Azumanga Daioh: The Manga came first. Then there was Azumanga Daioh: The Animation. Please note the helpful explanatory titles.This is not your typical manga and the anime is not your typical animation. Azumanga Daioh was published in short bursts. Think of it as a comic strip and the manga is the compilation of these strips. The manga is the story (or many many many stories) of six high school students and two of their teachers. Because they’re so short, there’s no particular depth to the series and no overall story arc, just quick, light snapshots of the characters and moments in their daily lives. Some are funny, some are cute, and some make no sense at all– I assume some of this is a translation issue.
I have mixed feelings about the series. I genuinely like and enjoy these characters and there are moments of real humor. Azumanga Daioh is refreshing, light, and different from anything else out there. It’s also incredibly popular among anime and manga fans. But ultimately it all moves so quickly and the lack of an overall story arc kind of bothers me. Personally, I’m not sure this is a fair criticism, because it was never meant to have an overall structure, it’s a comic strip, but having said that, the manga just doesn’t quite hold my attention. I’m just not sure how much of my time I’m willing to give it. Then again, it’s sweet, it’s fun, and the girls are really lovable. I say give it a quick look to decide for yourself.
By Kiyohiko Azuma
Yen Press, 2009 (2nd edition)