And we’re back with more Nichijou! Last episode was a bit of a low ebb for the series – having to manage integrating Nano into the regular life of the other leads made for a somewhat uneven episode, light on jokes and awkwardly narrative-driven. Nichijou can certainly handle more sentimental material, but the demands of that episode’s structural transition were definitely felt in a variety of awkward ways. Fortunately, I assume the show will return to a stronger balance moving forward, now that Nano is already a member of the class. So let’s dispense with the doom and gloom and get right into more NICHIJOU!
Starting off right at the school this time, somewhat predictably. We’ve still got more transition work to do, and so it makes sense that the show would want to establish a baseline of Nano integrating into the classroom
And it starts off with Yuuko and Mio discussing Nano, also somewhat predictably. The show definitely isn’t dragging out the emotional/dramatic needs of this transition period
Mio scolding Yuuko for believing Nano is a robot is a nice play on their character types. In a normal show, Mio would be the standard straight man to Yuuko’s ridiculous shenanigans – but since this is the Nichijou world, Yuuko’s wild tangents are often right, and so she’s stuck being mocked in a world that really is as weird as she says it is
And of course they’re both kind of right. Mio is being as condescending as ever, but Yuuko’s fundamental reasoning for thinking Nano is a robot is “it’s awesome!” Yuuko is not very good at selling her worldview
“I’ve got a plan!” More narrative continuity. This cold open didn’t even really have a joke, outside of the fundamental humor of Mio and Yuuko’s friendship
Both Nichijou OP songs are very reflective of the show itself – manic, discordant melodies expressing exuberant feelings about everyday friendships
Yuuko’s devious plan is to make Nano calculate numbers like a robot. Unfortunately, Yuuko’s incredibly terrible plan is foiled by the fact that the professor made an incredibly useless robot. An excellent joke based in the audience’s existing understanding of these characters – the show can use a tool like “the professor’s design sensibilities” as a given now, since those design sensibilities were a running joke in the show’s first half
That’s one way that long-running comedies get more satisfying and endearing over time – they establish a consistent language of in-world comic expectations, an internal language, and thus their later jokes can riff on their own language in the same way general-purpose jokes riff on our cultural or dramatic expectations. This also unfortunately means ambitious, long-running comedies have a tendency to be less approachable, since they rely on an audience who’s already been taught all their own assumptions. This is partially what killed Arrested Development during its first run – the show was always keen on creating and abusing an internal language, and by the third season it was largely speaking in a comic language that only existing fans would even understand
Nice visual gag with the “caught her, lost her” metaphor. Nichijou always taking that extra visual step
I like that their scoreboards from the sight gag are still in their hands when we return to the real world
Alright, we’re back to the usual interstitials. A statue this time
“Who would refrain from announcing her and send her to this school instead?” Look lady, you live in Nichijou. Also, here’s one of those OP characters being introduced – the science teacher I assume, here to give Nano more dramatic grief at school
A standard gag of understatement – we know exactly where this “I’ll tranquilize her” gag is going, and so the show essentially fast-forwards through the punchline to get to other characters commenting on Professor Nakamura fainting an awful lot. Apparently Nakamura runs into lots of robots on the job
Nano sees some kids playing with a toy robot and feels self-conscious. This show has ratcheted up the character work and doesn’t seem to be backing down
The professor at her tiny little desk
“I’m sure it’ll be popular.” The professor speaking for the key audience demographics. The key is cute
“I just want to have an ordinary…” The key is also critical. This big, silly, obtrusive example of the things that keep us from being normal, but also make us endearing
I feel like the show set up this room where the two of them are positioned so far apart purely for the sake of this wild twisting perspective shot
Some old dudes just admiring the hell out of that statue, purely so the show can justify a third and then fourth slapstick punchline of Nano gunning down the professor
Looks like the show may be setting up a new series of eyecatch interstitials with this little crocodile creature. Those eyecatches provided more of a “narrative” than almost anything else in the first season, so I’ll be interested in seeing where they go with them now that the show itself is so much more narrative-focused
The rice cake men are back!
Interesting seeing Nichijou use KyoAni’s usual soft focus only for its title breaks and interstitials. The show proper intentionally relies on a very flat visual style, keeping solid objects in single hues and using minimal shading wherever possible. It’s a very specific balance between the elements of its world it wants to present as grounded and the elements it presents as inherently cartoonish
“I’ll use this to knock her out, and then I’ll kidnap her.” I question Professor Nakamura’s dedication to the wellfare of her students
“How would a china dress make her look disheveled?” You tell me man
So it looks like the nervous teacher has a brother as a student, and she can actually talk to him like a normal person. Another bit of humanizing for a one-note character
“Nakanojo fainted in the science room!” And more continuity. Using all these bit part characters for the everyday school events kinda reminds me of something like Community – you don’t need to give these characters tragic backstories or character arcs to humanize them, you just have to keep demonstrating they’re all living their everyday lives in between their dedicated skits
“But his pupils aren’t visible!” “Draw them in!” Oh my god this entire school of terrible teachers
And this also acts as a riff on Ribbons’ general material, since she’s now infected the teacher with her “EHHHH?????”
Oh no the tiny crocodile thing has fallen over
New replacement for Nano and the professor’s rock-paper-scissors!
Yet another new character, the baseball manager, who’s introduced with an endearing little romance vignette. This episode is still introducing a lot of material, but it feels more graceful because it’s done in classic Nichijou fashion – as a series of tiny non-sequiturs integrated into the middle of longer gag sequences. It’s kind of funny that in the specific dramatic context Nichijou has created, introducing characters through non-sequiturs that don’t explain anything at all actually feels a lot more natural than lengthy narrative sequences which develop new relationships one step at a time
Someone stole Yuuko’s chance to press the Request Stop button. The show is very good at getting the audience in Yuuko’s head specifically; Mio sequences tend to demand internal monologue, since her feelings and anxieties are more complicated, but Yuuko’s feelings are generally simple enough that they can be conveyed purely through visual storytelling
And so Yuuko tears through a calendar to make up for missing the chance to push the button. A weird but legitimately understandable sentiment – we all want our chances to perform those tiny, satisfying physical actions. This is essentially like a Lucky Star anecdote, except constructed as a tangible physical gag instead of a boring story related by characters you hate
I like that the little birds flying around Nano’s head are still in that weird minimalist style the show sometimes uses
This sequence is weirldy broad for Nichijou? Silly puns and Nano flipping upside down in reaction. Not really sure where they’re going with it, since Nichijou is generally far more clever than that
Oh my god, the professor actually gave her a comic overreaction function. Fuck you professor, and I’m sorry I doubted you Nichijou
Nano is going to die of comic overreactions
And there goes another one! Nichijou seemed to be finding its footing again this episode, and setting up a variety of tonal blocks to mess with as the second half proceeds. Not all the sequences here were inherently great, but I could see the work they were doing – in contrast with the first season’s seemingly random choices, the show has now established a variety of multi-episode comic formulas. I’m eager to see where they wander off to down the line!
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