As of the time of this writing, I’m currently only funded through eight episodes of Nichijou. This is episode eleven. I do not give a fuck. Nichijou is fantastic, I will watch it whatever the consequences, this is the hill I will die on. If anyone is actually reading this now, that hopefully means the funding has actually reached this point. Don’t ask current me how much Nichijou he has watched since then. You will not like the answer.
Anyway, that’s enough preamble. LET’S GET RIGHT TO THESE NICHIJOUS.
Aw jeez, starting with Helvetica Standard? That screws up the whole system, Nichijou!
It actually does seem like a somewhat odd choice, since Helvetica Standard is generally one of the show’s buffering tools. It’s used to create a tonal changeup, basically the opposite of the neighborhood interstitials – while those promote a sense of normalcy and cohesion, Helvetica Standard adds a dash of absurdism and incoherence. It is really, really fascinating how Nichijou uses its disparate small sequences to create larger tonal narratives
This time we’ve got a bird and a tanuki who can’t pay rent. So it goes
The texture and bordering effects for Helvetica Standard are an interesting combo – they each make the overall picture look like a flat collection of cut paper objects. The texture in particular kinda promotes that effect by drawing our attention to the fabricated and continuous nature of the mise-en-scene. While sequences that are trying to draw you into the illusion of a scene’s reality would emphasize the distinctions between the objects and try to create a sense of depth, the unbroken texture of the backgrounds and character art here creates the opposite effect, lending the scene a more flat and unreal atmosphere
The very limited animation here amplifies that effect. I’d be interested in seeing a luxuriously animated Helvetica Standard, to see how and why they might undercut the interlude’s inherent style
Yuuko watching turtles on TV while eating a popsicle. Yuuko is extremely relatable
Yuuko has a very normal conversation with her mom about not studying for her exams. Yuuko’s pretty much the go-to character for these mundane high school problems – Mio is more “normal” than her, but Mio’s actually a diligent student, so she’s no good for reflecting on the foibles of youth
Today’s interstitial is a traffic light!
“I have ten hours until school starts!” That classic assumption that as long as you have one actual night, you basically have unlimited hours to study/practice/get that project done
And of course we immediately slip into a wild west revery. A very 80s visual style for this one
Once again using that shot of Mai in the corner against a massive blank canvas to convey a sense of her still headspace before Mio and Yuuko interrupt it
“Things we think are cool: a factory worker’s shy smile.” Sometimes it is very difficult to know what to say about this show
Yuuko gets through exactly one and a half flashcards before being distracted by her own nonsense again
A pretty grounded segment, all things considered – Yuuko trying to get another cold is treated pretty routinely by the execution
And then we get back to perfectly Nichijou material, with the mundane slow roll of the club guy talking about finding new members leading into the absurdist finale of him getting on a helicopter and telling his pilot to buy an apple orchard. There we go
So now an elderly teacher at home is getting a focus segment, where he basically just mopes around and connects sad events together. Some low-key incongruity in his bemoaning the poor fortunes of his website, but all in all this is another surprisingly conventional segment
“Surely happiness must taste like mud.” Possibly the most bizarre thing about this sequence was how consistently it stuck to its tone of grounded melancholy
And then we’re back to stupid madness with the waiter’s absurd painted nails
Opening this episode’s first Nano/professor sequence with Sakamoto trying to avoid the bright sun. Sakamoto’s natural cat instincts are another nice way the show can establish a certain kind of normalcy
Oh god, the professor made a giant tube of superglue. This is definitely a good idea that will end well for all parties
The timing on “who’d ever fall for such an obvious trap” is so good. Timing is always key to any kind of joke, but Nichijou constructs plenty of jokes that are just entirely based in classic assumptions and timing fundamentals
The visuals here really help too. The professor trying to move her labcoat-gown out of the glue, the cut back to Sakamoto now lying down, having resigned himself to his fate
“At this rate I might miss my snack. I might starve to death.” The professor’s still a believable kid even when she’s stuck in a giant glue trap next to her talking cat
Of course Nano gets stuck in the glue and immediately loses her hand
And then we get a totally joke-free sequence of Mio just happening to notice the people lining up across the road are accidentally constructing a rainbow. This is easily the most gentle episode of the show so far
“The Shinonome Laboratory has another peaceful day”
Nice understated superglue reprise. The professor’s obvious prank leads into her initial idea actually working, since now nobody’s expecting the glue
One of those sequences of warm pillow shots around the school that you get in nearly every Kyoto Animation show. The school was obviously a key character in K-On!, but the importance of setting a specific, tangible stage is clear in most of what they do. And even certain school features tend to feature heavily in these sequences, like the water faucets, stairways, and grassy annexes within the hallways
Yuuko hamming it up for the actual test, with an assist by the teacher’s wonderfully useless drawings. Another nice mix of relatable and absurd – the feeling of being stumped by a question not because you don’t know the answer, but because it’s worded extremely vaguely, contrasted against Yuuko’s behavior and the heightened nonsense of this complete non-question
Ooh, a totally new style. Flourid shoujo ornamentation for Yuuko being saved, angular cubist despair for her subsequent fall
And that’s another one! Honestly not the most impressed with this episode – it seemed to be intentionally keeping things low-key compared to the rest of them, but I don’t think that really resulted in enough of a tonal payoff. Fortunately, the glue sequence with the professor and Sakamoto was good enough that I can’t really complain. Even among weaker jokes, the professor is so damn charming that it’s hard not to like this show.
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