Nichijou – Episode 26

And here we are. The final episode of Nichijou. It’s been a terrific ride, and as often happens near the end of a great show, I’m actually feeling pretty alright about its ending. I certainly complained enough in the intros leading up to this one, but at this point, I’m just happy to know the show ends strong, and truly is an unmatchable comedy from start to finish. Nichijou is a unique kind of masterpiece, demonstrating an understanding of comedic timing and creativity of both conception and execution that puts it in a class of its own. Sometimes anime is good.

Alright, let’s get right to this.

Episode 26

Opening with a short anecdote, “Birthday.” Another indicator of the passage of time – judging by the weather, it seems like the show may finally have completed a full year cycle. The second year of high school for our leads, which is a uniquely appropriate time for a show like this. The first year involves a lot of becoming familiar with high school, while the third year is dominated by exams and thoughts of the future. But in the second year, you can briefly feel like time is standing still, and this is a stable moment. The moment that signifies “youth” with no indicators of time passing only lasts for a single year

It’s Nano’s birthday, of course. Mining the inherent comedy in a birthday for a robot. Did Yuuko just decide today was Nano’s birthday?

Oh. That’s actually, literally what she did

“Let’s celebrate the professor’s birthday too.” Once again, Mai’s relationship with the professor is basically the first human part of her character. She’s almost never actively contributed to a conversation with a straightforward request like this – she’s mostly been a strange emotional wall the other characters bounce off. Nice to see she’s found a friend

I really like how they choose to have a single frame of Yuuko just slide over to the door. The minimalism works with the one-two nature of this essentially manzai setup. Lots of Nichijou gags succeed through their gratuitously beautiful execution, but the show understands that adding lots of visual variables can actually lessen the punch of plenty of gags, by dividing the audience’s focus

Jeez, Yuuko already giving Mio grief about the Sasahara incident. Yuuko is brutal

Some great Yuuko faces here, though

Ah, spring. When a young girl’s… hopes of not having a key on her back… turn to… not really sure where this is going

Once again, some great music accompaniment for the high key drama

The professor’s aimless, upset movements here are so good. They instill so much personality in these characters fretting over each other

And her style of “kindness” here is so perfect for a kid. The professor is selfish in the way a kid is selfish – she doesn’t think about the needs of others, but when a person she cares about is crying, it makes her sad too and she wants it to stop. But her behavior is also dictated by meaningless kid-like assumptions like “Nano needs to have a key, just because.” And Nano accepts the professor’s childish dictates in spite of also sort of being her mom, making for a very uniquely funny relationship

The principal and vice-principal get a rivalry introduced in the last friggin’ episode. I wonder if we’ll get even more jokes based on assuming a future continuity that won’t ever be fulfilled

“Go Soccer Club, Part 8.” Once again, we’ve tonally slipped into a different genre. The school adopts cool blues and purples, striking the tone of a rainy, quiet morning. A fair number of establishing shots as well, amplifying the sense of peace, as well as the expectation of consequential drama to come

I love how much emotion they’re drawing out of Sekiguchi’s minimalist visual design

The high school B team are attempting to troll the A team?

This episode feels heavily animated even by Nichijou’s standards. No major standout sequences yet, but pretty much constant shifting expression work

Oh my god this random cut to nervous ants beneath Mio’s foot. Bless this show

A lot of comedy can be broken down into clear craft, cause-and-effect relationships. And then there’s “what if we put some ants here lol”

Yuuko, savior of ants

Yuuko accidentally sparks a Meet Cute between Tsundere and Sasahara. Goddamnit Yuuko

I mean, those are the two that are actually meant to be a couple. Mio’s just the secret admirer

Yuuko makes a snot rainbow

OH MY GOD. Nano’s hand gets yanked off and Yuuko’s just worried if it hurt. Yuuko, you blessed child

The girls are… trying to destroy a gourd. Eerie electronic music emphasizes how surreal this whole setup is

Gorgeous animation once again. Nichijou, you are a bizarre wonder

Welp, apparently Sakamoto used to be owned by the science teacher. And of course, she was an accidentally horrible pet owner

Come on science teacher, Nano is the nicest girl in the world. Why you gotta abduct her

“Part 113.” Jeez, they really have added up. Oh no, only six minutes left in the episode!!!

“You can’t remove it yourself, but other people can.” Some quietly horrifying design decisions by the professor. Having the mad scientist be a literal child actually makes a lot of the core tenets of mad science make a lot more sense. The casual, unthinking cruelty, the arbitrary nature of the devices created, etc

“I should put this key away. Now I finally look like a normal person.” Last episode really hammered on the “everyday life is magical all by itself” theme, mostly through the main high school group. This episode’s leaning more on Nano, and the key specifically as a reflection of how we’re all extraordinary in our own ways. Nano frets constantly about the key, but nobody else in her world (except for the science teacher) makes a big deal out of it. The fact that Nano can get along fine with her key reflects how everybody in this world is strange in their own way, and that’s perfectly fine. There’s no need to try and be ordinary

And then she realizes the same thing. There’s no shame in having the key be part of her – regardless of her appearance, Nano is Nano. None of the people she cares about are bothered by her key

Even the professor’s explanation of the key’s functions works with that. The stigma of the key was something she herself created, and so there was no way she would be able to remove that herself. But she can learn to accept herself, and put the key back on

Excellent callback to Mai and the professor’s bonding

This show makes strong use of its soft lighting moments

“How did everyone know it’s my birthday?”

There it is. Cutting the cake by herself, a small moment alone. She tears up at being able to live this happy life

I love the professor’s astonishment at seeing more cake

And Done

So that was Nichijou. Probably the best comedy I’ve seen, somehow also one of the most heartwarming shows I’ve seen, and an immediate addition to my all-time favorites. Thank you all for supporting and joining me on this adventure – the craft of comedy is an odd beast, but hopefully I came up with a thought or two that seemed kind of interesting. And don’t worry, the journey’s not quite over yet – I’ve still got a final, full series article to write! Until that comes out, let’s all take Nichijou’s lessons to heart, and try to enjoy the simple things in life. Even if our version of “simple things” doesn’t get to include deer wrestling and robots.

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