And we’re back! Last episode saw Nichijou’s various subgroups nearly approaching a meeting, which I’m sure portends good things for the future. I’ve regularly heard this show actually improves as it goes along, and considering its quality is already best-in-class among anime comedies, I’m excited to see how that’s possible. Let’s dive right in to another friggin’ episode of Nichijou!
And we’re back to our usual opening shots. Sunny skies and cicadas
The music is unusual this time, though. Urgent strings with a melancholy melody line over them
A minute and thirty seconds of Nano watering the flowers and deciding to go for a walk, with the unemphasized punchline of her fist flying away. Of course
I’m actually a little surprised Nichijou was okayed at all – I wouldn’t figure this style of unjokes and absurdism would have that large of an audience in any country. But it makes sense that people who are really good at creating comedies would make such an excellent version of this one. These sort of structural, self-aware jokes based on expectations of comedic routine tend to most often appeal to people who make a point of studying comedy as an art and craft. Connoisseurs of stupidity, as it were
“Yesterday, they said it would rain.” Between the long anticlimax of the first segment and this, it feels like this episode is setting up some weather-based dramatic expectations
“Oh well. That joke was a little too highbrow for them.” Yuuko is so great. Far and away the most important member of the three
And now the show is actively baiting the cast running into each other, with Nano chasing her hand in the background of Yuuko monologuing
I don’t think this “Yuuko’s bad puns get no response” gag can really sustain itself for the length the show is giving it, but that’s kind of the inherent gamble of Nichijou. The show goes incredibly all-in on some of its gags, making their extremely extended runtime part of the joke itself, so if a particular premise doesn’t work for you, that could be a whole subsection of a given episode that just feels like wasted air. Some of these jokes work for me and others don’t, but I can still appreciate the show trying for ambitious, multi-step longform gags
And of course, sometimes the digressions within the joke become their own reward. Like the exchange of stone-faced reactions at the end here, or the animation of Yuuko struggling her way up Shitty Pun Mountain
Oh my god this little popcorn gag. I feel like with this one, Nichijou has set up the initial expectation that these little segue gags will just play out as simple, iconic physical comedy gags in the most archetypal ways possible, and so the professor suddenly chucking the popcorn at Sakamoto is a wonderful quick subversion
Nano’s hand still flying through the sky, of course. Continuity in the universe creating an uneven sense of stability – something articulated in another way by how explosives-girl is just treated as a normal high schooler with a crush by her friends
“I j-just happened to be walking that way!” I guess she’s designed as the ultimate far end of the tsundere archetype
“Things We Think Are Cool.” A new segue segment, or just a non-sequitur?
“I give up. No one’s coming to save us.” Another concept segment with an entirely new directorial style. This one opens with small rectangles of drawings giving us portions of the frame, emphasizing the feeling of entrapment before we learn the main girls are trapped in an elevator. Nichijou’s fundamental comedy nature actually lets it be more adventurous in its genre digressions, since there’s no need to maintain a consistent tone for the sake of dramatic congruity
This shot from Mai’s perspective looking at the ceiling is excellent. Weirdly enough, probably the closest we’ve gotten to her headspace in all the episodes so far. Makes sense that it’s in this segment, where all three girls are aligned in a single reaction
Jeez, the bug almost flying into Yuuko’s nose. Uncomfortably intimate, conveys their almost corpse-like presence, and strays pretty close to body horror. They are really leaning in to the tone of this sequence
And Mio’s drool extending the frame. What a neat visual trick this whole segment is
Oh god, the frame actually twisting and distorting as Mio’s mind drifts off. What the fuck
This gradient expressing their dulled eyes. Nichijou is pretty good at turning its incredibly simplified character designs into a strength. I’m sure we’re all intimately familiar with Scott McCloud’s discussions of how the simplicity of cartoon characters makes them more universally relatable, but Nichijou manages to draw a lot of specificity of feeling out of extremely few notable features
I guess they composed a song specifically for this sequence? It’s basically all synthy, atmospheric droning noises until it builds right along with their madness at the end
These Go-Soccer Club scenes again acting as a buffer between larger comedic bits. But there’s still small portions of narrative advancement going on here, and still purposeful framing – in this sequence, the two members of the club are basically crushed together in the corner of the frame, a somewhat disorienting way of conveying intimacy
Uh oh, Sakamoto has discovered he has a tail. No real extrapolation on previous versions of this gag, though – it’s still just “Sakamoto’s stern demeanor versus the fact that he is a friggin’ cat”
The Go-Soccer Club sequences are even more unjoke than most of them. The show is playing a very deadpan club romance against its other comedy beats
The professor being a kid and Sakamoto being a cat often get sequences all of their own
“You’re a robot, so you can’t get any cavities!” What a weirdly horrible thing to say
Oh man, the looking away really pays off in the second half of this sequence. Good setup and delivery
And that covers another one! The two main groups didn’t end up colliding in this episode, but that’s okay – we still got great sequences like that bizarre, extended elevator gag to carry us through. Nichijou’s gleeful willingness to stretch its genre boundaries, combined with its staggering aesthetic flexibility, are still finding new ways to impress. Nichijou ho!
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