Final Impressions: Nichijou - My Ordinary Life


I feel as though I should have something poetic or divine to properly articulate my feelings towards Nichijou - My Ordinary Life. This isn't a show that changes my life or revamps the history of animation, but I think that, not just some, but a lot of credit should go to Kyoto Animation for creating arguably the best series of the year, and perhaps my favorite series they've released thus far.

Nichijou has constantly gained recognition as something that's "ZOMGSOOOORANDUMWUT" or "Trying way too hard", and sadly, its tone of "celebrate the ordinary" has gone largely unnoticed. I believe Jel x said it best in his interpretation of Kyoto Animation that:

"Nichijou at face value is certainly not subtle. The colorful cast of characters and short, intense bursts of comedy are a stark contrast to the muted browns and lazy pace of K-ON!. But between Yuuko's attempts to escape the ordinary and Nano's quest to find it, there's definitely more than just laughs to be had. Right beneath the surface is a surprising amount of heart and emotion that kind of creeps up on you."

It's not the greatest. It's not revolutionary, nor is it unanimously the funniest (though that is debatable). However, I feel that Nichijou should deserve the most positive recognition and highest praise in terms of the best anime in 2011. In comparison to series like No. 6 and the tragic Maria+Holic, and even when it's up against fan-favorite Madoka Magica, I feel that very few anime have shown the heart that this series has.

There are two very different ways to enjoy Nichijou, and it all depends on whether you are believing you're witnessing the ordinary or the extraordinary. I'm sure I don't need to explain this to you if you've finished these past 26-episodes, but it's a series about over-exaggerations of real-life nuisances, not a crazy gag story with insane characters set in a normal setting like Cromartie High School. There's a sense of melancholy, ecstasy and even the feeling of being lethargic while watching the show, like a fresh, warm cuddly blanket wrapped around your body and your junk. It's a feeling that you don't soon want to go away.

Of course, here I am, attempting to write some touching "farewell" words, though it's rather tough to dance around the main reason I loved Nichijou. You know, because in my opinion, it's funny. It's hysterical. I think of it as perhaps the best anime of the year thus far... yet it's tough to describe why I think it's so funny other than pointing out how crazy and weird it can get, even though it's much, much more than that. A lot of people seem to enjoy the show for it's fast-paced brand of humor, but I also feel that so many people are missing out on some of the finer aspects of Nichijou.

Here is the first OP used in Nichijou. Each and every week, more are more of these seemingly random scenes appear in the show, and over time I realized that a lot of famous scenes from the series is foreshadowed, as well as new characters and events. Soon, I've gotten into the habit of anticipating each flash frame, and every time a gag that I recognized begun, I felt more sucked into it than any other, mainly because I knew that it would be particularly amazing.

To be honest, every scene in Nichijou only rarely explores new elements other than the various new "freak-out" faces characters wear, however I think that ties in to the beauty behind the series: it's not only an anime that, in attempt to keep things funny, try new ways to get a reaction from you, but the founding formula to it is that there is almost always a character involved that shares the same reaction as the audience. There's a connection to the viewer that way, and if this series were similar to Excel Saga or GTO in the sense that the main characters are always "random and wacky", then it would be a fuckfest of weird shit, put scientifically. At times, it more like the reactions of Yuko or Mio are funnier than the situation itself. The detail to make that connection with characters is what I feel is most important in liking them, as if seeing how they deal with these exaggerated nuances in life is the same as deep character exploration and symbolic meaning. Sometimes, laughing with (or at) a friend and sharing a crazy, out-of-the-ordinary moment is just as meaningful in a strong relationship as anything else, and this is what Nichijou feels like, in a nutshell.

There's nothing but love that went into this series, and it shows by the proud way Nichijou carries itself through the fluid animation, pitch perfect selections for insert songs and ED's, and smooth writing with a perfect sense of quick, one-off gags mixed with heartfelt and elaborate scenarios. When critics complain about the lack of effort put into animation this past decade and the over-abundance of slice-of-life for anime, then they will seriously be confronted when presented with this series. Granted, a simple, somewhat serene art style it may be, yes... but with that simplicity comes a bright and colorful palette that is dashed with amazing... amazing production values constantly throughout its run. Add that onto brilliant, meta writing and that sense of knowing that KyoAni knew exactly what they were doing and you have perhaps one of the most technically well made shows of the year. I can easily point out technical flaws in praised shows like Madoka Magica, Bunny Drop and Steins;Gate, yet the only thing that anyone can find a fault with in Nichijou is a different opinion of humor. It's unbelievable that it has taken this long for me to finally watch an anime that is this absolute.

Perhaps the only thing I could say that could remotely be considered a complaint would be that the ending, while amazing and perfectly could either pass as a true end or a great lead in into a potential second season (Ppppfftt, yeah right...), was perhaps overshadowed by a more fitting ending in the previous episode. The last episode was great, providing the same amount of laughs as any other episode before it. But that's kind of the thing: it was a bit too similar to a regular episode as opposed to the ending of a champion series that will unlikely get another season because Japan has a shit sense of humor. I always loved watching Nichijou each week, and believe me when I say it's made me laugh at times when I needed it most, so I'm always ready for more. However, even with a happy theme like Nano's birthday and a strong farewell, when the credits rolled I felt a bit empty. Was it because of the episode itself, or the fact that it's all over that was bothering me? Two things were certain: 1) Had the first ED, Zzz, played in place of the final one, I would have lost my collective shit and broken the fuck down. 2) As soon as that final frame of Nano's screw popped up after the credits in place of the usually lovely "next episode" previews, I seriously was close to losing my collective shit.

I can understand and get that I shouldn't praise this as the greatest thing ever created, because eventually, as I grow older, my feelings towards a series like Nichijou might change, and sometime later, I'll forget about it. I'll not try to praise this as the best, but I will not deny that Nichijou is certainly something special. It's more than what you've heard on forums and comments in Annotated Anime. It's not a series that relies on being as crazy and insane as possible (although it might have a fun time tricking people into believing it is), and it's not a slice-of-life show that shows cute girls doing nothing but cute things. There's a message... a small message. I'm not about to make something up to elaborate on how DEEP Nichijou is. But maybe because it's a series that's simply there is what makes it really empowering.

Make the ordinary in life extraordinary.

Below is a gallery (and video) of some of my favorite screenshots throughout the series that I took while writing it up in AA. I didn't mean anything by saving these pictures at first, but down the road I found that a lot of moments in Nichijou really did have something to say. It's not trying to preach psudo-religious spiel, or have you reflect on the hearts you've broken. This is a simple show, saying a simple message, all about simple life. And perhaps because of that, it is exactly why Nichijou is a little something special itself. In the touching, final words of Crow: "See you again!".

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MARCContributor   gamer profile

don't even bother calling me out, I go by OxKing now cuz he's the ickest & more + disclosures


Filed under... #anime #Final Impressions #KyoAni #top stories



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