Of course, now there’s an abundance of slice-of-life high school anime, but back when Azumanga Daioh came out, Western fans at least hadn’t seen anything like it. I’ve often heard it called “the Seinfeld of anime” on the merit of it being a show about nothing. That’s true in many ways because seriously, what is this show about? Girls go to high school. Cool beans.

My smarty-pants answer is that Azumanga Daioh does what 4-koma series do best: celebrate the ordinary and mundane by portraying averageness as the place where everything intriguing happens. It’s an anime that makes you feel like what happens on screen could easily be something that happens in your own life, whether it’s an awkward encounter with a foreigner at the airport or making friends with a stray cat on your way to school.

Azumanga Daioh has staying power not because it makes these average situations interesting, but because of the way the characters navigate this averageness. It’s their reactions to test scores and field trips that make the whole series relatable content.

Next: Favorite weapon, gear, or armor used in an anime (hint: I will talk about more than one because I generally don’t have too many issues with pluralism and also I can’t choose just one).

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