Let's start positive, and look at the high scoring sound.
This is a first... sound being the highest scoring score, especially in an anime that isn't meant to be about music. If this were a K-On review, then sure, but a slice of life?! Exactly, and this is why Azumanga Daioh has such a low score.
The background music is nothing to write home about. A solid 5/10, not bad but nothing special. The only reason the sound score is so high is the wonderful OP. Again, it's not a special OP in any way, but it's fun, and lively, just like the anime itself, and above that, the tune is catchy. However, when the OP is the best part of an episode, then you know something's wrong.
Which nicely brings us on to the story score!
Let's face it, it's a slice of life, you don't always expect there to be a story, let alone a good one. However, there is story to be found in Azumanga Daioh. Chiyo, an 11 year old girl, starts high school having skipped a few grades due to her being extremely intelligent. However, she's not intelligent enough, as she picks some of the dumbest people in school to be her friends. Apart from Sakaki and Chiyo, the entire main cast is a bunch of idiots, including their teacher.
We follow these idiots in their daily school lives across 3 years at high school and they don't really do much. They have a couple of sports festivals, a few culture festivals, and we even see them all pass their college entrance exams... apart from Koyomi (one which we thought was smart).
This isn't really the perfect explanation of what this anime is all about, but it is the best explanation I can come up with to sum it up... and it sounds boring, right? Which is why it has a lovely 3/10.
But as I said, it's the characters which make a good slice of life
And unfortunately, they just don't. We have...
- Chiyo who is cute, smart, but not very good at sports.
- Osaka is who dumb, absent minded, and not very good at sports.
- Sakaki who is cool, calm, good at sports, and really likes cute things.
- Koyomi who seems smart, but actually isn't, and who's only real role seems to be controlling Tomo.
- Tomo who is an overly energetic, idiotic, and mischievous, annoyance.
- Kagura, who joins around a third of the way through the series, who is an idiot, but is very good at sports.
Kagura sees Sakaki as a rival, but Sakaki doesn't care. Tomo just wants to have fun, but usually does so at the expense of someone else. Osaka is there, but has about as much presence as Akari Akaza (Yuru Yuri). Then Chiyo is at the centre of all of this, but being a lot younger just generally plays on her cuteness to get the audience's attention.
There really isn't anything stand out about the characters that makes you say that they are better than a character from another anime, and there interactions get stale after almost 20 episodes. If I was judging them on the first half of the series, they'd score maybe a 7 or an 8, but no... a 5 is where they sit at the end of episode 23.
There's not really much to please the eyes after the average soundtrack, and the deteriorating character interactions
The artwork for Azumanga Daioh isn't bad, not in the slightest. But it isn't anything outstanding either. You have a few abnormal things in the anime, which have a specific style that you would remember; such as Chiyo's father. However, beyond that the artwork is very much the same as any other anime you'd have come across around that time.
The artwork has held up well to say it is over 15 years old. But that's because there was nothing outstanding about it.
I am kind of disappointed with this as a review. Not because of what I've written, but because of the scores. When I started Azumanga Daioh, I thought it would be getting average, but not low-average scores. I expected it would be a good waste of time, not as good as Nichijou or Yuru Yuri, both anime share the same genres, but I expected it to be able to hold its own to them in some regards, even if it was just one character, or a handful of episodes... But alas, they dwarf Azumanga Daioh in every regard.
Well, that's it for this review. I am off to Japan very soon, so keep an eye out for travel updates whilst I'm there. Obviously, this means there'll be no reviews being posted until at least a few days after I return.