Azumanga Daioh Vol. #3 (Mania.com)
By:Eduardo M. Chavez
Review Date: Wednesday, March 24, 2004
Release Date: Sunday, February 01, 2004
Translated by:Javier Lopez
What They Say
The girls enter their senior year and Miss Yukari speaks ill of Tomo in the third volume of Azumanga Daioh! This volume marks the return of the sports meet, where Sakaki, Osaka, Kagura and the others compete in categories like the three-legged race and beanbag tossing, while Chiyo-chan races to find an idiot for the scavenger hunt...
The manga also includes a "First Dream of the New Year" special, where Sakaki meets Chiyo-chan?s tomato-hating "father" and his penguin housekeeper...
Will Osaka succeed in her resolution to "get faster"? Will Kaorin ever let go of Sakaki? Find out in Azumanga Daioh volume 3!
ADV's presentation is very good. The highlights include the large but original A5 size aspect. Glad to see ADV continuing to present color pages in their releases.
Logo Check!! (2003 Megs).... the logo here is nicely done. ADV did add a little "the manga" to the logo but it doesn't mess the look up too bad.
The printing is still a little dark causing some shades of tone to blend too much (it's getting better). On the other hand, the color work has greatly improved since the first volume. The art on the colored pages are great individual images of Kagura, Chiyo, Tomo and Yomi in casual wear. Very nice (but Chiyo looks bizarre).
Now if they figure out a way to reproduce the art that is under the dust jackets (same for FMP!) then they could come close to perfection.
My feelings for the art are actually getting worse. This manga actually has a sense of time so characters have grown taller and styles have changed a little bit. So characters that were already simple got some cheesy adjustments to their designs. Tomo's hair is short again (possibly to distinguish her from Osaka) and, Chiyo seems even shorter now for some reason.
There is very little depth to the characters or the world they are in. Backgrounds are rarely there and because of the format the layout is non-existent.
I have to say I really enjoyed the work done in the non 4-panel chapters. They had a good mix of perspective, layout technique and story telling.
The orientation is right to left, as usual.
And I like that they are not translating SFX by describing them instead of using onomatopea as often as they used to. It was a little weird but I am glad they have gotten over some of their early bugs.
They also tend to mix up the use of subs and the occasional overlay for their SFX translations. Its works out pretty good actually, so you will almost always have the original SFX intact (except for the 3 or 4 times where there is little room in a panel to have both).
While the Americanization has declined, ADV continues to change dialect. ADV tries to excuse themselves by adding a translator's note section explaining their changes. While this does clear most questions readers may have, I have to say I would rather they explain the orignal text instead of changing it (but what can you do, right). Still everything else is good and the notes provided are helpful and sometimes even fun.
Honorifics off and on. It's really based on the character.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Even with this series being in four-panel manga format there is a good deal of continuity, with some direction and most chapters possess series of strips with short plots leading to a subtle punch-line. With this very much being a slice of life (mostly high school) comedy, the potential for new jokes and random moments of insanity.
Schools back and some of these gals are not getting any smarter. Tests are popping up frequently and grades are slipping. School is not going to get any easier with teachers focusing their efforts towards the sports day, while continuing to keep up the high expectations in the rest of the ciriculum. Some of the gals take this in stride, while others joke about their downfalls with little hope for improvement.
Luckily, school is not just tests and homework, October and November brings a lot of fun (for some) and some stress (for all). Sports day may be fun, but, as many of us know, such activities can alienate those who are not very athletic. Yukari-sensei's class #2-3 may be strong enough to beat Kurosawa's this year, but victory will come at what cost? One memorable series of strips features rarely seen Kaorin sharing a special moment with her idol Sakaki. The levels of girl with girl humor shoot through the roof, yet as expected Sasaki is completely clueless. Priceless! (Kaorin might never wash that leg again.)
November might be a little late in the year for a school culture festival, but Yukari-sensei's class had to try their best to do something new and hopefully profitable this year. Last year's, stuffed animals were cute, but not very profitable (some of those dolls were scary). Combining that popular theme with something that could bring in money, like say a cafe, and if everything goes well they will be a hit and Mr. Kimura won't show up.
With winter coming along so does the next school year. Year 3 is the final year of high school and exams, college, and the future should be on their minds... Well, just as long as they have time to meet pets, do stand up comedy, and work on their physical conditioning.
As funny some of the strips could be I found this volume to be weak the weakest one so far. Random everyday experiences are what this series is about, but for some reason, what Azuma presented here was a little too disconnected. The one special in this volume was very good; completely random with some strange imagery and subtle humor that could confuse as much as entertain. The rest of the GN was mostly randomness focusing on stereotypes. I thought Azuma would have left that type of comedy behind after the great situational comedy that was presented in earlier issues (at the beach house, working at Magnetron Burger, finding the kitten, hiccuping Osaka...). It's almost as if these strips do not work well as individuals; leading me to believe that continuity and slice of life comedy more so than jokes told by slow students is what carries this title. In many ways I think I enjoyed the developement of the personalities more than the jokes they pulled. Therefore, I would have hoped for a little more stress, more school related humor than just gag and punchline funnies (I'd rather read Bill Amend's FoxTrot for that).
For those who have liked the comedy they have seen in previous volumes this one continues much of the same. This volume is really funny and some of the topics come completely out of nowhere (ie: bear curry??!! the penguin in Sakaki's dream??!!).
For some one like myself who would like to see more development of these characters volume three was a disappointment. I do not see much of a change since the last volume and after experiencing it between the first two I possibly had my expectations up to high. Instead of having these girls in new experiences as they grow, and mature we have much of the same but with less time given to those funny moments.
I really felt dissappointed at the end of this volume. After reading the first two my expectations for these characters was possibly to high that the letdown was inevitable. Despite that, I would have thought much of what made the first half so enjoyable would continue. Instead those cool vignettes/series were cut for mostly jokes and a few random sight gags. The characters stay essentially the same after they grew so much early on and with less time for mature characters (Kurosawa, Tanizaki and Kimura) some of the adult humor that would alter the mood is now gone. Hopefully with exams and graduation on the way things could pick up for the finale. Ayumu and Tadakichi-san cannot let me down... can they?!?!
Mania Grade: C+
Art Rating: C-
Packaging Rating: A-
Text/Translatin Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: ADV Manga
Orientation: Right to Left