Judge Joel Pearce loves hanging out with these animated high school girls.
"Anyway, we're rivals! Be seeing you."—Kagura
After the second volume in the series, I was a little scared that the magic of the first volume of Azumanga Daioh was either a fluke or just something in my imagination. Well, a couple episodes into this disc it seemed that those fears were quite unfounded. This volume contains a full five episodes, which begin as the girls are starting their second year of high school.
• "We're Second Year Students!"
• "Kagura and Sakaki"
• "Chiyo-Chan's Day"
• "The Ocean, Summer, Kimonos, and a Party!"
This show rocks. Many of the jokes and quirks of the characters have been used dozens of times, but just like the best gags on Calvin and Hobbes, they get better over time because the characters feel like close friends. I know that's a pretty subjective explanation for why it works so well, but I'm afraid it's the only way I can describe it. Even when I can see where the jokes are heading in this series, the timing is so perfect that I still completely enjoy them as much. The expressions on the characters and tiny background details tell a whole different story that's just as funny.
The transfer is basically the same as the previous volumes. Because it has so many simple lines and blocks of color, there are occasional problems with aliasing in the video transfer. That seems largely unavoidable with this kind of animation, though, and I never found it distracting. The audio transfer is also excellent, and I have once again found myself singing the theme songs in my head afterwards—very catchy. As the series continues, I am finding myself less impressed with the dub track. It's not the fault of the voice actors, and I have a lot of respect for the people that translate films. So much of the humor is cultural though, and it simply doesn't translate well into English. The meaning of lines needs to be changed so much that it no longer makes sense. The best way to watch Azumanga Daioh is in Japanese, with the translation notes close at hand.
The only extras on the disc are the requisite clean opening and closing animation, as well as some production sketches. It would have been nice for ADV to put a little more effort into the extras on these discs, but at the same time I think the show does a fine job of selling itself. On the brighter side, the booklet included is quite good and the disc also comes with a very cute little lapel pin that would make Miss Sakaki blush.
Fans of the series, and hopefully there are plenty by now, will be thrilled with this third volume of the show. It has regained the magic of the first few episodes, and seems to be setting the stage for a lot more fun ahead. Any fans of comics and animation should check out this series, even if they don't normally care for shoujo shows. It is touching, heartwarming, well written and clever—things that most shows of this nature fall short of.
Well, that's enough gushing for me this time around. Not guilty.
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