I was planning on watching Nichijou anyway, since the premise of the show with their comedic focus tends to be stuff that pique my interest. After watching the first episode, the humor is more or less hit or miss (more hit than miss so far), but the pacing of those jokes are quick enough that if one joke doesn’t work, it’s alright because it’s over quickly and chances the are that the next joke will be funny. The jokes and the characters themselves if you take them as they are so far won’t make this a memorable work for me, since as others have said, the concept has been done over and over again. That being said, what’s more important is less the fact that they reuse ideas, but how it’s done. In that sense, presentation plays a big part in our reception to this apparent variation of a “standard”, and Nichijou has those for me in the show’s animation and background music.
One of the things that Kyoto Animation is known for its solid animation work in its many shows that so far looks like it’s carried over to Nichijou. I can’t really speak about things like the Animation Director or staff for this episode (I leave that stuff to people like him, dm00 or Link for that matter), but the attention to detail in the little things that characters do is what I think is a constant (there is a reason K-On! is held up as a notably well-animated show). This most notably plays out in what is probably the most talked about scene in Nichijou’s first episode from others: Yūko’s quest to beat the three-second rule (thanks Kuro!)
The hair ruffle as the wiener flies through Tsuyoshi’s mohawk (at least I think that’s Tsuyoshi, correct me if I’m wrong), and the juices that fly off of the tako wiener as it keeps slipping out of successive grasping attempts, along with the sense of pace and change of direction and perspective (like the hand flying closer in the wiener’s POV) as the sequence went is awesome. Of course the entire sequence is also helped out by a background music that makes what would be a (sorta) everyday moment become extremely epic.
Continuing on that path, the music is an interesting entity in itself. Many pieces are pretty orchestral and calm in nature which seems out-of-place, even if Nichijou was a more slower-paced school life anime. The random and extreme humor of the anime that happens in the show only makes it sound more off when you think about it. The music seems more suited to the scope of a movie, a show about nature, a work that has more of a focus on slice of life elements, or something like that. I only know the composer ‘s works from movies from Ghibli (Whisper of the Heart, The Cat Returns) and GAINAX (Wings of Honneamise), so that only continues to set that tone.
And because the music seems like it should be for something grander than the random comedy moments of Nichijou, it helps enhance the randomness, and makes the resulting moments a lot more awesome than you would expect them to be. Like in the above scene with the wiener, with the BGM essentially being a reverent hymn of hope. The vocal chorus in the piece, along with organ providing that little jolt at the end of a set of measures, and occasional minor chords makes the journey of the tako wiener more adventurous and dangerous, and making Yūko’s efforts to save it from germy ignominy noble and praiseworthy. And yes, I’m hamming that up here. 😛
This sort of thing also occurs with my own favorite moment from the first episode, where Yūko tricks Mio into setting off the final alarm.
From the beginning of the scene, with the quick crescendo to a blast of horns introducing the button (which actually reminded me of the OST for Inception at that moment), at once we’re getting the idea that this alarm button is pretty damn important. The piano that starts adds to this idea of importance, and as the string accompaniment starts to increase in impact, we get into matters of grave importance here. This corresponds with the chaos that ensues as students try to escape the school, as well as Mio’s shock and Yūko’s “My god. What have I DONE?!?” look as she realizes what a can of worms she had unintentionally opened up from a silly prank. The combination of the action on-screen, the response that students had to the fire alarm and the sound that backs all of it up makes that moment both serious business and seriously hilarious.
As I continue watching Nichijou, I really hope that the budget for animation remains as high as it did this initial episode (and given KyoAni’s track record, I would be surprised if that wasn’t the case), and that the music is used in a way that keeps making events seem much more awesome than they actually are. Those by far will make the show an entertaining and memorable for me.