Talk about a disappointment. Kyoto Animation’s Nichijou, an adaptation of the 4-koma manga that ran in Shonen Ace, originally interested me because most sources described it as a mix between Azumanga Daioh and Cromartie High School. Both of those shows would make my top 10 anime list. Episode 0, however, contains entirely original content not found in the manga, and it doesn’t exactly speak well for the competence of the staff.
Simply put, Nichijou is one of the worst things I’ve ever watched.
What I Liked
The Art: Even if KyoAni’s writing and pacing hasn’t been consistent, everything I’ve seen (starting from the first Haruhi season) has at least been pretty to look at. The same is true of Nichijou. The character designs are simple yet distinct and charming, and the animation is smooth. My only gripe is that there’s very little shading to speak of, so scenes often look quite flat. I’m unsure whether that’s intentional (to give it a manga feel) or not, but it’s something that bothered me a little.
What I Hated
It’s Not Funny: Yeah. It really isn’t. In fact, it took the show 12 minutes to finally get to something that was kinda sorta worthy of a chuckle. For a show that’s ostensibly a comedy, not being funny is a death sentence. Of course, you’re probably wondering why it’s not funny. That…will take a rather lengthy explanation. So here’s what I’ll do. Instead of giving you a huge rambling wall of text here, I’ll break down everything that sucks the humor out of the show in the following, orderly sections. Sound good? Then here we go.
The Mundane is Mundane: The vast majority of what I assume are supposed to be jokes in this episode come from events that happen in everyday life. That’s a premise that can definitely work. Azumanga Daioh and Yotsuba&! derive a lot of their fantastic comedy from seemingly mundane stuff, after all. The problem is that, in those two comedies, the absurdity of the characters and their actions breath life into an otherwise forgettable moment. The dichotomy is what makes it work. Similarly, Cromartie High School works because the characters treat the insane things happening around (and to) them with all the seriousness of a CIA analyst. Again, the dichotomy drives the humor. In Nichijou, however, the normal characters react normally to normal things happening. Everything is bland. Even the Professor’s robot acts like a normal (albeit ditzy) person. Or to use a more in-depth example, at one point Mio tries to cheer Yuko up after seeing her terrible quiz score. She imagines her effort as a fisherman trying to catch a fish. That analogy immediately makes perfect sense, and that’s the problem. It’s a completely normal analogy. If it were funny, my reaction wouldn’t be, “Okay, that makes sense.” It would be, “Oh wow, I never would have thought of that, but it totally works!” See the difference? Comedy needs to be somewhat unexpected in either character reactions or circumstances. Nichijou almost always goes the normal–and completely obvious–route.
It’s Repetitive: Nine minutes are spent on the “Mio encourages Yuki” sketch, wherein the dialogue all but repeats itself for around five of those minutes. The same is true of the Professor sketch, though at least it has Sakamoto–the talking cat–to break up the monotony occasionally. The last sketch is mercifully short and actually contains some variety, but it still seems to rely completely on the cuteness of the character designs to hold anyone’s interest. That’s pathetic. Over half the show is devoted to telling two jokes over and over in slightly different fashions. Even Squid Girl couldn’t pull that off with it’s wacky American scientist segments. Comedy shows are at their best when they base a sketch on a core joke and use that as a springboard to make several different yet related jokes. Nichijou doesn’t even try to think beyond the very first idea.
It’s Not Even So Bad It’s Good: I’ll be honest. Sometimes I enjoy a good train wreck. It’s why I forced Jon to watch Angel Cop with me. [Ed: Don’t forget all those terrible Nicholas Cage movies.] Unfortunately, Nichijou is so bland that even its failures are boring. It’s hard to even feel angry about the whole thing. I mean, how can I possibly get worked up over a show with so little substance? It’s not funny. It’s not clever. It’s not absurd. It’s not even offensive. It’s just…there. Like those generic family photos they always put in picture frames at the store. You barely even acknowledge their existence until its time to throw them away.
Nichijou episode 0 is a complete waste of time. It’s bland and utterly forgettable. The only thing it actually accomplished is making me reflect on all the useful things I could have done if I hadn’t watched it. For example, I could have cleaned the bathroom sinks. Or vacuumed the carpet. Yes, that’s right. I would rather do household chores than watch Nichijou.
On the bright side, I now know exactly what to watch if I ever need a sleep aid.