The Niching Hour has returned again. See, it’s like the Witching Hour, but for Nichijou. Look, you don’t pay me for great puns, you pay me to say “WHAAAAA YUUKO NOOOO.” And I take that responsibility very seriously!
Anyway, yes, it is time for Nichijou. I’ve only got five precious episodes left, but I’m honestly feeling more at peace with that than I did before – after all, Nichijou seems like one of the most rewatchable comedies imaginable. Comedy in general relies heavily on the element of surprise, but Nichijou’s comic fundamentals are so strong that I’ll certainly still enjoy it even knowing where skits are going. Just need to pace myself!
But for now, let’s savor one more episode fresh out of the oven. Adjust your collars, fluff your pillows, and sit back for one more NICHIJOU.
Starting this week’s episode on the God Damn Moon. Screw establishing tone or a sense of place, WE’RE GOING TO THE MOON
A photorealistic style for this satellite. Though that’s kinda misleading – while the linework is photorealistic, the shading is actually very simplistic, giving it more of a crisp, almost American comic book style compared to Nichijou’s generally soft pastels. These choices give the overall composition a specifically “sharp” tone, likely to be undercut in moments
In contrast with the sharply depicted scientific instruments, the images of ghosts and other spirits are conveyed in the most simplistic possible doodles, conveying the narrator’s disgust with their wishy-washy, improbably nature. His philosophy of “science = realism = solidity = good” is conveyed through the underlying visual style with which he considers elements of his universe
Oh hey, it’s Mohawk
“I don’t believe in ghosts!” That non-punchline is accompanied by a Ikuhara/Shinbo/Dezaki-esque black-red composition
The show hasn’t used its cold opens to purely set the stage for a side character this way before. I wonder if it’s Mohawk’s turn to get a cast upgrade
Yep! The episode proper continues Mohawk’s story. That was actually a conventional hook
“I’ll pretend an evil spirit is possessing me while I look for contradictions.” Goddamnit, Mohawk is an internet atheist
But of course, the priest only has perfectly logical advice for his silly questions. Sorry Mohawk, this is Nichijou
It seems that like how Ribbons’ main skit talent is going “EHHHHHH” as things get progressively more absurd around her, Mohawk is the guy who gets in ridiculous battles of wits over the supernatural. It’s a very specific gig, but somebody’s gotta do it
Mohawk acting out his “possession” is deliberately choppy and unconvincingly animated, using limited animation to convey how bad his acting is
Another great use of shading – conveying the intensity of Mohawk’s actions. Animation is able to so loosely and diversely represent reality that pretty much any representational choice you make is one of countless possible choices, and will result in specific tonal consequences. JoJo wouldn’t be nearly as effective of a show if it had “generic light novel adaptation” character designs, and Nichijou’s gags wouldn’t be as strong if it didn’t default to such a flat and animation-friendly style. Nichijou’s default being so simplified in terms of character art, color, and shading means it’s more able to signify strong emotive cues by shifting any of those choices
And like many Nichijou skits, this one sort of rambles in one vague direction until it seems to become a different skit entirely, a random duel between Mohawk and the priest
Two full chapters in a row, both starring side characters. This time we’ve got Mio’s sister
And it’s Tsundere’s sister, who I guess is now Twintails. My naming scheme is bulletproof
Today’s interstitial is an elevator, and it’s instantly being used in one of Nichijou’s favorite ways: to create the sense of time passing within a single skit without either pulling away or formally declaring that within the skit itself
Right, the two of them both practice kendo. These two have more of a running narrative than anyone except Nano and the professor
Twintails is struggling with a very relatable frustration: having all of her hard practice feel useless, because Mio’s sister is a natural genius who wins without practicing
And another relatable concept, this time for a Love-Like – not being able to move the sleeping cat off your bed to get under the covers. Even the animation of this woman trying to get under the covers is imbued with a sense of realism. If each Nichijou episode is a cooking meal that gets new ingredients over time, they’re really pouring a lot of the Grounding salt on right at the start
I like the mild absurdism of Mohawk’s dad giving him precisely one balloon to hand out to any kids who walk by. Advertising!
“This balloon doesn’t float!” And again, the punchline is as low-key as possible. This Nichijou is extremely heavy on self-justifying character scenes and uncomedy – deadpan is the rule
Incidentally, I’ll often criticize comedies as just being “loud,” but being loud isn’t really a value-relevant judgment. There are good loud comedies and good quiet comedies, it’s just that volume is often framed as if it’s all that’s necessary to create comedy. Characters screaming at each other isn’t by itself any funnier than characters not screaming at each other, and far more likely to be abrasive when the actual jokes being employed don’t land
This episode is also messing with that little sun ornament that often appears in the interstitials, this time complicating its nature by having its little petals burst or melt or whatnot. Like the dumpling men jumping rope, it’s just tiny variations on a theme creating more threads of investment
A Christmas short! So we’ve finished our journey through autumn and are on into winter
Oh no, the professor being greedy and hogging all the present wishes. Please be kind to Nano, professor
“I’ll even let you borrow this.” Is there anything in media more pure and good than the professor giving Nano her Santa hat
Oh my god this Helvetica Standard just ends in a boy crying in front of Santa what the fuck is up with this Nichijou. Did Nichijou forget to take its meds this week, is this some kind of depressive episode
And this long ending shot of the reindeer up on the roof. This episode’s more black comedy than most, but it’s still relying on classic Nichijou instruments – here, the sharp disconnect in tone and presentation between the carefully articulated crying boy’s face and this barely-drawn reindeer lump make for a somewhat humorous disconnect. This doesn’t really lessen the sting of the gag, though – it’s like a clown falling through a manhole cover and dying
More weird styles of inter-skit continuity – there’s no meaningful link between this bit with Mohawk and the next one, but we jump from a focus on the dumpling mask to a meat bun falling on the ground
I like this group’s version of Yuuko. She’s similarly hair-brained, but her silliness expresses itself more through upbeat behavior than mad confidence and deviousness. It’s clear she’s a less versatile character, but I appreciate having a character who’d try to eat dirty ice cream off the ground
Another interesting bit of congruity – bicycles running through scenes and ruining the plans of their active characters. This one’s a more conventional running joke, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends in a ridiculous reversal for the third one
Instead of giving us a million retakes of the slapstick conclusion like last episode, here it’s given the most understated possible delivery, a long shot of not-Yuuko falling in the ice cream with very mild sound effects. The followup is also very grounded, following that action to its realistic “how bad was it?” conclusion. This episode’s embrace of almost cruel deadpan continues
The elevator is now carrying the woman who was trying to get in bed around the cat
“What will you do after graduation?” We’re nearing the end of their second year. Time really is passing by!
Tsundere is still pretty great. I appreciate that she can construct a tsundere conversation all by herself, with essentially no prompting
The image of the professor just idly dragging Sakamoto behind her is wonderful. The concept is made even better by the fact that Sakamoto is a talking and totally sentient animal, who clearly doesn’t need a friggin’ leash
Sakamoto and the professor being afraid of dogs is also good. Some wonderful loose designs here, with the characters becoming their blobbiest in their fear. Sakamoto literally melting a bit
“Yuuko, you have to defeat the dogs!” God I love these two
Oh my god, it’s like the episode was holding back the whole time solely to make this dog skit land even more impactfully. The animation of Yuuko getting bit is incredible
“I got some chocolate, and the dogs are gone.” Great work, professor. You really did it this time
Oh my god, the buddy dogs are coming. What a great use of one of the show’s smaller established gags
Why is The Dog Who Lends A Sympathetic Paw such an inherently great concept
That was a pretty tonally unique episode for the most part, sticking in a very subdued deadpan right up until that final, exuberant scene. That tonal balance makes me wonder if you can really isolate Nichijou skits at all – that dog skit basically had to be the finale to an episode, but would it be such an all-timer if it didn’t come at the end of an episode specifically designed to set it up? Truly the mysteries of Nichijou are vast and unfathomable. Also dogs are funny. UNTIL NEXT TIME!
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