Azumanga Daioh

 AZUD   (ADV Manga, 2003)

™ and © ADV Manga

While every other publisher is busily worshipping at the alter of the “manga-size” paperback, AD Vision bucks the trend with this larger than usual volume It’s also a departure when it comes to subject matter and storytelling, since it tells the story of a year in the life of a high-school class through a series of four-panel “comic strips.”

Thanks to differences in Japanese and American humor, sometimes the individual “strips” don’t seem to have a “joke,” as we know them, but when the collection is taken as a whole, we get a feel for the characters and teachers and feel for them. Especially Sakaki, the tall, stoic but secretly shy girl whose love of animals is in no way reciprocated—or her English teacher Miss Yukari, who runs in terror at the first sign of a (brrr) “foreigner.”

It’s a series that breaks all the rules of mainstream manga: no fantasy, no romance, no cliché characters or situations. It just goes to show you what manga can be when creators aren’t afraid to play with genre conventions and reader expectations or feel compelled to endlessly drag out a single story. I’s a lot of fun, except for Mr. Kimura; I know the Japanese just love their “comic perverts,” but you’ll forgive me if I don’t find the idea of a teacher pursuing his students that funny.

— S.A. Bennett

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  11/1/2003
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