Weak Characters, Boring Plot Ruin "Ordinary Life"
Let's face it: every slice-of-life anime comedy about nothing wants to be Azumanga Daioh. Lucky Star came close, but its Haruhi Suzumiya reference overload nearly killed it, and Hyakko! was too bland for its own good. This year the folks at Kyoto Animation, hoping to strike gold again in this genre (since they did Lucky Star four years ago), decided to adapt Keiichi Arawi's manga series Nichijou: My Ordinary Life. The show's overall feeling can be described with one word: blah, meaning both the utterance of complete nonsense and the overall feeling of being unimpressed.
For the most part My Ordinary Life is as what the title implies. The show follows various high school students and teachers and their lives in and out of class. We see them talk about the world around them, playing games in-between classes and showcasing their talents in a boasting manner. Unfortunately none of these elements work well in Nichijou, leaving jokes falling flat on their faces and giving little care to who these characters are.
Practically nothing works about this show. The trio of Yuko, Mio and Mai bring forth a level of dullness that is rarely seen in an anime series; in fact it takes a lot of work to make anime boring, so congrats to Kyoto Animation for making the implausible come to existence. I see no reason why the show likes to focus most of its time on these characters, as they literally have nothing of interest to bring to Nichijou. It's the characters that appear sporadically that bring what little life this show has. The only good thing to be said about this show is its animation quality, especially during a chase sequence involving Mio trying to steal back her notebook from Yuko. (Her reason for doing so -- not to mention the punchline -- is only the real big laugh I got from these three characters.) It showcases various styles in even just one episode, and surprisingly it does it well.
One duo in My Ordinary Life is worth mentioning, and that is Nano and Professor, a robot and her child creator that brings a fair amount of humor to the limited screen time that they're given. In the first episode young Professor showcases the purpose of Nano's wind-up key, leaving an unexpected hilarious surprise. They also bring in a cat named Sakamoto, who is fitted with a collar that lets him speak with his human/robot owners, leaving some interesting and funny anecdotes between the three of them. Hell even the rock-paper-scissors gags seen in most of the episodes so far have brought more laughs than the main characters being focused in Nichijou.
Nichijou is the rare show about nothing where nothing actually happens. You'll be scratching your head wondering why you are bothering to watch it, only realizing that you've wasted a lot more time on a dull program like this instead of a better slice-of-life series like Azumanga or Honey & Clover. It's sad to see a well-respected production company like Kyoto Animation hit rock bottom, and it's even sadder to be given a front-row seat to view the carnage it unleashes.
* ½ (out of five)