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Customer Review

32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cute and delicious slice of Fancy Hearing Cake, December 24, 2004
This review is from: Azumanga Daioh - The Animation (Vol. 1) Special Edition (DVD)
Based on the best-selling manga by Kiyohiko Azuma, the anime version of Azumanga Daioh takes the zany adventures of a group of high school girls and three of their teachers. However, the first disc does not contain all the adventures of the first manga, and there are some linking and extra scenes that don't occur in the manga. Indeed, the cute opening song about Fancy Hearing Cake, longing to hold that special someone so tight, and to hear that voice saying "I love you," opens the cheery confection of this anime.

The first five episodes are on the first disc, which introduces all the characters. There is the unconventional, zany, but often selfish and shallow Yukari Tanizaki, the home-room teacher for our heroines. In contrast, her fellow alumnus Minamo Kurosawa, the PE teacher, is popular and likeable due to her considerateness to students. She hates the nickname Yukari's given her, Nyamo, and is often on the receiving end of Yukari's antics, but Yukari does get her comeuppance, especially in a swimming relay match that's a highlight of the swimming pool episode. And then there's the classical lit teacher Mr. Kimura, who openly confesses that he became a teacher to look at the high school girls!

The students: there is the bespectacled and mature brunette Yomi, her friend, the fun-loving and energetic "wild cat girl" Tomo, who's cute and always at home taking center stage, although she's all noise and no talent. The tall, quiet, contemplative daydreamer Sakaki, Kaorin, the girl who's got a mad crush on Sakaki, the short-haired Chihiro, and the two transfer students who set things rolling.

The adorably cute, pigtailed, and bubbly redhead Chiyo Mihama, is only ten but because of her intense intelligence, has skipped five years to enter first year high school. She is also responsible, startling the students by making her own lunch, polite, and very friendly, but she's not strong in PE, as she needs a kickboard in swimming. She's rich, but generous enough to invite her friends to her seaside summer house during vacation.

The other, my personal favourite, is the cute petite, wide-eyed, soft-spoken Ayumu Kasuga. Though hailing from Osaka, she's quiet, shy, and not at all rowdy as most students expected her to be, speaking with a soft Osakan accent. Before long, Tomo gives her the nickname Osaka, much to Ayumu's chagrin, which stays with her for the duration of the series. In the episode Osaka's Half Day, we get a bigger picture of her, of how she's a bit slow and quite a space cadet, and how she gets the hiccups, with her friends trying zany and sometimes painful ways to cure them, such as drinking juice with the ears and nose plugged, being struck in solar plexus, having pressure on the eyeballs, etc. She also has the penchant of trivia, or saying things coming out of left field. But her bizarre theories about Chiyo-chan's detachable pigtails just take the cake!

Some of the happenings have taken place in the second or third manga. Osaka's hiccups took place in the second book, by which time the jock Kagura has joined them. As she has not yet been with the group in the anime, it is Tomo who strikes Osaka in the back and solar plexus, and not Kagura. And Osaka's trivia-relating episode takes place in the third manga. But Kagura appears during the swimming relay competition in Episode 4, and has a few lines in the last episode.

Of the students, the very introverted and cat-loving Sakaki has the same personality as me. She loves cats, but whenever she tries to pet them, they bite her, leaving her with bandaged hands. Even though she comes off as being standoffish, she's a repressed romantic. Initially a bit scary to Chiyo, when the latter reads the career preference questionnaire Sakaki's given her, with choices of vet, florist, and stuffed toy owner, she decides that maybe Sakaki's really a nice person after all. In later episodes, she turns out to be perhaps the gentlest of all.

One might consider this shoujo anime, for girls, but it's fun for anyone. Guys will like it for the short skirts and cute girls. Naturally, I read the manga first, and the anime enhances the book versions without compromising much of the stories. As the first series of anime I got into, Azumanga Daioh contains fun, silliness, and characters I feel have become newly found friends to me.

This limited edition box also has cloisonné pins of Chiyo-chan and the Kamineko, the cat that bites Sakaki. The DVD extras contains art studies of Chiyo-chan and Chihiro.
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