Monday, January 16, 2017

Azumanga Analysis -- Takino Tomo

When I was watching the series to get an idea of the characters, I took the most notes on Tomo.  She's surprisingly deep for a flavor character.  A flavor character is someone in a story who is there to be interesting and provoke interesting reactions from other characters.  Which Tomo does with flying colors.  But she also can't quite be fully summarized by her wildcat idiot label.  In fact, Tomo's kind of a genius.   Stupidity and intelligence are fully capable of coinciding with each other, for some reason.

But of course Tomo isn't a genius by natural talent.  She's a pathetic scholar, because she's not really capable of putting her energy into studying without extra motivation.  It's like when she was first in the relay race of a sports fest -- she's very energetic, but she's not capable of using that energy efficiently.  This is something that affects every area of Tomo's life.  So in the end, we don't really know her natural talents because she's too busy being over-enthusastic to settle down in any of them.

In the manga, it mentions once that Tomo would be a good cheerleader.  I'm sad that this never really made it into the anime, but it's pretty much the perfect career for Tomo.  Sadly, I also think it's too girly to have much appeal.  Despite how Tomo insists that she's cute, Tomo isn't really interested in girly-girl things -- she likes to have a cool side, too.   Granted, maybe she'll realize that it's a good idea, but for the time being she still thinks she has better options.

Where Tomo really excels?  Will.  Tomo's strength of will is the greatest of anyone in the franchise.  Only Kagura's comes close, which is one reason why Tomo declares them rivals.  Tomo's will keeps her confident in the face of her own lack of talent, refusing to let her see that she really is a wildcat idiot. 

This is why I say that Tomo is a genius.  She knows in her heart that she isn't as smart or athletic as other girls, so she figures out ways that are both clever and dumb to manage to be "equal" to them.  For example, in the first episode, when neither she or Chiyo can answer a question in class, Tomo declares that they are both the same.  This isn't true, of course, but it's a funny way of dealing with natural inequality. 

This is the same sort of thing she does when she picks out certain passages to study for her second year exams, and when she decides that since she can't win a marathon, that she'll be in first place for the first kilometer.  When you think of this in terms of passing a test or winning a race, it's stupid.  But when you see it as a way to manage stress, it suddenly becomes sensible.  In a way, Tomo is setting a goal for herself and then achieving it.  Unlike Kagura, however, part of how Tomo sets her goals is by knowing how much she can achieve.  Kagura thinks she can win a marathon, so she tries.  Tomo knows she can't win a marathon, so she she tries something that takes less effort.  While there is some merit to what Tomo is doing, it in the end proves that Kagura has both a better attention span and willingness to put in effort.  So while Tomo might feel good about herself, Kagura actually placed well.

That's the downfall of Tomo.  She rarely tries for things that take sustained effort.  While her "short spurt" approach has supported her some, it won't help her sustain a career.  And who knows if she'll actually try to join the ICPO?  She'd just as likely think of some other idea and give that a try.  Just like getting into high school -- Tomo tried desperately hard to get in just to piss off Yomi, but after clear, concrete evidence that she can do well, she gave it up, because doing well in school just takes too much work.  Not even the thought of pissing off Yomi by doing better than her on a test seems enough to motivate Tomo now.

That's not to say Tomo brings nothing to the group.  She does have a talent, one that the other girls don't seem much blessed with.  And it is: the leadership talent.  Now, while I personally believe that all people can lead in one way or another, people who don't have much in the way of the specific leadership talent generally depend on circumstances to tell them when their expertise is best.  Tomo doesn't.  She immediately takes charge, and she has no expertise to reference.  What she does have is a group of friends with a wide range of talents and interests.  And knowing the best way to use those talents and interests, as well as being able to read a situation, is what the leadership talent is all about.

Note that Tomo takes charge a lot.  In the first sports fest, she sets Chiyo up for a speech, and later leads everyone to the tug-of-war event.  She's the one who led a "victory parade" at the end of the first culture fest, the one who provided a "logical" reason why they should go to Magical Land without Yomi, and persuaded everyone to eat lunch early in the second year.  Indeed, when she gave Ayumu her nickname "Osaka", everyone immediately accepted it.  Not one person questioned why the wildcat idiot was telling them what to do.  Heck, even Nyamo uses it. 

It's a bit early to say this, but my favorite Tomo moment perfectly illustrates my point.  The girls have just discovered that Kimura's wife is at the sports fest, and they want to find out if she's a good person or not.  Tomo, in mere seconds, comes up with the test of rolling a soda can and seeing if Kimura's wife picks it up.  The test works perfectly, demonstrating Tomo's ability to think on her feet.

Everything I've been saying to this point confirms Tomo's ability to handle pressure.  Anyone else would have buckled under the pressure of their circumstances, their peers, or their own mistakes.  Not our Tomo!  She doesn't let anything get her down.  Which is probably unhealthy in one way or another, but that's beyond the scope of the show.

If you're wondering why I'm going on so long about Tomo's good points, it's because her bad points are so obvious.  You don't need me to tell you that Tomo is an annoying, unproductive dummy.  Her impulses become actions (like stealing the key and throwing it away) to render everyone else pissed off at her. 

With the exception of Osaka.  If you'll notice, Tomo doesn't aggravate or attempt to rival Osaka past the first episode (except for the hiccups stunts, but everyone was in on that).  In that episode, she thinks she's getting an Osakan stereotype, and Kasuga Ayumu defied everything she knew about the city by being a quiet and reflective ditz.  You'd think that because Tomo enjoys picking on Chiyo that she'd do the same for Osaka.  Nope.  Chiyo and Yomi are vulnerable to Tomo for clear reasons: Chiyo is small and Yomi reacts quickly to anything out of her comfort zone.  They are thus far easier for Tomo to get at.  Osaka is surrounded by an impenetrable barrier of her own indifference, and Tomo can neither understand her nor find any reason to mock her.

But another reason why Osaka isn't a target is because she takes Tomo very seriously.  Keep an eye out for any moment where Tomo is telling a story.  Osaka's normally listening intently.  She's also the first one to agree when Tomo mentions having a victory parade.  Any time Tomo introduces a new idea, Osaka never disagrees with or questions it.  Tomo even reciprocates this attentiveness, to a degree.  As a result, Tomo doesn't seem to feel the need to poke fun at Osaka.

The key here is that Tomo craves attention.  She can get it from Osaka easily, so she doesn't try that hard for her.  But when it comes to Yomi and Chiyo, they would much rather be doing something reasonable.  Kagura is sort of in the middle, because while she listens to Tomo on occasion, she also provokes mischief from her too.  Sakaki's introversion makes her less of a target, as is her self-control  -- no entertainment to be found there. 

Tomo so much craves attention that she's willing to get it even from acting a fool.  She'll mess up Chiyo's jump rope session, make pointless challenges, and tell negative stories about how she got into that school just to make people pay attention.  Attention is a drug for her, and it makes it seem like Tomo grew up in a family full of pranksters and silly people (see: summer vacation festival) that she had to fight for attention to get anyone to notice her.  And she continues to fight in high school, despite the fact nobody there is as hyper as her family.

Tomo also expects to be mocked.  She feels strange in the final year when Chiyo quickly notices the cleverness of her riddles.  Likewise, when she's roughhousing with Kagura and Kagura knocks down the tent, Tomo is surprised that Kagura feels bad about it.  Tomo herself doesn't feel at all bad, as though she's denying herself the option of feeling that way.  And she doesn't feel comfortable until Kagura is yelling at her again.  Tomo doesn't mind being known as a screw up, so long as she's being known.

It's funny.  As much as Yomi is shown to be closest to Tomo, Tomo herself doesn't feel that close to her.  Through Tomo we see Yomi's weaknesses, but we never at all see Tomo's inner being.  At best we get a few hints of it, but her loud behavior prevents anyone from really knowing her.  As much as she pokes at Yomi for fun, she's actually closer to Kagura and Osaka.  Because Kagura is less self-controlled than Sakaki and less mature than Yomi or Chiyo, she can play with Tomo on a more level field.  They're actually sort of equals, on an emotional level -- in the game of life Kagura is still going to far outdo her, but Tomo can't see a vulnerability in Kagura that she herself doesn't likewise have. 

Bah, it's so hard putting words to it.  Watch the show!  Kagura and Tomo totally act like doofuses together, and it's undeniable they accept each other.  Kagura almost seems to admire Tomo's ability to be happy despite failing, and she doesn't feel bad admitting to Tomo that she got a lower score on her exam.  Kagura knows that Tomo will understand her.

The other bonkura, Osaka, is the other person Tomo is close to.  They're less close, as it's less fun to aggravate Osaka, but Tomo clearly appreciates Osaka's willingness to listen to her.  It almost seems like Tomo knows the depths of Osaka's nonsense, but having a follower is too nice for Tomo to take for granted.  This is why Kagura is closer, as she has greater credibility.  Kagura is the best of both Yomi and Osaka, so far as being Tomo's friend goes. 

Yukari is almost certainly a bad influence on Tomo.  If you look carefully, you can kinda tell that Tomo is more Tomo as the series goes on.  During the first year, Tomo sees Yukari and Nyamo arguing on the street, and that causes both her and Osaka to give up on their plans to act silly.  But in the third year Tomo is referring to her teachers with the -chan suffix and stating in the middle of class her sympathy with Yukari's worst impulses.  It's as if Tomo allows her most annoying side through because she knows Yukari will let her get away with it.  Any hopes Yomi might have had about school ridding Tomo of her nonsense are entirely dashed.

But there are still plenty of differences between Yukari and Tomo.  The similarity between these two is definitely stronger than between Nyamo and Yomi, but their differences are enough to ensure Tomo doesn't turn out like her teacher, assuming the absence of some horrible event, or that Tomo's will doesn't give out on her. 

That's the primary difference between the two.  Yukari is strong willed, but her strong will is like hanging from a ledge by your knuckles -- she's desperately trying to deny the depressing nature of her life and behavior that she has to be strong simply to stay up.  Tomo, on the other hand, has it pretty good.  She's surrounded by friends and has her entire future before her.

Likewise, Tomo could never be a teacher.  Yukari takes great pride in her english, and this pride enables her to do her job well.  Tomo not only lacks a clear and objective talent like this, but any particular need to rub in it others' faces.  Sure, Tomo's New Year's dream proves she has a love for beating her "rivals", but Tomo is clearly content so long as people are paying attention to her. 

Take for example her behavior at Chiyo's birthday party.  She gave Chiyo a box with a paper that says "feelings" on it, and a toy magic wand.  Despite Tomo opening the segment by calling it a birthday present contest, Tomo clearly wasn't at all trying to have the best, most expensive, or most practical present.  In fact, she seemed upset that everyone was talking about names for stuffed cats rather than about her antics, and changed the topic to an inane denial of a baseball team's ability to do well.  It wasn't even an interesting conversation, but Tomo preferred the focus on herself, even if what she says makes Chiyo mad.

As a reverse of this, Yukari doesn't care too much about people's attention.  So long as Yukari feels good enough about herself, she is content to nap and play video games all day.  She doesn't need to be admired by all (and indeed her need for superiority conflicts with her need for admiration), and she doesn't have the energy of a wildcat.  And as much as she likes to use other people for her own amusement, it does not appear to be her primary source of fun.  In fact, annoying other people seems more of a side affect of Yukari trying to do something else, much of the time.

Yukari also seems to enjoy other people acting foolishly or being unprepared (see: any time she leaves another person in front of an english speaker).  Tomo would rather behave foolishly than watch anybody else do anything.  Tomo is also not obsessed with fancy foods. 

And on a leadership level, Yukari is best when she sits on the sidelines and lets her students make decisions for themselves.  She's pretty good at facilitating, if for no other reason than she's not at all controlling.  Tomo can actually make people follow her whims, even her silly ones.  Tomo's the sort of leader whose risk-enjoying nature makes her the kind of person who could shake things up and provide innovation to old ideas, and any occupation needs innovation to survive and make progress.

In the end, however, Yukari probably did have some positive influence.  That is, Tomo could constantly see the a person similar to her, living an awkward life that's absent of achievement.  If Tomo is smart enough, she'll learn from this.  Big "if", huh?

I already mentioned my favorite, but my second favorite Tomo moment is when she is walking with Osaka and Chiyo, and the latter two can't help but accept tissues from the charity workers in the street.  Tomo here is counseling them on how to avoid being taken in, and for just this one scene, Tomo is the solid, mature one.  She's not running around, doing something stupid, saying something stupid, or annoying other people.  She's even helping other people.  It's one of two moments where Tomo is actually living the self she brags about being.  The other is when Tomo is asking Yomi what she wants for Christmas, but Yomi's sourness ruins Tomo's temporary goodwill.  If Yomi had answered honestly, Tomo probably would have bought her what she wanted.

Tomo may have the leadership talent, but the trouble with such a talent is that one can be a leader anywhere, and so being good at leadership can take a person nearly every place that exists.  Thus, it becomes somewhat difficult to narrow down her potentials.   Tomo --
- becomes a drunken partier in college, ending up in a bad relationship and not really doing anything with herself.
- gets frustrated with her own lack of talent, giving up on herself before discovering what she's really good at.
- becomes a cheerleader.
- bums a job from Chiyo or another friend.
- gets into a serious accident from her wild behavior, possibly ending up dead.
- slowly loses her teenage energy over time, and settles for a more normal life.
- becomes an actress.
- realizes how annoying she is and continually, not to mention hilariously, struggles to change her ways. 
- joins with Osaka in some half-baked, idiot scheme that gets the both of them in trouble and/or makes them lose all their money.  And maybe some of Yomi's money too.
- becomes a tour guide for vacationers. 
- becomes an airline stewardess and uses her flight privileges to travel to many places.

Tomo seems far better-natured than Yukari.  She hasn't yet become bitter about life, and she still has every chance to get ahead.  But like the quest to destroy the One Ring, Tomo's life stands on the edge of a knife.  Either she uses her energy productively, or her passions will destroy everything she hopes for.

Takino Tomo's ending: ----- Enough Drama for a Wildcat -----

Much to everyone's surprise, Tomo actually tries to become a cop instead of just talking about it.  She makes some progress to that end, but her discipline issues leave her in constant trouble in the force.  Tomo manages in the end to only become a security guard.  Kagura, however, has a sporting event in Japan, so she hires Tomo to be on her security detail.  The other Azugirls arrive to the event, excited to watch as Kagura competes. 

However, a political disagreement causes a lone man to want to cause trouble, and he starts shooting at the event.  Tomo stops him, but is shot in the process.  Because those holding the event wanted to avoid giving the shooter's political aims any publicity, the sporting event continues as planned.  Kagura doesn't find out what happened until the event is over.  It's revealed that Tomo's dumb antics actually provoked the man into shooting sooner, so he never got a chance to shoot many people.  In fact, no one else was hurt.

Tomo is in critical condition in the hospital, but after a day or so it seems that she'll live.  Her injuries will take several weeks to fully heal, and she has to spend a full week in the hospital.  During her last night there, Yomi visits.  Tomo, frightened by her brush with death, tells Yomi that she's going to give up and just settle for a normal life, like Yomi's.  Yomi is silent for a moment, then confesses to Tomo that she's been living vicariously through her.  Yomi says she's never at any point in her life had a real, crazy dream that she was trying to achieve, but by watching Tomo continually try, it felt like she was trying too.  Yomi begs her not to give up, and they both end up in tears. 

Yomi takes Tomo into her home while she recovers.  Tomo, re-energized by Yomi's hope, returns to the police academy to try again.  Everyone there knows what she did at the sporting event, and the faculty bows to her when she arrives.  Tomo does her best not to cry. 

Despite the fact she hasn't given up, her weeks spent recovering and being unable to get out her energy has changed Tomo.  She is calmer, more focused, and able to graduate the academy.  Nowhere near the top of the class, of course.  In the end, she doesn't join the ICPO, but is content being a police detective and crime scene investigator.

Tomo does marry, but she and her husband never have children.  Tomo is perfectly fine with this, as she considers Yomi's children her own, much to Yomi's dismay.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Azumanga Analysis -- Mizuhara Koyomi

Yomi is the "boring" one.  She is, in every possible way, the most normal of all the girls.  She has no wild fantasies, social repressions, or unnatural goals.  Not a flying orange cat or sentient pigtail to be seen.  Indeed, all of her character conflicts hinge on really normal things: losing weight, getting left out of a group trip, and getting into college.  This is of course due to her role as straight man, bearing the brunt of the weirdness of the others.  It's her job to react to them as only a normal girl would. Granted, Yomi clings too tightly to normalcy, and she would really benefit from loosening up.  Fortunately, Yomi never seems that bad about it.  She's got a dose of nonsense about her, like how she immaturely brags about her trip to Hokkaido, follows along when Tomo suggests a "victory parade", and allows Chiyo to "put her energy" into a good luck charm. 

As for Yomi's will, it's of questionable strength.  At times it seems like she's got an iron will, and at others, particularly when she's talking about food, her willpower wimps out, and Yomi finds some excuse to eat what she wants.  Strangely enough, her will hinges on normalcy.  That is, she knows Tomo is fully of nonsense, so she's strong enough not to budge an inch when Tomo starts telling a story about mold monsters.  

Basically, if Yomi knows that something is the normal, cultural way to do things, she's pretty confident because she knows what to do.  Where she loses confidence is in areas that are more open ended.  What is the best way to diet?  Who knows?  Therefore, Yomi struggles.  However, I will give Yomi points for actually deciding to lose weight.  Despite not reaching her goal, Yomi has at least picked one out.  Which is more than can be said for most of the girls. 

Friday, December 23, 2016

Azumanga Analysis -- Mihama Chiyo

It may seem strange to talk about Chiyo so soon.  She's the core character of Azumanga, and perhaps the closest to being the main character (though arguably Sakaki's equally close).  The trouble is, Chiyo has the most potential.  As a result, she's the least predictable, and the least analyzable.  Defining someone so young isn't generally a good idea.  Especially since Chiyo herself is so childlike and open-minded.  She can literally become anything at this point.

Except for a loser, of course.  Chiyo has perhaps the most natural ability of any of the Azugirls, with her intelligence, independence, cooking skills, and social grace.  The non-involvement of her parents seems to have influenced her to become her own person at a young age, and there's even a hint when she wakes her parents that she may possibly be more responsible than them.  Or else her independence at so young an age made her lonely for companionship.  Her sheltered, wealthy existence also renders her open and unassuming, so she is one of the least likely of the Azugirls to judge other people.  She's not the least judgemental, but we'll get to that when we get to it. 

Likewise, Chiyo has the will to do well.  However, her will is very much based on her abilities.  If she were a less intelligent person, her insecurities would overwhelm her, because she doesn't have a Tomo or Yukari-like will that can withstand inabilities.  Granted, Chiyo's so young that her will hasn't really be tested at this point, and her sheltered childhood prevents her from seeing all potential obstacles to success.  Which may not be a bad thing, so long as she sees some success before life inevitably teaches her a lesson.

Chiyo's contribution to the group is the group itself.  She is the glue that holds it all together.  She inspires Yomi's and Sakaki's protective sides, provides an outlet for Tomo's silliness, has a strangely equal friendship with Osaka, and...doesn't actually interact with Kagura that much.  Sure, she's happy Kagura is part of the group, but for some reason the two aren't shown doing much together.  Kagura and her have little in common, and Chiyo has other protectors.  I will point out the cuteness of how she and Kagura were napping together in the back of Nyamo's car during their last trip to Chiyo's summer home.

I'd imagine that Chiyo's friendship with Kagura is an extension of her friendship with Sakaki.  Both of them are athletes and helpful, sensitive people.  Sakaki, however, along with Osaka, is Chiyo's closest friend.  Chiyo is the first person to see beyond Sakaki's outer shell (careers survey), and is her closest companion in her quest for cats.  Chiyo is also the only person to see Sakaki really give in to her love of cute things, of course because Chiyo herself is a cute thing.  She's also the only person that Sakaki directly tells about her love of cute things.  Kagura and the other girls might suspect Sakaki only loves cats, but Chiyo knows the full story.  By the end of things, Sakaki looks much more comfortable and open with Chiyo.  Despite their differences, this friendship shows the signs of being the most long-lasting. 

Osaka is second place for Chiyo (as much as a person like Chiyo can have a "second place"), because of one important characteristic: she's immune to Chiyo's cuteness.  The other girls unintentionally patronize Chiyo because of her great adorableness.  Osaka, however, doesn't react to it at all.  This enables the two to communicate on a more level field, because neither is "older" than the other, in a sense.  It's the same situation with their lack of athletic skill, and they can fail together in PE without pissing the other off.  Thus, when the other girls in their second year marathon run up ahead, Osaka is right there by Chiyo's side at the back of the pack.  The only thing that makes them unequal is Chiyo's aptitude. 

Other than that, the two are able to have the most normal of Chiyo's relationships.  Because Chiyo has skipped ahead in class, she doesn't have someone her age to grow with.  Osaka's mental youth lowers her to about Chiyo's level, so they can experience life with a similar sort of fresh-eyed wonder.  Simply put, while the other girls advise Chiyo from above, Osaka walks by her side.  Indeed, the gap between their intellectual abilities isn't even that large, given that Chiyo seems to know at the end of it all that Osaka's way of thinking has value.

But Chiyo is such an open individual that there's basically no one she can't get along with.  Unlike the other girls, she makes less of a distinction between friends and best friends.  That's part of her young age, but also who she is as an individual.  I don't feel that Chiyo's openness will shut all that much, not even as she ages.  It would take a seriously bad incident to make that happen.  Chiyo loves new and challenging things, as proven by her statement that high school classes are more "fun" than grade school classes.  So does the fact that she wants to go to America.  Plus, the broad range of people and attitudes she discovered in high school have a positive affect on her ability to appreciate those who are different from her. 

Arguably, Chiyo is the most similar to Yomi.  They're the two most intellectually driven of the class, and the two most responsible -- and the two Tomo copies from the most often.  Also, while Chiyo has more adventures and humorous moments with all the other characters, the person she's most often seen with before or after a comedy scene is Yomi.  Yomi also makes attempts to protect Chiyo from the oddity of other characters, but this is more or less a side effect of Yomi's own intolerance of the unusual. 

Tomo and Chiyo get along surprisingly well, though it's kind of telling that Chiyo helps Osaka study for entrance exams, and not Tomo.  Probably that's more Tomo's fault for not asking or taking studying terribly seriously, but it's indication enough that the closeness isn't there.  Which isn't to say that Chiyo doesn't appreciate Tomo.  Tomo's wildness and poor attempt at rivalry with Chiyo provides a perspective that Chiyo isn't that familiar with.  Chiyo is reasonable and observant, while Tomo is wild and persistent; Tomo's inner resource of crazy confidence is something entirely foreign to Chiyo's logical inner workings and gives her a perspective she wouldn't have otherwise understood.  Probably her friendship with Tomo enabled her to understand Yukari better. 

Over time, however, Chiyo seems to notice Tomo's worse aspects more.  She grows more Yomi-like, not able to really take Tomo's immaturity with the same openness that she showed in the first season.  This is especially evident when Chiyo reacts to Tomo's haircut.  Granted, Chiyo was going to get wearied to Tomo sooner or later, particularly given that Tomo prides herself in taking advantage of Chiyo's naivety and small size. 

Still, Chiyo is able to appreciate Tomo for herself, and she wants Tomo to succeed just as much as she wants the other girls to.  She's willing to encourage Tomo's desire to become a cop by dressing as Tomo's suspect in the costume race, and by trying Tomo's running strategy the year before.  And that's who Chiyo really is, the support of the other girls.  She'll do anything to encourage the others to do their best.  She'll help them study, create good luck charms, try Osaka's charm as though it matters, provide a summer place for them to go, and provide a listening ear whenever the other girls have something to say. 

While Yomi is more often the direct straight man, Chiyo's role is similar.  She's quite often the comic victim, either of a direct prank or just of someone's oddity.  Her reactions are there to provide a childlike perspective and emphasize the weirdness of everybody else.

Which makes analyzing her kinda boring.  Her existence is for others.  The episode dedicated to her spends a large amount of time focusing on how she observes everyone she meets.  Even her choice to go to America renders her a pillar of strength for the others in their struggle to go to college, since she doesn't need to take entrance exams. 

Chiyo doesn't crave approval, but it makes her feel good when others feel good, which is why she's so upset around sports fest times.  At those points, she knows she can't contribute much to victory.  What she never seems to get is that her presence alone is enough to want to make others try.  It motivates Sakaki, makes Osaka feel better about her own ineptitude, and causes the others to want to do well for her sake.  All of them wanted to hear her give a speech at the first sports fest, and nobody questioned Chiyo's right to give one.  Not to mention Chiyo makes the competition feel bad about beating a little girl and steals the judges eyes at the chearleading competitions.

It's like at the Yukari-forced basketball game, when they renamed their team from "sea slug team" to "Chiyo team."  Chiyo is the support of the girls, but she's also their flag and standard bearer.  As much as she wants the others to be happy, all the girls equally wish her the same, and contribute to her esteem in their own way.  If Azumanga is a soup, Chiyo is the broth, which flavor both contributes to and takes from the flavor of the vegetables.

My favorite Chiyo moment is when she and Osaka are on the roof, and Osaka proclaims that she feels on a day like that day, she could jump off the building and fly.  Chiyo immediately grabs onto her sleeve, fearing that Osaka might actually do it.  What makes this moment so special is that normally Chiyo is the one who needs protection, and here she's taking on the role of protector in the only way she can.  See, all the girls, Osaka included, are tougher than her in one way or another.  The only way Chiyo can alter someone's behavior is by her heart.  Here Chiyo is showing her vulnerability by revealing without words that if something happened to Osaka, it would hurt her very badly.  Osaka doesn't get the message at the time, but it only makes the scene cuter. 

Indeed, protecting Chiyo's emotions is something all the characters do at one point or another.  Sakaki works hard at sports fests for her, Kagura tries not to risk Chiyo finding out that Santa isn't real, Yomi drags her away from Tomi's weird stories, Tomo leads the graduates in applause for Chiyo, and Osaka provides her with a friendship free of the biases an older person would have in befriending a child.  Heck, their graduation ceremony even ends with everyone worrying about Chiyo crying. 

It's a symbiotic relationship.  Chiyo loves the others wholeheartedly, so they love her back.

My runner up Chiyo moment is when she and Osaka are walking hand in fin during the second culture fest.  It's an especially nice moment, particularly since neither of them really notices how cute Chiyo is to everyone around them. 

Chiyo has too many potentialities to count.  She -
- becomes a scientist in a world far removed from the other Azugirls.
- becomes a Japanese politician who changes things for the better.
- becomes prime minister.
- becomes a philanthropist well known throughout the world.
- owns her own chain of companies.
- joins the UN.
- joins WHO.
- does any number of ridiculously successful things.

Mihama Chiyo's ending:  ----- The World is NeoHappy -----

Because this is a cartoon and not real life, we can give Chiyo a cartoonishly large amount of successes.  And we should.  She goes to America, where she graduates from Harvard ridiculously quickly.  She then goes for her PhD while working in a computer technology field, after which she sets up several pharmecutical research centers, at the tender age of 22.  About this time she realizes she's been working too hard, and starts doing more travelling with her American husband, who is ten years older than her.  They do a lot of good around the world, primarily in technological and medical fields. They even visit Japan for Nyamo's wedding, as well as arrange a summer vacation with everyone. 

After setting up a computer manufacturing company with a range of stores throughout Europe, America, and Japan, Chiyo discovers that she's pregnant with twins.  These two are her only children, a boy and a girl, and they, like their mother, are independent at a young age.  They fight sometimes, so it's harder for Chiyo than it was for her own parents.  Chiyo does not have any more children, but continues to travel and work in science.  She remains as close as she can with the other Azugirls, and surprisingly does a good job of including them in her life.  She remains their standard bearer, and any time something goes wrong, at least one of them is always there for her.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Azumanga Analysis -- Kagura

To me, Kagura is the most real of all the girls.  Despite the fact that Yomi is supposed to be more normal, no real person is 100% normal, and thus Kagura's quirks make her more real rather than less.  Both Yomi and Kagura are characters that serve to emphasize the true weirdness of all the other girls, but Kagura has a stronger almost-arc.  She's also, along with Chiyo, the most likely to succeed of all the girls.  In terms of natural talent and self-will, she has both aspects of success.  Despite not being academically inclined, Kagura is athletic.  Her self-drive is unmatched, so despite being lesser than Sakaki, Kagura knows that working hard on becoming strong will help her achieve her goals.

Unlike the other girls, Kagura both has goals and goes after them.  Kaorin, Yomi, and Osaka don't appear to have any specific future plans, and while Chiyo, Sakaki, and Tomo have some idea, none of them appear to know how they can reach their goals or ever make any direct progress toward them during their time in high school.  As confirmed members of the "Go Home Club", the other Azugirls are taking the time to enjoy their youth as they see fit.

Not Kagura.  Kagura has a greater awareness of her own flaws, and thus pursues what she has with direct action.  She wants to be stronger, so she jogs.  She wants an athletic future, so she joins the swim team and trains hard.  No one has to tell Kagura to do any of these things.  She knows it must be done, and does it.  The second summer vacation discussion on yukatas implies that Kagura even may be making these choices above her family's desires for her to be more feminine.

This also relates to the Kagura vs. Kaorin conflict I mentioned.  Kagura wanted a rivalry/friendship with Sakaki, so she makes it her goal and works toward it.  Since Sakaki never goes out of her way to make friends, Kagura puts in all the effort by repeatedly approaching Sakaki, inviting her to mini-challenges, volunteering to walk home with her, and protecting her from kamineko.  None of the other girls, not even the teachers, has this ability to choose what she wants and then get it.  They lack either the talent or the will. 

This is why, despite all her flaws, Kagura is going to succeed in life.  Barring some horrible accident, Kagura will become a professional athlete.  Actually, since she understands sports better than people, she's probably going to have issues when it comes to dating. 

Azumanga Analysis -- Chihiro

Hey, guess what?  I found the backup of my Azumanga analysis files!  And that means the next girl is...Chihiro?

Uh...I have nothing to say about her.  Besides the fact that I think it's funny Kaorin never discusses Sakaki with her, and she's constantly being dumped on in favor of Sakaki.

Chihiro's ending: ----- Okay! -----

Chihiro gets a high paying office job with lots of responsibility.  She's still friends with Kaorin, but is ultimately busy with her own thing and hangs out primarily with the fast pacers.  She's married with one daughter, who loves her mom despite the tough schedule to work around.

Or stuff.  Whatever.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Sorry...

I meant to update my Azumanga posts, but my laptop's hard drive died, so things have been interesting.  Let me see what I can do...

Monday, June 27, 2016

Azumanga Analysis: Kaorin

Of the students, Kaorin is definitely my least favorite.  She's awkward, and primarily defined by her crush on Sakaki.  On the other hand, she's at least more interesting than Nyamo (in my opinion, anyway).  The huge difficulty in analyzing her is that she's almost never doing anything that doesn't involve acting like an idiot in front of her crush.  We simply don't get to see her at her best, or know anything much about her.

Most fanfiction writers who pair like to pair her off with Sakaki, making it so that she achieves her lofty goals of catching her classmate's attention.  Why do people do this?  Maybe they feel sorry for Kaorin.  Maybe they just like gay fanfiction.  Or perhaps they identify with Kaorin, because her struggle reminds them of times in their past when they were too afraid to get what they wanted.  Maybe by giving Kaorin what she wants, it'll feel like a cathartic way of having that thing the fanfic writer missed out on.

But you know where they aren't getting this pairing from?  The show.

I mean, holy crap, Kaorin is the dictionary definition of awkward.  Do you see how she acts in front of Sakaki?  Sakaki is too reserved to do much about it, but do you really think she doesn't see how ridiculous Kaorin gets?  Kaorin is forever staring at her in class, and always freaks out if it looks like someone else is attracting Sakaki's attention.  She says weird things all the time, too.  Like when they were about to go on the third summer vacation, and apparently the thing Kaorin says to her when she arrives is something Japanese wives say to their husbands right after they marry.  And the folk dance, when she won't let go of Sakaki's hand?  What is Sakaki supposed to think about that?

The absolute worst was during the three legged race in the second sports fest.  Let's count all the ways Kaorin makes a fool of herself. 

1. freaking out when Sakaki is drafted into the event.
2. growling at her best friend when Chihiro suggests she could do the race after all.
3. making panicky promises of trying her best before the race starts.
4. completely losing her mind when they win.
5. suggesting they remain tied together afterwards.