Nichijou – Episode 12

Hello and welcome to another episode of Nichijou! We’re nearing the halfway point of the series, which means it may be time for some of the show’s greatest secrets to be revealed. Will Mai tell her friends about the event that keeps her up at night? Will the professor break the terrible news to Nano and Sakamoto? Will the red light-green light pair finally settle their differences and find happiness?

Yeah, I don’t expect anything like any of that to happen. Let’s watch some goddamn jokes.

Nichijou

This episode opens with a suburban, sunlit street and the sound of cicadas, and just as I’m about to pause and talk about how those aesthetic choices have become clear shorthand for conveying a hot summer day, the words “Summer Heat” actually appear on screen. Damnit Nichijou

A very, very strange tonal segment. Joyful orchestral music is contrasted against a very mundane conversation between Mohawk and his new friend Afro, but the camera just will not stop focusing on Afro’s hair. It’s visually used as an indicator for Mohawk’s aggravation with his friend, as Afro just refuses to stop talking about how hot it is. And the afro does indeed serve the same purpose visually – it’s basically steaming with heat, acting as an ostentatious reminder of the weather. This sequence largely just puts us in Mohawk’s headspace, another strange little tone-focused vignette without an immediate punchline

Nichijou

And we jump to Yuuko, who’s actually enjoying the bright summer morning. Once again, the show uses a subtle transition here to emphasize the continuity of the universe – as Yuuko enters the classroom, Mohawk and Afro are sitting right there, the first two people she passes. It’s a really terrific way to give an almost subconscious sense of holism to a show that’s largely constructed out of unrelated gags

Nice visual tricks to set this segment of Yuuko’s “shimmering morning” apart. The general lighter hue of the overall color scheme, as well as that over-the-top edge of sunlight over to the windows’ side

And of course it’s just about her actually doing her homework. Yuuko can’t just feel relieved or contented about getting her work done – she has to do that smug laugh, and then brag to Mio. Yuuko gotta Yuuko

Nichijou

This unexpected choice lets Yuuko finally enjoy the distinct pleasure of having done your homework, but forgotten to bring it to school. And so of course we get the most exuberant possible effects animation as she goes through the torment of not finding it, and then a second shock of blue despair as she realizes she can’t even copy from Mio. Nichijou is basically the only anime ever that could make these jokes work, because KyoAni are the only studio who not only could afford to give such glorious visual execution to such simple gags, but also sell them in terms in comedic timing

The music is like 85% of this joke. This urgent, ominous piano melody, the kind of thing you’d hear in a scene where the detectives are just about to discover the body in the killer’s apartment. This episode’s going heavy on sound design

And now the characters are leaning into that genre affectation, with Mio’s “you’ll never make it in time!”

Nichijou

Another ambitious visual punchline, as the camera pulls back from first Mio, and then Yuuko in front of her, to ultimately include the teacher’s arm in the frame. The traditional anime solution here would to be to just cut to a shot that includes all three of them, but this sequence’s genre style is better served by the slow-rolled dramatic reveal, and that necessitates a very difficult animation feat

The summer heat seems to be another way this episode is linking disparate sequences – it’s basically the first thing we notice about this professor sequence

The show continues to get tremendous mileage out of the adorable ways the professor does basically everything

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Yuuko unsurprisingly blames God for her inability to do her damn homework

The background disappears entirely as this random dog approaches Yuuko, focusing our attention and removing the sequence from the mundane setting of the school

Oh dang, it’s been a while since we’ve seen Explosions and Farm Boy

These sequences are pretty much the only Nichijou gags that require any dedicated anime knowledge, in that they rely on our existing assumptions of how tsundere love interests express their love. And it’s a pretty simple riff on that – the joke is exaggeration, and its landing is once again reliant on timing and specificity of violence. Here, the sequence entirely relies on that one cut of Farm Boy being gunned down in a surprisingly frank hail of bullets, a tonal jump from the standard genre setup

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Today’s interstitial is a tennis court! I appreciate the slight shaking of the focus, which emphasizes the idea that this is just a camera set up and left to its own devices

Ribbons again!

Her sequence is once again dominated by very heavy internal voice

And of course the shooting gallery only has caramels and eggplants. It seems like Ribbons lives in a pretty consistent world of public attractions that turn out to be ridiculous and also terrible

The caramel and eggplants are glued down. Nichijou is fond of using that desaturation effect for emphasis – faces often shift to grayscale, and here it’s used to indicate the impact of the cork bullet

Nichijou

Will I ever get tired of that long held shot on Mai reading before the other two pop up for “things we think are cool”

ANOTHER ONE

Yuuko and Mio at an old amusement park

Another bit of in-episode congruity – this time in dramatic form, as Mio searching for Yuuko’s wallet mirrors Yuuko’s search for her homework at the beginning

And then we get this really nice quasi-match cut, as the pillars of the roller coaster behind Mio fade into the black lines representing her anxiety

Nichijou

This segment is fantastic. Love the shift to sepia to represent Yuuko’s mood – it’s a great fit for that sensation of being on the edge of despair, but just waiting for the hammer to fall

And then when she learns someone took her money, the distant between them is emphasized through this announcement of a lost child. When you’re not speaking with someone, all other sounds tend to naturally occupy the awkward space between you

Oh my god, the teacher found someone as nervous as her, this is terrible. And also great iteration on her fundamental joke

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The three girls at a restaurant. Some subtle directional tricks of perspective here, as the camera follows Mio and Yuuko as they lean in to examine what Mai’s doing

The professor made a key for her own back, because that is definitely the problem Nano wanted solved

And of course she immediately knocks it into everything. Very sharp cuts here

“I was saving that!” Such a great child reaction to someone else eating some of your snacks

Nichijou

We seem to have lost the egg-headed guys jumping rope now that the egg head was actually introduced as an in-show variable. Instead we have these little sun objects that slowly emerge from their bag across many interludes

“Killing Time.” This sequence is very much the teenage experience – lounging in a restaurant, staring vaguely out the window, thinking up meaningless games and then getting in meaningless arguments because you’ve got nothing to say or do

And we return to the summer mood for the last two sequences, as both the professor and Yuuko end on sleepy moments. Concluding with the reveal that those stained glass windows from the Yuuko gag a while back are actually part of the consistent classroom now

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AND THAT IS THAT. This was a very comfy episode of Nichijou, defined more by strong and consistent tricks of atmosphere than truly outrageous gags. And that’s perfectly fine! One of the great strengths of Nichijou is that it actually works just as well as a slice of life as it does as a comedy, in spite of its world being so very silly. The show works hard to make its world a real place, and I’m consistently impressed by the subtlety of its smaller tricks. UNTIL NEXT TIME!

This article was made possible by reader support. Thank you all for all that you do.

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