Friday, May 25, 2007

The temptation of wheat or Azumanga Diaoh review

First of all, the theme song makes no sense, no sense, this link has its lyrics, but it includes the above line the temptation of wheat, and stuff like Cake for you, Tea for you, etc., very, very weird, further proof that Japanese people are crazy (of course my assessment of that is wildly innaccurate since I'm basing this largely on my own tastes for crazy anime). Still song crazy, so it gives you a little clue about the show itself.

Actually in some ways the show isn't as crazy as the intro song and sequence would imply, but in other ways it's just as crazy if not more so. It has a few moments like Kodocha where random things pop up but that's mostly just in the dream episodes. Mostly it's just high school life and not even really eventful high school life, overall nothing much happens to these kids except the school life and the breaks and such. There aren't even the crazy romances of normal high school life (except for with one girl and her obsession with another girl and a teacher's obsession with the first girl (don't worry none of this actually amounts to anything but a lot of laughs). There are rarely long plots even within an episode even since each episode is actual 5 5-minute shorts pieced together (the manga was sort of like a comic strip (I think) and the show first aired as 5 minute shorts each weekday and then the week's episodes were combined on Saturdays (I think, I wasn't there to see all that stuff during the first time around, A. it was a some time ago, and B. it was in Japan)). So with no plot and ordinary high school life how can it be as crazy as temptation of wheat? In the end it is because the characters are just crazy, zany, and absolutely hilarious.

This is one of the shows which makes me feel like an absolute girl, it is a girl's show, there is only one male character and he is just a side character playing the pervert teacher with a heart of gold stereotype (mostly the pervert part) (of course this is never really developed much as it would be if he was the star, but there are plenty of other shows for that (including plenty of animes like that)), but that's part of the charm. It allows the characters to just talk easy as friends and let all their quirks and crazies come out. In some ways this strikes me as more accurate than most romance-centered high school shows, because while the romances of high school tend to come and go, the friendships last and talking to your friends, just shooting the breeze (damn breeze, time to die!!!!) that's what high schoolers really spend most of their time doing. So this show is about that. The quirks and crazies of high school girls and their teachers, and about friendship. It could be very dull, it could be, but instead it's absolutely hilarious because those quirks and crazies, while so ordinary, are played up to maximum effect but without taking away from the love you feel for the characters.

The characters are a mix of archetypes and somewhat novel characters (who are found plenty in real life but are rarely explored). For the archetypes (there's a subtle difference between archetypes and stereotypes, while both are basised on the classic notions of the character types, the archetypes have their depths probed, while the stereotypes are pure superficial) You have Tomo, the crazy mega-enthusiastic goof-ball, you have Osaka, the ditzy, out of it goof-ball, and you have Yomi, the all-together, little-snobby, ultra-dieting, and mature girl, and Karoin, the obsessed-with-her-crush girl (although with a twist the love is another main character, aka, another girl), on the less-heard-of-side you have the grade-skipping-ultra-young, Chiyo, and the looks-very-mature, looks-very-cool and very aloof and looks kind of scary but really is very nice and loves cuteness girl, Sakaki and one which might fall on either side given my lacking knowledge of teen shows, Kagura, who's the ultra-athlete. With the teachers you got the standard boke and tsukkomi, that is the ultra-goof-off and serious person who puts her in her place, and then you have as a side character, the perverted male teacher, who turns out to have a heart of gold but is still very, very, very perverted. All these quirks are perhaps not groundbreaking but they are played out in very normal circumstances to the absolute breaking point but without passing the point of making the characters unsympathetic (although to some I've heard the male teacher passes that point, but I think he's cool (that's what is wife says)). Overall it's a good mix, although I wouldn't mind seeing at least one well-rounded guy, but I suppose that might distract from the girl's show atmosphere, which does add a certain lightness and charm to the show (after all the atmosphere girls carry with them is quite charming (although I'm actually probably too old to be saying that when the show is about high school students (and one student who's the age of elementry school kids)) and it might distract from the ultra-cutsyness of the show. Some will be turned off by this, but me, having the tastes of a ten-year-old girl, find it awesome. At times the show does draw on a bit, and you do kind of wish to have more in-depth adventures that might explore some more facets of these characters, overall I kind of had a sense that I wanted to know them a lot better than I got a chance to, but still you know them enough to love them, and enough to laugh like a madman at them. Overall I'd give this a 9 out of 10.

So that's my Azumanga Diaoh review. I think it went pretty well, although perhaps I could pull out a little more analysis if I wanted too. Oh well, the point is, awesome show, watch it, WATCH IT!!! You go now.

So anyways, take it to your head, take it to your heart and remember Rand rocks. Goodnight Folks!

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