Sunday, 3 April 2011

Nichijou - Episode 1

Just as we started to get bored with the same old shows every week - it's new anime season time!  Then again, the first newcomer to this 'blog for the spring isn't exactly a newcomer at all, as I've already covered the "episode 0" OVA right here a few weeks ago.

Nichijou (or My Ordinary Life if you prefer) splits its focus broadly into two camps - on the one-hand you have adorable robot girl Nano Shinonome, her professor creator and a talking cat, and on the other you have normal(ish) schoolgirls Yuuko, Mio and Mai and the various personalities which surround them.

Rather than splitting its opening episode neatly into a handful of subsections, this first instalment jumps between very short, one-gag skits and longer, more drawn out sketches which fit more into the tradition of Lucky Star, Hidamari Sketch et al.  Of course, the aim of the game here is jokes aplenty, and if there's one thing I have to say for Kyoto Animation's handling of this opener it's that its comic timing remains as impeccable as ever, getting the best out of the gags (and salmon) it throws at the viewer more often than not.  The trouble is, there still isn't really enough good comedy to fill an episode, leaving it to rely entirely on random wackiness to scatter-shot effect - Mai's game of frisbee which turns into a clay pigeon shoot is an impeccable example of this unexpected turn working well, while other moments fall completely flat.

That said, there were enough laughs in this episode to get me through, and more importantly the laughs it did draw from me were big ones - the cold opening to the episode paid great dividends when it came to its closing gag, the three-second rule sketch was beautifully planned from start to finish, and to be quite honest there aren't enough characters with USB toes in anime.  This is one of those comedy series that I'm not convinced has enough legs (or toes?) to work for a full season, but KyoAni's sumptuous visual flourishes and the implicit understanding of comic timing and delivery from their previous outings work well and truly in its favour - if anyone can make this surreal, random slice of life comedy work, it's them.

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