A year ago this month, I posted a review of a popular series called Azumanga Daioh, and it while it hasn’t been a huge hit in terms of blog traffic, it did get a few nice comments, and I feel fairly proud of it over-all. It wasn’t the easiest review to write, due to the subjective nature of comedy, but I am glad that I wrote it, and can happily say that it’s an important prestigious title that I was able to add to my list.
Having said that, I feel as though there’s another side to the series that I haven’t really touched on yet, and I’m not talking about it’s contributions to meme culture… Although you really should be thanking it for starting the whole “My Waifu” thing. No, the side I’m referring to is the creativity that it’s inspired in it’s viewers, as even in an environment where almost any anime gets a ton of AMVs and parodies, Azumanga Daioh really has taken on a life of it’s own. Hmm, how best to celebrate this show’s history of insane, internet videos and memes?
With that out of the way, I’d like to introduce a brand new feature on this blog, A Series of Tubes! This is the feature I’ll be using every nice in a while to explore the multitude of ways that an animated franchise has been represented on youtube, from intentional promo videos made by the official owners to less official fan videos made by you people. We’ll be looking at AMVs, parodies, reviews, abridged series… Well, maybe not that last one today, because no Azumanga related abridged shows have found any real notoriety or success… And more!
1: Azumanga Web Daioh
Before the TV anime ever came out, two short films were released online by JC Staff to see if the series would be worth a full investment. It was due to their overwhelmingly positive reception that the show was green-lit, and the first one was Web Daioh. This first film features a plot that’s entirely unique to the series and manga, as well as a much more high-budget animation style compared to what was officially released.
After a catchy opening that features the cast on their way to school, this short features Chiyo-chan, the child prodigy, bringing a video camera into class to film her friends and leave the tape… A VHS tape, ask your parents what that is if you’re too young to know… and Tomo, the class clown, is immediately taken with the opportunity to goof around with it. She steals it from Chiyo, pans around the classroom(getting a hilarious shot of class space cadet Osaka in the meantime) and plays with the zoom settings, leading to some shockingly good visual effects for it’s time. She puts the athlete Kagura on the spot, and gets roundhouse-kicked for her efforts. She then runs away and films the two teachers of the series(thankfully leaving Kimura out of it), including her own teacher Miss Yukari, who’s asleep on her desk. Her response to being woken up is the third big laugh of the episode.
Finally, the episode leaves off on a fourth big laugh that I’m not going to spoil here, and that’s Web Daioh, the pilot episode of the series. I fucking love it. The animation is creative and way ahead of it’s time, the shaky cam has an actual purpose(and it disappears in the final moments, which was a nice touch) and despite it’s short length, it’s really funny. It manages to feature the entire main cast in some way or another, and while two or three of them might not have featured heavily, they still feel like they were acting naturally and playing their roles.
There’s no music, as the scenario calls for realism more than for a BGM, but you do hear the camera’s noises throughout, and the voice acting is on point. With a pilot like this, showing off the full potential of the material, it’s no wonder the show got picked up.
2: Azumanga Daioh The Very Short movie
So, here’s my confession; I didn’t know this existed until after I already decided to go ahead with this project. Even more alarming, I didn’t know it had a dub until a few minutes ago. How crazy is that?
Anyway, this is the second short pilot film that JC Staff released, this one a lot closer(but still not quitem atching) the animation style and budget of the TV release. It’s a bit longer than Web Daioh, and while it’s not quite as funny, it does put forth a more accurate representation of what the series would eventually be. Rather than a traditional intro, like Web Daioh had, this film opens with a shot of Chiyo riding on her dog, Mr. Tadakichi, introducing herself and nearly getting thrown off of him. The opening features some of the show’s iconic background music, which is always nice.
Splitting it into two halves, the first half is probably the weaker one. It features a couple of minutes of Yukari’s class, squeezing several of the running gags and staples of the series into two minutes. This includes Yukari being a dick, Chiyo getting good grades, the Bonklers(which I’ll always call them because it sounds better than knuckleheads) acting out, Chiyo trying not to be cute, Tomo standing outside, Kaorin being in love, Sakaki musing over a cat bite, and keep in mind, this all takes place in the span of two minutes… Including the opening.
The second half, in contrast, plays out one joke on it’s own… Osaka and her pigtail dreams. If you’ve seen the anime or read the manga, you know what I’m talking about, and this goes on for almost 3 minutes. Unlike the first half, this one doesn’t stick to the established material, instead taking full advantage of the surreal situation to try some new jokes, like Chiyo slowly turning her head like an owl(creepy) and the entire class thinking she’s a lost child that doesn’t belong there. I’m not going to give away how this part ends, you kind of just have to experience it for yourselves. It’s weird.
The short ends with a thirty second credits, marking the second appearance of Chiyodaddy, and if I’m being honest, I don’t feel as though this one’s as strong as Web Daioh. It suffers in terms of pacing, with so many jokes and in-show references thrown at you in such a short time that it’s hard to process what you’re watching. The Osaka dream is at least new and interesting, especially the way it breaks away from the script.
There’s actual music in it, which I definitely like, especially since upon reflection, this is the pilot for the show’s iconic score, too. The dub is phenomenal, and the actors are on point… Save for Mandy Clark and Nancy Novotny, big surprise there… But I’d especially like to give a shout out to Jessica Boone and Kira Vincent Davis, as they play the most prominent characters in the short and absolutely slaughter their roles.
All in all, not quite as good as Web Daioh, in terms of story, but a small improvement in the area of production values.
AMV1: Little Girls
Our first AMV, edited by blindniggasamura1, was the winner of Best comedy at a con called Nekocon X, and yeah, it’s pretty damn funny, even though it attacks the show from the most obvious possible angle. There was a lot of clever editing in this video, so it occasionally looks like the central character, the ephobophile teacher Mr. Kimura, is actually singing during certain parts of the song. This unfortunately results in the video freezing into a still frame at certain times, but the visual direction is still fun and energetic, and doesn’t get stale despite relying on pretty much one joke. I highly recommend checking this one out, if the idea of statutory rape being taken lightly doesn’t trigger you.
Although I completely understand if it does.
The origins of this video are somewhat cloudy, but it was originally uploaded on AMV.com over ten years ago, and made it’s way to youtube soon after. It’s credited in the video to Suberunker Studiosh, as if that helps. It’s a take on the song 1985 by bowling for soup, casting Miss Yukari in the lead role, and unlike the simple Little girls, this one uses slightly more stylized editing that’s a bit… Dated. There isn’t much cohesion between the music and the actual anime’s footage, but here’s where things get interesting… The chorus uses stills from several other anime in quite humorous fashion.
That’s really the only thing that makes this video worth mentioning here… The fact that it’s so obviously a product of it’s time does give it a quirky sense of novelty, but dat chorus do. I don’t know what’s funnier… Evangelion being used for Nirvana(excuse me, NERVana), Mewtwo being used for U2, or Edward Elric as blondie. The mention of MTV does feature a clever little nod to Sakaki’s cat dilemma, with a reference to the song “In the End, too. That Aerith joke, too.
The references do get a bit tired towards the middle, culminating in a forced edit of some of her students in Survivor, but overall, it’s a pretty interesting video to look back on after all these years.
AMV3: Lord of the Yen
Coming only 8 years ago, we have a different kind of AMV… One that pairs footage of Azumanga Daioh with three Lord of the Rings trailers, and this video is fucking insane. Each character is cast as a different Rings character, with Osaka as Frodo and her lucky ten yen piece as the One Yen. Each character is cast appropriately in accordance with how much they actually appear in the show, from major characters like miss Yukari playing Sauron to little kitty Maya playing the dwarf Gimli. The casting also mirrors several jokes from the show, like Kaorin playing Arwen as a complement to Sakaki playing Aragorn and Nyamo playing the Gandalf to Yukari’s dark lord.
Even more impressive, though, is how the music matches the footage used and even certain events from the movies. This video was clearly very thoroughly thought out before it was made, and the perfect lip-flapping is only the icing on the cake. I can’t imagine how long it must have taken to complete it, but it must have taken months, like last summer’s Smash God video. The editing, while using all the same techniques as the 1985 video, holds up much better in spite of that fact.
Some of the most iconic Azumanga Daioh moments are represented here, and of course there are also the inbetween segments, and the whole experience is bookended by Osaka telling her friends a horror story at Chiyo’s summer home. If this video doesn’t give you chills, then there’s something wrong with you.
AMV4: OH MY GAH! Sparta Remix.
Hey, remember when Chiyodaddy burst into Osaka’s dream and started talking in heavily accented English, and Osaka responds in such a way that was lame in the dub but epic and totally memorable in the Sub? There are remixed version that are flipping priceless. Check them out.
AMV5: Shut Up Tomo!!
Kind of a late entry, but Azugirl Productions created a video that presents a pretty smart take on the relationship between Yomi and Tomo, and as the title implies, it’s pretty much the two of them fighting, getting along and yelling at each other to just shut up already. It came out in 2007, a lot more recently than the other videos on this list, and it shows in how well polished the synchronization is, even if the lip flaps are off a bit. It doesn’t sound like much on the surface, but it’s high energy, charming, and a lot of fun to watch.
With Chiyo’s cute antics and Osaka’s weird dreams dominating most AMVs and the vast majority of the show’s AMV Hell representation, it’s nice to see someone give just as much attention to the dynamic between Yomi and Tomo, as their childhood friendship is one of the most important elements of the series. It’s also worth mentioning that the creator of this AMV has done a bunch of other Azumanga Daioh videos that somehow escaped my attention until this project was already half-complete, so do yourself a favor and check out her work.
Azumanga Daioh has one of the most memorable and unique opening videos in anime history, and there are tons of versions of it on youtube, from different languages to altered artwork that replaces the characters with faces from other franchises, to a really weird one that features a link to a flu conspiracy website on the chalkboard. No, I didn’t make that up, but we’ll be focusing on the second thing I mentioned.
There are tons of character-swapped versions of the opening, with a few examples being a vocaloid where both the artwork and music are redone, to a Persona 4 version that doesn’t, although it looks quite a bit better. I know very little about vocaloid, so I can’t really comment on how well it works, but the Persona one is full of jokes from the show, like how Chiyo in the Panda suit is swapped with Nanako in the Teddie outfit, or the three cross-dressing dudes taking the place of the Bonklers, are pretty freaking funny.
There’s a CG animated version called Azumadden Daieu, which uses a male robot voice for the song and replaces everyone with animated astronauts, if you’re in the mood for something really weird.
Those are about all the noteworthy openings, although there’s also a jawdropping Mario Paint rendition of the ending some Raspberry Heaven that I can’t recommend enough. I really meant it when I said earlier that Azumanga Daioh can inspire some amazing things from people.
AMV Hell Contributions!
And of course, it wouldn’t be an Azumanga Daioh video if we didn’t also look at the impact it had on AMV Hell. I don’t think I’d be exaggerating if I called it one of the core AMV Hell titles, and the undisputed backbone of the third one. I’ll be skipping a few and only focusing on the interesting or noteworthy entries, so let’s get started.
AMV Hell 1: Azumanga Daioh appears a few times here, including a Kill Bill reference in it’s first appearance, as the long awkward silence after the Penguin drops the bucket is filled with colored filters changing in tune to some tense musical stings. It’s second appearance, which would later become insanely important to the series, was Osaka talking in front of a screen of Panda spots for a parody of a Mac commercial. Bleepbleepbleepbleep! This clip was so memorable it made people care about the commercial over a decade later. Finally, it would appear in a clip that’s very similar to the Little girls, as it plays on Kimura’s loli love.
AMV Hell 2: Azumanga Daioh features heavily in the cold open, where a bunch of anime characters are gathered for a Battle Royale parody, that shows Chiyo being brutally murdered. Kimura sings Happy birthday to Yukari creepily(like he does everything else), and finally, Osaka opens the trailer for AMV Hell 3.
AMV Hell 0: Skipping it, not because it’s porn but because it sucks. As far as Azumanga goes, there’s like, an Adam Sandler reference or something.
AMV Hell 3: There’s no gentle way to say this; Azumanga Daioh was the bitch of this video. If you don’t count the numerous “Bleepbleepbleep” variant clips that played throughout it ad nauseum, Azuamanga appeared in around 25 clips… A feat comparable only to Excel Saga, which came close. I wont be getting into all of them, because all I can say for a lot of them is “This happened, and the audio was so-and-so,” but luckily for us, there’s more than a few interesting highlights.
Like the first AMV Hell, the first Azumanga clip we see is one of the show’s dark comedy bits set to a Kill Bill tune… This time, it’s Osaka waking Miss Yukari up with a knife while Twisted Nerve plays to accompany her. This isn’t the only clip that seems like a match made in heaven, either. Soon after, the gag of Osaka and Chiyo-chan riding their bike into a light post is used as part of a fake commercial, with audio from a classic Chappelle Show parody. Chappelle would show up again much later in the video as Chiyo getting punched in the stomach from the hiccup storyline was matched up with audio from a Rick James sketch.
Getting into some of the bigger material, there’s a lengthy clip where several still images of characters in somewhat suspicious poses are used in what appears to ber a Nazi propaganda video. Yukari looking fired up at her podium, Sakaki wielding a rifle, Osaka giving a Nazi salute… Which she’d give again while shouting “Heil Hitler” in the next clip… It really is both impressive and alarming that someone managed to conceive of this and put it together. Several equally impressive editing jobs would soon follow, such as a romantic tribute to Osaka and CXhiyo in their McDonalds uniforms, Chiyo falling and dying during the opening theme, and I shit you not, the snowball fight from the series being turned into an honest to God Pokemon battle, with Osaka as Bulbasaur and Chiyo as Pikachu. She’d also pose as The Cheat later on.
One of my favorite clips, from a creator who’s sadly passed on, is one where the over-the-top expressions from the series are matched with the Doug song Shout Your Lungs Out, which is one of the few clips that I’m halfway convinced the animators had in mind during production. It just fits so perfectly. Comparing Chiyo’s head to a Bananaphone with that exact Raffi song was also a stroke of genius, but much less obvious. In any case, there weren’t as many Azumanga clips in the second half as there were in the first half, but it did start off with what was probably the best one, and the only one that was allowed to exceed a minute in length… Clips of Osaka sleeping and Dreaming were used in a parody of a celebrated Rahxephon AMV set to the haunting tune of “Must Be Dreaming” by Frou Frou, and since you can find it outside of AMV Hell, I highly recommend looking it up solo. There are a few more clips between this and the ending, including an Airplane reference that’s kind of brilliant, but they could have easily ended on this.
AMV Hell 4: While it doesn’t appear as often this time around, AMV Hell does manage to pay tribute to Azumanga Daioh by using Osaka in the second of it’s three introductory clips, going over what AMV stands for. It’s cute, but not on par with the previous onslaught of Beepbeepbeep clips. The first official clip compares Osaka and Chiyo at various Sports Fest episodes to the Special Olympics, a theme that would be revisited in later AMV Minis clips with Monty Python audio, but the first clip of note… And one of the most memorable… Is a Guitar Hero parody of Osaka waking Miss Yukari up by banging a pan. The song used is Fear the Reaper by blue Oyster Cult, which is really just an excuse to call the video Cowbell Hero, but it all works together so well. Themes from AMV Hell 3 are revisited, such as Kimura’s perversion, Yukari’s driving and a chorus of acapella cats.
A new theme is opened up, however, with a couple of videos highlighting Kaorin’s flanderized crush on Sakaki… The first one uses Centerfold by the J Geil’s Band, and it deals with Kaorin’s shock at seeing a photograph of Sakaki in a bathing suit. The use of the Knuckleheads as back-up singers was a pretty lit touch. Speaking of ‘touch,’ the second clip of this nature takes a bit more of a sexual edge to her crush, with Everytime We touch by Cascada. The highlights of the Azumanga Daioh set, however, would have to be the creatively edited Bark at the Moon segment, which combines the dreamy aspect of the series with Mr. Tadakichi, and an inspired appearance by bodies from Drowning Pool, which centers around Osaka telling a tale of her friends being offed by a serial killer.
There’s less to offer here than there was in the first AMV Hell, but sadly, each entry would go on to feature it less than the previous ones.
AMV Hell 5-7: Yeah, appearances here are so few that I’m grouping them together. The fifth Hell only featured 8 Azumanga Daioh clips, although it started off really nice with a nod towards Sakaki’s height set to the song and notorious dick joke Big in Japan. It’s after this that several old ideas are recycled, and while some of them are nice… The new Osaka Dream clip is set to a catchy Beatles tune, and the new Kaorin gag fits nicely into the motif of Always by Erasure… The only clip of any note is the final one, Holy Diver, which bookends this video’s heartfelt tribute to Ronnie James Dio.
In Amv Hell 6.66, the official release and NOT the original cut, there are two Azumanga Daioh clips, both based on gags that were popular at the time… The first one is of Tomo being FUS-ROH-DA’d by Yomi, and the second is Osaka’s creepy knife scene set to audio from the My Little Pony parody video Shed.mov. Things were a bit bleaker in 7, where Sakaki’s desire to pet a kitty got her compared to a Hey Arnold character, and… I gotta be honest, I have no idea what Franker-Z is, but apparently Chiyo-chan looks like him. It’s kind of a callback to the Bananaphone clip, but with a dog’s head.
So yeah, usage of this series sorta tapered off as the AMV Hell movies neared their conclusion, but thankfully, there’s…
AMV Minis Contributions!
Season 1: Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Azumanga Daioh does pop up again here, but it’s mostly in the first two episodes. In the first episode, refreshingly enough, we get a few new ideas in play… Osaka and Chiyo eating fish-shaped takoyaki at the culture fest gets paired with a bizarre Fish Heads song, which is… Interesting… And it’s soon followed up by a pretty funny Homestar Runner gag, and finally, Sakaki’s desire to connect with nature is cleverly sent up to the song Colors of the Wind from Pocahontas. The second episode does some really obvious Monty Python references, and makes fun of Yomi’s singing.
The rate of appearances drops off at this point, and while it does appear a few times… Including a really bad clip that takes audio from an equally bad movie… The next noteworthy clip doesn’t come until episode 10, where Kaorin’s love for Sakaki gets it’s funniest parody of all, set to my favorite part of the song Jizz in my Pants.
Season 2: Azumanga Daioh appears six times in the season premiere, which had a strict rule that it would only allow musical clips with a maximum length of 7 seconds. This means there were a very large amount of clips to get lost in, and unfortunately, get lost is what about half of them do. The noteworthy clips include the first one, which openly acknowledges Mr. Kimura being the progenitor of the Waifu meme, and Lose It, a hilarious take on Tomo throwing Chiyo’s summer home key into the woods.
Azumanga Daioh disappears from episodes 2 and 3, but oddly enough, every episode from 4 to 9 has exactly one. This stream starts off in a good way, because episode 4 contains one of my favorite appearances thus far… Sakaki’s drive to step up her game during the relay race is converted into a Mentos commercial, and it fits the music perfectly. Apparently I’m the only one who loves it so much, because it opens the episode, and a common comment is that it only gets started with clip 2. Whatever, we all have different tastes. Tomo getting paired with an ADHD song is lazy, but effective, and the trippy nature of the ending theme is paired with Lucy in the Sky from The Beatles in episode 7. Tomo also does a song of Charlie Sheen’s Winning, which Dr. Stein did better in 6.66.
Challenges… Honestly, the challenge was getting through this season. There are 32 episodes, and the only two that I skipped were 2013 and 2014, which I knew beforehand that Azumanga Daioh came out over a decade too early to be a part of. There are about ten appearances of it throughout all 32 episodes, give or take a few, with only about five worth mentioning. In fact, I can kill three of them in one mention. Tomo asks Nyamo what The Fox Says, in an episode that gets apologized for in another clip as Chiyo acts as a stand-in for South Park’s BP parody, which itself was parodied in a late episode where she apologized again for, of all things, the quality of the challenge series.
As far as the actual funny stuff, there’s a pretty decent Animaniacs parody, and a Dora the Explorer Cake-Baking clip that takes a much funnier shot at the series itself… Towards the end, when the critique is a little too late.
I’d like to apologize to the creators of The Lost Episodes, because I fully intended to include them in this project as well… They did their own AMV Hell style project, consisting entirely of Azumanga Daioh content, and what little I saw was actually kind of good. The problem is that this post will be uploaded in two days, and after sitting through the entire AMV minis collection in the space of 24 hours, I can’t. I just can’t. Check them out, at least.
However, since I want to end this article on a positive note, there’s a certain minis video I’ve been saving. See, there’s a reason season 1 was devoid of Azumanga Daioh clips; Because the series was given it’s own special clip. It was the first theme video of the first season, and it’s 7 minutes of pure Daioh goodness. Saving it for last does kinda wreck the timeline I was originally shooting for, but that idea bit the dust long before this. honestly, this video is so funny that I hesitate to spoil it, but I’d be undermining this entire concept if I didn’t give a FEW highlights, so here they are… There’s a Lord of the Rings clip and a When Harry Met Sally clip, they both had me laughing my Neko-Conekos off, and they both involved the teachers. That’s not all the best material by a long shot, but I highly recommend checking it out for yourself.
And that’s it for the first installment of A Series of Tubes! Did what you read about here sound interesting to you? I’d include links, but most of these videos are easy enough to find through a simple title search on youtube. A few of the AMV Hell related videos might be difficult to find, as some of them have been taken down or muted from youtube, but if that’s the case, you can find them through the AMVhell.com website, which includes links to the youtube and Vimeo uploads.
In addition, are there any franchises that I should do future installments on? Anything that’s taken youtube by storm? I eventually plan to do similar articles on RWBY and MLP;FIM, but it’s gonna be a while before I visit them, so any suggestions inbetween(and that extends to prospective videos as well) are highly encouraged.