"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 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.Tropes in GA include:
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.
Book Dumb — Of course 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.
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.
Early-Bird Cameo — 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 ep 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 campi, and they share a lot of common facilities— the main characters, often goes 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.
Also, let down Kisaragi's hair and give her Professor's hair color and personality, and you've got Kuro.
The Faceless — The viewer 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.
Fun with Acronyms —GA does not mean Geijutsuka Art Design Class (Arts Division Art Design Class), or Graphic Arts—but Geijutsuka A (Arts A), vis-a-vis GB (Arts B), which is for music.
There apparently also used to be an Arts C class which dealt with fashion.
Ayanoi's very wide offering of classes means every one of them has an official name and a descriptive name. Using non-GA members of the Arts Club as example, Uozomi is from FA—Futsuuka A (General Ed A): Special College Prep; and Homura is from KJ— Kygyoka Jidosha (Vocational-Automobile): Car Maintenance. This of course applies to GA; Art Design Class is its descriptive name.
Implausible Hair Color — Namiko and Nodamiki were known in-universe to have pink and light brown hair; they submitted their kids' photos to show that they did not dye their hair.
Improbable Chopsticks Skill — Tomokane is able to caught a fly with a pair of chopsticks. Eating rice by just holding with middle parts of them is an other matter however...
Japanese Honorifics — In the last chappter of volume 3, after Professor opens her shell in front of Kisaragi about her dislike of her Arranged Marriage, Kisaragi feel 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 Closing 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 bounded of the main five. Some of her design ideas however...
Namiko: I heard that invention-type stuff was popular. *Presenting a writing desk which can wip into an inbuild garbain*
Sotoma-sensei: If you're gonna file a patent, go to the Tokyo Approval Office instead of the faculty room.
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 have the uncanny ability to predict exactly what's going to happen...
Strange Minds Think Alike — Kisaragi at first tells Noda to stop narrating a conversation between two people she sees out the window. Then Professor, normally one of the serious ones, is doing the exact same thing.
Speaks Fluent Animal — However, given that it's a pair of chickens, hints at various points indicate that Professor actually does know what they're saying.
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.
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.
More specifically, Professor, who can somehow speak to chickens, finds an abandoned newborn chick and decides to take care of it. It dies soon after, and she reveals to Kisaragi that she knew it would die all along, but she wanted to keep it comfortable until the very end. The next day, the two of them go to the chicken coop and find a whole brood of chicks, which the mother hen had been caring for.
Too Long, Didn't Dub — 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. At least they add notes in between panels to translate signs, covers, written words, and other miscellaneous text that's part of the art instead of the print.
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.