Azumanga Daioh (Japanese: あずまんが大王 Azumanga Daiō) is a manga written and illustrated by Kiyohiko Azuma. It was published by MediaWorks in the magazine Dengeki Daioh from 1999 to 2002 and collected in four tankōbon volumes. It is drawn as a series of vertical four-panel comic strips called yonkoma and depicts the lives of a group of girls during their three years as high-school classmates. The story is set in chronological time – the second volume was made in 2000, and that was also the year of that volume's events.
- Main article: Azumanga Daioh Chapters
Azumanga Daioh chronicles everyday life in an unnamed high school in Japan. In the manga, the setting is never named. The anime is specifically set in Tokyo following the trials and triumphs of six girls: reserved Sakaki's obsession with cute animals, Chiyo's struggle to fit in with girls five years older, Osaka's spacey nature and skewed perspective on the world, Yomi's aggravation at an annoying best friend, Tomo, whose energy is rivaled only by her lack of sense, and Kagura's efforts in sports and school. The story covers three years of tests, culture festivals, and athletic events at school, after-school life at the nearby shopping district, at Chiyo's large house, vacations spent at Chiyo's summer home on the beach and at Magical Land, a theme park.
The manga and anime follow the same story line, though there are differences in small details. For example, when Yukari and Nyamo go out for dinner in episode three of the anime, Nyamo tells Yukari she is not holding her chopsticks correctly; in the manga version, it is Mr. Kimura who tells her this. In the first manga volume, Osaka's appearance is noticeably different from in the anime and succeeding manga volumes. This might be because the anime was created when the manga series was nearly finished, and the drawing style had already changed since the beginning. Hence, the anime was drawn in a style more similar to the drawing style of the later manga volumes than the early ones. In the same vein, Sakaki's initial unapproachable demeanor in the manga is downplayed in the anime.
CharactersList of Azumanga Daioh characters: The main cast of Azumanga Daioh consists of six schoolgirls and two of their teachers. Secondary characters include Kimura-sensei, a creepy male teacher with an unhealthy obsession with high school girls, and Kaorin, a classmate with a lesbian crush on Sakaki.
- Chiyo Mihama
- Also known as Chiyo-chan, who is considered amazingly cute by the other characters. Through her, the series humorously explores the consequences of skipping five grades to tenth grade.
- Tomo Takino
- An extremely energetic and competitive girl, despite being nonathletic and a slacker. Tomo's character is extremely impulsive and rarely considers the consequences of anything.
- Koyomi "Yomi" Mizuhara
- A grade-school friend and Tomo's general antagonist, Yomi as she is commonly known, is the title's voice of reason and straight man, carrying herself as the most mature and serious of the group. Though smart and athletic, she is constantly dissatisfied with herself due to her weight and is always trying various diets in an effort to become thinner.
- A tall, soft-spoken girl uncomfortable with her height and busty physique. She is misinterpreted as mysterious, or cool. She is naturally athletic but she has no real interest in sports. She is an emotionally sensitive person who holds a secret longing for cute things. She loves cats, but the neighborhood cats dislike her.
- Ayumu "Osaka" Kasuga
- More popularly known by her nickname Osaka (大阪), she is a transfer student from Osaka. Tomo quickly chose for her the nickname "Osaka" contrary to Ayumu's behavior, which is different from what Tomo sees as the "typical" Osakan. She has a mind that works differently than other people, prone to daydreaming, absentmindedness, etc.
- A girl who joins Yukari's class in the second year. Yukari selects her as a ringer to win the school athletic competitions. Originally in Nyamo's class and with little success in studies, she devotes her time to the swim team but is an all-around good athlete. She is genuinely nice to her classmates but is competitive and has a slight obsession with Sakaki.
- Yukari Tanizaki
- The girls' English and homeroom teacher (class 3), with very unconventional methods and a close relationship with the class. Her students are casual enough to call her by her first name: Yukari-sensei, and even use the very informal and intimate name and title of "Yukari-chan". She can be moody and, like Tomo, is incredibly impulsive and has a tendency not to think things through. Yukari has a rivalry/friendship with Minamo and attempts to prove that she is the superior teacher. Yukari is known for being an absolutely horrible driver with a car beaten entirely with dents. Yukari's driving skills are responsible for Chiyo-chan developing an occasional phobia to riding in cars.
- Minamo "Nyamo" Kurosawa
- A gym teacher at the girls' school. In the girls' first year of high school, she was the homeroom teacher of class 5. During their last two years, she was the homeroom teacher of class 2. She is an old high school friend and rival of Yukari, who occasionally refers to her by an old nickname of Nyamo (にゃも), despite Minamo's wishes to the contrary. Popular with the students, Minamo is nicer and in greater control of herself than Yukari, but, in moments of weakness, Minamo has proven that she can be just as vulnerable to losing control as is Yukari. She likes to gossip about Yukari to the students, but doesn't do so because Yukari has blackmail material on Minamo from back when they were students.
Azumanga Daioh was originally published in four-panel (yonkoma) format by MediaWorks in the magazine Dengeki Daioh from February 1999 to May 2002 and collected in four volumes. A new three volume edition titled Azumanga Daioh Supplementary Lessons (Azumanga Daiō Hoshūhen) was released in Japan to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the manga. Each of the three 16 page chapters took place during each school year in ascending order, volume one taking place in the first year. Author Kiyohiko Azuma uses his new drawing style in these newer volumes (a set of three, one for each school year), making them look very similar to an ongoing comedy manga of his titled Yotsuba&!. Besides drawing new chapters, Kiyohiko Azuma redrew a large portion of the entire series for the anniversary edition, even changing certain joke punchlines, title pages and character designs. For example, the boy whose bike is stolen by Yukari in an early chapter is changed to a girl, possibly Chihiro (this could be for continuity reasons, seeing as Chihiro is a much more recurring character than the aforementioned boy).
The series is licensed in English in North America and the United Kingdom by ADV Manga, who has released all four volumes, with the fourth being released on April 20, 2004. ADV later reprinted the series on November 7, 2007 in an omnibus edition (ISBN 978-1-4139-0364-5). A new English translation was later collected in an omnibus by Yen Press.
- Main article: Azumanga Daioh Episodes
The television anime, Azumanga Daioh: the Animation, was produced by J.C.Staff and aired from April 8, 2002 until September 30, 2002. It was broadcast on TV Tokyo, TV Aichi, TV Osaka, and AT-X in five-minute segments every week, then repeated as a 25-minute compilation later on. The compilation episodes, which were the only versions to include the title and credits sequences, were released on VHS and DVD.
There have been two other animated adaptations: 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 shorter pilot episode 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 create a web-released anime adaptation; because of overwhelming demand, the original plan for web-release was changed to a television release. As a pilot, it featured different voice actors and music from the regular series.
In the United States, the television anime was released in a six DVD volume set September 9, 2005 and then later in a five DVD volume "Thinpak" set. The sixth DVD volume included The Very Short Azumanga Daioh Movie.