Nichijou - My Ordinary Life Collection 1 Review
Generally, I'm the kind of guy that likes his comedy to be of a higher brow than not. Sure, I have no particular problem with the Adam Sandler's and Jim Carrey's of the world but I'm more inclined to hunt down the stand-up comedy of Bill Bailey or Dylan Moran. All of this aside, I enjoyed a whole lot of laugh-out-loud moments while watching Nichijou - My Ordinary Life Collection 1.
Nichijou is ridiculous. There's not really any other way to put it. The title, My Ordinary Life, is the perfect set up to completely flip the script on an unsuspecting audience member. There is absolutely nothing "ordinary" about this series. Many a website has described Nichijou as a "slice of life" series... sorry? Slice of what? The term "slice of life" is generally reserved for titles such as the delightful Honey and Clover, a series that involves a chain of events that, while dramatic, could very well occur in everyday life. While I'd hate for this to come across as a criticism of the labelling practises of others, Nichijou is not that series. Nichijou is something else altogether different and altogether delightful.
Unfortunately, the fact that this series is only available with the original Japanese dub will probably lose a few viewers. Without bringing up the dreaded sub-vs-dub debate, we need to acknowledge that there's a segment of the anime community that are only interested in series that have been dubbed into English and there's nothing wrong with that, apart from the fact that they'll be missing out on one of the funniest series to be released in quite a while. In fact, I'd even go as far as to say that an English dub of this series would detract from many of the subtle comedic nuances that occur throughout the series, even down to sounds of surprise and shock. It's these moments that somewhat ground the series in reality. As silly as it is, the Japanese dub just makes sense given the series setting in a Japanese school.
This series has an extensive cast of characters which is as diverse as you could possibly get. At first, we're introduced to a clockwork maid and her 8 year old creator before meeting some seemingly ordinary schoolgirls. This sort of introduction goes on and on until we finally meet the son of affluent farmers who rides to school on a goat, the optimistic president of a failing soccer team, the deer wrestling head master and a punk who isn't a punk, his hair just so happens to naturally grow into a mohawk. This is the true shining point in the series - the characters. Each one is interesting and each one is hilarious in their own special way.
Visually, Kyoto Animation have done it again! Longtime followers of Geek Of Oz will know how much we loved K-On, a series that shares a marginal similarity to Nichijou. Although the backgrounds and character animation aren't quite up to K-On standard, some of the cut-scenes are utterly gorgeous and the overall effect adds to the comedic impact of the series. Director Tatsuya Ishihara (Kanon, Haruhi Suzumiya) also makes some interesting decisions by inserting a handful of scenes that break the mould, introducing bold brush strokes and raw line work for added impact. These scenes just work and the reason that they work so well is because they indulge in classic anime and manga tropes albeit in ludicrous situations. The juxtaposition between serious and silly is an enduring theme in this series and Nichijou is all the more endearing for it.