Part of my New Year’s resolution was to stay on top of my box set reviews. In trying to hold myself accountable for my sake (and Mithrandiel’s), my first box set review of 2018 is for Nichijou!
Nichijou (also known as My Ordinary Life) follows Yuko Aioi and her friends, Mio Naganohara, and Mai Minakami, as they make their way through high school. Together with their classmates, the girls navigate exams, lunches, and their wacky school. It isn’t every day you see your principal pile drive a deer into the ground, but for these girls, it’s their ordinary life.
Meanwhile on the other side of town, Nano Shinonome dreams of going to school. The robot, who lives with her creator the Professor, and a talking cat named Sakomoto, dreams of being a normal girl. After a long time of denying her the dream, the Professor allows Nano to attend school, which immediately fills Nano with excitement and fear. With a key sticking out of her back, how long will it take the students to figure out she’s a robot? As Nano soon realizes, a robot highschooler is just another ordinary part of life.
Based on the manga series by Keiichi Arawi, Nichijou does a great job of capturing the surreal humor delivered in the manga. Unfortunately, this humor does not transfer well from page to screen. The animation allows the viewer no time to process the deadpan and often nonsensical jokes the characters deliver. That, coupled with a thin plot, makes it hard to watch for extended periods of time.
The episodes are interspersed with animated vignettes from another one of Arawi’s series, Helvetica Standard. After watching the series, I had to look up what Helvetica Standard was, as characters in the show are seen reading the manga. I feel like I would have enjoyed it more going into the series knowing it was unrelated to the plot. Having not done that, I felt confused and like I was missing a joke the entire time.
Kyoto Animation did an amazing job adapting the Nichijou manga into an anime series. The character designs are identical and look great in color. They also managed to do a 1:1 adaptation of iconic scenes from the manga, such as the principal versus the deer. The aesthetic of the anime also managed to capture the surreal feeling of the show as a whole. Using colorful backgrounds created with different mediums toed the line between real and surreal.
It’s really hard to review characters that don’t experience any personal growth or change. Trying to review the characters of Nichijou feels as pointless as reviewing the Sunday morning comic strips. I know next week they’ll be up to the same antics, and it will continue on and on. Which is what I think the whole point of the show is, so I’ll focus on how relatable I found the characters to be.
While I’ve never seen my principal pile drive a deer into the ground (I can’t get over that), I have felt the panic of being unprepared for a test. I have felt the joy of completing my homework replaced by the sorrow of realizing I forgot it at home. I have been the driving force behind group projects. Taking away the nonsensical overlay that are the scenes of Nichijou leaves the extremely relatable emotions and feelings behind, which makes the show extremely enjoyable.
Packaging and Extras
The packaging for this box set is great for displaying as part of your anime collection. Both blu-ray and DVD discs are securely stored in a thick clam box. Sometimes cases can be flimsy, but this one feels durable and seems to keep the discs protected. A slipcover fits nicely over the case, making it look perfect as part of display, or as a standalone piece.
The extras and bonus materials include textless opening and closing songs, as well as the OVA: Episode 0. Considering when this anime was originally released it had low sale numbers, I’m surprised the box set didn’t include more goodies. It would have been cool to have a booklet of the different outfits the girls wear, or an issue of Helvetica Standard included.
Despite my criticism, I enjoyed watching Nichijou and would watch it again in small doses. Fans looking to add Nichijou to their collection can purchase it here from Funimation.