Azumanga Daioh Omnibus Edition

UK Distributor:  ADV Manga

Author:  Kiyohiko Azuma

Suggested Retail Price (SRP):  £17.99

Number of Pages:  686

ISBN:  978-1413903645

Reviewed:  13th April 2008

Reviewer:  Tom (Webmaster)


School: Apparently it is meant to be the best part of your life and where your future self will be shaped.  When you leave you will feel genuine sadness at what you leave behind and be fearful of the challenges that lie ahead. 


I am sorry, but for me and everyone I know we do not hold this view as my and their careers where what really shaped us.  School was not the life-changing experience that it was meant to be according to all those TV dramas and it is with this view that I entered the world of Azumanga Daioh (AMD) – a manga that it is based around school friends and their everyday lives.  When I reached the end of the manga my view of school had changed. 

Unlike most other manga that has been released in the West, AMD is set in four panel comic strips like those that you find in an everyday newspaper.  I was weary of this layout as manga is often so focused on plot that I could not see how this layout could work as I was expecting AMD to focus on the usual romance, teen angst and coming-of-age stuff that are always associated with school-based novels and films.  It came as a surprise then that AMD did not really deal with these issues but instead focused on friendship and nothing else, just what it means to be friends.  It is difficult to describe, but AMD’s strength is that it perfectly captures what it means to be friends without resulting to the usual OTT situations such as drug-taking, boyfriend quibbling or malicious gossiping.  AMD is simply about a group of female friends and the everyday jokes and events that we all experience.  That’s it really and the lack of any serious plot or drama makes AMD work brilliantly.  It is simple to dive in and out of and fantastic fun to read. 

Anything else?  Well, something that impressed me is that anyone can enjoy AMD since it does not deal with any heavy issues and its comic strip format makes it particularly good to ease manga newcomers into Japanese culture as AMD has it by the bucketload, but ensure culture references never complicate proceedings.  Hardcore fans will enjoy the bizarre moments (e.g. dream sequences) and the newcomers will find joy in the warmth of the friendships forged. 

Above all AMD is a modern classic that everyone should purchase immediately.  Whether or not you enjoyed your schooling days, you will still recognise what those days meant by the time you have finished.  Hey, maybe school wasn’t so bad after all. 

ps. I apologise for all the cheesy ‘wasn’t school great?’ comments I have made in this review, please please note that AMD is nowhere near as cheesy as made out by my good self, so don’t worry – AMD is pretty much cheese free and absolutely brilliant! ;-)


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