Nichijou – Episode 19

It’s time for more NICHIJOU!!! I was briefly worried earlier because I thought we might be approaching the end of the series, but then I realized it’s twenty-six episodes instead of twenty-two, and my emotional stability was regained. I may fall into a bleak and inescapable depression when I run out of Nichijou, but that’s still a whole half-dozen episodes from now! Either way, let’s enjoy this summer of anime comedy richness while we can, reveling in this show’s inexplicable existence. NICHIJOU GO.

Opening with… fireworks this time? Something new and unusual

Oh my god Helvetica Standard what is your deal

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Oh man, I love this new visual style. Its dot shading and bold primary colors make it look like an American superhero comic, or like pop art

It’s funny how in a show that’s basically predicated on continuous mad visual invention, Helvetica Standard exists as a mode for the show to go even more wild, embracing wholly distinct visual and comic styles

And of course there’s no punchline. Why would Helvetica Standard indulge in pointless frivolities like punchlines? It’s uncomedy, fuck you

And now we’ve got a more conventional Nichijou introduction, featuring the usual pillow shots to guide us into the tone of the episode. This time we’ve got a rainy day, possibly heralding a more pensive or deadpan episode to come

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Tsundere waiting at the bus stop with two of her friends. Nichijou has a very weird idea of character development, but it certainly exists – characters that were basically just one consistent gag for some period of time will eventually have their broader lives explored, humanizing them in spite of their silliness. Giving humanity to absurd character templates is another of the ways Nichijou manages its tones, allowing for ungrounded silliness to coexist with tender character moments

“Domestic violence.” This show certainly presents its own unique critical challenges

Tsundere is basically being set up as a parallel for one of the main three here, in her own group of three quirky friends. Her quirks aren’t actually relevant to the gag – in fact, her behavior exactly mirrors that of the third friend, who is equally nonplussed with their goofy friend’s antics. But having Tsundere be irrelevant here is actually a smart choice, because it gives her a sense of normalcy and complexity outside of her main gag. Simply having the background characters of one skit be the lead characters of another skit helps to both enhance the sense of a contiguous world and also give those background characters more texture than their main gags allow

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This quirky girl wants to be unusual, but in this world, no one bats an eye at a man in a giant rice cake mask running screaming through the rain

Today’s interstitial is a weird one – a heavily fisheye shot of trees in an open square. The fisheye lens contradicts the sense of comfortable mundanity you usually get from these interstitials, making it less effective at its usual tonal purpose. Wonder if that says something about the tone of the actual skits here – if they’re largely as low-key as this first one in the rain, the episode won’t necessarily need comfy interstitial shots to space them out with

Incidentally, I talk about it a lot, but it really can’t be understated how much this show’s management of its various tones contribute to its success. Many anime comedies fail in large part because they’re manic and shrill and consistently those things – they never turn off, they’re always in your face at all times. Human beings who aren’t being force-fed caffeine need more tonal modulation than that – too much of any one tone and things all start to blur together

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There is a new rice cake mascot, and he is a man in a giant cat mask

This newbie is doing his best!

Another joke that could only exist in the context of a Kyoto Animation or maybe Dogakobo show. Having a character play a fluid game of charades is not a task to be undertaken lightly!

I like that the generally manic rice cake salesman is actually the straight man for this gag, and that his extreme enthusiasm is counterbalanced by the newbie’s silence. It’s similar to the format of a lot of Mai/Yuuko gags, getting back to how that main trio is so perfectly balanced for this kind of comedy

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These Love-likes are cute. More genre-riffing than a lot of the Nichijou gags, since they’re all basically either plays on romantic comedy or romantic comedy played straight. This one cuts to the heart of most love polygon narratives

Oh man, this is a famous one. The high jump sketch!

Really tremendous buildup with Mio here, taking advantage of slow pacing and the usual consistent animation

I like the variety of angles they shoot this approach from

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And Mio jumps right the fuck under the bar

It’s a little unusual to have Yuuko teach Mio anything at all, but I suppose if Yuuko were competent in anything, it’d be gym class

This skit also demonstrates how good Nichijou is at balancing comedy and character. This is one of the more endearing moments for Yuuko, helping her friend learn to high jump

“But if I do nothing, nothing will change.” The classic line. This swelling ballad in the background is so perfect

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Hahaha this fucking sepia montage flashback. Once you’ve mastered genre tricks, you can just use them for pure comic evil like this

Goddamnit, I actually laughed out loud at her headbutting Yuuko in the gut. This show

And just like in all the Chariots of Fire-style genre nonsense this is riffing on, the finale is just a wordless sequence as the background ballad takes over the sound. Of course, in this case, it’s two girls headbutting each other and then collapsing on the ground

This joke is essentially the “ooh whatcha say” gag, which is a very solid joke

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The next sequence combines the children’s show lead-in with a sequence starring the three main girls. Again crossing the streams of its different techniques

Another very relatable situation – going to see exotic animals at the zoo, but being disappointed when they just lie there or you can’t even see them

Looks like another lazy day at the Shinonome lab

I feel like they’ve altered the texture of these rain drops a bit – these ones are thicker than those from the first skit

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An extremely professor sequence, where she’s so excited about putting on her special rain jacket and boots that the laundry gets soaked

I love the crack of thunder as we cut to the professor’s disaster

“Can’t we just sacrifice Sakamoto and everything will be okay?”

It is extremely in the professor’s character to prefer being sacrificed to missing dinner

Yuuko tends to get new expressions when she’s being smug, because she doesn’t get to be genuinely smug all that often

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Nice timing of the rain with the title card of this sequence. Nichijou’s skit-based structure allows it to play around with introductions like that

And it does seem like the rain is the binding factor of today’s skits, in keeping with Nichijou’s usual weird ways of establishing congruity. Pretty sure this is also a famous one

Extremely slow buildup to this gag. The sound of the rain is key here

The most deadpan of deadpan slapstick. It’s an unusual mix – slapstick is normally boisterous, but this skit basically lets the melancholy of the rain do all the talking. And it relies so, so heavily on the specific implications of that one nonplussed expression

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Interesting! A character coming up to the frame in the interstitial reveals that the “camera” is actually placed inside a vending machine, and part of the distortion of the frame is the glass cover. It’s an ostentatious choice that draws attention to the artificial nature of these sequences, and whether the camera actually exists

I appreciate how Go-Soccer just keeps getting more real and intense as the show continues

Really great piece of character acting here, as the Go-Soccer ace brushes sweat off his chin. It’s the classic “I’ve got this” motion for sports aces

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And now another great sports staple – the breathless commenter explaining the infinite complexity of the mindgames going on between the two competitors. Another riff on genre expectations, but a good one

“One of them might even die”

Speedwagon is losing his shit here

I like how the show uses just one standard cut here of Ogi running away, undercutting the seriousness of his self-image as presented through the other cuts

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AND WE ARE DONE! That was a very solid episode overall – I was frankly a little underwhelmed with the shrine gag, but the power of the high jump gag more than made up for it, and there were plenty of smaller treasures scattered throughout. Plus the professor getting into her coat and rain boots was adorable, and if the professor’s being adorable, a Nichijou episode can’t be all that bad. UNTIL NEXT TIME!

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3 thoughts on “Nichijou – Episode 19

  1. Aaaaaahhhh I was hoping you’d get more impact out of the shrine gag. It’s my favorite one of the entire show.

    It has everything. Yuuko being screwed over by the universe once again, the coin missing its mark (thanks to Mai) as a sign of bad fortune (and how that fulfills itself), the deadpan expressions (which are my thing), Mai getting dunked on in the pettiest way by the universe for once, the internal rhythm of the whole bell to floor to pillar to sign sequence, straight back to rain to establish what has changed from the beginning of the skit, its just, jesus christ, I never laughed so hard to anime prior to watching this for the first time.

    So color me a bit disappointed that this isn’t quite the universal laugh moment of Nichijou that I expected it to be. But since you’re immensely enjoying the show at an overall level anyways, this isn’t really a big issue.

  2. I’m not *sure*… but I think the (very subtle) punchline in the opening “megane megane megane” section was that the crazy dude was looking for his glasses, somehow blaming the other poor guy for their missing, and all that time they were actually on his head!

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