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"After all, G.A. does have a high percentage of crazy students."
— Uozomi, on the GA students
Ayanoi High School's G.A. is a class that specializes in the arts. It's at G.A. that a particular five are focused on. Kisaragi Yamaguchi, Miyabi "Professor" Oomichi, Namiko Nozaki, Tomokane and Miki "Nodamiki" Noda. The manga uses its arts class setting well, using this as a chance to teach the audience a few things about color, composition and other things that are usually done at these sort of schools. The yonkoma manga was written by Satoko Kiyuduki, otherwise known for the artwork at Dept Heaven games.Compare with Hidamari Sketch, another series focusing on students in high school art programmes serialized in Manga Time Kirara Carat. While you're in the neighborhood, Sketchbook may also be used to compare and contrast. The series has also been referred to as "Azumanga Daioh, but in art class".An anime adaptation aired in the summer of 2009.
This series provides examples of the following:
Alien Lunch: The dark hotpot in episode 12 of anime. Although the episode concentrated on the one made by the GA-1 girls, apparently things are worse for your traditional Art Club Hazing...
Always in Class One: Enforced by the very premise. The Art Design course is clustered in class A (class B is apparently for music courses).
Art Evolution: The first three chapters were drawn for the later closed magazine Comic Gyutto!. It was later picked up by Manga Time Kirara Carat. The break was less than a year but the change in drawing style between is noticeable. Comparing the covers of volumes 3 and 4 shows the character's eyes have gradually become smaller and their heads have become narrower as well.
Book Dumb: There's Kisaragi, but then there was one strip that the college-prep stream student Uozomi observed GA's non-art curriculum is far less rigourous than his, indirectly implying all students in GA (at least Awara) are this.
The Cameo: Kuro, of Shoulder-a-Coffin Kuro, one of Kiyuduki's other works, can be seen checking out the school and walking off in the background in episode two.
Kisaragi tends to live in outer space too, if not more.
And Awara. Actually all students in the GA class are more or less like this to a degree. See how often Uozomi and Homura snark them...
Club Stub: The Art Club and its many predecessors. Due to a mishap when the Cloud Cuckoo Lander president promoted the club the previous year, the club now only has three members. Downplayed in that while the club was eventually saved by merging with Campus Environment Club, and the other club only have one member—that other club can't be disbanded because it provided volunteers to clean the school campus, and Sasamoto-sensei exploited this to use it as a "shell" to acquire other clubs so that she can have a smoking room.
Although another combination, based on the sentai discussed below, is also commonly seen:
Cute Kitten: Tomokane's misreading of 素描 (sobyou, rough sketch) into 素猫 (Suneko, plain cat) leads to Kisaragi filling her sketchbook with a certain kitten◊. This kitten would go on to become the series' mascot.
Companion Cube: The Fine Arts Club's mannequin, Sanae. Also, Professor seems fond of the black poster paint that Noda gave a personality to. Though she likes anything black.
Dream Within a Dream: Kisaragi's continued trips into a surreal art world after a lecture on surrealism. Highlights include Noda appearing as a mermaid and finding her way back to her classroom (sort of) by the Wile E. Coyote method of passageway creation.
Awara and Tomokane's brother is seen among the Faceless Masses in the first scene of the first episode. Homura also appears to sliding down a hill.
Also the whole Art Club cast appears in episode 2, which is 1 episode before their proper introduction.
Edutainment Show: All those explanations about graphic techniques make the series comes pretty close at times.
Elevator School: Ayanoi Gakuen is a more realistic example. It has a junior high, a high school and technological university in adjacent campuses, and they share a lot of common facilities — the main characters often go to the university campus to have computer graphics classes and sometimes even for vending machines. It's also worth noting that because of the university's background, the high school has a relatively large technical/vocational division, on top of general ed and arts divisions — and it's not an Elaborate University High, but just Truth in Television for many Japanese universities.
Evolving Credits: The ending, besides the episodic variations depending on who's singing, has steadily changed over the course of the series with the girls getting older and their activities changing.
Excited Kids' Show Host: One of the recurring elements of GA is Let's Draw and Play!, a kids' show starring "Kisaragi-onee-chan" as the lovable host and a "Suneko" hand puppet friend (voiced and controlled by Noda). Kisaragi is in love with this idea.
Expy: Nietzsche from Yggdra Union, art directed by Kiyudzuki-sensei, is based on Noda; Milanor has shades of the younger Tomokane, and in the anime, she was given his voice actress. As the manga continued after Yggdra Union was released, Kiyudzuki went on to incorporate some of its characters back into GA; Tono-sensei has a strong resemblance to Gulcasa, and Same-chan-sensei is a dead ringer for Flone.
The Faceless: The viewer/reader never gets to see the face of Nodamiki's older sister.
Footnote Fever: This work's art edutainment tendencies plus the heavy use of puns means every manga volume by Yen Press has at least 4 pages of translator's notes.
Implausible Hair Color: Nodamiki and Namiko are known in-universe to have pink and light brown hair, respectively; they've submitted their kids' photos to show that they do not dye their hair.
Improbable Chopsticks Skill: Tomokane is able to catch a fly with a pair of chopsticks. Eating rice by just holding them in the middle is an other matter however...
Japanese Honorifics: In the last chapter of volume 3, after Professor opens her shell in front of Kisaragi about her dislike of her Arranged Marriage, Kisaragi feels like calling Professor Professor-chan—note Professor and Namiko are always referred as -san, due to Professor's demeanor and Namiko's Team Mom status.
Lemony Narrator: The narrator complained about the main ensemble breaking color mood of the cast, so they shout back at the narrator.
Loophole Abuse: In one scene, Tomokane and Noda have prepared a game to play during lunch: Everyone blindly selects a slip of paper, and must spend lunch obeying the rule selected, e.g. "Exchange your favorite dish with someone else", or "Don't use sauce". Tomokane's was "Don't use chopsticks", so she decides to interpret "hashi" as "the ends" instead of "chopsticks", based on a different kanji.
Love Bubbles: Appearing during a strangely intimate moment between Noda and Kisaragi.
Magic Feather: A pencil Kisaragi got from an old lady at the stationery store turns out to be not special in the slightest. She was conned into buying it to get rid of the stock.
Medium Awareness: When the GA-1 students were talking about typography, one strips actually have the characters discuss the sound effect typeface on that strip. These moments are generally restricted to the bonus strips between chapters.
Medium Blending: The OVA ending recreates several pieces of art from the series in live action, and ends with a claymation shot of the main five.
Mythology Gag: The anime opening include scenes (such as the badminton game) that were pretty much hot off the press.
Not Named in Opening Credits: Strange anime example. Tomokane's brother had a single line in an episode before he was introduced, and in the ending credits that was only listed as "Grade 11 Student — M.S."
Not So Above It All: Namiko is usually the most reality-bound of the main five. Some of her design ideas however...
Namiko: I heard that invention-type stuff was popular. *Presenting a writing desk with a top that can flip into an built-in garbage bin*
Sotoma-sensei: If you're gonna file a patent, go to the Tokyo Approval Office instead of the faculty room.
Rearrange the Song: "Coloring Palettes", the ending theme, has five versions, one for each of the girls. Because the lyrics and music genre change to match their personality, they double as an Image Song for each character.
Running Gag: Every episode begins with the appearance of the word "hajimaru" (はじまる - "it's starting") in one way or the other.
Schoolgirl Series: The series includes mainly focuses on the group of five girls (Tomokane, Namiko, Noda, Oomichi, and Kisaragi).
Self-Deprecation: In one of the bonus strips in volume 3, Noda and Tomokane are seen looking at GA volume 1 and saying they don't feel like reading it because they don't like the art.
Sentai: Irodorunger! Tomokane is Red, Namiko is Yellow, Noda is Magenta, Kisaragi is Cyan and Professor is Monochrome. More Sentai elements are added in episode nine, including a full roll call and a makeshift Humongous Mecha.
Sibling Yin-Yang: While the case of Bokukko versus Non-Action Guy didn't seem too out of ordinary, their parents thought her older brother was too ill for her to make a physical response—as a result, while she kept being pwned at home, she gets more gratification outdoors. Like being a delinquent.
Sick Episode: The last episode of the anime, when Namiko was sick. She just has the uncanny ability to predict exactly what's going to happen...
Storybook Episode: After a fashion. One episode features the Fine Arts Club creating a storybook that features a protagonist which looks oddly like Kisaragi, who's quickly joined by an adventuring party resembling the other four.
Super-Deformed: The ending. Note that this is for a series that's already in Puni Plush territory. Although the girls are not as much super deformed, but rather depicted as really young.
A variation is used by Noda. She turns her sketchbook into sign language for other people, holding it over them like a Speech Bubble.
Another example was when Satoma-sensei was reprimanded for his reprimanding Tomokane's and Namiko's work, Tomokane and Namiko discreetly wrote their response (to the effect of "You'll regret it!!") on the top of their sketchbooks and put them over their heads. Of course, Tomokane got the kanji wrong.
Yen Press' translation has the tendency to do this, including the title. The Japanese side already made a fully acceptable English title GA: Art Department Art Design Class; but Geijutsuka is kept untranslated in the English release. While it makes the work easier to search for, it doesn't really roll off the tongue.
In volumes 1-5 Yen Press added notes in between panels to translate signs, covers, written words, and other miscellaneous text that's part of the art instead of the print. Unfortunately they dropped this practice in volume 6.
Two-Teacher School: Averted. GA-1 has homeroom Satoma and co-homeroom Usami, and GA-3 has Sasamoto as their homeroom—who also supervises the Art Club. GA-2's homeroom Morita also shown up in one scene and so have the principal and the school nurse.
You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Lampshaded. The girls discussed why Western Animation have an Amazing Technicolor Population while anime would rather have this — and to break the Fourth Wall, the shot showed their hair colours in a more vivid saturation than usual: Kisaragi is dark brown, Professor is black, Tomokane is green, Noda is pink, and Namiko is dirty yellow. By the way, Awara is reddish brown, Mizubuchi is black, Uozomi is blueish black, and Homura is blond. Also, Yoshikawa is blond and Mitsui is blue.