Azumanga Daioh (あずまんが大王 Azumanga Daio) is a Manga
that was written and illustrated by Kiyohiko Azuma, released in 1999. It was adapted into an Anime
, "Azumanga Daioh: the Animation" that was aired in 2002 in Japan.
Originally published in the magazine Dengeki Daioh, Azumanga Daioh was drawn as a series of four-panel comic strips called yonkoma. Yonkoma are superficially similar to anthologies of Western newspaper comic strips, the primary difference being that yonkoma have a vertical rather than horizontal layout.
The anime, which aired from April 8, 2002 until September 30, 2002, was produced by J.C.Staff and was broadcast on TV Tokyo, TV Aichi, TV Osaka
and AT-X in five minute segments every weekday, and as a 25 minute compilation each weekend. Thus there are 130 five minute episodes which can alternatively be seen as 26 episodes, each 25 minutes in length. These episodes were released on VHS and DVD by Starchild Records. As the compilations were the only versions to include the title and credits sequences, these versions are the ones released on home video. The individual five-minute segments can be distinguished from one another by their retaining their individual titles for the compilation versions.
There were two other episodes: The Very Short Azumanga Daioh Movie, a six minute trailer released to movie theatres to publicize the upcoming television series, and Azumanga Web Daioh, a pilot episode under four minutes in length that appeared on the official Japanese Azumanga Daioh website for a limited time. Azumanga Web Daioh was originally intended to gauge whether there was enough interest to warrant creating a web-released series version of the manga; overwhelming demand resulted in the decision to abandon the original web-release plan in favor of television release. As a pilot, it featured different voice actors and music from the regular series.
In the United States, the anime was released on both a six DVD volume set September 9, 2005 and later a five DVD volume "Thinpak" set by ADV Films. The sixth DVD volume included The Very Short Azumanga Daioh Movie. The manga was published in English by ADV Manga. The two soundtracks to the anime were released in the United States by Geneon.
After the end of the animated series, a hoax of a live-action version of the show was announced to be created by the Tokyo Broadcasting System and Suntory which would be named either Azudorama Da Yo! or Azumanga Daioh: The Drama. Professional-looking promotional material and photos were prepared and presented on the internet with "actresses" who resembled their animated counterparts with a fair degree of likeness.
The title of the series has no particular significance to the story. "Azumanga" is a portmanteau of "Azuma" (the name of the series' creator) and "manga", while "Daioh" comes from the magazine in which it was originally published, Dengeki Daioh. Daioh is mentioned at the end of episodes, during the next episode previews, used in context to mean "king," or "great king."
The name Azumanga is the general term for Kiyohiko Azuma's works (illustrations and comics) as well. The titles of two work collections published in 1998 and 2001 containing official comics of Pioneer animations were Azumanga and Azumanga 2. Azumanga was published in the form of a reduced-size edition later, called Azumanga Recycle.
The Azumanga Daioh manga is short, totaling four volumes. Both the manga and the anime follow everyday Tokyo life through a Japanese high school which is never explicitly named. The audience follows the trials and triumphs of six girls: Sakaki
's obsession with cute animals, Chiyo
's struggle to fit in with an age group far above her own, Osaka's perspective on the world and Yomi
's patience with a playful best friend, Tomo
, whose energy is rivaled only by her total lack of sense, and Kagura
's efforts towards sports, school, and her friends.
Azumanga Daioh spans three years in which accounts of tests, culture festivals and athletic events are seen at the school. After school life plays a role in the story at the nearby shopping district and Chiyo's large house. Chiyo's summer home on the coast, an hour-long drive from Tokyo and the nearby theme park, Magical Land, are seen as places visited between school terms.
Azumanga Daioh generally follows everyday life but the series is occasionally marked by bursts of surrealism and absurdity, such as in an episode featuring the characters' New Year's dreams.
There are slight differences between the manga and the anime, such as the occasion when Yukari
and Miss Kurosawa go out in Episode three. Due to Azumanga Daioh's straightforward premise there are few outright changes between the manga and the anime, though some jokes simply could not be adapted to an animated format and were either changed significantly or excised completely. In the first manga volume, Osaka looks noticeably different from the anime and the succeeding volumes of the manga. In the same vein, Sakaki's initial unapproachable demeanor in the comic is downplayed for the television format.