The short version: It’s a story about a bunch of loopy girls in school with a few loopy teachers. It’s funny as hell.
If you have heard of Azumanga Daioh but don’t know why Yuri fans should care, read my original review of the Yuri content first.
If you know about Azumanga Daioh and are just considering buying the US released DVDs, you might want to read my initial reviews of Azumanga Daioh Vols. 1,2, 3.
Which brings us, at last, to Volume 4. I picked this up in time to keep me company on the train back from a work-related conference in Washington, DC. It was the perfect anime to watch on the ride home, since it appears to be the funniest volume so far…or so I inferred from my continuing hysterics for well over an hour. In fact, I laughed so hard my stomach hurt.
To start, this is a 5-episode volume. I think that that should be the standard for a DVD, personally, with 6 from time to time as a bonus. Reversible cover seems to be the standard now – I approve. (Especially when one has gone and bought a box for the set – the reversible covers end up like little mini-posters that have some actual “keep and enjoy” value.)
Story-wise, Vol. 4 has alot to recommend it. It is, for one thing, insanely funny, and full of abundant cuteness provided by Chiyo-chan. On the down side, there’s a lot of Yomi-bashing, for some reason, which bothered me the first time around and isn’t any less irritating this time. I don’t really understand why fate keeps crapping on her, when Tomo is so wretched, but there you go, another mystery of life unsolved. But overall, this has been the best of all the volumes, with, perhaps (depending on who your favorite character is…) the very best yet to come.
The animation remains the same as the first volumes, of course. The DVD includes those amazingly detailed liner notes, but no toy surprise which was a bit of a bummer.
The sound quality kept fading in and out for me, but might have been any number of problems, including the earphones I was using, so I won’t hold that against the DVD itself.
And the translation is, at least, consistent. The honorific “-chan” is left as is, the others are ignored or translated according to some arcane alchemical formula which, assumably, is understood by the translators, (who feel that “Miss Yukari” can be an appropriate translation for “Yukari-chan”, “Yukari”, “Yukari-sensei” and “Sensei.” Do not ask me to explain – I do not know.)
So, I’m looking forward to the next DVD, as always, and have found that embarrassing one’s self by busting a gut in public is totally worth it when you are watching something as truly hysterical and wacky as Azumanga Daioh. ^_^
Ratings: Remain the same as previously. Overall 8, a must-have.
Oh, since *this* is the disk where Kaorin gets the rainbow jets and wedding bells (when she is recruited to do a 3-legged race with Sakaki-san,) maybe we’ll jump the Yuri rating to ‘8’ too. ^_^
Erratum: One of the liner notes in the first disk has a comment by a staffer that, after Chihiro’s first scene (she’s the classmate being helped by Chiyo-chan in the beginning,) she becomes background noise and kind of disappears into the story, never to be seen again, except maybe for one line. I am glad to report that he was wrong. I have been rooting for Chihiro since then, looking to see if she comes back and she does – repeatedly. She and Kaorin made the penguin costume Chiyo-chan wears, and she is also supposed to have been Kaorin’s 3-legged race partner. So, gambare Chihiro! Don’t disappear! ^_^