Note: I've been meaning to do a full blog about Nichijou for a while, but haven't had the opportunity. I said to myself a few weeks ago, I'll do it when the next episode is released. Of course I procrastinated. But here I am, and here's what I think of the series, with screens from ep 8, and the opening for reference as well. If you want to check out the series yourself, you can find it on crunchyroll.com, here.
Nichijou or My Ordinary Life is a comedy, slice of life, parody anime series. Some might call the humor in this series random. But I prefer to call it ironic. The title and premise of the show is itself somewhat ironic. Here I am, an ordinary dude, living another day, sitting in front of my computer, watching another episode of My Ordinary Life. Each episode is broken up into multiple skits. Even though each skit doesn't seem to have much connection to one another, we revisit the same characters throughout the series but in new situations. Aside from having all the characters in the same universe, each skit focuses on a new scenario. To make it more ironic, these scenarios are mostly, underneath the brilliant animation and music, just ordinary everyday happenings.
Take the first skit in episode 8 for example: The girls, Mai, Mio and Yuuko, are on their way to school. Yuuko tries to tell them jokes, but Mai and Mio don't give any sign that they hear Yuuko. Yuuko keeps trying her best to tell jokes but doesn't succeed. End scene. Or the last skit in the episode: Nano catches Hakase eating snacks before going to bed and after brushing her teeth. Nano gets angry. Nano and Hakase get into an argument. Hakase unintentionally insults Nano. Hakase tries to patch it up by lying. End scene. These skits, partly because of the the way I explained them, are as ordinary as they come!
However, two of the main reasons this show is worth watching, and partly what makes it interested to keep watching, is the animation and music. Certainly, some anime try to impress and hook the viewer with a flashy and catchy opening and first episode, then take it easy for the rest of the season (whether for financial reasons or other). My Ordinary Life is not one of those anime. The quality of the animation in the opening is very close to what you can expect in each episode. With that said, the opening is very energetic, but that doesn't mean the anime is always hyperactive and random. The series does take appropriate breaks in between each skit.
It is able to build tension when it wants to, and has a keen awareness of the viewer's expectations and how to flaunt them to make us laugh. For example, let's look at another scene from episode 8: Mai, Mio and Yuuko are trapped in an elevator. It looks like they've been there for a while, tired, lying on the ground or sitting against the walls. The music is appropriately tense, and the black background takes up most of the screen to make the characters seem even smaller and trapped. After a long minute or so, Yuuko (the joker), proposes to play a game of shiritori (the japanese variant of the common language game of saying a word that begins with the last letter of the last word said). Mio starts, saying "Eggplant". The tense music stops and the tension is gone. I'm not sure if this is a joke lost in translation, but Yuuko and Mio trying to hold in their laughter, eventually burst out laughing, clutching their stomaches, rolling on the floor. Happy, upbeat music plays. End scene.
Again we have a scene which, underneath the music and animation, is something that might happen in everyday life, being trapped in an elevator. But somehow the characters can end up laughing hysterically and we move on to the next scene. Maybe this series is an allegory about life in general, we just need to be able to laugh about the situations we're in, make the most of what is happening, and sometimes imagine having our own broadway-musical-esque soundtrack playing in the background. All so we can keep moving forward.
I have really enjoyed the series so far, and despite the seemingly disconnected feel of the show, there have been a few hints that the characters will eventually become more interconnected (like in the last episode where Mio sees Nano for the first time in passing). Whether or not this is another commentary on the nature of human social groups and interconnectedness, I'll leave you to decide. ;) And with that, enjoy the screenshots, thanks for reading, and if you haven't checked this series out yet, I do recommend it!