WHAT THE FUCK IS UP EVERYBODY IT’S TIME FOR NICHIJOU. We’re finally into the double digits now, and Nichijou shows no signs of slowing down. As before, I’m still holding out for whenever the show’s two main casts actually collide, but it’s not like Nichijou’s been running out of ideas or anything. This is a mad, mad world where basically anything can happen, and then I have to somehow try and turn that madness into formal craft critique. It’s a very stupid system we’ve created, but hey, that’s Nichijou. LET’S GET TO IT.
Starting at the shrine today, in a reprise of one of the show’s early cold opens. Once again, Mai subverts the rules of the simple children’s game they’re playing to arrive at a nonsensical conclusion – but this time, we actually just start with Mai breaking the assumptions of “red light, green light,” with basically no initial expectation of normalcy. Nichijou often relies on classic comedy structures (rule of three, the roles of the characters, etc), but it’s also very fond of messing with our structural assumptions. Here, the entire sequence is a long anticlimax, and the small sub-jokes are mainly just the successively more fatigued reactions of Yuuko and Mio
Yuuko and Mio also are generally at their most similar when they’re both contrasted against Mai together. Mai doesn’t feel like a real person – she’s heightened, a Nichijou character. Normally, Yuuko and Mio fall into the dynamic where Yuuko’s silliness is countered by Mio’s grounded personality, but when they’re both up against Mai, Mai’s abnormality dwarfs Yuuko’s own quirks, so Yuuko and Mio are able to act similarly in order to heighten the dramatic contrast
That there are three of them also kinda enables this kind of gag, too. Aligning any two of them creates a united front of normalcy/social expectations that the third can play against – you also see this in sequences where Mai and Mio are aligned and Yuuko is the odd man out, like when Yuuko was determined to win at arm wrestling, or she couldn’t get her friends to laugh at her dumb puns. That dynamic works because both Mai and Mio can fall into nonplussed, low-key reactions, whereas Mio and Yuuko can both get competitive or panicked or whatnot. I’d be interesting in seeing how the show would align Mai and Yuuko against Mio – or rather, I’m guessing it’s already happened, but I can’t think of the exact circumstances that prompted such an alliance
Another nice subjoke here is that Mio and Yuuko don’t complain about Mai screwing up the game, they just treat her actions as shocking but incredibly effective tactical choices
The consistency of that weird minimalist bird design – they were actually landing on the temple in the opening scene, and now they’re the walk/don’t walk light. Nichijou is perfectly comfortable utilizing both hyper-stylized birds and near-realistic birds, depending on what sort of focus the scene requires
“A double trap?!?” Yuuko’s generally the only one who carries jokes entirely through her internal voice – Mai is inscrutable and Mio mundane, so Yuuko’s the one who spins mania out of the smallest incidental situations. Like the sequence where she wondered why Mai wasn’t speaking to her
A dramatic watercolor image of Mount Mai. From Yuuko’s perspective, Mai is just “the one with a weird sense of humor”
This dramatic, repetitive orchestral track is fairly effective. Simultaneously echoes both the seriousness with which Yuuko’s addressing this situation and its ultimately mundane nature
“I’ll take an eraser to the face while grinning ear to ear.” Never does it cross her mind that she could just let the eraser fall without having it hit her. Yuuko respects stupid jokes
“That’s right, Yuuko! You must be a bright and cheerful clown!” I appreciate the mixture of truth and ego in Yuuko’s self-image
Oh my god, Yuuko’s reaction face. It’s like she’s trying to make a Dear Brother face while still being a Nichijou character
Looks like today’s interstitial is… the cafeteria?
Mai makes a bubble and eats it. Mai is handy for these surreal little transition sequences
“Why are you acting stupid?” Mio, why would you ask this of Yuuko. You know who Yuuko is
And this skit exists just so Yuuko can writhe on the ground after getting hit by a baseball. Some Nichijou gags kinda remind me of that early-season Family Guy (quiet, I know) gag where Peter just lies there gasping after getting his shin kicked for a good twenty seconds or so. It’s a nice combination of very basic slapstick and very structurally aware riffs on comedic timing
Who the hell gave Nano and the professor trumpets
Apparently Nano taught the professor to hold down all the valves so she doesn’t make any noise. Clever work, Nano
We finally get a viewpoint segment with Big Ribbons! And it’s as nonsensical as ever, as she gets badgered by a flowing noodles salesmen-lady in the park. Ribbons’ personality seems to fall somewhere between Mio and their stammering teacher, so she’ll probably be another one who just has terrible things happen to her
Half of this segment is just Ribbons saying “eehhhhh???” in response to successively more ridiculous noodle replacements. Brilliant. 10/10
But yeah, the one-upmanship and pacing of this segment are also major sells. Nothing is repeated, and both the lady’s language and actions all follow an insane internal logic
Ah good, the flowing noodle researcher has shown up. He’ll sort things out
“It’s been thirty years since you left in search of the perfect flowing noodles.” Of course this sequence would end with the reunion of star-crossed noodle lovers. That is definitely where this was always going
I can’t believe they brought that character back just so she could stare in alarm and disbelief at everything happening around her. What a great segment.
Instead of looping around to a punchline that plays off the initial assumptions, the segment just keeps getting weirder and weirder, until it arrives somewhere totally incomprehensible
And now suddenly we’re at NASA watching a shuttle launch, complete with heavy filters and shadows. Another genre, yet again
The professor getting a big head about being called mature with her new ponytail. “I’ll have to clean this up for you.” The professor really is a very believable kid, even if her circumstances outside of being a child don’t make the slightest bit of sense
Condescending professor is really good
“Did you know that mature people don’t eat snacks?” God this show is so good. It’s like the larger absurdist comedy that is Nichijou just has a smaller version of Yotsuba hiding inside it. What a remarkable set of endearing resources
Mai reading her book against a totally white background. The blank background emphasizes Mai’s persona – you have nothing to focus on but her, and she is an unreadable wall
Huh. A random greyscale shot of a bowling alley. It’s not any more or less weird than Nichijou’s other transition concepts, but it’s certainly a new one
“I don’t want to do my homework!” Yuuko again. There’s just enough grounded relatability in these various premises for them to hold together, and not just be a Tim and Eric-style theater of the absurd. Not that Tim and Eric don’t employ strong craft fundamentals too, and obviously the two shows have a fair amount in common – both of them are collections of gags with a handful of recurring characters, and both of them rely heavily on absurdism, visual creativity, and playing with our assumptions about comedic structure
“How will the stuff I’m studying now help me in the future, anyway?” These are such common thoughts that they make me suspicious about where this sketch is going
“When I grow up, I wanna be a frill-necked lizard.”
Yuuko’s new teenager dream is to become a living national treasure, and not have to do a damn thing. Rock on, Yuuko
I am once again impressed by how much Yuuko’s voice actor throws at the wall for this performance
And that covers another one! That flowing noodle sketch might be one of the best things this series has done yet, and the professor trying to be a mature member of society was great in an entirely different way. At ten episodes in, Nichijou is still full of new treasures.
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