Selamat pagi! This is an ordinary story of a little show, that was hit-or-miss at times and at times was seemingly too long, but over the last two seasons, each of my anime-watching weeks was anchored by the fun Nichijou. The watching of which, will surely go down as a singular experience. A brief summary and observations on the finale, before some thoughts on the series in its entirety.
As the final episode begins, the threesome of Yukko, Mio and Mai, plan a surprise birthday for Nano. After being called an idiot, Yukko once again takes some pointed jabs at Mio. As Nano (not a robot) gets ready to leave for school, the Professor attempts to upgrade her (a normal girl), with a new, smaller, screw–only to have Sakamoto, the master trouble maker, step on it.
This is followed by a couple shorter scenes. First the principal and vice principal once again find themselves in a tense situation, with the later having the tables turned on his sinister plans. There’s also a final Igo Soccer club clip, with both Daiku and Sekiguchi showing up early. Of course, what would the finale be without some final randomly inspired moments?
The three main girls remember to ask Nano if they can come over to the labs after school. Yukko leaves to tells her, unwittingly bringing good fortune to those she (literally) runs across. Before heading to Nano’s we see them again, in a park, trying desperately to smash a pumpkin, even daring to pull off multiple attack combinations.
As Nano heads home, and in what turns out to be an incredible twist of fate, Nakamura-sensei spots her lost (runway) cat, Taisho–who we know better as Sakamoto-san. With the teacher’s lack of interpersonal (interfelinity) skills, Sakamato is in no rush to return to her and his past. Thoughts of his current living conditions however, force him to weigh the two–the scale won’t budge! The normal girl and her teacher say their goodbyes and Nano returns home to her small maker and mad scientist. [See J-List's Science shirt with Okabe and hakase.]
Professor continues to work on Nano’s new screw while her three classmates arrive, but after some reminiscing, Nano realizes the screw is an important part of her. Which turns out to be pretty important, as the new screw isn’t really a new screw. Now with Nano, Professor, Yukko, Mio and Mai, all together at the Shinonome Labs, they (almost) have cake and celebrate Nano’s birthday. In what felt like a proper ending, after the ending credits, there’s a short Motivation clip.
Overall the final episode doesn’t overtly project a series’ finale vibe. There are some subtle moments and some nice ways to wrap up the show. For one, there weren’t the usual assortment of brief scenes this week, which allowed the longer scenes to breathe. The return of rock-paper-scissors was a nice surprise though, reminding me of a more innocent time back in April 2011. And I enjoyed when Yukko ran through the school to speak to Nano, and her accidental interactions with many of the personalities we’ve come to know. It reminded me a little of the K-On!! finale, where the girls run through the school. This felt just as well done, and of course, more Nichijou like.
For much of the series and watching week-to-week, I wasn’t 100% sold on Nichijou. I sometimes enjoyed some of the plot, the characters and the funny moments. Other times, I sat as stoically as Mai, just sort of waiting for certain segments to end. However, as the series continued, the “certain segments” became fewer, and the “sometimes enjoyed,” became “mostly enjoyed.” For me, the story of Nichijou and my ordinary viewing of it, is a story of two halves.
I wasn’t thrilled with the first half of the series. The show’s content seemed a little split as it spent about a 1/3 of its time spent on the main trio of Mio, Mai and Yukko–three high school friends with very different personalities. Another 1/3 of the time was spent on the Shinonome duo (before a random adoption), of Professor and Nano–think moe versions of Dr. Frankenstein and his monster. Lastly, it seemed that other 1/3 was split between all the short segments and all the various supporting characters.
I know some people enjoyed the first half much more than I did. In my opinion, it felt too squeezed, with so many separate stories going on, divided even further by all the shorter segments. The pacing just didn’t work for me and throughout most of the first 12 episodes I found myself enjoying certain things and characters, but disliking almost as much. The second half of the series though I found pretty golden.
I won’t give any particular plot changes or developments away. Instead I’ll just say, that the show seemed to come together in tremendous fashion at about the halfway point and the next 12 episodes (the last 12) were much more enjoyable to me–Funnier, more interesting and even touching at times. At the heart of Nichijou, and all its wacky tendencies, are the large group of zany characters. Besides the main trio and duo (main five), the show had a huge cast of memorable supporting characters. From the professors and the multitude of classmates at the high school, to all the townsfolk seen through out the series, Nichijou always had plenty to draw from. Perhaps too much, at times, as I always enjoyed seeing the main characters more.
It was the interactions of the characters though, main and supporting, that made the show what it was. The straight-faced and random Mai, surely becomes much more interesting with her comedy partner Yukko. Mio’s artwork was cool, but Izumi-sensei’s treating Yukko’s artwork with the same regard, was hilarious. There are hundreds of these examples over the course of the show. The last thing I’d mention about the characters, is that although it’s a slice-of-life themed show, and featuring a ton of random, non-connected moments, there was some development of the characters–the Yukko character most of all. Always the backbone of the series, I was impressed with the way the character was written over the later half of the series. This after I weekly bashed her (Yucko), for being selfish, annoying and wishing she was die from random head trauma. Harsh, right?
The production of the show was outstanding. All the voice actors really earned their paycheck for this series. If you’ve seen the show already, can you imagine Yukko’s seiyu in the recording studio? Or Professors? Holy cow. I was also a fan of the guest actors featured at the end of each week. The background score was consistent over the series, with several compositions for the different themed scenes (surreal, silly), and all the short titled segments like Helvetica Standard, Short Thoughts etc. I say this every time I write a finale, but things like opening/ending songs will never impact my opinions negatively. For me, it’s all about the show itself. That being said, the two openings (split in halves), were great in their matching the tempo of the series. The ending during the second half of the series, slightly different each week, also fit perfectly.
That leaves us with the animation. While surely plain-looking at rest, it was in the more fantastical in-motion moments of the series where the animation shone. Shined? I think maybe objects shone/things get shined upon. Moving on… The simple animation lent itself to looking crisp and clean, and had the doubly effect of being easy to manipulate for the crazier moments. Watching it over the course of two seasons, the show always looked great, felt inventive and from what I’ve seen of the manga, was mostly faithful in breathing fresh life into the work.
This is a strange show in terms of recommendations. Like I said at the top, I truly believe this to be a unique show. The equally random, but more cohesive Azumanga Daioh was the earliest and probably still most relevant comparison. Other slice-of-life comedies comparisons are Lucky Star and Minami-ke. I really enjoyed the first season of Minami-ke, but have a tough time recommending all three seasons, which felt too long in my opinion. If you’re a big fan the shows mentioned I would easily recommend Nichijou. If you’re like me, and are a fair-weather fan of all genres, it’s a tough call. Maybe I’ll go with this–watch a few episodes if you have the time. If, like me you think it’s ok (50/50), keep watching and It will probably get better.
I wanted to add a little something about Kyoto Animation adapting this and that’s this–I don’t care. I hold no allegiance to any brand or corporation. I’ll shop at any supermarket or grocery store that have the best products at the best prices, and I treat anime the same way. I want to watch shows that make me laugh, cry, creeped out, freaked out, sexed up, and continually grin like an idiot. Who makes the shows seems irrelevant to me. Of course, to each his own, but I feel I need to add something similar in each finale’s review, so the 3 people who read this know where I’m coming from. Finally…
… Nichijou felt long at 26 episodes, and at times felt like it could have been shorter. But at the same time, if the season had been, 13 episodes say, there’s no way characters such as Sasahara, Yoshino or Izumi would have been able to thrive as much as they did. Also, I don’t know if I would have enjoyed the main characters as much, if they hadn’t been able to stretch their legs over the entire series, as they did indeed do. I think the series’ length was just about right. And although I thought much of the first half was mediocre, I never had any thoughts of dropping the series. While not my favorite show, nor my favorite comedy ever, I’ll miss the unique comedic stylings of Nichijou-My Ordinary life.