Nichijou – Episode 17

And we’re back with more Nichijou! Last episode was a very important one, as it finally made the first dent in Nano’s anxious school experience. In spite of her hopes, Nano’s arrival at school has largely just been a source of frustration and anxiety for her, but Yuuko visiting her house will likely go a fair way in making her feel welcomed. Plus I’d just like to see Yuuko and her friends spend more time with the professor, who is good and important and needs all of the friends. Give your friends to the professor, Nano, don’t be greedy.

Anyway, enough preamble. Let’s open another day with some bright and shining NICHIJOU!!!

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School again. In fact, the opening shot here is almost identical to last episode’s opening, merely tilted instead of dead-on at the roof of the school. They apparently decided that’s pretty much the exact distance of establishing shot they’d like for setting up these immediate schoolroom openings

Yeah, the same one-two-three series – beginning outside, then a closeup on the classroom name, then a mid-distance shot of the room itself. Western works don’t tend to prioritize these pillow shots as much, but most of Kyoto Animation’s shows are very heavy on them. You might think they’re less necessary in a show constructed around gags like this, but as I’ve said, Nichijou works to establish its world and maintain its tone as hard as anything, it just organizes its material differently

In Yuuko’s mind, Mai is just a really deadpan joker, and the two of them have a consistent comedy routine. It works nicely for Yuuko’s personality, but it’s also just kinda how high school relationships work – you don’t have that much in common with these people, and so you’re always translating across different worldviews and framing their words in your world

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Oh my god, Yuuko’s already bragging about mastering the coffee system that was terrifying her last episode. Yuuko plz

This sequence moves very slowly, and is guided largely by the unique direction. I like the choice of that long cut close up on Mai, where we’re too close to see her doing anything but hopping up and down, emphasizing the absurdity of her shoes

And then we get a very routine segment at the Shinonome lab. It does seem like some normalcy has been returned here post-Yuuko visit. Nano had recently just been spending these segments fretting about her key, but now she’s back to worrying about dinner and whatnot

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That is a very loose interpretation of what a crow looks like

The art design for this sequence feels even more angular and minimalist than usual. Sakamoto still acting just like a cat, though

Watching this triangle-crow thoughtfully listen to Sakamoto meowing his complaints feels like the essence of Nichijou. They sure picked a perfect voice actor for the crow

Today’s interstitial is a tree in a field at night! They’d actually been holding off on those recently, and it’s nice to see them return. It seems like the show in general really did hit an intentional tonal turning point with last episode’s final skit, and now it’s reestablishing the comfortable mood that existed before Nano went to school

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Watching this along with Haruhi makes it hard not to think of this crow as Koizumi

Some fundamental similarities between this concept and the goat kid, who also undercuts his tonal formality with absurd details. Nichijou likes creating sharp contrasts between character personalities and their appearances

I don’t know why this window washer slowly hovering down adds so much to this absurd gag, but it really does

A Nichijou classic – giving the most dramatic of all possible framings to the most mundane of all possible situations. This one’s aping the style of a silent film, meaning the background music specifically compliments the shifts of the drama, and all of the characters’ intentions are clear in their physical motions

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I’m happy to see we’ve officially jumped to Nano being a part of the gang, who just hangs out with them on days off

Oh my god, Mai messing with the cat through the house of cards. Mai why must you be Mai

This sequence has gone through half a dozen alternate modes of depicting these characters, all of which make clear emotional sense

This is basically a lost segment of Fantasia. I wonder how they specifically commissioned this piece of music to match the dramatic beats of the visuals

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Christ, what an ostentatiously impressive segment. Visual comedy condensed to its essence here

The science teacher actually feels a lot more welcome now that Nano’s school experience isn’t largely defined by her fear of being discovered. Now this can be an occasional running gag, as opposed to something that just emphasizes her already overwhelming insecurity

And the interstitial again used for pacing and comedy reasons – both cutting off the teacher and allowing for the sense of time passing within the gag

The mohawk makes for a strong visual joke here

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NO FUUUTUUREEEE

I’m glad everyone else in the world agrees Go-Soccer is actually a thing that exists

These Mr. Takasaki bits are so great. Ribbons’ gag was well worth a revisit

I really love the timing of the cut out of this sequence. “Teacher, it’s this way” is standard, but holding on the shot as his dramatic run-in-place slowly shifts in direction just a bit really underlines the absurdity of the scenario. Those subtle alterations of standard comedic timing can add up to much punchier or off-kilter jokes

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Nichijou emphasizing the discord of its character designs with Mai in the background. The crow from earlier is still a triangle, but the two crows perched on her are actually drawn in a fairly realistic style. Even the visual assumptions eventually come fodder for quick gags

This show is so interested in the craft of comedy and so gorgeously executed. It’s still baffling to me that it exists – it basically sets an unreachable standard for comedy animation

Another sequence with very, very distinctive direction and character art. We rarely see the school from the front like this, and rarely get these kinds of shots of Yuuko

And now these morphing thoughts of her relationship with Mai. Even for Nichijou, this is a very ambitious and beautiful episode

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I think Yuuko’s hair is actually longer this episode?

Yeah, Yuuko’s expression work is very distinct here, too. Lots of her usual body language, but the show is giving her more detailed facial expressions as well

Yuuko doing her damnedest not to be the tsukkomi for some reason. Do your best, Yuuko!

Some more continuity with the girls mentioning that the science teacher collapsed “again.” The science teacher is still doing more nonsense even when we’re not there to see it

I’ve never really understood manzai comedy, but if calling out the boke can make you as orgasmically happy as Yuuko is here, apparently there must be something to it

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AND WE’RE DONE! That was a phenomenal episode, possibly the best one this show has seen since the first half. With Nano’s identity drama largely taken care of, the show was free to lean back into its old strengths, with the added warmth of Nano actually enjoying her daily life now. On top of that, this episode’s direction and longer gags were at their most creative, with the show branching out into new genres and new styles of storytelling. At seventeen episodes in, Nichijou is still finding new ways to be wonderful. This is a magical show.

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3 thoughts on “Nichijou – Episode 17

  1. Ah, that scene with the card tower. I was really awaiting it. Truly one of the show’s high point.

    Some little details about the crow. He’s voiced by Daisuke Ono (who is indeed Koizumi’s VA). Sakamoto is voiced by Shiraishi Minoru.
    That’s actually a reference to Lucky Channel were DaisukeOno also took Minoru’s place.

  2. I think composers have been writing music to match animation for as long as animation has been around, it’s called Mickey Mousing after the Mick’s early early cartoons. It’s definitely far more used in classic American animation, and I bet the whole house of cards sequence was a experiment to bring that sort of pre-war style into the Nichijou experience.

  3. The sheer variety of situations people are in while they’re reacting to Yuuko’s scream, and the quality of the panning animation was brilliant.

    Also I gotta love the fact that Nano is immune to a trap that was set to catch her.

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