The Never-ending Nichijou

The funny thing about the phrase ‘time flies’ is that you really never seem to notice it until you look back on the events and days that have passed you by. And just like that, in the blink of an eye, another brilliant series, Nichijou, has come to a close. Unequivocally one of the best shows this past few seasons, along with Steins;Gate and Kaiji.

If you remember my first impression post on this show, I gave it a less than favorable review. I questioned the logic behind it and the absurdness and randomness of it all. But it was only after watching a few more episodes that I had an epiphany. I was going about it all wrong. For you see, I was comparing Nichijou to other Slice-of-Life shows like Lucky Star, Ichigo Mashimaro, Genshiken, Miyabi Straight, K-On, etc… where they were relatively bound to the rules of our reality and dealt with normal, everyday issues. The humor in those shows relied on how the characters interacted with the everyday issues in a comical, condescending and satirical manner that can be considered a social commentary at times and a pretty accurate reflection of society at times that you could really relate to.

Nichijou is not this.

Nichijou is a show that is truly self-contained. Despite its namesake, it’s logic is not founded on the rules of our reality, it does not rely on current issues nor it is not a reflection of society. I mean, we have child professors, fully sentient androids and talking cats for crying out loud. Its name comes from the fact that the show is about the everyday lives of the characters. Albeit crazy ones.

Once I got over my misplaced expectations, I then began to enjoy Nichijou for what it truly had to offer, its awesome characters, bizarre situations and over-the-top non-stop gags. That’s it. That is really all that Nichijou is good for in a nutshell but boy it does it do a phenomenal job at it. The characters all have their unique perks and quirks and are fully fleshed out. (From Yuuko’s gags to Mio’s Yaoi manga to Mai’s Buddha(?) statues.) Not to mention, a ton of side characters were given numerous chances in the lime light with is something that isn’t seen too often. The recurring side characters, I think, make the world of Nichijou just that much more believable.

Despite being in a completely different dimension, you are able to relate with them, empathize with them and love them. It also helps that the character interactions were some of the best that I have seen in awhile. You can thank the direction, writing and comedic timing which is top-notch.

One of my favorite scenes from the entire series is the argument between Yuuko and Mio over the wrongly purchased Yaki Saba. The argument was so realistic and so natural sounding that when you stop to think about it, makes one wonder how on Earth they were able to script it out. As many writers will tell you, one of the hardest things to write is dialogue that sounds natural and unrehearsed.

Of course, it would all have come to naught it it weren’t for the excellent voice acting. It is without a doubt that the star of the show would be Yuuko’s voice actress, Honda Mariko. She barely has any credits to her name, but I think her performance in Nichijou speaks for itself. I don’t think Yuuko would have been half the awesome character that she was if Honda Mariko was not able to perfectly articulate the myriad of emotions with her voice alone. Needless to say, the animation style and quality of Kyoto Animation really does lend to the overall success of many of the gags, what with all the expressions, effects and styles.

Another character that is worth mentioning is of course, our resident Pinocchio herself, Shinonome Nano. Arguably the only character that received the most amount of characterization and a number of story-arcs all to herself. While her situation is undoubtedly not the first, I really liked the significance of her key and what it symbolized.

Slight spoiler for the final episode, but in it, we see Nano realizing that her key and her uniqueness was not a hindrance to her dream of making friends. In fact, I would like to propose that her key allowed her to make TRUE friends. Ones that won’t judge her for who she is and accept her differences. Unlike Pinocchio, Nano does not get turned into a real girl through the magic of a Blue Fairy. She is who she is. And at the end, she accepts and embraces her uniqueness.

I am 100% certain that everybody in the entire world can relate to Nano and how we are unsatisfied with some part of ourselves. Nano’s key is that part. That uniqueness is not something to be ashamed about, nor is it something to be feared, but something to be embraced. It is precisely these flaws, these unique traits, that make us who we are. Thus, aside from Yuuko, Nano emerges up on top as one of my absolute favorite characters from the series.

Lastly, if there is anything that I could critic about the show, I would definitely have to say that just like Lucky Star, the first few episodes were quite slow. But again, just like Lucky Star, it was able to build up speed and was able to maintain a consistent, no-holds-barred roller-coaster ride of fun through to the end. And what an end it was, truly befitting of the show’s name, Nichijou… which if you noticed, ended off with the the first sketch and Sakura Blossoms in the very first episode, signifying the cyclic nature of the seasons. Definitely not something new, as we see this in Ichigo Mashimaro as well, but extremely effective in conveying the continuing everyday life.

Despite the initial misgivings I had for the show, I can proudly say that I will, without hesitation, drop 36,000 yen on a Blu-Ray Box Set if Kyoto Animation does ever decide to release one, just like they did with Lucky Star and Haruhi.

I am truly going to miss my weekly window into this world. Mio, Yuuko, Mai, Hakase, Nano, Sakamoto, I bid thee farewell. (Until the inevitable OVA that is.)

3 Responses to The Never-ending Nichijou

  1. VillainHana says:

    I’m really happy you ended up liking the show.

    I didn’t really like it as much as you, but I did enjoy it.

    The thing I enjoyed the most about it was it’s production values. I mean, the Animation quality was movie-level. I always knew that KyoAni were excellent animators, but goddamn, this was amazing even for them (and so was the Dissapearance, but that was an actual movie, so one would expect high production values). People may have misgivings about the art style KyoAni employs (I personally was not the biggest fan of Nichijou’s art style) but nobody can really argue that KyoAni makes poorly produced shows as far as animation is concerned, expecially now.

    One thing I thought Nichijou had problems with is comedic timing. Sometimes I felt the individual skits lasted too long for their own good and ended up dragging a bit. Also I felt that sometimes Nichijou’s goal was to be surreal instead of funny, as some scenes felt like they were done simply for the purpose of being weird (I felt this the most with Mai’s scenes, which I feel like they were comedicaly timed improperly and just felt weird instead of funny sometimes). And as you said, It started kind of slow.

    However, when Nichijou was funny, it was REALLY funny. 2 scenes that stand out to me was when Mai released the fish she caught after Yuuko and Mio spilled the Curry and Rice they were cooking while camping, and the visit Mio, Yuuko and Mai payed to the temple while it was raining and everything began to fall apart. Yuuko trying to teach Mio how to jump over the pole was pretty good as well.

    In a comedic sense, Nichijou had some serious highs and lows for me. Some parts I was just plain bored, some parts I was laughing my ass off. As far as SoLs go, I got more consistant enjoyment from Yuru Yuri, and as far as comedy goes, I got more consistant laughs from Baka/Test Ni, and ultimately I enjoyed both more than Nichijou.

    However, Nichijou has some really good things going for it. As I already mentioned, the production values are obscenely good, on par with a movie. For me, the comedy had highs and lows, but Nichijou could really hit it out of the park when it got to that sweet spot. Though what I haven’t mentioned is Nichijou’s odd level of uniqueness. A while back, I compared it to Azumanga Daioh, but that’s not entirely correct. Azumanga is semi-surreal. It may have a 10 year old girl as a high school student, but it tries to be realistic more often than not, while just occasionally dipping into the surreal. It’s also somewhat similar to the early SHAFT show Pani Poni Dash, which being made by SHAFT one could expect it to be plenty surreal (It has a 10 year old college graduate teacher, god is a cat that lives in vending machines, and aliens give running commentary). But as it was made by SHAFT, the humor is much more pop-culture based, and has the same style of visual gags found in Negima!? but just to the 11th power.

    Nichijou on the other hand is like both, but different as well. Nichijou was the best out of the shows I mentioned of bringing the viewer into it’s own internal logic. It’s very surreal like a SHAFT show, but has very little in the way of pop-culture jokes and has a different style of humor than Azumanga, while having excellent production values. As you said, Nichijou is very self contained. It truly is an experiance in of it’s self, and despite my misgivings of the show, I would recommend any Anime fan or Otaku see it.

  2. Actar says:

    @ VillainHana: Thank you once again for your insights!

    Looking back, I definitely do agree that there were some parts of Nichijou that weren’t stellar. More than once, there were a couple of scenes that failed to deliver any laughs at all. However, I didn’t really mention that in my final impressions post because I personally think that the high points of the show really make up for the low points. Not to mention, the low points themselves weren’t terrible by any stretch of the imagination.

    Speaking of favorite sketches, let me name a few of mine:

    – Annaka (the Tsukasa lookalike) and the shooting gallery.
    – Yuuko and Mio’s house of cards.
    – Yuuko trying to make herself sick to avoid going to school.
    – Mio’s Sister’s rancid jam.
    – Mai and Yuuko playing Rock, Paper, Scissors.

    Since you mentioned Pani Poni Dash, I really think that SHAFT’s work is what you would call really, really surreal. They are surreal in the sense that ANYTHING can happen. And whatever happens is taken to be happening in ‘reality’.

    Taking the example of Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei. The show is also sketch based, with each episode having two to three of them. In each sketch, Zetsubou Sensei will be in despair over a certain issue. And to illustrate the issue, they would usually go about finding examples of said issue. Going through elaborate processes, having bizarre out-of-this-world things happen to them, etc…

    The first season is still relatively sane, devoting each episode to the introduction of the various characters but Zoku (S2), Goku (OVA) and Zan (S3) just pull all the stops. II highly recommend a watch if you haven’t already done so. At times, it’s a pretty thought provoking commentary on society if I do say so myself.

    As for Nichijou, everything that happens is still considered relatively close to reality, meaning to say that nothing ever out of the ordinary happens to them. Anything bizarre in the show is just used as a device to exaggerate the situations, emotions or reactions of the characters. Yes, there are outlandish characters, but they are still bound to the logic of the world, unlike many of SHAFT’s work. (Save Madoka, the most focused and sanest of SHAFT’s works if I do say so myself.)

    I hope you can understand my explanations as the various styles are very hard to describe in words.

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