Osaka's Scary Story / Feeling Different / December / Incredible Santa / Christmas Meeting (Japanese: 「大阪の怪談」 「気分転換」 「師走」 「すごいサンタ」 「クリスマス会」) is the seventeenth episode of Azumanga Daioh.
After school, Chiyo invites Osaka to the bookstore, since she wants to buy a panda photo album, prompting Osaka to question whether the fur of a panda is white on black or the opposite. After Tomo and Yomi are asked the same question, Osaka quickly changes the subject to mention a terrifying experience of smelling a fart that did not come from her. The next day, when Yukari comes for class, she declares being tired of teaching only language arts and starts an impromptu gym class, after a frustrated attempt with mathematics. She proposes a soccer match with her students, but after seeing her own ineptitude, she switches to dodgeball, though it seems that Tomo starts to tease Chiyo by throwing the ball over her head. Later at the teachers' lounge, Yukari is checking a mail order gift catalog, musing over its kosher foods, focusing solely on Matsuzaka beef however. Tomo and Kagura get into an argument at class concerning Chiyo's belief in Santa Claus, coming up with explanations regarding how gifts are given around the world in one night. When Chiyo settles the matter by saying that Santa Claus is her father, this leaves Sakaki overly flustered with Chiyo-Father on her mind. Then Tomo asks what Yomi would prefer as a gift, to which she responds with a request for a large sum of money. Chiyo answered with the necessity of having a star decorated on top of a Christmas tree in the station square. Then Kagura asks if reindeer exist. Tomo is convinced to disagree, although she is stood corrected. Tomo and Osaka soon figure out that the following year will be the Dragon of the Chinese zodiac. Chiyo is very serious of her academic progress, nonetheless Tomo is not very earnest of her future. On Christmas Eve, the girls decide to go to a karaoke bar to watch each other sing.
Chiyo tells Osaka about an upcoming panda photo album she wants to buy at the bookstore.
Osaka mentions she saw a panda on TV once.
Osaka tells the others she wants to see her life flashing before her eyes. In Japanese, she says she wants to see "soumatou". A "soumatou" is often translated as a "revolving lantern", because the shade of the lantern is made so that it spins. The shades have patterns on them, making the lantern cast various spinning shadows on the surrounding walls. Thus, in Japanese, the phenomenon of your life flashing before your eyes before you die is likened to the revolving lantern.
When Osaka tries to speak in normal Japanese, she uses the phrase "O-ha!" (short for おはよう, ohayou, "good morning"), which was popularized by Shingo Katori of the extremely popular 5-member pop group SMAP, as an example of how "normal" Japanese people talk. All members of the band are well-known for being entertainers and actors in addition to their singing careers. As Tomo points out, though, this is not a correct assumption as "O-ha!" is a made-up slang word.
Kimura asks Yukari if she is running because it's Christmas. In Japanese, "shiwasu" is an older word for December. It refers to the twelfth month of the lunar calendar (this does not quite line up with the modern day December). The Chinese characters for "shiwasu" are "instructor" and "run". Thus, in the original Japanese, Kimura is asking Yukari if she's running because it's "shiwasu", playing off its literal meaning of "running instructor". This is a very obtuse pun to reference. In English, "December" goes back a long way, so the best equivalent for an old name for December is "yule", which also sounds like "you'll" and thus was used in the English translation
Tomo asks the others about the old-fashioned name for Christmas. In Japanese, the months on a contemporary calender are literally written as "The First Month", "The Second Month", etc. Thus, in the original Japanese, Tomo actually asks, "What's December [the twelfth month] called again?" because Japanese months do not really have names. The answer to this is "shiwasu". However, Tomo deliberately mangles it and says "shirasu", which means "whitebait" or "young sardines". "Mule" was used in the translation since it is an animal and it rhymes with "yule".
Yukari initiates a P.E. class during which they play soccer, though Yukari does not seem to know the rules. She states that she will "be" the Hidetoshi Nakata (Mia Hamm in the dub), the most famous and world-renowned Japanese soccer player. He is one of the few Japanese athletes to go on to play for foreign teams. This confuses her students.
Yukari and Nyamo look in a gift catalogue. Nyamo asks Yukari if she's going to send out gifts. End of year gifts are generally given as a very formal "thank you". They are not given to family and friends, but to bosses, business partners, and other people you may feel a formal obligation to show some appreciation for. These gifts are usually fairly expensive.
Nyamo and Yukari discuss Matsuzaka beef. This is the ultimate beef there is in Japan. As an example of just what a luxury it is, a Matsuzaka cattle is worth roughly ¥50,000,000. The reason this beef is so expensive is because it is a special breed of cattle which is raised very carefully on beer and massaged to enhance the marbling and texture of the meat.
Christmas, which is celebrated by the girls, is largely a secular holiday in Japan where everyone goes through the motions of putting up Christmas trees, decorations, and handing out gifts without any religious overtones. This is because Christians make up less than 1% of the population. There is also the Christmas cake. The cake is just like any other cake for a special occasion; it just has "Merry Christmas" written on it with Christmas-like decorations.
Tomo asks Chiyo if Santa is a subterranean or if he comes from the depths of the sea. In Japan, the idea of intelligent civilizations hidden underground or at the bottom of the ocean is right up there with the idea that there are aliens in outer space. It is a much more common concept (if generally fictional) than it is overseas.
Osaka talks about making Christmas cards and asks Tomo what the Chinese zodiac animal of the following year will be. When they recite the Zodiac from rat to snake in Japanese, they say, "Nee, ushi, tora, uu, tatsu, mii". This traditional Japanese mnemonic device for remembering the Zodiac works well up until that point, but from there, it becomes less smooth, making it harder to remember. This is why they can't get past "snake". Also, while it is easy to intuitively tell which animal the first five terms refer to – "nee" stands for "nezumi", "ushi" is "ushi", "tora" is "tora", "uu" stands for "usagi", and "tatsu" is "tatsu". In Japanese, "snake" is "hebi", even though the term used is "mii" when they recite the Zodiac. Thus, at the end, Osaka and Tomo are unable to make the connection between "mii" and "snake" and are not sure what the Zodiac for next year should be. This is why "snake" was replaced by "adder" in the translation, so that this confusion could be at least somewhat plausible in English.
Yukari tells Tomo to go read her grandma's fountain of wisdom. This phrase generally refers to little tricks to doing things well or making things easier, usually having to do with home economics. Yukari talks about reading it because there are many books titled along these lines that cover such topics.
Osaka also discusses the issues with the lyrics of the Christmas carol "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer".
The girls go to a karaoke bar and sing.
When Tomo saw the panda she talks about.
If the girls ever went to look at pandas together.
Whatever Osaka meant by "American P.E." that Yukari supposedly was going to teach them.
When Chiyo ate Matsuzaka beef.
Why Chiyo was late to the girls' meet-up.
What Osaka's last test score was, and how it went for Chiyo when she sang (if she did).
Tomo's reaction to Yomi singing hints that she's heard it before, but when and in what context is unknown.
How Kimura got to the karaoke bar and what he was doing there.
The moment Sakaki hears about the panda photo album, she rushes to be able to get it sooner.
Chiyo and Osaka discuss what a panda really looks like, and they both try, but fail, to draw one accurately.
Yukari apparently gets tired of only teaching English and tries to teach her students math, but fails to do so and instead they have a P.E. class.
When Sakaki passes the football away from Yukari, the latter tells her students that they'll play dodgeball instead.
Kagura's and Tomo's discussion about how to explain away all the problems with Santa to a child. When Chiyo explains that Santa is really your father, Sakaki imagines Chiyo-chichi as Santa.
It is revealed that Tomo doesn't believe in reindeer, and she feels ashamed when her friends tell her the truth.
Concernin' pandas, so which parts are supposed to be white and which parts are black again?
— Osaka (to Chiyo)
Some time last night … I was aaaall alone in my room … when suddenly, outta nowhere … the smell of a fart that wasn't mine wafted into my nose.
OK, YOU CAN SIT DOWN!! I am sick and tired of being just an English teacher!! So instead, I'll be teaching you kids math today!
Now, how did we go straight from English to P.E.!?
Whether it's American or British, I won't be losin' to you, Sakaki!
— Kagura (before Yukari's P.E. class)
Yukari-sensei, you do know that's our goal, right?
— Yomi (when Yukari scored an own goal)
Actually, I was a spy for the other team!
— Yukari (to Yomi)
What's Yukari's class having P.E. for?
[Baby voice] "Ice cream"!! Does that mean you're just a little kid!? Or is it the discrepancy of the bourgeois?? MATSUZAKA BEEF IS MORE DELICIOUS, RIGHT!?
— Yukari (to Chiyo, when she said she wanted ice cream)
Chiyo-chaaaaan! Are you one of those people who still believes in Santa?
Don't underestimate him! Santa's got awesome lock-pickin' skills!! He can open anything!
— Kagura (to Tomo, when asked how Santa got into houses without a chimney)
Wooow! This is what we call a pure and unadulterated soul, my dear Yomi! One hundred trillion yen? EH!??
— Tomo (comparing Yomi's Christmas wish to Chiyo's)
[Starts laughing] This girl believes in reindeer!!
— Tomo (on Kagura)
Chiyo-chan, you're the top second year student! Not that this studying will be very useful to you once you're out in the real world.
If you wan't wisdom that's useful in life, go read grandma's fountain of wisdom or something.
— Yukari (to Tomo)
They have that one story about the red-nosed reindeer, right? I can't help thinkin' how terrible it is! Sure, his shiny nose may be real useful for dark roads at night, but that ain't no consolation! I mean, if you told a bald person that his head was useful on the road at night, you'd just get clobbered! Santa sure does say some mean things.
But the reindeer's also got its own issues! [Chiyo appears questioning] What kind of nose does he have that lights up the road, and where'd he get it from!? It just might be that he's not a real reindeer after all! I bet … he's somethin' else.
This girl is good at school and sports, but singing is the one thing she totally sucks at big-time!