- Azumanga Daioh
- Kiyohiko Azuma
- Released: 1999, 2002(anime)
- Hits: 2436
Genres: Comedy, Slice of Life
Azumanga Daioh (あずまんが大王, Azumanga Daiō?) started as a manga that was written and illustrated by Kiyohiko Azuma, released in 1999. It was adapted into an anime, "Azumanga Daioh: the Animation" that was aired in 2002 in Japan.
Azumanga Daioh spans three years in which accounts of tests, culture festivals and athletic events are seen at the school. After school life plays a role in the story at the nearby shopping district and Chiyo's large house. Chiyo's summer home on the coast, an hour-long drive from Tokyo and the nearby theme park, Magical Land, are seen as places visited between school terms.
Azumanga Daioh generally follows everyday life but the series is occasionally marked by bursts of surrealism and absurdity, such as in an episode featuring the characters' New Year's dreams.
There are slight differences between the manga and the anime, too.
Chiyo Mihama (美浜 ちよ Mihama Chiyo)
Voiced by: Tomoko Kaneda (Japanese), Jessica Boone (English)
Chiyo is a child prodigy. The series humorously explores the consequences of her being skipped five grades to tenth grade (freshman in Japanese high school). Her lack of stature in comparison to her classmates' leads to a lack of confidence, particularly in physical pursuits where she feels that she is a burden.
Others in the story are jealous not only of her intellect, but of her family wealth as well. The graphic rendering of Chiyo's ponytails later allowed for several visual gags in both the manga and anime, usually as flying wings in Osaka's daydreams. At home, she can frequently be found in the company of her enormous dog, Tadakichi.
Tomo Takino (滝野 智 Takino Tomo)
Voiced by: Chieko Higuchi (Japanese), Mandy Clark (English)
Tomo is extremely energetic and competitive, despite being nonathletic and a slacker. She tends to irritate everyone around her, especially Yomi, who has been her classmate since elementary school. Tomo's character is extremely impulsive and never considers nor cares about the consequences of anything she says or does, except on the occasions when Tomo has actually been inspired to concentrate on something.
Koyomi "Yomi" Mizuhara (水原 暦 Mizuhara Koyomi)
Voiced by: Rie Tanaka (Japanese), Nancy Novotny (English)
A grade-school friend and general antagonist of Tomo's, Yomi, as she is commonly known, is the title's voice of reason, carrying herself as the most mature and serious of the group. Though smart and athletic, she is constantly dissatisfied with herself due to her weight and is always trying various diets in an effort to become thinner. Yomi has another weakness of being an awful singer, but karaoke is one of her favorite pastimes. While usually functioning as Tomo's "straight man", she sometimes manifests a rather cruel sense of humor, such as when she uppercuts Tomo when she is frustrated with her.
Sakaki (榊 Sakaki)
Voiced by: Yu Asakawa (Japanese), Christine Auten (English)
Tall, soft-spoken Sakaki is uncomfortable with her height, and her busty physique. Because she is shy, she speaks seldomly and her reticence is misinterpreted as mysterious, or cool. She is naturally athletic but she has no real interest in sports. In contrast to what the other students think of her, Sakaki is, in reality, an emotionally sensitive person who holds a secret longing for cute things. She loves cats, but the neighborhood cats dislike her and her parents do not allow cats in their house. Sakaki is friends with Chiyo and is glad to find out that Chiyo's dog, Mr. Tadakichi, will let her pet him. Sakaki's friendship with Chiyo is an irony of circumstances, as both characters yearn to be like each other. Later in the series, Sakaki befriends a Yamamaya cat that had lost its mother and had sought out Sakaki.
Ayumu "Osaka" Kasuga (春日 歩 Kasuga Ayumu, also known as "Osaka" 大阪 Ōsaka)
Voiced by: Yuki Matsuoka (Japanese), Kira Vincent-Davis (English)
Ayumu is a transfer student from Osaka. Tomo quickly chose for her the nickname "Osaka" contrary to Ayumu's behavior, which is different from the "typical" Osakan. Ayumu lacks the energy or motivation to dispute the nickname. She appears slow but she merely has a mind that works differently than other people, prone to daydreaming, absentmindedness, and non-sequiturs, but exceptional at answering very specific types of riddles. She is easily amused by things that normal people would consider bizarre. With the arrival of Kagura, the "Bonkuraazu" are formed along with Tomo and Osaka, their name for a trio of underachievers.
Kagura (神楽 Kagura)
Voiced by: Houko Kuwashima (Japanese), Allison Sumrall (English)
Kagura is a later acquaintance, joining Yukari's class in the 2nd year. Yukari selects her as a ringer to win the school athletic competitions. Originally in Nyamo's class and with little success in studies, she devotes her time to the swim team but is an all-around good athlete. She is genuinely nice to her classmates but is competitive and has a slight obsession with Sakaki, with whom she sees as an athletic rival due to Sakaki being a naturally gifted athlete with no training at all.
Like Sakaki, she is quite busty, but tomboyish. Like Tomo, Kagura tends to be quite impulsive in her actions but in contrast to Tomo, keeps it under control. Kagura has a sensitive side, which the audience sees in episode six of the anime following her homeroom's defeat in the sports festival, and the final episode following graduation.
Yukari Tanizaki (谷崎 ゆかり Tanizaki Yukari), also known as Yukari-sensei
Voiced by: Akiko Hiramatsu (Japanese), Luci Christian (English)
Yukari is the girls' English and homeroom teacher (class 3), but a teacher with very unconventional methods and a rather close relationship with the class. Her students are casual enough to call her by her first name: Yukari-sensei, and some of them even use the very informal and intimate name and title of Yukari-chan. She can be moody and, like Tomo, is incredibly impulsive and has a tendency not to think things through. Yukari has a rivalry with Minamo and attempts to prove that she is the superior teacher. Yukari is a reputedly bad driver, as evidenced by the horrid condition of her car the students' have lovingly dubbed "the Yukari-mobile".
Minamo Kurosawa (黒沢 みなも Kurosawa Minamo), also known as Kurosawa-sensei or "Nyamo" にゃも Nyamo
Voiced by: Aya Hisakawa (Japanese), Monica Rial (English)
Minamo is a gym teacher at the girls' school. In the girls' first year of high school, she was the homeroom teacher of class 5. During their last two years, she was the homeroom teacher of class 2. She is an old high school friend and rival of Yukari. Popular with the students, Nyamo is nicer and in greater control of herself than Yukari, but, in moments of weakness, Minamo has proven that she can be just as vulnerable to losing control as Yukari is. The two have arguments but Minamo does try her best to take the high road and not let Yukari's antics get to her and tries to help Yukari out and become a better teacher.
Apart from the main cast there are several minor characters, including a creepy male teacher with an abnormal obsession with teenage girls (Kimura-sensei), another girl (Kaorin) in the same grade who seems to have a crush on Sakaki (the most distant of the main characters) and a friend of hers with a relatively small role in the story (Chihiro).
- あずまんが大王 (Japanese)