Comedy shows have always been a little bit hit-or-miss for me. I mean, don't get me wrong, I find a lot of things funny, but there aren't many shows or jokes that really make me actually stop to laugh out loud. A lot of things make me smile, or giggle a little bit, but never really laugh. Only a few things can really break that barrier. Things like Whose Line Is It Anyway? and Daily Lives of Highschool Boys (another show I'll be reviewing soon). Thankfully, Nichijou falls squarely into that list of things.
Nichijou, like many other anime these days, is an adaptation of a manga. The manga is written by Keiichi Arawi, and published by Kadokawa Shoten. The adaptation was done by Kyoto Animation (often shortened to just 'KyoAni') the makers of such hits as The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Clannad, K-On!, and Chuunibyou. Kyoto Animation's anime are often praised for the gorgeous visuals and animation, and Nichijou is no exception. It has some of the most well-animated sequences I've seen in any show I've ever watched. Everything is fluid, the colors pop in just the right way, and the characters are expressive. The show progresses in an episodic, sketch-comedy type format. Each episode contains around 4 or 5 different situations in that arrive in the not-so-normal daily lives of the six main characters. Those characters are: Yukko, the scatter-brained and lazy slacker; Mio, the responsible and loud-mouthed best friend of Yukko; Mai, the quiet and strange girl; Hakase, the young girl-genius who lives by herself; Nano, Hakase's robot creation who just wants to be a normal high-school girl; and finally Sakamoto, the adopted, sarcastic, talking cat of Hakase and Nano.
Laughing out Loud
Nichijou's charm arises from its seemingly impossible and bizarre situations, and how the characters react to them. The out-of-this-world situations they find themselves in, which would never happen in the real world (such as the school principal dueling a deer in the school courtyard, a shrine falling to pieces as soon as the 3 girls enter it to take shelter from a storm) serve to provide a jumping off point for their often hilarious interactions, which are all too normal compared to the world around them. Nichijou's rounded cast of characters provides the show opportunity to execute every kind of comedic situation in the book, from classic slapstick to a deadpan comedy worthy of Leslie Nielsen in Airplane!, Nichijou had me in tears at several moments throughout the 26-episode long season.
Speaking of its characters, Nichijou's appeal lies not only in its near-perfect comedic timing and excellent jokes, but also in the development of its cast. Characters are dynamic, and grow throughout the series. We learn about their lives with and away from their friends, and see them fight, tease, apologize, and laugh their way through their days. Throughout my viewing experience, I found myself enjoying every character the show had to offer, even the minor characters which only appeared once every 3 or 4 episodes. Kyoto Animation has a lot of experience with 'Slice of Life' type shows, where the setting is a normal, everyday life of normal people, but Nichijou puts a unique spin on that genre by showing us the everyday lives of people who live in a world where strange occurrences are the norm.
I hesitate to use the word 'perfect', but...
Nichijou is an absolute joy to watch. The gorgeous visuals make every scene incredibly vibrant, and the writing and delivery are excellent as well. On the sound front, the voice cast are all stellar in their roles, with not a single voice seeming out of place or done mediocre. Both openings are done by Japanese singer-songwriter Hyadain, and are annoyingly catchy (in a good way), while the soundtrack proper serves as a fantastic auditory backdrop for the rest of the show. I normally hesitate to use the word 'perfect' to describe anything, but if there's any show that deserves it, it's Nichijou.