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Azumanga Daioh: Omnibus by Kiyohiko Azuma (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

December 15, 2009 by  



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An enjoyable series cool and hilarious characters, “Azumanga Daioh” is a manga series that is worth reading. And for its price and its delightful, fun storyline, “Azumanga Daioh: The Omnibus” deserves a 5-star ranking! Highly recommended!

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© 2002 by Riichiro Inagaki, Yusuke Murata. All Rights Reserved.

MANGA TITLE: Azumanga Daioh: Omnibus

STORY & ART BY: Kiyohiko Azuma

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Media Works

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: Yen Press

RATED: Teen T LS

RELEASE DATE: December 15, 2009

The best high school stories are simultaneously funny, warm, and endearing – but most importantly, the characters come alive on the page. Get to know the girls who set a new standard for the high school experience! Sakaki – strong and silent with a soft and fuzzy center
Chiyo – a towering intellect wrapped in a ten-year-old package
Tomo – The Mouth
Yomi – should stop eating if she wants to lose weight
Osaka – well, she’s…different

The original phenomenon from Kiyohiko Azuma, beloved creator of YOTSUBA&!, is collected in this deluxe edition and is an absolute necessity for any manga enthusiast’s library!

Back in 1999, mangaka Kiyohiko Azuma would create a four-panel comic strip (yonkoma) known as “Azumanga Daioh”. A series that would earn its place as one of the fan favorites worldwide for its slice of life and delightful storyline may it be through the manga or anime series, Yen Press will be re-releasing the collected manga as a 672-page omnibus featuring newer translations (different from the ADV Manga release) and translation notes.

The yonkama was featured in MediaWorks’ Dengeki Daioh shonen manga magazine from 1999 to 2002 and the storyline focuses on the lives of several female high school students during their three years in high school before graduating. The story tends to feature a school year, may it be the school sports competition, the field trip amongst friends, friends sleeping over each other’s home, friends talking in class or their thoughts about the teachers or how the teachers feel about them.

But also panels featuring on each member as Tomo irritates everyone, Sakaki wanting to get close to a neighborhood cat that continually bites her, Chiyo wanting to fit in with her fellow students who are older, Osaka having the wildest imagination and more!

The students featured in “Azumanga Daioh” are:

  • Chiyo Mihama – A child prodigy that has skipped five grades to 10th grade and comes from a wealthy family. Very intelligent for her age and is the cute character of the group. She has pigtails which the students never have seen her without and wonder if they can be removed or if they give her flying abilities. Because of her short stature, she often rides on the back of her Great Pyrenees dog named Mr. Tadakichi.
  • Tomo Takino – The loudmouth and slacker that tends to be blunt in her comments towards others. She irritates people around her especially Yomi. Her grades are not the greatest.
  • Koyomi “Yomi” Mizuhara – The classmate that wears glasses and is often bitter. She is always not so happy with her weight and she is often bothered by Tomo.
  • Sakaki – The athletic and busty student that is known for her great athletic ability but in truth, she is a big fan of cats and cute things. But each time she gets closer to a neighborhood cat, she is often bitten by them.
  • Ayumu “Osaka” Kasuga – The naive and not so smart student with no athletic ability. She is often sleeping in class, day dreaming or thinks up the most bizarre things.
  • Kagura – Sakaki’s athletic rival that joins the class with the others during their second year. Like Sakaki, aside from being athletic, she is also busty.
  • Kaori – A student who is infatuated with Sakaki. She’s very shy and can be neurotic. She is not featured as much.
  • Yukari Tanizaki – The teacher of the students that drives badly, always freeloads at her friend Nyamo’s house. Often jealous of Chiyo’s wealthy status and often gets drunk when staying at Nyamo’s house.
  • Minamo “Nyamo” Kurosawa – The gym teacher and a rival and old high school friend of Yukari. She is the opposite of Yukari but Yukari always tries to show how much superior she is over her.
  • Kimura – The perverted teacher who is blunt about wanting to see the female students in their bloomers or swimsuits. Married to a beautiful woman and has a child despite being a pervert.

Prior to reading “Azumanga Daioh”, I watched the anime series which I absolutely loved!

Years later, I ended up reading the omnibus and for the money, nearly 700 pages for the price is magnificent. It probably took me about a month and half, off-and-on to read as it is one of those stories that you can read quickly but you want to savor the enjoyment of the series by reading several of the four-panels per day.

While there are some chapters that are in manga-like format, the majority of all pages feature a four panel storyline and I can’t help but laugh and just enjoy this magnificent series for its quirky characters.

Each have their own charm in their own type of way. Chiyo Mihama is a child prodigy that looks like she has two pigtails attached to her and because she is younger and smart but not as athletic, she is often teased by the older students and put into situations where she is made to look cute but is unaware if she’s being taken for a ride or not. Her naivety and her kind nature makes her a fun character.

Sakaki is the tall, athletic student with a hidden soft side. Her love for cats is quite huge and it’s something she doesn’t discuss with others. But as she tries to get close to cats, the keep biting her for some reason.

And while I enjoyed every character for their certain personalities, the person that bewilders me and that is why I consider her my favorite is Osaka. She is so unusual, naive and your absolute airhead. Whenever she speaks, you know that only hilarious things come from her mouth.

In one strip, she believes that she will pass her college entrance exam if she can break off a chopstick evenly. Each time she does it, she fails and thus, she thinks she will fail her test. Until Chiyo teaches her how.

She and also Sakaki have unusual dreams of Chiyo’s father, which looks like an alien cat creature. It’s not really mentioned why the two have these unusual dreams but they are hilarious when they do have them and Chiyo’s father in alien cat form shows up.

And then you have the Kimura the pervert who says the most perverted things to his class at the wrong moments or the teachers Yukari and Nyamo often engaged in arguments or some competition, with Yukari nearly as bad as Tomo.

But there are so many wonderful but quick four-panel strips in this omnibus. At nearly 700 pages, its thicker than my telephone books and for an omnibus, it’s the largest size that I have ever seen.

It’s important to note that while the manga is the same as the ADV Manga release in terms of storyline, the primary difference is the translations and added translation notes and color pages plus an index.  So, in many ways, this version is much better for those who want to know more about the Japanese wording featured in the manga series.  For example, when the group goes to Okinawa to eat Saataa andagii, at the end of the chapter, one can look it up and find out what it is.

The older ADV omnibus is a little taller by half an inch and there is translation notes but not as in detail as the one featured in the Yen Press version.

There is a good amount of translation notes that will make those who want to learn about Japanese culture, worth their while.

With that being said, in terms of translations, I think it will be subjective.  This will be the case with the character of Osaka.  In this manga series, it seems that the goal was to make Osaka seem she came from the country by using “ah’m” instead of “I’m”, instead of “I”, it’s typed as “ah” and instead of “them”, she says “’em”.  For me, I don’t think it was necessary to go that far.  I do understand the translator trying to show the difference between Kanto and Kansai speakers but while different dialects, it’s almost like comparing someone from California and someone else from Alabama.  The Southern twang in my opinion was not necessary. But I can see why it was done, so it’s subjective.

And for the most part, not everyone is going to buy both omnibus, so if you were going to purchase the “Azumanga Daioh: Omnibus”, it’s a great value for something this big at $25.   And the added translation notes and index make it worth owning even more.  But with that being said, the ADV Manga was still good sans the translation notes and because it was released several years ago, that version can be found used for a cheaper price.

Otherwise, the Yen Press release of “Azumanga Daioh” is fantastic!

An enjoyable series featuring cool and hilarious characters, “Azumanga Daioh” is a manga series that is worth reading!  And for its price and its delightful, fun storyline, “Azumanga Daioh: The Omnibus” deserves a 5-star ranking!

Highly recommended!

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