Kyoto Animation's beloved comedy is back on Crunchyroll, and here's why we should all be hollering!
Glorious news, everyone. A great wrong has just been righted, and at last, joy and justice have been returned to the world. That’s right: Nichijou is back on Crunchyroll.
If you’re not familiar with Nichijou, you might think the above statement is garnished with perhaps a dash of hyperbole. Well, today I’m here to tell you that is absolutely not the case. Personally, I think Nichijou is the single greatest comedy I’ve seen, and beyond that, it’s also one of the most visually impressive and generally charming productions you’re likely to find. So settle in folks, and let’s explore exactly what makes Nichijou so special!
Nichijou doesn’t really have a premise beyond “situational comedy ensues,” and its main cast is actually split into two groups. On the one side, we have Mio, Yuuko, and Mai, three best friends and high schoolers who each have their own quirks - Mio is the straight man (sorta), Yuuko is the huge idiot, and Mai is the mysterious weirdo. On the other side, we have Hakase, Nano, and Sakamoto - Hakase is a tiny girl who is also a mad scientist, Nano is a robot she built, and Sakamoto is a cat they give a scarf that lets him talk.
Nichijou proceeds as a series of weird sketches involving both those core groups and all the people they interact with, like Mio and her friends’ classmates, or various local business owners. One sketch will focus on Mio trying to keep her steamy drawings from a cackling Yuuko, while the next might focus on Nano negotiating with the professor about taking out the giant winding key on her back (“but it’s cute!”). And in between these, we get wild vignettes about things like the school principal wrestling a deer, or an extended fantasy about the kingdom where he who rules the cubes rules the world.
By presenting itself as a series of at-best loosely connected skits, Nichijou is able to embrace a vast and endlessly inventive grab bag of comedy styles and unexpected punchlines. Some skits will last half an episode and build up an entire internal mythology, while others will last just for the duration of one particularly absurd visual idea. Some gags are built around extended physical comedy, while others play off the character relationships, or build up visual absurdity, or set up an entirely new visual and dramatic style only to undercut it immediately. One of the great things about Nichijou is that it’s never really content to be just one thing - even if some joke doesn’t work for you, the show’s diversity of styles and consistent movement through sketches means that it’ll soon switch from slapstick to deadpan or absurdism or wordplay or cringe comedy or something entirely different.
Beyond its consistent comedic creativity, Nichijou is also bolstered by the fact that it’s one of the most visually impressive productions of the last decade. Anime comedies aren’t often afforded the fluidity of character acting and fullness of visual storytelling needed to sell gags like “for the first five minutes of this episode, we will be an entirely straight-faced historical drama,” but Kyoto Animation afforded this show all the love it could carry, and the results are incredible. So many jokes within this show are jokes other shows plainly couldn’t do, because they just don’t have the consistent fluidity of animation to make them funny, nor the understanding of comedic timing to make them land. Nichijou is as beautiful as it is funny, and the show’s visual strengths are actually key to the power of its comedy.
Finally, beyond the show’s aesthetic polish and just-plain-hilarity, Nichijou is also one of the most charming slice of life shows you’re likely to find. In between their wildly destructive arguments and generally pettiness, it is abundantly clear that Mio, Yuuko, and Mai actually care deeply about each other. Their banter feels warm and natural from the start, and over the course of this series, they actually grow closer as friends in a variety of meaningful ways. As for the other main leads, Hakase’s relationship with Nano is likely the closest anime will come to getting a genuine Yotsuba adaptation. As unlikely as it sounds, I’d count Hakase, Nano, and Sakamoto as one of the most endearing anime families out there, a family that sticks by each other even when they’re driving each other crazy. Though the jokes are plentiful and the visual wonders dazzling, it’s Nichijou’s profound love for all its characters, and their love for each other, that sticks with me to this day.
So that’s Nichijou, if you haven’t heard. Perhaps I’ve oversold it a bit, but honestly, there just aren’t that many shows punching in Nichijou’s weight bracket. From its myriad comic ideas to its beautiful delivery and very lovable cast, Nichijou is everything I want in a comedy, and a genuine classic. I am thrilled to see it back on Crunchyroll, and hope at least a few of you end up enjoying it as much as I do!