Sunday, August 12, 2007

Theme and non-variation

I'm not going to lie. I finished the last 8 episodes this afternoon and feel slightly ill. But in the end, it didn't matter if it was 8 episodes in one sitting, or one episode at a time, as Azumanga Daioh generally failed to hold my interest.

Maybe if taken one episode a week, things might have changed, but that's because one week gives you plenty of time to forget that you're really watching the same episode with some scenic or situational adjustments. I do have a soft spot for penguins, though, so episode 16 was like an oasis in a desert.

While on the topic of episode specifics, re: 10 km marathon. Just because you get good grades doesn't mean you're not a lemming. Nor does it mean you do your research before taking in a wild animal and leaving it alone with your pet dog. One of the few moments of justice occurred when said wild animal bit a certain aggravating character, who proceeded to be red-carded by the token jock.

Unfortunately, for me anyway, Tomo was never ejected from the series. Upon a bit more consideration, I wasn't bothered so much through watching the same interactions over and over, it's because those interactions were so antagonistic. Sure, she was full of it for the sake of being full of it, and if you could blow it off then power to you. I was unable to get past that, and the rest of the flatly characterized cast comprising the Loser Brigade let her walk all over them, and her treatment of Chiyo bordered on the verge of bullying.

Going back to still shots for a moment, include slow motion gestures and group them under the generic category of Moments with Zero Dialog. I agree with Owen's opinion that they are present for the sole purpose of forcing humour (maybe) down your throat, sort of like, "Look, look! Isn't it funny? Nothing more will happen until you agree!" In other series MZD is used in a more natural and benign manner, such as atmosphere or stunned silence, which is a shade different from awkward tolerance for the sake of being polite to the inane.

I don't know what it was like during 2002 so I lack context. Maybe Azumanga Daioh was brilliant for its time and I've just been spoiled by the present. I've seen better high school graduations and partings from the likes of Hitohira and Manabi Straight. And despite the wackiness and sometimes alienating humour, Lucky Star has dialog that flows much better than Tomo's one-sided brow beatings or Sakaki's social awkwardness (she's no Chikane). Sure, conversations between Minano and Yukari flowed like conversations, but those instances were rare, and it's hard to compare all the time with some of the time.

2 comments:

Owen S said...

Azumanga was probably revolutionary for its time, and it's highly likely that those who are staunch supporters of it either:

a) Assume everything that has girls in high school who crack jokes must follow Azumanga's brand of comedy and therefore they like Azumanga a lot more than Lucky Star
b) View the experience of five years ago through rose-tinted glasses

I don't really recall any other series before or around that time that tried to do what Azumanga did. It's good they didn't stop there, though.

TheBigN said...

To me, Tomo was also an annoyance, but I did like how she played off with Yomi as sort of a rougher example of Minamo and Yukari's interactions. If you could stand the repetition (which makes sense because the same events would happen every year in high school), Azumanga was a nice series.