Story/Art: Keiichi Arawi
Translation/Adaptation: Jenny McKeon
What They Say
The witty and surreal high school comedy continues in volume 2 of Nichijou!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
The opening volume of Nichijou definitely delighted me with what it did as I was only familiar the anime adaptation. There’s always a wariness of getting into a manga series from that direction because you spend too much time doing comparisons and end up getting caught up in that too much. I know I did some of that with the first volume that was compounded a bit by the roughness of the work compared to the more polished anime that had a lot more material and understanding to work with. The big positive here is that we get to see Arawi’s growth volume by volume and the way the material expands and connects its characters even more as time goes on.
One of the appealing things about the book is that it really did a great job of defining the characters quickly with quirks but having them come across without being a problem. Yuuko’s opening catchphrase is one that could wear thin but opening the book with her using it but the others utterly ignoring her sets her off in a great tangent where she works a dozen or so puns to try and break through to them. Rather than her focusing on her selamat pagil line, we get an extensive look at what’s basically a teenage series of dad jokes from her. And it’s beautiful. So as she uses more of these wordplay moments later in the book it doesn’t feel out of place in the slightest. Arawi really nails the intensity of it early on here as well with the way she’s so dynamically trying to get through to them.
Nano’s time in this volume is kept small but smart as we see more of her experiences with the professor. Part of the fun with her is seeing the discovery of new aspects of her robot body and being frustrated or abhorred by what she can do. A bit with a machine gun within her hand along is priceless. While we saw some good time with Nano at school and learning the world a bit the last time around, this time, she’s more focused on being with the professor and more part of four-panel segments. Nano has such a fun sense about her with the overreactions she has with her expressions that her innocence shines through beautifully, something that Arawi captures in a way that other artists would end up making too sickly sweet and cute, undercutting the innocence itself. The entire sequence with her removable toe alone is worth the price of the book.
There are a good range of stories to be had throughout, including two bonus chapters of the “prototype” version of the series that’s fascinating to see what could have been, but it’s when Arawi goes out in left field that it’s really intriguing in the main book. A lengthy chapter is devoted to time with an all new cast dealing with intrigue and politics within a world related to wood cubes. The anime version was a surreal piece to be sure and this one feels even odder in a way, though once you get the end gag it’s quite the strong work. Arawi goes to quite the lengths to tell this outcome that it’s hard to say if the payoff is there but it’s a worthy attempt. Arawi’s short form humor is spot on, however, and the four-panel material dealing with Sakamoto and his attempts to be the respected member of the household are hilarious, especially as he tries to be more than just a cat.
Nichijou takes what it did in the first volume and advances things slowly while bringing a little more personality to the supporting characters. Its focus is across a number of characters in general with the core ones getting plenty of time but it really is a strong ensemble kind of series, especially with its use of the four-panel sequences. Arawi hit a solid groove early on for the book both in terms of style and approach but he also takes some risks here that are welcome to see and that have the payoff in the long run by not defining the work in a singular way. It’s a very fun book that’s really well put together, complete with the two color pages that just make it all the better. Fans of the first will definitely enjoy it while everyone else should buy both volumes at the same time and just consume it heartily.
Content Grade: B+
Art Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Text/Translation Grade: B+
Age Rating: All Ages
Released By: Vertical Comics
Release Date: May 3rd, 2016