Gia on Azumanga

February 24th, 2009 by Author

Gia’s article at AnimeVice reminds us about the 10th anniversary of the original manga run. It’s going to be three long years until the anniversary of anime.

Azuma’s manga upon which it’s based is a 4koma comic strip, and in my opinion helped pave the way for later such strips to be made into anime (Lucky Star and Sunshine Sketch, anyone?). Okay, admittedly, it’s not like it was the first– Sazae-san, whose anime adaptation started in ’69, was a 4koma, as did Di Gi Charat, but still.

It’s a common knowledge that Hiroshi Nishikiori’s seminal work essentially created the genre, but as Gia’s hedges show, things are rarely that simple. Did he, or did he not? I think he did, if we just look at sheer numbers of Azumangesque series before and after, in just few short years. Fair or not, from 2002 on series like Aria and Sketchbook are judged against the Azumanga yardstick. Even Shinbo was unable to repeat the accomplishment, although certainly Hidamari has a lot going for it.

UPDATE: Oh god, Omo Omo Omo. Who does, indeed? The first hit on google is the infamous hater of good anime Charles Solomon:

Although Akari can be a bit of a klutz at times, her existence is so tame and wholesome, it makes “The Bobsey Twins” feel like life in the fast lane. Some critics complained that the popular Azumanga Daioh, like Seinfeld, wasn’t about anything. But the girls in that high school cast acted like real individuals; Akari and her friends behave so well they suggest throwbacks to a ’50s juvenile novel.

Before you tell me that Solomon has no clue, the question was not about the validity of comparisons, but about the certain frame of reference that Azumanga has introduced. Solomon does not build a feature table with checkboxes, he just refers to a part of common knowledge. His message is: you want to understand Aria, watch Azumanga. Which is bogus, since the latter is harder to understand properly than the former. Nonetheless it’s a common way to drive the critique.

In any case, let’s see what Scott VonShilling says about it when he lands Mr. Solomon’s former job.

UPDATE: Answering J.P.Meyer’s question, Charles Solomon is the MSM’s to-go guy for anime. Here’s a blurb of his interview on NPR “Why Is ‘Naruto’ So Popular?” of January 26, 2009:

Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto is one of the most popular manga series in the U.S. Madeleine Brand talks with animation expert Charles Solomon about what led the Japanese series to top USA Today’s bestseller list.

Among bloggers, the foremost anime expert in America found his fame with the hate he piled on beloved classics like Shingu in reviews on Amazon. It goes a while back and I may not remember the precise details. It may be his review of Haibane Renmei I’m thinking about. I expected everyone to know who Solomon was, since he’s so odious.

Maybe it’s the way blogs displaced the traditional media, or maybe it’s just our isolated “submarine” living on the blogs, that resulted in VonSchilling being better known than Solomon.

A READER’S TIP: Don publishes Solomon’s Best (including the “languid gay instructor” who IIRC is the one who’s traumatised by the death of his wife). Don is on my blogroll, but I forgot about that post.