Guess I missed out on doing this for some seasons thanks to hiatusing, but I’m back with Anisong of the Season! And this time I have chosen the Nichijou ED: “Zzz” (great name lol)
And since we’re on the topic I’m gonna ninja this post a little and actually talk about Nichijou. Setting the score straight first off, I happen to be in the camp that loves Nichijou and am constantly surprised by the number of critical and scathing reviews I bump into. I think most detractors are just taking the show a little too seriously. I don’t think it’s an accident that there are so many inexplicably bizarre scenes. Sure, it feels awesome when you nail that one obscure joke, but I think not getting a good number of them is part of the point and, if you ask folks like me, part of the charm. Nichijou was my weekly “wait what? WHAT? wtf!?” and my weekly opportunity to go all
And I loved it for it. What’s more, as it transits over into summer, I think that an interesting new direction might just be creeping into this seemingly ridiculously directionless show. Let’s see!
It’s by no means an unpredicted direction, I had just been wondering how they were gonna go about doing it. Back in the first half of the show, I had been thinking about how Nichijou would fit in with KyoAni’s earlier comparable successes. I believe that a very important ingredient in Lucky Star and K-ON’s successes is something I will henceforth arbitrarily dub the Camaraderie factor. Lucky Star was a 4-koma with mild quirky humor that ocassionally hit very strong chords, and that would probably have been enough to carry the show into the “pretty fun” category with some decent animating, but what I felt pushed it over the threshold into the “really great” category was how KyoAni subtly sprinkled and orchestrated scenes that focused on character relationships that run deeper than the comedy. These ranged from the obvious Hiiragi sisters and Kanata’s return sub-arcs to the more subtle Konata-Kagami dynamics that consist of all their collected interactions across the run, climaxing at the end of the Kyoto trip sub-arc. K-ON is a little more blatant with this and group camaraderie remained an important theme throughout both seasons (even overfiring a little I feel in the “Ritsu gets jealous” episode). The result was that the characters begin to matter, and as I noted in an old K-ON post, a simple test of that state of mattering is to introduce an end. Both shows lingered on the graduation theme in their final moments, and in both shows the idea of graduation brought tendrils of wistfulness into the otherwise light-hearted mood. Only when characters go beyond being funny actors on a stage to actually being people you can identify with, does the characters’ imminent loss of their usual time together actually bite.
And so it had been a constantly lingering question in my head the past month or so – how is KyoAni going to do the same for Nichijou? The characters are so darn weird and awkward, and the primary dynamic of the first half by far has been… trolling. Yukko and Mio are the kind of friends that make you wonder how in blazes do they manage to stay friends, and Mai, as epic and as hilarious as her trolling powers are, is when it comes down to it just really mean to the other two. I couldn’t see how these awkward trio could evolve into anything resembling the K-ON club members or the Lucky Star main four. Professor, Nano and Sakamoto-san showed slightly better promise, but even then Professor, again as funny and cute as she gets, is pretty darn evil to Nano. How’s it gonna work? I was beginning to think that KyoAni might just decide to screw the Camaraderie factor this time round and try to run the show solely on massive trollhood.
But lo, come the second half, I think I’m beginning to have to eat that thought. Having the “Professor allows Nano to go to school” thing (when Nano had always been going to school like a boss in the manga) is a cheap-ish trick to inject some nice d’awww, but it sort of does the job to stir us in a new direction for the second half. The surprise came in the pairing Nano and Yukko for a resonating scene.
Wow, I didn’t expect that. It was even pretty well brought out – just a quick but effective scene, without dragging it out unnecessarily, and sandwiched in between plenty of the usual Nichijou. The Sakamoto-Yukko encounter at the very end was also a pretty neat touch.
And then in the latest episode (17), we got this epic Yukko-Mai scene, where Yukko in characteristic randomness decided to seal her tsukkomi powers in hopes of having normal girl talk with Mai. Well, I could’ve told her it was hopeless, but I guess Yukko’ll be Yukko. What’s interesting though is how the whole thing panned out. I may be reading too much into this, but there might be a little something going on there underneath all the wtf and trolling and characteristic over-the-top animating.
Because this is my path
and this is Mai-chan’s path
Is there something? I think there might be something. I think KyoAni animated these final moments in a way that seemed to hint that there’s something. And that something could be Yukko coming to terms with her relationship with Mai. And more intriguingly, it could also indicate that Mai, behind that impassively invariant visage, may actually feel something for her friends, something perhaps akin to appreciation and – here it comes – camaraderie. Take all this with a grain of salt, but she tried pretty hard to elicit a tsukkomi from Yukko when Yukko didn’t react like she normally does. And when Yukko finally exploded (in a wild, world-wobbling tsukkomi), she seemed – maybe, just maybe – happy, even relieved. The problem with deadpan characters like hers is that it’s basically impossible to read them based on facial expression, and when her expression never changes you just assume she didn’t care, about what’s going on around her or about whether or not her friends stick around. Maybe that’s not true. Just maybe.
Incidentally, anyone want to try guess at what’s behind this somewhat out-of-place still in between the all the shocked faces after Yukko’s exclamation?
In any case I’m intrigued. That final scene, where Yukko cheerfully tsukkomi’d Mai’s wearing glasses even with contact lenses on, had a similar vibe to a Saten-Uiharu skirt-flip. It’s like the two of them have reconciled in some satisfying and unique way. Like I said, I’m intrigued. I expect the Yukko trolling to continue in earnest in the coming episodes, but I know I’ll be looking twice whenever Yukko and Mai are on the same screen now.
Ohbtw, next candidate for the advancement of the Camaraderie factor and overdue for some fresh screentime will be goat-aristocrat Sasahara and bazooka-girl Misato. You heard it here first ;)
Coming back at the very end to the Anisong of Spring 2011, here’s a picture, lyrics and translation, as usual. Spring 2011 I felt had some decent tunes, but nothing that was quite over-the-top awesome. Zzz isn’t something that would get me off my chair, but it’s a pretty nice song, and I like the dreamy quality and the great ED video sequence that went with it. To some extent I feel like it’s a nice representation of what Nichijou was – a little, happy corner of the absurd and the fantastic. As usual, hit F8 to listen to the track while it’s up (I have the third and final version, apparently called the “Bossa-nova” version, up). Enjoy :)
PS. Bonus cookies to you if you realized that the first ED song of the second half – the one immediately after Zzz – was played by Mio, Ritsu and Mugi for Yui in the early episodes of K-ON, and also sung by Megumi Hayashibara in the climatic moments of Eva Rebuild 2.0.
asa okite hao migai te
attoiuma gogo juu ji
kyou mo takusan waratta na
takusan tokimeita na
tomodachi to BAKA mitai ni sawai deru toki ni mo
CHIRACHIRAtte me ga au
guuzen dayo ne
hatsukoi nante ie nai
KYARA janai n da mon
nee ashita mo aeru yo ne
mabuta o tojiru to
KIRAKIRA KIMI darake
kyou mo tanoshikatta ne
aa koi shite n da naa
ureshii na ureshii na
hajimemashite koi gokoro
ashita mata aeru ne
yume de sugu aeru ne
Waking up in the morning, brushing my teeth,
and before I know it, it’s 10 PM.
I laughed a lot today, too.
And had a lot of heart-fluttering moments.
When I’m making noise like an idiot with my friends,
with a flutter, our eyes meet
…it must be a coincidence, right?
I won’t say it’s ‘first love’,
because it’s out-of-character for me!
Hey, we’ll see each other again tomorrow, right?
When I close my eyelids,
all I see is a shining you.
Today was fun, too.
Ah, I’m in love.
I’m so happy, I’m so happy.
Nice to meet you, my awakening of love.
I’ll see you again tomorrow
I’ll see you later in my dreams.
Romaji Lyrics and Translation from Gendou Anime Music. Lightly modified by me.