7 October 2003 | MattGrif
Fun, but one for the fans
This short "trailer" for the subsequent TV series is a rather odd introduction to the world of Azumanga Daioh, but worthy of note.
The original comic strip was something of a sensation in Japan, and the first Internet-exclusive animated short proved so popular that further episodes were dropped in favour of producing a full TV series. This short film was made to bridge the gap and to please the fans eager to see more of Kiyohiko Azuma's characters in action.
Because of its length, we don't get any kind of formal introduction to the characters, so it could prove rather dizzying for those unfamiliar with the original comics or TV show. With much of the latter half of the film taken up with the "Chiyo's pigtails" sequence, the writers crammed so many gags into the first half that the action actually overlaps at points, which is rather distracting.
However, the film does have its charms. The animation production values are commendably high, with a far greater level of fluidity and detail than the TV series. Osaka's aforementioned encounter with Chiyo's pigtails is a fine taste of this popular character's bizarre mindset. The Japanese voice cast proved themselves to be ideal choices for their roles (the previous Web-exclusive short had a different and less distinguished cast), and their excellent performances are carried over into the TV series. One can easily imagine that, at the time of its release, fans were overjoyed to see some of their favourite jokes from the comics committed to celluloid. Viewers coming to this after seeing the TV series might be disappointed, especially considering most of the material was reworked with greater success in the first few TV episodes, but it is worth seeing if only for the sake of completeness.