(Note: The first seven episodes are a repost from the normal forum version. I have endeavoured to correct spelling and markup wherever I notice errors, so it won't be as wonky, hopefully. I'll also be summarizing posts in between.)
Because you can never have too many liveblogs ( ;) ), I'm starting one on the anime Azumanga Daioh. I'll be watching each episode with both the English dub and the English subtitles on, then listening to the Japanese (just for the voices, really, I can only pick out a few words here and there). I'll also be comparing scenes to their manga counterparts. (If I refer to a page, I'll be using the 2007 Omnibus pagination.) I'll also be incorporating things I've found out from different sources like Wikipedia, the translator notes for both the anime (which I had to find online) and the manga (which are in the Omnibus).
Now, let's get a few things out of the way first. I personally like the voices in both the English and the Japanese, and find practically none of them ill-suited. I don't universally like the voices in one language better than in the other; I go on a case-by-case basis.
English language voices I like better than their Japanese counterparts:
- The floating yellow cat-thing
Japanese voices I like better than their English language counterparts:
Roles for which I like them roughly equally:
So what I have here is Azumanga Daioh: Class Album. This is not the one with The Very Short Movie in with it. It has five volumes: 1 & 2 are the first year, 3 & 4 are the last moments of first year up until second year is over, and 5 is the last year and finding out about their educational futures.
Volume 1: Entrance!
As a note, the OPs for episode 1, 3, and 5 are accompanied by their translations; 2 and 4 are accompanied by romaji.
Episode 1: Miss Yukari
A bird's-eye view of a section of city. The birds are twittering. Some disc thing is hit into the sky. A front view of girls with seifuku (in this case, salmon and white long-sleeved tops and brown pleated skirts) on and boys in gakuran walking. One girl, short enough that only her eyes and pigtailed red hair are visible, walks diagonally (and squeakily!) through the sparse crowd. Another disc is hit into the sky. Side view. (Some really cute extras in both views!) The aforementioned girl walks faster than the others. Only her hair is seen. The show logo appears in the sky, and the show's name is said, cut off by a "BAM!" when another disc thing hits it.
A light turns green.
Child High School Student
Along the side of the road, a woman rides a bicycle. She checks her watch (turned so that she's looking at the inside of her wrist), and is surprised at how late it is. She increases the effort she puts into pedaling, riding past stopped traffic, through the park, and through a residential area... but then it stops. She pulls over to the side, puts down the kickstand, and gets down for a look. She turned the pedal, but it doesn't move the bike forward.
A male student, concerned about his own tardiness, rides a bicycle, as well, but then he notices Miss Yukari, and stops, asking about her bike. Yukari is kvetching about what the vice-principal will likely say to her for being late on the first day of school. She mimicks what she's probably been told before, about setting a good example and them being impressionable, which she doubts. The thought raises her ire, and she starts kicking the bike. (Fiery background!) The student tries to restrain her, saying she'll break it, but this just puts her in a position to kick it more rapidly.
She apparently lets him at it, because he's able to diagnose it as simply being dechained. He's relieved, as he believes his tardiness won't count against him if he's with a teacher. He starts to say something, only to find that Yukari is riding away, on his bike! He yells after her.
(In the manga, this sequence doesn't occur on the first day of school.)
Exterior shot of the school. The flying yellow cat thing flies by, waving a noodly arm as "Westminster Chimes" plays.
Inside, a panting Yukari is leaning outside the room. She thinks she's on time, if barely, and curses the bike chain, promising repercussions for it. But she puts on a cheery face before she opens the door. She effervesces into the room, spins a few times, and writes her name on the board, and tells them she's the homeroom teacher for class 3. She encourages them to ask if there's anything they don't get, but when one boy stands up to ask, she (against a bubbly pink background, with sparkles crossing the upper and lower foreground) tells them she's not telling her measurements. She makes it clear, however, that it's not because she's embarrassed about her figure, as her measurements, she says, are pretty amazing. She then flirtatiously scolds him for what he "made [her] say" on the first day. The embarrassed boy, however, causes a Color Failure by telling her that she's in the wrong class: that's class 4. Yukari drifts out the door on the wind.
In the right classroom, we see a squeakily bobbing pigtail, the first two rows, and the doors. Yukari walks in, and we cut to the various girls that we'll get to know over this series. Each has a black balloon with a pointer pointing at them. Inside is red kanji and hiragana telling us what their names are and what they're called. A girl raises her head. This is Takino Tomo, called Tomo. A girl pushes on her glasses. This is Mizuhara Koyomi, called Yomi. A girl gazes out the window. This is Sakaki-san, no given name, well, given. A girl looks straight ahead. This is Kaorin, no family name given.
(In the manga, sometimes you have to wait a while to find out characters' names. Yomi first appears in an April strip — see the "bread run" sequence for the equivalent anime segment — and then you don't find out her name until March rolls around.)
Yukari walks to the front of the class, beside the girl standing at the front. She introduces herself, rather less enthusiastically. She notices the bobbing pigtail and pulls on it until she remembers why it's there. Cue the knees-to-face shot! She introduces us to Mihama Chiyo, the new transfer. (She gets one of those black bubbles, too!) She restates her name, and thanks them for having her. Yukari tells them that even though she's 10, she's been allowed to go to high school. The class-cloud is impressed. Then she tells them not to pick on her just because of her smarts relative to her age. This causes blue vertical lines to appear on top of the class-cloud. (In the manga, they hope Yukari doesn't pick on her.) A girl and boy cheer her on, and she thanks them.
A man with the logo on the back of his head passes us, then stops, turns, and says "UuUuUh..."
Now, Chiyo mixes with bowl and whisk against a pink gingham background with pink blobs. She wears an apron with a sunflower on it. She sings a short little song, and says it's ready: it's... a small white cat on the head of a larger one? She sings again, tilting the pan a bit from side to side, and then says it's ready: it's... a yellow cat-thing? She holds the items, and says they're not cooking at all, and laughs a bit. Awww! :D
She's a Prodigy
In the classroom, which is sparsely populated at the moment, Chihiro (no family name given; she also gets a black bubble) and Chiyo talk, but we can't hear them until Chiyo affirms that Chihiro has gotten a certain point. Yukari walks up and encourages Chiyo for getting help, and spouts Gratuitous Italian(?), German, and Spanish (Engrish only, in the original) before telling her to get help from her classmates if she's stuck. Chiyo tries to hold back tears, but fails as she lets on that she was the one being helped, and asks if she's stupid. Chiyo doesn't see what's wrong. Kaorin and another girl set out their bento boxes as a girl in braids attempts to comfort Chihiro. (In the manga, these are separate events, and it's Chihiro and another girl.)
Kaorin invites Chiyo to have lunch with them. Chiyo says that it's kind of fun to bring her own lunch, since there were only special times when they would do so in elementary school, rather than having it made there. Kaorin sounds dubious about that. Chiyo then mitigates it a bit by noting that it's hard to get up in time to make it. Kaorin and the girl are shocked that she makes it herself, since even most girls who arrived at high school age over the normal course of time have their lunches made for them. She opens her box, and it looks really good to the two. They're kind of intimidated by this.
Chiyo looks really closely at a string figure, then takes it from Yomi's fingers and puts her fingers just so, and makes the Double bridge. Yomi thinks she must be good at eveything she does, but Chiyo comes up with something she's not good at: tongue twisters. Indeed, no two iterations are the same. (In the manga, the tongue twister is "Rubber baby buggy bumpers", but here, it's different.) However, Yomi just notices how adorable this makes her in addition. (Although maybe the giggle afterwards is partially responsible.)
An unnamed teacher in an unidentified class tells all the students who didn't do their homework to raise their hands. Several do, including Tomo, who's not particularly concerned, while others, including Chihiro, are anxious. Chiyo herself is terrified. The teacher has them line up at the front. They do. Last in line is Chiyo, who's making scared noises. He tells them he'd better see finished assignments. The first girl says "Yessir," and the teacher begins tapping the tops of heads. She and Chihiro grunt when tapped, while Tomo just takes it. When he arrives at Chiyo, he's expecting someone else of teenage height, and instead looks down to see a trembling 10-year-old girl with big eyes, explaining that she may have been careless... but she was really planning on doing it all... but she just forgot to! *tremble* The teacher hesitates, but taps her head anyway... just not as hard. (In the manga, a couple of students think the teacher "likes 'em young.")
Cooking time again! The result of Chiyo's mixing is... a pink cake with strawberries... and is that pineapple?
And her pan tilting skills culminate in... cookies! The checkered variety reminds me of Yoshi's Cookie, which probably indicates that the game got it from the culture or something.
This time was a big success, so Chiyo wants them to sit together, but Yomi and Tomo start eating from it, much to her distress.
The divider features the yellow cat thing, and Chiyo.
Chiyo, on Day Duty, goes around collecting career questionnaires. She gets around to Sakaki, whom she thinks seems scary, but then reads that she would prefer to be a veterinarian, a florist, or a seller of stuffed toy animals, and decides that maybe she's not so scary. (In the manga, the last item involved a full-fledged toystore, instead of on that specializes so.)
In the girls' locker room, where the girls are changing for P.E., the braided girl and Kaorin are gushing over how cool Sakaki is; how she's better than most of the boys, and a woman of few words. Then we see a gray kitty against a white background, wearing a bell and flanked by paw prints. Then the braided girl notices Kaorin's Blank White Eyes and asks if something's the matter. Kaorin responds that she thought she saw something really cute.
(In the manga, the girls' tops aren't pulled down all the way yet, so their bellies are bared. Also, Kaorin's thoughts make it clear that the image is a design on Sakaki's panties.)
Later, after class, Kaorin approaches Sakaki and asks if she's in any clubs; she's not. Kaorin says she's in the astronomy club, which she explains, and begins to ask if she would be... but Sakaki prompts her to finish her question, which scares Kaorin, thinking Sakaki is upset at being invited, and backpedals before taking off, embarrassed. Sakaki wishes she'd invited her...
It's a lovely morning outside, and the students are walking to school. There are a few others on the same path. Sakaki enjoys the scenery. Birds in flight. A little doggy being walked. She stretches, then takes off running for the joy of it.
She walsk through a residential area where she sees a gray cat on a wall. She reaches up to pet it, but withdraws a bit before bringing her hand in close... where it clamps down on her fingers.
At school, she stares at her wrapped-up hand. Chiyo asks why her hand is wrapped up. Sakaki speculates that "he" was in a bad mood. Chiyo wonders if she got into a fight.
After school, she walks through again, and sees the cat. He meows, approaches her, and meows again. She squats, and takes this as a good sign. She reaches out with her bandaged hand... and is bitten again.
Tomo introduces herself. She says she's the best at being hyper. She runs from the hallway, swims, and pole vaults, the last of which ends with her landing flat on the ground.
She opens the door with an enthusiastic greeting, then sees that Yukari is here, and if Yukari is here, that must mean that she herself is late. She assigns her own punishment: standing out in the hall with buckets of water. Yukari doesn't particularly care.
Tomo has always wanted to try that, remarking that they don't assign that as a punishment as often as they used to. (Probably partially because if you're already late, it's better to get what you can out of the class instead of being forced to miss more. It's likely a punishment better suited to the dispruptive so maybe they'll be occupied for a while.) She thinks she's going to set a new record.
5 minutes. Not too bad.
10 minutes. The strain is increasing.
15 minutes. She's feeling it, and finds it to really be punishment.
20 minutes. She's determined not to lose, and starts apparently conversing with students. She seems to be shoved, and threatens to get the shover. Then she falls over, and panics over the spill, calling for something to wipe it up with. Yukari calls her noisy.
Tomo decides to challenge Chiyo in the classroom. She punctuates this with... karate strikes? Yukari has asked a question, and calls on Chiyo to answer it. She can't, so Tomo gets Yukari's attention. She doesn't know, either, so calls it a tie.
It's lunch time, and "bread" is on the menu. (Trivia note 1: "Bread" apparently includes things like sandwiches, cream-filled pastries, and flavored buns. Trivia note 2: "Pan" is the word for bread. The word came to Japan via the Portuguese. I had wondered, as I knew the word from Spanish.) Tomo announces that she's on a bread run. Yomi and Chihiro ask her to get bread for them, as well. (In the manga, this is Yomi's first appearance.) She acknowledges, and takes off. Yomi remarks positively on her dependability with regards to this kind of thing, and Chihiro agrees. (Also in the manga, the corresponding panel has no dialogue.) Shortly, she's back, bearing bread. They remark that that was really fast. Tomo asks her time (9 seconds), but Yomi wasn't timing.
Tomo, in her 2-part Challenging series, now wants to challenge Sakaki to the 100m dash. ("What's this about a series?" asks Yomi.) Kaorin cheers for Sakaki. At the starting line, Sakaki is ready, even though she doesn't know why. Kaorin is pondering the match-up, as Sakaki's really athletic, and wonders if Tomo has a secret plan to beat her. Yomi doesn't think so. This confuses Kaorin all the more. Chiyo's about to start the race, but Tomo decides that Sakaki needs to start farther back to compensate for her bust size. Kaorin considers that cheating, but Yomi is surprised by the difference. Yes, Yomi, she said 8 centimeters.) Chiyo starts the race in earnest. Tomo takes an early lead, worrying Kaorin. Yomi isn't concerned, though, Indeed, Tomo falls behind, and depsite her struggle, fails to keep up. She crosses (by collapsing) 6 seconds after Sakaki runs across. She pulls back to look. Kaorin compliments her, bringing her a damp cloth. Chiyo asks if she's all right, and Yomi asks "How's our loser?" Tomo insists that she's the runner-up, and that she didn't lose. She continues to insist after Yomi says she gets it, prompting Yomi to tell her to shut up. "I'm number 2!" "Moron..."
The Osakan Gal
Yukari announces a new transfer student. (Some students wonder how old this one will be...) She comes from Osaka, which makes Tomo think of food, the Tsutenkaku Tower... and some guy in a stripey outfit playing a drum? As well as some kind of "How's business?"-type greeting. She figures that the new girl will be her new archrival. She bets that the girl will be a challenging tsukkomi and that she'll need to practice reacting to her comebacks. Yomi gives her a half-hearted "Why-in-the-heck?" ("Fuggedaboutit" in the manga and "Nandeyanen" in the original), to which Tomo reacts by yelling and flying backward, knocking down desks. She asks if she should do that when she "takes her stab" at her. Yomi responds, "Whah the heck woulja?"
Kasuga Ayumu's name is on the board now, and now that their desks are straightened up, Yukari introduces her. The door opens, and she walks in. The view jumps around, from feet, to chin and shoulders, to thighs, to tummy, chest, and face before she walks up beside Yukari, who tells her to tell the class about herself. (She gets a black bubble, but with the kanji version only.) She introduces herself, but is interrupted by Yukari thinking that while it's nice of her to speak standard Japanese, she can say something more stereotypically Osakan, like
"Darn pleased ta meetcha" ( or, in the manga, "Yo, how you doin'?") ...uh, I don't know what she says in the original, so... She tries to say that even in Osaka, she doesn't talk like that, but Yukari urges her, so she acquieses.
Chihiro asks her if Osakans cross the street even when the light is red. Ayumu doesn't know; she doesn't, and doesn't really like crowded places. Yomi finds that Ayumu is not behaving like the stereotypical rowdy Osakan, and Ayumu points out good-naturedly that the stereotype isn't true of all Osakans. Tomo calls her an impostor, which alarms her. Tomo challenges her to show her lunch, thinking that if she's really Osakan, she'll have takoyaki in there. Ayumu doesn't think that she should have to bring takoyaki every day in order to be considered Osakan, but Tomo glares with a "what?", prompting a "Nandeyanen!" Tomo enthusiastically accepts her response.
In class, Yukari explains the function of "too" in a sentence, but Ayumu is thinking about being called "spaced-out" back in her hometown. She decides this is her opportunity to shikkari, or "get it together". She repeats the word to herself, but then Yukari calls on her, and asks if she was listening. She was not, so Yukari tells her to get it together, and calls on a student with the surname of Oyama. (In the manga, this was the student that got a perfect score on a pop quiz that Yukari herself had a hard time with.) Ayumu goes back to repeating the phrase.
"Westminster Chimes" sounds, telling Yukari she's done. She leaves with an "Adios!" School's out, and Ayumu decides to get it together tomorrow. She repeats the phrase again, until Tomo comes up, calling "Osaka! Osaka!" Ayumu turns her head, confused. Tomo asks her if okonomiyaki meals exist. Ayumu asks about the "Osaka" thing. Tomo says people from the Kansai region are "totally whack". She asks if "Osaka" eats a full bowl of rice with her okonomiyaki (this is compared to having a baked potato with your pizza). Ayumu asks again, additionally asking if Tomo is addressing her. She does, and explains that it's because she's from Osaka. She starts to protest, but Tomo tells it to everyone in the room. Yomi, Kaorin, Chiyo, and Chihiro acknowledge, making it "official" in Tomo's eyes. She welcomes her to the class. Ayumu is not happy about it, but despairs of reverting it.
Her black bubble appears again, this time with the kanji for "Osaka" added.
Next time: Episode 2!