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Azumanga Daioh Vol. 1
Take one cute child genius, one not very stereotypical Osakan, add two teachers, one a nice normal(ish) gym teacher, the other a maniac English teacher, a couple more blockheads, a stylish smart girl, a tall, athletic (but liking anything that is cute) girl and her overzealous fangirl and what you get?
Azumanga Daioh of course!
This little gem from 2002 is not your ‘normal’ anime per see. You won’t get hopeless romances, giant robots attacking, crazy martial arts, magical girls or samurai dramas. What you will get is 26 episodes of just fun, fun and more fun. It’s from the Excel Saga school of anime, not necessarily in it’s mania, but the fact that it’s a good anime without having much of a plot. It’s just these high school girls going through 3 years through graduation, as various events they go through such as summer vacation, sports festivals and the seasonal festivals and gatherings.
The heroine, Chiyo Mihara (or Chiyo-chan…she valiantly tries to get people in the lower classes to call her ‘sempai’, needless to say it doesn’t work) is a 10 year old child genius, and is admitted to high school right away. Here, she makes school friends and they enjoy lots of activities, with plenty of mayhem of course.
The cast is what makes this anime tick. They are all so varied and different. Sasaki, the tall, athletic girl, actually would prefer to be like Chiyo, small and cute. She also likes cats (but they don't return the favour.) The energetic Tomo, the straight shooter Yomi, plus the brilliant Yukari-sensei all add to this flavour. And then there's Osaka. What was her real name again? Oh no matter she's great.
You could probably watch any episode of Azumanga Daioh without wondering too much about the plot or characters. If you're looking for something deep and meaningful, forget it. If you want 26 episodes of fun, laughs, mayhem and Osaka wondering about Chiyo's pigtails and why there is a bread eating competition, then you've come to the right place.