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A comedy manga series and the anime based on it, Azumanga Daioh is the rather disjointed and occasionally surreal story of six high school girls and several of their teachers. Being episodic to the point of resembling sketch comedy, and largely lacking serious conflict or drama, the show has little in the way of conventional storylines, preferring to set up and deliver the animation equivalent of several comic strips per episode. This is because the show is a remarkably faithful translation of the popular monthly yonkoma.The manga was first published in 1999 in MediaWorks' Dengeki Daioh magazine, and an anime adaptation produced by JC Staff, aired from April to September of 2002.The title combines the author's name (Kiyohiko Azuma) with the word "manga" and the name of its original publisher (Dengeki Daioh magazine) — it can be read as the Japanese equivalent of an acronym for "Azuma's Comic Strip For Daioh Magazine" (Dengeki Daioh being a magazine aimed mainly at younger teenage boys, the general theme of the strip was to poke gentle fun at the audience's female classmates — "Man, teenage girls are weird...").Azumanga Daioh has been described as "Peanutson LSD" or Seinfeldinhigh school. Heavily character-driven, its humor, especially in its manga incarnation, often relies on subtle changes in facial expression, running jokes, references to Japanese culture, and jarring shifts into absurdism.It's also notable for demonstrating that a manga and anime about high school girls can be popular and profitable by focusing on their personalities instead of their bodies, starting a trend which continued in series such as Lucky Star, Hidamari Sketch, K-On!, A Channel, Nichijou and Hitohira.
Adaptation Expansion: Because of the differences between the yonkoma format and TV anime format, several jokes are expanded upon in the anime. Most notable are the "Get motivated!" scene, which becomes an Overly Long Gag, and the scene of Osaka waking up Yukari with a knife, which adds Chiyo freaking out at seeing Osaka with a knife.
All Animals Are Domesticated: Averted, which makes Sakaki's plight much more realistic. As mentioned on the page, she's trying to pet feral cats. Played straight with Maya, as he's a wild cub yet acts like a pet kitten.
There's actually an in-universe reason for both. The cats she's petting may or may not be feral (it's mentioned that at least one unseen cat had an owner, so it's likely a mixed group), but they all find her to be large and imposing. These traits, however, are what Maya saw in his own mother, hence his affectionate behavior towards Sakaki.
Amusing Injuries: Chiyo and Osaka are on the receiving end of some very comically powerful blows.
Animals Hate Her: Sakaki. All she wants is a cat — or at least to get near a cat. Episode 9 shows just how far the universe goes in thwarting her: the entire episode comprises incidents where Sakaki tries to get close to a cat or a cat replica, and is denied — someone else gets the last copy of a cat book, a robotic cat breaks down before she can pet it, etc. That's not even getting into Kamineko, whose sole purpose in life, it looks like, is to bite Sakaki and remind her that her favorite animals hate her. Still, she does end up winning two cat plushies from a crane game. It isn't until very late in the series that this trope begins to relax in her favor.
Art Evolution: It took a while for Azuma to perfect the designs of the main characters, and by the time he does his entire style has shifted into a more consistent, rounded appearance. Osaka is perhaps the worst offender during this process, as she doesn't even look like herself until Volume 2 or so. The recent re-release of the manga in Japan has seen Volume 1 substantially redrawn, so that the artwork is much more uniform — albeit reminiscent of something else...
The new Extra Lessons chapters serialized for the 10th anniversary of the manga have backgrounds detailed enough to be worthy of Yotsuba&!
Osaka's pretty laid-back and easy-going...but do not split your chopsticks improperly, or you'll get the full brunt of her anger (as Tomo found out).
Don't tell Chiyo's "dad" that his face resembles that of former prime minister Yoshiro Mori (or Bill Clinton). Especially don't tell him that he isn't a real cat. Even if he says so himself.
Yukari has several of these, but probably her biggest one is her Sitcom Arch-Nemesis, Nyamo. Also, don't say that you like ice cream more than Matzusaka Beef, or that you had all the snow crab you could eat.
Only counts if you're watching the Japanese dub, but look at the scene from the first episode in which Osaka's hiccups render her recorder-playing unlistenable. It's implied that the phrase Yukari was partway through writing means "What are you doing" in English.
Another for the English speakers: The reason Tomo's repeating the food names over and over again in the Okinawa arc is because They sound like aspects of the human anatomy. Even more so for high-schoolers, who no doubt know someone like that.
Bittersweet Ending: With graduation comes the time for all the characters to go their separate ways. Even though they might still stay in contact, the sudden finality accompanying entrance to the "real world" is a tearjerker. It's even more so for the readers/viewers.
Blah Blah Blah: Yukari speaks to a foreigner in English, which the viewer isn't supposed to understand anyway. In the English dub, this turns into French.
Blank Face of Shame: When Kagura asks Nyamo (a P.E. teacher) to explain some bit of math during a study session, she reluctantly admits to not understanding it. Yukari thoroughly humiliates her by showing off to the students with a speech in Gratuitous English, despite Nyamo's desperate protests that Yukari speaking English is not that impressive considering she's an English teacher.note It's also quite ironic considering Yukari had tried teaching math on a whim in an earlier episode and couldn't understand it either. One wonders if she set Nyamo up, since Kagura came to her first, and she refused to help. Afterward, Nyamo is huddled in a corner, both faceless and colorless.
Bleached Underpants: While the actual characters and setting are quite different, several of the character designs (most notably Yukari's) were near-identical lifts from some hentai manga Azuma had done previously.
Tomo and Yomi. In the first episode, when Tomo learns they've got a new transfer student from Osaka, she asks Yomi to be the Tsukkomi to her Boke, despite her protests. Tomo reacts to Yomi's completely unenthusiastic "nandeyanen?" with a take where she leaps across the room, clearly demonstrating her hyperactive nature.
Yukari tries to perform this in class with Osaka. After asking Osaka who should play the Boke and who should play the Tsukkomi, she hits Osaka over the head for saying she (Yukari) should be the Boke.
Chiyo unwittingly plays the Tsukkomi to Tomo's Boke in episode 17, much to her and Osaka's protests.
Boobs of Steel: Tomo seems to believe in this to some degree. She starts several jokes pertaining to Sakaki's, Kagura's, and Yomi's figures in relation their ability at sports.
Book Dumb: Tomo, Kagura, and Osaka all tend to score quite poorly on most tests.
Breakout Character: Osaka got considerably less focus than the other main characters in the first volume of the manga (partially due to coming in later than the others). Compare now where she's pretty much the face of the series.
Brick Joke: After Osaka mentions she can't eat spicy foods in episode 2, Yomi tricks her into eating a croquette flavoured with cayenne pepper. During Yukari's rant about rewards for winning the sports festival in episode 15, Osaka mentions that a cayenne pepper is a type of chili pepper to Kagura. Kagura obviously doesn't get it.
In the third beach episode, Osaka says she's jealous of Sakaki's large breasts. Tomo responds, saying she's been growing too. Osaka reminds Tomo that she was put in the same chest size group as her and Chiyo by Yomi in episode 4, much to Tomo's dismay.
Osaka's little sneeze disrupting the school assembly.
Brilliant but Lazy: Tomo, of all people, shows signs of this. After Yomi says Tomo could never get into their somewhat competitive high school, Tomo studies just to piss her off.
Cloudcuckoolander: Osaka, so much so that she had provided the page image. The rest of the main cast is this to some degree; with Kimura-sensei and Sakaki the most notable examples (but in very different ways).
Comically Missing the Point: Tomo fails to do some small favor for Yomi, who comments that she was stupid for having asked at all. Cue mockery of Yomi's "stupidity."
Conspicuous Consumption: Yukari on any and all kinds of expensive foods, to the point where she'll aggressively attack anyone fortunate enough to have experienced them before her.
Continuity Nod: After finding out what she missed out on when she declined the other girls' offer to go with them on summer vacation, not knowing Sakaki would be going, Kaori made sure to go with them the next year.
Corner of Woe: Nyamo, during the third beach episode, when she can't help the girls with their studying and even Yukari appears more competent than her.
Covert Pervert: Sakaki, Osaka and Tomo all have their moments, but one has to wonder...Who took the photo of Sakaki and Tomo in bed together?
Creepy Cockroach: The infamous cockroach scene where Tomo smashes one with her workbook.
Double Meaning Title: It can be read as "Azuma's Comic Strip For Daioh Magazine" and "Azumanga the Great King". The latter doesn't have anything to do with the show, but the girls discuss it during the post episode 1 trailer.
Doujinshi: There are quite a few Azumanga doujin games around. There's even a fighting game.
Dramatic Wind: When Sakaki bids farewell to the Yamamaya she befriended in Okinawa.
Dream Sue: Tomo's dream involves her beating Chiyo in a test, Sakaki in a race, and hailed as the town hero.
Ephebophile: Kimura states that he became a teacher because he likes high school girls. In fact, Osaka asks him in the manga whether Chiyo really counts as a High School girl since she's so much more a Grade Schooler. He insists: "High School is High School".
Eskimos Aren't Real: It is revealed in the Christmas Episode that Tomo was under the impression that reindeer were completely fictional, and treats anyone who mentions them as though they had admitted to believing in Santa Claus.
Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: Her name is Ayumu Kasuga, but everyone starts calling her "Osaka" by the start of Second Year. In the anime, she's Osaka within moments of her first appearance once Tomo decides to nickname her. It's bad enough that the school (or at least Yukari) can't remember her real name, either.
Evil Laugh: Tomo, mostly, given her nature, but Yukari can pull off a mean one. See the beginning of the trip to Okinawa arc or mocking the opposing team during the sports festival, for example.
Evolution Powerup: Osaka was under the impression that a matsutake mushroom is the more evolved form of a shiitake mushroom.
Fanservice: Relatively minor, but it's there; Yukari even lampshades this in one episode. Aside from the beach episodes, there's Yomi stripping to her track uniform before the opening credits are even over. Also, some of the "bumper" pages between manga chapters (one of Sakaki in particular) border on pin-ups.
Yomi stripping naked at the end of the second athletics episode should count. There's also the picture of Tomo on the beach in the dream episode.
Sakaki's yellow bikini.
That as well as near the end of episode 5 where Sakaki is seen with a suggestive-looking popsicle. Nothing else really needs to be said.
Fear of Thunder: Sakaki and Chiyo. Osaka is scared of it too, but likes it at the same time.
Flight, Strength, Heart: Parodied in one of Tomo's Imagine Spots where she gives herself Chiyo's intelligence and Sakaki's athletic ability, and Osaka offers her forgetfulness. The theoretical super-Tomo shows up late and without her textbook, but does a triple flip into her seat and gives a perfect translation.
Flung Clothing: Yomi in the opening credits stripping to her track uniform, and again after the second athletics festival, where she strips completely nude to check her weight - and then takes her glasses off to see if that changes the result.
Foil: Yomi to Tomo, Nyamo to Yukari, Sakaki to Chiyo, and Kagura to Sakaki.
Foreshadowing: It probably wasn't intentional on her part, but in the first summer vacation arc while the girls are talking about TV show murder cases, Osaka starts describing a situation in which it happens to them, with the murderer ultimately turning out to be Osaka herself. Two summer vacations later, Osaka walks into Yukari's bedroom, holding a knife...
For the Funnyz: Tomo has bouts of this. Her most memorable case is throwing the keys to the summer cabin into the forest, that Chiyo mentioned they'd be unable to get in without the keys, for absolutely no reason whatsoever except that it was funny.
Freeze-Frame Bonus: In one episode, pausing long enough to read the blackboard behind Yukari reveals that she's decided to teach her class a lesson in introductory physics... in English.
Yukari has an entire monologue full of this in Episode 22, which comes with an incredibly heavy accent.
Yukari: It's said that most Japanese have unique character of shame. Alike their character, and are proud of it very much. Generally, most of Japanese who say that in English, I think their nature of shame prevent them from improving our skill of speaking English. But we stop trying to speak English, are willing to make reading mistake. When we say...
There are at least five examples in the opening and closing sequences.
In Tomo's dream, she and Yukari have a conversation in Gratuitous English, complete with Japanese subtitles.
Yukari: I HAFF NOTHEEN TO TEECH YOU! Tomo: SANKS MEES YUKARI!
Did anyone notice how many of these examples involve Yukari? And she's supposed to be an English TEACHER for heaven's sake.
Lampshaded in the first episode, where she cheers on a student in Gratuitous English, prompting the appearance of a caption pointing to her and reading "Supposedly an English teacher".
"OH! GOOD! FINE! FANTASTIC!"
Kagura: You are a Fool
"I... like... you."
Growing Up Sucks: Handled in a gentle manner. It's basically, "growing up can be sad, but that doesn't mean you won't ever be happy again."
Hair Wings: Osaka fantasizes that Chiyo-chan can use her pigtails like this.
Hammerspace: Yukari pulls a sim ring out of nowhere, when she hears of a vacation trip.
Hatsuyume: Episode 8 is devoted to the dreams of Osaka, Sakaki, Tomo, and Kaorin.
Head Pet: Osaka has a Nekokoneko doll on her head one time in the manga. Sakaki puts one on her head during the second culture festival.
Height Angst: Chiyo and Sakaki cover both ends: the first is a Grade Skipper so she's a lot shorter than the rest of the cast (even for her age), the second is a Huge Schoolgirl with the usual too-tall complex.
Hero of Another Story: Literally with the cameo of Kokoro Kosaka in the first school festival episode. She is the main character of Wallaby, a short lived manga authored by Azuma. She is the girl looking at the stuffed animals when Osaka tells her that they are buildings and places in Osaka. Wallaby himself appears in her pocket but only in the manga version.
Hero Stole My Bike: Yukari in the premiere, while one of her students is trying to fix hers.
Image Song: Everyone gets two, however, they sometimes share with another. For instance, Yukari and Nyamo share two, with Mr. Kimura being in the latter, Osaka is in three, Tomo is in four and Chiyo is in five!!!
Japanese Delinquents: Sakaki's unintentionally-intimidating attitude (and frequent hand injuries) cause the girls to mistake her for one of these.
Jerkass: Tomo and Yukari. Kagura sometimes counts, though not to the extent of the other two. Let's not forget Yomi, who has her moments as well. The most notable being giving Osaka an extremely spicy dish while promising her it wasn't spicy. She did it just to watch Osaka scream.
Ephebophile With A Heart of Gold: Kimura-sensei is into high-school girls, (and possibly Chiyo-chan) and tends to stalk Kaorin more than is healthy... He also frequently donates large sums of money to charity, cleans up litter when he finds it, has a loving wife and family, seems to be a genuinely good teacher, and (to the shock of the girls who witnessed) once prayed for peace on earth as part of a prayer ritual. Could possibly be a deconstruction.
Joshikousei: "'Cause I like high school girls, that's why!"
Just Shoot Him: When Yukari suddenly decides she'd rather teach PE instead of English the class end up playing dodgeball. When Chiyo is the last person on her team Tomo starts throwing the ball to just barely miss the clearly terrified Chiyo, prompting Yomi to say "Just hit her already".
Karaoke Box: Where the girls discover that Sakaki sings beautifully, and that Yomi can't.
Keep It Foreign: In the English dub of the anime, Yukari becomes a Spanish instructor. It's the same for the first issue of the translated manga. The second issue got a new localization team and switched to her being an English teacher, though some other English-language gags are inexplicably changed to French and German. The Yen Press omnibus also keeps her as an English teacher.
The Load: Chiyo and Osaka in any athletic competition (Apart from cheerleading competitions, where Chiyo's cuteness gives her the advantage). Chiyo because she's about three-foot-nothing and fifty pounds soaking-wet, and Osaka because she's, you know...Osaka.
Lost in Translation: In Okinawa, a running gag involves Tomo finding a random food product and repeating the name to Yomi repeatedly while waving the box in her face. The joke, which tends to go untranslated, is that these products' names are extremely close to Japanese naughty words. (Chinsukou -> Chinko(Dick)) (Ukon Tea-> Unko(Poop))
Loveable Sex Maniac: Kimura. Yes, he's creepy, yes, he pines after high-schoolers, but he has moments of questionable sanity, he's good for a laugh, he recycles cans and donates large sums of money to charity.
Love Bubbles: Kaorin, whenever she thinks of Sakaki. And when she finally gets to dance with her.
Loves Me Not: Kaorin pulling the petals off a flower to determine whether she would be in the same class as Sakaki for second year (but the more conventional question is definitely in the subtext). The first flower yields a negative and she starts having a major panic attack, but before she can pull the last petal, Yukari gives her another flower that she can start over with. The same thing happens, except it's Mr. Kimura who offers the flower (to the horror of both Kaorin and Yukari). A pile of stems and petals later, Kaorin decided to just go ahead and look at the roster. To her relief she is in the same class.
Luminescent Blush: The girls' reaction to the Relax-o-vision scene below in the manga; by the fourth panel, their entire faces are bright red.
Male Gaze: We get a view of Sakaki's and Yomi's ample chests, courtesy of the crazy Kimura.
Osaka, Kagura, and Tomo combining their test scores for the sole purpose of beating Chiyo. You'd think they were trying to form Voltron or something.
After Tomo apologizes for her late arrival to class, she leaps high into the air and pulls off a graceful somersault, her friends looking up in amazement as she lands perfectly in her seat, answering Yukari's question with ease, and declaring her forgetting her textbook. This was an Imagine Spot, however.
The act of breaking chopsticks is made to look awesome a number of times.
Yomi's reaction to the buffet in the Okinawan hotel. Limiter override!
During the snowball fight in episode eighteen, Kagura throws a snowball at a petrified Chiyo, only to be caught, juggled, and thrown back at Kagura by Sakaki, moving at ridiculous speeds in a manner that would not have looked out of place in an action series.
My Life Flashed Before My Eyes: Osaka wants to see her life flash before her, as well as a panda. For a more usual example, this seemed to have happened to Chiyo when she rode in Yukari's car. So much so that when someone brings it up, she seems to relive the life flashback she saw, screaming out for an old man unfortunate enough to be caught in the Yukari-mobile's path among other things as well.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:Yukari in the third athletics festival tackles Nyamo to prevent her from being first to the finish line. Yukari's team end up last because of it.
Nice Kitty: Inverted: Kamineko is deceptively cute and tiny, which he uses to his advantage to repeatedly tempt Sakaki to try to pet him, just so he can either run away from her at the last second, or bite her.
No Antagonist: Well, no true antagonist, though it does have a pretty damn evil cat instead.
Noble Wolf: Kagura calls Sakaki a "lone wolf" in one scene, although Sakaki would rather imagine herself as a cute lil' doggy.
No Hugging, No Kissing: Five post-pubescent high school girls, and no romance for any of them. Osaka lampshades this in both the manga ("No one's got a boyfriend to bring along?") and the anime ("But neither of you have boyfriends to show off your summer styles to.").
"No. Just... No" Reaction: Sakaki's reaction when Osaka suggests renaming a stuffed cat Sakaki's already given a name, life story, and family tree.
One Last Field Trip: Done at the end of the series, when the girls have graduated. They decide to take one last trip to the Magical Land amusement park for old times sake, before going their separate ways. Making it a Bittersweet Ending.
Only Sane Girl: Yomi (relatively speaking). Even Sakaki and Kagura get their weird moments, while both Tomo and Osaka are outright crazy. Nyamo is this for the teachers (at least, compared to Kimura and Yukari); although, like Yomi, she definitely has her occasional less-than-sane moments as well.
Parodied when the girls find out Kimura has a kind wife, a cute daughter, voluntarily cleans litter off the streets, and regularly donates to charity...but it doesn't stop them from thinking he's creepy.
Played straight with Sakaki's weakness for cute things... Well, almost straight, given her terrible luck with said cute things. Even without that angle, it's actually kind of heartbreaking.
Puppeteer Parasite: Osaka thinks Chiyo-chan's pigtails are controlling her. To be fair, this was in a dream, and Osaka is... Osaka.
Red Eyes, Take Warning: Tomo tries to smack Yomi in the face with a dinner tray, complete with a slow motion jumping attack, but misses, and whacks Yukari in the face. Cue scary music and a slow motion reveal of Yukari's glowing red eyes, then cutting to her whapping the hell out of Tomo with two trays.
Rock-Paper-Scissors: Played by the five main girls at the start of the first beach episode to determine who has to ride with Yukari. Chiyo laments being terrible at it. Later, during the second athletics festival, Tomo, Yomi, Chiyo and Osaka all throw to determine who gets to ride on top during kibasen. Osaka throws late, and still loses.
Tomo idolizes Fujiko of Lupin III, being that the reason why she let her hair grow during the second year (we even see a scene of Tomo acting as Fujiko while she explains). Of course, she forgot to consider changing the hair style as well, so she decided to go for looking like Ayumi Hamasaki instead.
Chiyo-chichi's infamous "I wish I were a bird!" comes from a commercial for the Nova chain of English-teaching schools.
Kimura's (rejected) sketch for Chiyo's cheerleading costume in episode 15 is basically the same as Pretty Sammy's, also a shout-out to Azumanga author Kiyohiko Azuma's Pretty Sammy parody doujinshi work.
While perhaps not intentional, Osaka's attempt to get the nickname of the Iriomote cat, "yamapikaryaa", correct toward the end of the manga results in some interesting dialogue: "Pika... Pika...nya? Pikaaa... Pika!? Piii?"
Sick Episode: Yomi, who is most excited about going to Magical Land, falls ill on the day of the trip. Chiyo suggests the girls should cancel the trip and visit her, but of course, Tomo convinces Chiyo that they should go regardless.
When the second year starts, Yukari tells her class that she notices a lot of students who were in her homeroom last year, but denies that it's because she doesn't want the trouble of having to remember a bunch of new names.
Yukari: Oh, and don't change the seating either.
In the manga, when Osaka asked if Kaorin is gay:
Kaorin: The correct term is lesbian! Uh, not that I'm a lesbian...
Symbolic Blood: After Yukari lets loose a bizarre scream when she spots the knife in Osaka's hand, the show cuts to a HUGE amount of tomato sauce being splattered on food by Tomo, spraying some on Kagura in the process.
Throw the Dog a Bone: For Kaorin, the dance after the first sports festival, which is immediately yanked away. Also, the 3-legged race in the second sports festival, and to an extent, Kaorin discovering that Sakaki was dressed up as a male Japanese delinquent in the third sports festival.
Kaorin finally got to go with the group to Chiyo's summer home after missing out the previous two years.
Sakaki, overwhelmed by the cuteness of a photo of kittens.
Kimura, when declaring his love for the ever-so-skimpy girls' gym shorts.
Title Drop: In the first episode of the anime, the logo appears, but then is cut off as it is hit by a baseball and flung out of frame. The same episode has a cutscene with Mr. Kimura walking with the logo on the back of his head. In episode 24, Chiyo is tackled by her dog Mr. Tadakichi and then the logo and title are shown/heard, for no clear reason.
Token Yuri Girls: Kaorin has an immediately obvious crush on Sakaki that seems one-sided; however, considering Sakaki's addiction to cute things, it's possible that it would be reciprocated (or at least not minded) if she wasn't entirely oblivious. According to the newest manga, Kaorin is either in denial or in denial and in the closet. As if we didn't get the hints.
Vengeful Vending Machine: Tomo tries to get a coffee drink from a vending machine, only for it to pour the drink but fail to dispense the cup. She's suitably outraged when the next person to step up gets two cups.
Vomit Discretion Shot: When Yukari throws up after getting really drunk in one episode, the Eye Catch hides the act, although we still hear her retching.