oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
[personal profile] oyceter
This is a complete collection of a lot of four-panel comic strips (yonkoma or 4-koma) on the lives of six girls through all three years of high school. I was a little skeptical at first as to how much character development could happen in four-panel strips, but then, I remembered just how much I loved Calvin and Hobbes and decided to give this a try.

It's slow going at first: lots of gags, lots of breast jokes (very disturbing coming from Yukari, one of the teachers), lots of repetition. But then, gradually, the characters grew more and more familiar. There's ten-year-old genius Chiyo-chan, adorable and rich and happy; solemn Sakaki, who adores cats but always get her hand chomped on by them; sporty Kagura, who is the one I am least clear about; bespectacled Yomi, perpetually annoyed by some of the gang; spacey Osaka, who totally reminds me of Orihime in Bleach; and bouncy Tomo, who makes up in energy and volume what she lacks in common sense and brains. And there are the teachers, Yukari and Nyamo, who seem a little like a grown-up version of the Tomo-Yomi friendship.

Sometimes the humor goes right over my head, or it's too zany, or I roll my eyes at the breast jokes (which thankfully become less common as the series goes on), but I was surprised to find how engrossed I became. Absolutely nothing big goes on, except possibly college entrance exams; even finals and midterms don't take up that much page-time. But the everyday is part of the charm, particularly when the girls start talking about completely stupid or trivial things. It really does remind me of hanging out in the breaks between classes. And while there's the ever-present sports day and the school festival, here it's less a cause for shoujo hijinks and more a part of the school year.

I particularly love that it ends with graduation, unlike Calvin and Hobbes, in which Calvin is perpetually in first grade. It makes the repetition of summer vacation, winter vacation, new semester, school festival, sports day, and etc. more meaningful, and it made me fondly reminisce about my own class trying to win our school's field day or coming up with increasingly inane ideas for the school festival. There's just a rhythm to the school year that Azuma captures.

It's interesting; this didn't impress me that much when I was reading, but it grows in my memory. I think this will end up being a particularly comforting reread.

(no subject)

Thu, Sep. 25th, 2008 12:51 pm (UTC)
Posted by (Anonymous)
Reader and very occasional guest poster here. I know Azumanga Daioh from the animé (I'm given to understand it's pretty much the same as the manga), and love it, which I can't say about most animés I've seen. Yes, it is very plotless and not incredibly deep, but yet manages an impressive amount of comedy and emotion.

I don't like breast jokes either, but they didn't bother me too much in Azumanga, partly because they thinned out soon enough, but also because there are so many good female characters in it - just for one, Chiyo-chan, Yomi *and* Sakaki-san are all extremely accomplished academically? I don't know any other fandom that has *three* extremely intelligent female character.

I was wondering if you would comment on the manga's treatment of homosexuality, with Kaorin's crush on Sakaki-san. Personally, I found it sympathetically handled, but I was very slightly bothered by Kaorin's seeming exclusion from the main gang in most of the plotlines.

-Chris

(no subject)

Thu, Sep. 25th, 2008 02:27 pm (UTC)
larryhammer: a low-fidelity picture of a man, label: "some guy" (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] larryhammer
Kaorin's crush is much less developed in the manga -- she's almost turned into a Flanderization of herself in the anime -- as is the character herself, who's on-stage much less. More of a grace-note joke than a running gag.

---L.

(no subject)

Thu, Sep. 25th, 2008 01:56 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] swanjun.livejournal.com
One thing I really love about Azumanga Daioh is the skill with nonverbal storytelling, especially all the strips with Sakaki (my favorite character) and the kitties, which Azuma draws most adorably.

(no subject)

Thu, Sep. 25th, 2008 03:25 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] thomasyan.livejournal.com
Sakaki and the kitties amused me, but Sakaki's wish to be cute instead of tall, athletic, and cool somewhat saddened me.

(no subject)

Thu, Sep. 25th, 2008 02:30 pm (UTC)
larryhammer: Yotsuba Koiwai running, label: "enjoy everything" (enjoy everything)
Posted by [personal profile] larryhammer
I agree with that last paragraph. I was far from bowled over, the first time I read it, but I snag it for comfort reading more than any other manga but Yotsuba&! (by the same mangaka, where he takes that ability to capture the rhythm of the school year and applies it to daily life).

---L.

(no subject)

Thu, Sep. 25th, 2008 02:44 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] swanjun.livejournal.com
Ooh, what a nice Yotsuba&! icon you have there!

(no subject)

Thu, Sep. 25th, 2008 09:34 pm (UTC)
larryhammer: a low-fidelity picture of a man, label: "some guy" (for you)
Posted by [personal profile] larryhammer
Thankee. I found it somewhere in the depths of the [livejournal.com profile] yotsubato community.

---L.

(no subject)

Thu, Sep. 25th, 2008 03:47 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] jinian.livejournal.com
I love and adore this one, and the 4-koma format really suits randomly picking it up and rereading bits. (Having watched the anime first, I was amused to find out just why sometimes it seemed like a crazy quilt rather than a cohesive episode plot.)

(no subject)

Thu, Sep. 25th, 2008 08:41 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] swanjun.livejournal.com
I love this icon, too. I am going to have to get me one. There was one panel of Chiyo riding a dog that I thought would make a good one. Probably it's out there somewhere.

(no subject)

Fri, Sep. 26th, 2008 04:08 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] jinian.livejournal.com
Hee!

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