Film:
DVD:

Based upon the manga by Kiyohiko Azuma
Directed by Takashi Wada

Features:

  • Five episodes
  • Collector pin
  • Booklet
  • Clean opening and closing animation
  • Production sketches
  • Reversible cover

Dindrane's Anime Warnings:

  • Laughter
  • High School
  • Chiyo's smarter than you

Released by: ADV
Region: 1
Rating: 13+
Anamorphic: N/A; episodes appear in their original 1.33:1 format.

My Advice: Get it and enjoy.

Azumanga Daioh is based on one of the most interesting mangas of recent years, a daily strip not unlike those you might see in the United States, but based upon the singular, but seemingly ordinary, experiences of Japanese high school girls.

In Volume 3, the girls move into their second year of high school and face the possibility of splitting up. Luckily, Yukari is selfish, and the girls are kept together, with the addition of top athlete Kagura who is still trying to create a rivalry between herself and Sakaki, the latter of whom could care less. Meanwhile, poor Chiyo-chan still hasn’t gotten any taller, and now there’s a class under her who refuse to call her sempai and instead want to talk about how cute she is. Some of the best moments of the volume are, as always, centered on Chiyo and her struggle to cope with being an innocent genius. Another highlight is when the group gets a class kitten; Sakaki of course is beside herself. In this volume we also get more of the same as the last two volumes, such as Yukari showing herself to be a female GTO, overly competitive Kagura, and Sakaki versus her fan girls.

The secret to this series is not only Azuma’s gentle touch, but the wonderful personalities of the girls themselves, how they play off each other and their situations, and how they handle the dueling teachers, Yukari and Nyamo. We can all identify with one of the girls (even male viewers), and they transcend “types” to become people in their own right.

There are some nice features to this volume, as well, including a spiffy and adorable cloisonné pin and a hefty booklet that includes translator notes (how we do love these!), comments from the Japanese staff, and some art studies of Sakaki and Kaorin. We are also treated to a clean opening and closing as come on most quality releases, and to a nice gallery of production sketches that should please the budding manga-ka in the audience. The disc itself comes in a translucent case, so the reversible cover can be enjoyed from either side.

The art of the show itself is marvelous and a splendid reflection of Azuma’s original manga. If you enjoy the source material, then you’ll be pleased with the transfer to animation. The colors are nice and bright, befitting the cheerful nature of the show and the quality one expects from an ADV release. The sound is also nice and solid, and the voice actors, both English and Japanese do a fantastic job, even if you don’t like Osaka’s accent. This is one of those shows where the anime pedants have to admit that Americans can handle voice acting, too.

The great thing about this volume of is that no matter who your favorite girl is, you’ll get some choice moments. This title can be highly recommended to anyone at all and would be a great introduction to anime; this is another show where you can pretty much jump in at any time and not feel lost, though of course you’ll miss some of the back story, especially with Sakaki and Kaorin, and with Yukari and Nyamo. Funny and charming without being sweet or silly, Azumanga Daioh strikes all the right notes.

Order the DVD from Amazon! (US) (UK) (CAN)

Discuss the review in the
Needcoffee.com Gabfest
!