Sixteen years before Chio-chan no Tsuugakuro made us literally LOL, there was a group of girls whose hilarious lives and misadventures split our sides with laughter. Those were the girls in Azumanga Daioh!
Along with their very own Chiyo (we wonder if that was a nod to the comedy classic), Sakaki, Tomo, Kagura, Koyomi, and Ayumu (a.k.a. Osaka) navigate high school life in an unapologetically random and hilarious way. Today, we pay homage to the series by talking a bit about its background and why we think it deserves a #TBT shoutout.
What is “Azumanga Daioh” anyway?
Azumanga Daioh was a 4 koma manga by Kiyohiko Azuma, which was published in the shounen magazine Dengeki Daioh. So basically, the title plays on the author’s name and the fact that it’s a manga that publishes in Dengeki Daioh, giving us King Azumanga!
It being a 4-panel comic, when adapted to anime in 2002, it was made as 130 5-minute shorts put together into a 26-episode series comprising the 6 girls’ high school years from the first day to their graduation.
Ahead of its time
Something that can be said about Azumanga Daioh is that there was nothing like it at that time. While now we’re used to random comedy anime and trippy scenes, Azumanga Daioh was one of the first to use the Seinfeld formula of “a show about nothing” in a slice of life that wasn’t just about watching cute girls doing cute things while adding that “what just happened?” factor.
Which brings us to our next point. There’s no gimmick to keep you, the show keeps you interested by being funny. That’s all. The girls are shaped like normal high school girls, their clothes stay in place, and they’re not overly cute or moe; all of which allows us to focus on the character interactions and amazing comedic writing.
Now we have anime like Nichijou, Danshi Koukousei Nichijou, Lucky Star, and the aforementioned Chio’s School Road that have a huge following and are seen as just really funny shows, but few know about the anime that started it all. Perhaps they should remake it? Make a sequel?
We can relate
Similarly to shows like Friends or Seinfeld, the girls in Azumanga Daioh portray exaggerated personality traits as their own personalities, which adds to the comedy. We all know that one friend that spaces out like Osaka or have that loud-mouth friend who sees everything as a competition. Or better yet, we realize we have issues with the scale like Koyomi or struggle with an unrequited love for cats.
While their actions and personalities may be exaggerated, the girls are extremely relatable, which makes most people who watch Azumanga Daioh fall in love with one or several of the characters. And if you watch it now, it’s still relevant and timeless!
While all the girls in the show are lovable and hilarious in their own ways, Osaka, Chiyo, Yukari, and Chiyo’s “dad” are the driving force behind Azumanga Daioh.
Osaka is eager and motivated to grow and mature, but her short attention span and vivid imagination get in the way. From imagining Chiyo’s dad as a cat plushie, therefore creating another iconic character in the show, to dreaming that Chiyo’s pigtails control her like a robot, Osaka’s is a never-ending source of laughter and WTFs.
Chiyo-chan is smarter and light-years more mature than her older classmates, but that doesn’t change the fact that she’s a small child. And we’ve all seen fail videos involving children, right? They’re hilarious, right? (As long as the child isn’t hurt, of course). Well, seeing all the Chiyo abuse is just as good. From Yukari shoving Chiyo while she’s in a penguin suit to see her fall and struggle adorably, to Tomo hitting Chiyo repeatedly in the face with a volleyball during PE, Chiyo-chan’s suffering is just priceless.
Yukari is the complete opposite of Chiyo. She’s a teacher, a bit dense, aggressive, irresponsible, and by far the most immature of the characters. She drives like a mad woman, drinks till she pukes and is obsessed with her childhood friend and proclaimed rival Minamo. She is a hot mess and we love her for it.
In one of Osaka’s dreams, she comes up with an idea that a big yellow cat plushie in Chiyo’s room is her father. Hilarity ensues when, not only in her dreams but in Sakaki’s too for some reason, “Chiyo’s dad” is actually a caring and doting father who happens to speak English and has dad jokes to spare! The random factor in his scenes is something that makes Azumanga Daioh what it is.
There are other characters you can’t forget, like creepy Mr. Kimura, Sakaki and her obsession with cats and cute things (we can relate!), or the tan and athletic Kagura who’s always falling for Tomo’s competitions. The Azumanga Daioh cast is truly something else.
It’s exciting to see this type of comedy catching on more and more. Hopefully more people will become aware of Azumanga Daioh and give the comedy slice of life a chance if they’re never seen it. If you enjoy shows like Chiyo’s School Road or Nichijou and you haven’t watched Azumanga Daioh yet, we really recommend you check it out!
Are you a fan of the Azumanga girls? What’s your favorite moment in the series? Wouldn't it be great if they revived it!? Share your thoughts in the comments below!