Nichijou – Episode 5

WHAT THE HECK IT’S NICHIJOU AGAIN. Nichijou remains an incredible, impeccably crafted ride through its fifth episode, and so I’m here to make my drooling way through its various treasures. We’ve got some thoughts on the show’s pacing this time, as well as more of the usual elaboration of the precise dynamic created by the three leads. It’s all heady, serious comedy craft here in Nichijou-land, and I urge you all to take it very seriously. NOW LET’S WATCH SOME SILLY CARTOONS.


As usual, we open with some low-key establishing shots, as the professor shouts for Nano. Their house is an even more stable place than the school – like in the OP, Nano and everything around her are often the centering forces in Nichijou, the place of initial emotional calm. Though I’ve been surprised by how often Yuuko works as an effective straight man – I’d figure that’d be Mio’s job, but Yuuko is actually often better at noticing the madness in Mai’s actions, as opposed to Mio, who seems to often see Mai’s calm as normalcy even when she’s being anything but normal

Sakamoto is deeply offended by the professor’s cat costume

It almost feels disturbing that the parade of nonsense which is this show’s OP is actually starting to make sense as a rundown of the legitimate nature of its characters


We open the episode proper with Mohawk talking about how science can reveal everything, and he doesn’t believe in ghosts or psychic mediums. Not even the three main girls or Nano have gotten this kind of interior monologue – it feels like the opening scene to an entirely different show (minus the silly mohawk). Like last episode, I really appreciate how Nichijou presents characters who are absurd from the outset, but respects them enough to humanize them and let them carry scenes by themselves

The monologue is necessary because this is close to a more dialogue-heavy version of the “Yuuko watching Mai during the test” skit. Mohawk just keeps getting undercut by the medium, and though her lines are funny enough, him taking their “duel” so seriously is the primary source of humor. This sequence is also going all-in on reaction faces, shifting up the amount of detail and style of shading in Mohawk’s design with every new twist


Oh my god this show’s sense of timing is so fucking incredible. This Daruma Drop sequence shaves the fundamental joke of slapstick down to its absolute component ingredients, with every single shot presenting one of the narrative beats of the format. The “suspense” of the shot in air, hitting Mio, the turnaround as she catches it, the comeback. This show turns basic comedy into music WHAT IN THE HELL

Mai and Yuuko this time, presenting their usual dynamic. Mai is inscrutable and Yuuko is hyperactive, meaning that when Mai does her usual inscrutable things, Yuuko just spins more and more excitedly in her wheels, panicking over the larger intent of whatever Mai’s doing. It’s a very strong dynamic, and one you see a lot in classic comedy duos, even when it’s not in an antagonistic sense – Yuuko is the motormouth charmer, Mai is the silent accomplice


Jeez, this episode sure has some visual personality. Apparently it’s a Yamada/Horiguchi episode. These guys must have had so much fun with this material…

“Maybe it’s because I don’t want to do this.” Nichijou so often puts the dramatic stress on a very weird “syllable” of a comic routine. It’s an interesting effect – it doesn’t necessarily/consistently make things funnier, but it does put the audience off-balance, which is also a meaningful effect here

“If I make an eye for Nano’s statue, maybe she’ll praise me. Maybe she’ll let me eat lots of snacks.” The professor isn’t a truly believable child in the way Barakamon or whatnot presents them, but she still has a bunch of convincingly kid-like thought patterns

Huh, this episode’s chosen interstitial shot is the view from behind a power line through a bedroom window


Oh god, this sequence is so charming and so painful. Please stop trying to fix Nano’s statue, professor

The professor just tries to hide the statue under her lab coat. Oh my god

Another gripping Helvetica Standard. “What if there was, like, an angel or something, and they were making toast, and the toast, uh, FLEW INTO THE CEILING!” Helvetica Standard feels almost like a Tim and Eric sketch – absurd, context-free fragments of ideas that are intended as their own reward

The classroom also has a one-eyed daruma statue. More tiny elements of continuity that give the show a sense of cohesiveness outside of the context of traditional narrative progression


Yuuko very laboriously explains a complex ouji board routine, and Mio finishes with “I’ll pass.” This is a joke that only works in the Mio-Yuuko dynamic – Mai’s deadpan generally leaves Yuuko hanging, but Mio is relatively normal, and so she nods along until the punchline. Each pairing lends itself to different structures

Two normal-looking boys in the class make relatively mundane jokes about an upcoming test as the scene begins. In contrast to the many shows that allow their background characters to fade into nondescript masses, Nichijou consistently emphasizes both their presence and their mundane nature, again working to build a sense of normalcy as a starting platform. It also works towards general atmosphere, though Nichijou in general doesn’t seem terribly concerned with atmosphere as an end goal, and not just a tool to facilitate future gags


Mio slowly getting caught up in Yuuko’s nonsense

So Mio is actually the only “anime-savvy” member of the group, in that she thinks about stuff like the appeal of glasses and character archetypes and whatnot. I frankly hope the show doesn’t go too much into that – jokes about otaku stuff are almost always pretty lazy, and tend to rely more on the base jolt of recognition than the kind of noteworthy execution that lifts most of Nichijou’s humor

Haha, these pencil smears as Yuuko gets full of herself with her shitty drawings


I actually really like Mio’s commentary on Yuuko’s garbage art, though. Though I guess that’s just switching one expertise-comedy shtick for another – Yuuko is absolutely garbage at the fundamentals of art, and like Mio, I find her confidence in her crappy drawings very funny-frustrating

Yeah, the dynamic between the three of them is excellent. The teacher praising her shitty drawings really sells it; anyone who’s an expert in any discipline has probably had the “wow, this layman sure is impressed by all the wrong things” experience

And she finally reveals her fujo self

The shot of the bedroom now accompanied by Yuuko’s crappy drawing on the desk

And of course, her image is on the final quiz. The inevitable punchline, but it’s still so good



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2 thoughts on “Nichijou – Episode 5

  1. I think that the Helvetica Standard sketch are based on word play. That’s why most seems like complete nonsense to us.
    Like the tengu getting asking for money from his land owner.
    Herd people say ”becoming a tengu” means becoming cocky/conceited.

    ”I frankly hope the show doesn’t go too much into that – jokes about otaku stuff are almost always pretty lazy”
    If my memory is correct that’s the only instance of such jokes in the whole show!

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