Nichijou is a lot “like love.”

"You want to run?"

Nichijou is a comedy series that’s all too often been described as “hit or miss.”  The structure of the episodes is such that the series cuts up bits and pieces of the longer joke segments and juxtaposes them with far shorter, often saccharine, segments that need no set up.  In the first cour of the series, it was the jump rope segments that captured my attention, none of which were more than about 30 seconds long.  They rely on brief physical comedy to break up the overall narrative of the show.  The segments of Helvetica Standard and Short Thoughts also attempt to do the same thing, using different comedic approaches.  This second half of the show has brought another series of fantastic little segments to spice it up.  No, I’m not referring to this, although Nano and Hakase are adorable here, I’m talking about something a bit more “like love.”

"This is all so 'hazukashii yo.'"

“It is a union that suggests the essential mystery of the world. Art, for me, is not an end in itself, but a means of evoking that mystery.”

-Belgian painter Rene Magritte

The above quote is an attempt to explain why one would juxtapose two seemingly unrelated objects in the same painting (in order to create a unique mystery that can only be suggested when the two images are placed side-by-side).  Nichijou uses juxtaposition in a slightly different way.  By cutting up its longer segments, and inserting random, seemingly absurd bits, it not only causes the viewer to possibly look at the whole in a different way, but also to look at the two separate pieces in a wholly different, more concentrated light.

"I wish for ... to get in to the school of their choice."

In the first cour of Nichijou, they tend to pair up brief, often physically comedic, segments with longer set-ups with eventual payoffs or punchlines.  It’s not as much of a contrast; these segments are simply used to break up the larger jokes (usually conversations between Mio, Yuuko, and Mai) with mixed results.  Some of these hit, some of them don’t, however, they all break up the narrative long enough for the viewer to digest what has happened before returning to the larger joke.  This changes in the second cour when Nichijou introduces an unlikely but nonetheless powerful segment: Like Love.

Like Love does what the Helvetica Standard and Short Thoughts segments of Nichijou were unable to do in that it provides a direct and highly effective contrast to the running narrative of the episode.  The segments in Like Love are short, sweet, and simple.  They are also poignant, and made more so by their juxtaposition against the more absurd segments, like the adventures at the Daifuku Fair, or simply awkward scenes like a failed confession (due to the fact that the one being confessed to is suddenly bald).  These gentle moments are amplified by the fact that they are positioned next to absurdity and affect the viewer more because of this.

This is where Nichijou is most successful and, dare I say, why the second half of the season has generally been more highly regarded than the first.  The poignant scenes (Like Love, a few of the pillow shots like the one featured below), and the comedic scenes (Mio suplexing Sasahara’s goat, a policeman, and Yuuko over her BL manga pages) seem all the more hilarious due to their contrasting directly with one another.  It’s not a re-imagining of the whole, but instead, a refocusing on the individual pieces.

These older men bowing to this bust are suprisingly adorable.

Much has been made of Nichijou, and not all of it is complimentary.  More than one Fullmetal Panic fan has been heard bemoaning the fact that Kyoto Animation has spent so much time flexing their animating muscles in Nichijou instead of breathing the same life into a new action series, or more Fullmetal Panic.  Others have complained that the jokes last too long, or simply aren’t funny.  Based on the sales numbers, it’s looking like more Nichijou is less likely than a new Fullmetal Panic series at this point; however, this isn’t to malign Nichijou for where it went wrong, it’s to celebrate where it went right.  Like love, not everything is going to be perfect, but that’s part of the fun, isn’t it?  In spite of its flaws, there’s a lot to love about Nichijou.

Recommended Reading:

Shance touches upon how Nichijou reminds us of silliness in our own childhoods.

30 Comments

Filed under Editorials, Nichijou

30 responses to “Nichijou is a lot “like love.”

  1. For those who need a bit of a refresher as to which segments are being referred to here (like me, haha), here’s a compilation of Like Love scenes:

    Also, holy god, they are adorable.

  2. 2DT

    My favorite is the one with the teacher. Kids are so funny when they’re hustling to finish a test. :)

    But what makes these moments so sweet is that they never last.

    • You know, that’s another thing I should have mentioned in this post; these segments, like the literal slices of life that they are based on, are so effective because they are so fleeting.

      My personal favorite is the one where the girl sends her father to look at her test placement results. I watched it shortly following a conversation with my parents and for some reason it hit me hard.

      Thank you for commenting!

      • James

        Just posting to say that I think the Love Like sections are amazing, along with Nichijou as a whole, both for the same reason: the show is incredibly honest. Even though all the characters are way over the top, I find them to be a hundred times more relatable than the characters from most other shows. The whole anime has a great atmosphere about it that constantly makes me go “ah, I remember how that felt.” I’m always smiling by the end of the episode. =)

        One of my favorite anime ever; it’s ridiculously underrated in my opinion. I’m hoping as people watch the later episodes, it’s reputation will pick up. The sales numbers for the first batch of blurays weren’t too great, but hopefully the later ones will sell a lot better. The show deserves it a lot more than the other crap studios are putting out these days.

        • As I mentioned below (and I wish I could find that link!) I think sales have been so bad that they moved Nichijou to another TV timeslot, although take this as hearsay until someone provides an actual link/concrete evidence. This is unfortunate; however, as I also mention below, I’m thrilled at the chance to own this series as well as the manga.

          You’ve touched upon the very reason why I like watching series like this: they remind me of stupid things that my own friends and I used to do in high school. When I watch the crazy antics of Mai, Mio, Yuuko, and now Nano, they always put a smile on my face as well, reminding me of fun times with my friends. Of course, none of us were robots developed by a mad five year-old scientist, but the sentiment still stands.

          Thank you for the comment!

  3. You are right on the money AJ about the first half of Nichijou! It really is hit or miss for most fans of this style of random comedy. Most people already know I love me some Nichijou! well it has resulted in spawning several drawings from me lately. I think the style of the characters caught my eye originally after watching the first few episodes even thou they look really simple for me to draw, but damn they can Kyoto animate some amazing scenes! I like the Helvetica Standard and the Like Love ones.

    My favorite Like Love would be the most recent one in episode 24 and that baseball one too really D’awwww moments! Then again it’s really hard to choose a true favorite Like love scene for me. And I really want Kyoto to animate a whole action series with these Nichijou designs! Watching Mio and Yuuko during the “intense” action scenes always crack me up, and that goat attack episode?! I seriously watched it like five times…

    Anyway great post I will miss this addictive series, hopefully DVD sales spawn off another season? I can hope anyway! Or a movie? Now to sit back and wait for a English Dub so basically TAKE MY MONEY NOW! xD

    http://vimeo.com/28438210 Made this a while back a Nichijou video for lulz

    • One of my favorite pieces of animation in Nichijou is an action scene: the whole comic book/bende dot style OP with the glasses chase scene, followed by that octopus sausage capture scene that you based your video off of. When they put their minds to it, they can certainly produce amazing stuff.

      Unfortunately, I think that the DVD sales have been fairly poor for Nichijou (they recently, if I’m not mistaken, even tried a desperation move of shifting it to an earlier timeslot, but I can’t find the link for this) so more Nichijou is probably not in the cards. Ah well, at least I can own this series since it’s being licensed in the U.S.! As you said, “take my money now!” Thanks for commenting!

      P.S. I loved your Penguindrum/Nichijou drawing. ^ ^

      • Doh! That’s a bummer for DVD sales, well that’s cool I don’t mind waiting!

        Yeah that chase and sausage scenes are my favorites, I can’t wait to see what they do with the final two episodes coming up soon either way I will enjoy it and miss it a lot. Hopefully Squid Girl s2 can keep me entertained that first season made my top three when it was released, not as comical as Nichijou but close enough :D

        Ahahah thanks! I saw that screen cap from the recent episode when Hakase watched Sakamoto get sick and was like wow I need to use this! And thought of Penguindrum, that and I wanted to draw her hat lolol which took a while to actually color.

  4. …Amazing. I wanted to give Nichijou a nice editorial, but I couldn’t find a topic throughout all the comedy. But you guys nailed it wonderfully. I loved the “Like Love” series. The “school of choice” part was really inspiring.

  5. In the first cour of the series, it was the jump rope segments that captured my attention

    I miss those! :(

    However, as you indicate, the second half of the series is stronger due to the the greater use of such emotive or ‘poignant’ scenes, as well as the development of the Nano-goes-to-school plot, which was the major turning point.

    As 2DT and James also point out, the sweetly fleeting and honest vibe of a lot of the scenes particularly stand out, especially when juxtaposed and blended with the more absurd goings-on (e.g. Dat Crow). Overall, there are so many nuggets of pure comedy gold in this series that they, imo, far outweigh some of the ‘misses’/ ‘dragging-on’ bits. However, it’s their coupling with those refreshing in-between, slice-of-life moments that create the magic, for me. The show is a spectacle of artistic and musical experimentation (those camera angles! Dat Score!) too, and one that rarely fails to leave me both amused and warm inside. ^ ^

    And finally… this was worth the wait and a pleasure to read – thank you!

    • The one where it’s Yuuko’s turn to jump rope…I think I was seriously laughing for at least five minutes straight after that.

      You bring up another thing I should have addressed in this post, or at least touched upon, another reason why the second cour is so successful is due to it’s actually having a more cohesive narrative with Nano finally attending school. It leaves the two stronger comedic characters (Hakase and Sakamoto) together for shorter gag bits and puts Nano into the longer school scenes with the other three girls. Both types of scenes are better because of it, and when they cross paths, like Hakase and Sakamoto’s run-in with Mai, or Yuuko visiting the Shinonome Lab, it makes these scenes stronger as well. I’ve found myself both laughing and daww-ing ten times more!

      The music is fantastic, isn’t it? I listen to the soundtrack often. ^ ^

      Thanks for the comment and the inspiration (I owe both you and Ryan a “thank you”)

  6. I must say the comment about people bemoaning Kyoto animation not using their animation skills on an action series rang especially true for me, although my stance is more along the lines of ‘as well as Nichijou’ rather than ‘instead of’. I would be fascinated to how they would tackle a Star Driver-esque show.

    I completely agree with you on the importance on the various short segments interspersed between the main skits, especially in the latter half of the show, in changing the mood of the whole. The ‘Like Love’ scenes may be short, isolated points in time, but they are perfect in encapsulating brief sweet moments and feelings. In some regards, they manage to accomplish a task that many romantic/melodramatic shows fail at, despite (or perhaps more accurately because of) being allotted many episodes.

    Despite the crazy randomness, Nichijou’s quiet description of the everyday workings and nuances of various people and places has always been the main pulling point for me every week. For the most part I find the absurd parts to merely a add a more stylistic flair to the proceedings rather than derail the show into complete anarchy. The heart of the show is always rooted in reality. This is why despite various comments on how the comedy is hot-or-miss or random-for-random’s sake, I’m rarely unsatisfied. I’ve viewed Nichijou as a slice-of-life before a comedy for some time now, it may use exaggerated or contrasting skits to achieve this, but the feeling of warmth the series brings to me is consistent each week. The ending animation perfectly encapsulates how I view the series as a whole.

    At any rate, I know I’ll have my money waiting when the blu-ray arrives

    • Exactly.

      Whereas something like Cromartie High School uses the absurd and random to highlight the absurd and random (This is in no way a bad thing, by the way. What I’ve seen of Cromartie High School has been hilarious.) Nichijou uses the absurd and random to highlight the ordinary. In contrast, it fleshes the everyday life aspects of the series, much like the Like Love segments are so potent in their emotional sentimentality.

      This series certainly does give the viewer such a warm feeling doesn’t it? I too will be putting money down on this series, probably for both the series itself and the manga.

      Thank you for the comment!

  7. I just realized that there’s like a different version of the music for each ep too.

    • I think there are about three or four different versions of the Like Love theme alone, as well as other pieces like the Shinonome Laboratory theme having two to three variations. This series’s soundtrack is absolutely fantastic. They’ve obviously put a large amount of time, effort, and possibly money, into developing this series and it shows. Thank you for commenting.

  8. Finally, someone wrote about Like Love! It’s the most profound part of the show for me, and really drives home the point of the show’s title and mantra.

    • It is by far my favorite part of this series.

      I never thought of it that way, but after all, this series is about pointing out the titular “everyday life.” What could be more a part of everyday life (and more absurd for that matter) than love?

      Thanks for the comment!

  9. Marow

    I love the Like Love segments. It is amazing that you can create so many feelings in such a short amount of time. It feels like you know everything about the characters.

    On another note, I really wonder how big Kyoto Animation’s budget was when creating Nichijou. I find myself with my mouth wide open quite a lot.

    • Honestly, I know so little about the monetary specifics that someone could quote me a number and I would have no idea what it means. I assume from the series’s production values that it was fairly large (they recorded the background music in Hungary with a full orchestra for goodness’s sake!). ^ ^

      Looking back on other Kyoto Animation productions that I’ve seen: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (seasons one and two), Clannad and Clannad ~After Story~, Lucky Star, K-ON! and K-ON!!, they certainly never seem to skimp on the budget, which is also why the sales for Nichijou must be a huge disappointment for them.

  10. Like Love hits home on people probably because of the theme it presents, which is school romance. And we all know school romance makes us go mushy and remember school life, including the fond memories we had about crushes, secret admirers, valentine gifts, graduation mementos, and all of the sort.

    So yes, it’s safe to say that the segments fondle me nicely on my special no-no places, in a mental kind of way.

    • You know, you’re definitely on to something here. Nichijou plays the nostalgia card for our sepia-tinged fuzzy memories of school life specifically.

      In fact…this nostalgia is the main reason why I love watching series like this, as I mentioned above. There’s a certain charming innocence to everything that may or may not have been there, but somehow manages to permeate our memories of that time.

      Special mental no-no place, eh? ^ ^

      Thanks for the comment!

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