Nichijou, Vol. 10

By Keiichi Arawi. Released in Japan by Kadokawa Shoten, serialized in the magazine Shonen Ace. Released in North America by Vertical Comics. Translated by Jenny McKeon.

I haven’t reviewed Nichijou in full since its first volume, it not being the sort of series that lends itself to deep discussion. This is the final volume, though, and I think that it’s worth looking at to see how far the series has come and how abstract it is now. The creator almost seems to be hiding it with the final cover, which features the cast in class paying attention stoically, but it’s meant to contrast with the first volume, which had a random deer on Yukko’s desk. The cast does still feature, and there is, believe it or not, character development of a sort, particularly in the ‘flashforward’ chapters, but for the most part Arawi has honed his surrealist art skills here, and knows what his audience wants: randomness and reaction shots from Mio. We get those in abundance in this volume.

Let’s look at that character development. Some of it can be seen at the start, where Mai and Yukko team up to prank Mio over and over again in a game of musical chairs. But then this is followed by a chapter, seemingly set moments later, which features Yukko rapping for pages on end and embarrassing her friends. Nichijou is not a title you want to read if you get frustrated by randomness – it never stays in one place too lo0ng, it’s quite happy to toss aside reality when it wants to, and in the ‘short panel collection’, sometimes the stories are only a panel or two long. The flashforwards, however, are a bit more developed. We saw one of them in the prior volume, showing a Professor who’s actually attending school, and Yukko apparently returning from America. Here we see more, as we have Mio as an actual manga artist, with an overworked assistant, begging for last-minute help from Mai, who now teaches preschool. This is mostly fascinating because of Mai, who has always been the quiet stoic “troll”. She’s still quiet here, but seeing her smiling and showing genuine emotions is both startling and heartwarming.

In the ads afterwords, Vertical mentions Helvetica Standard, the two-volume series coming out in the fall that’s connected to Nichijou (it’s the manga Yuna is reading all the time), but it’s apparently more of an artbook with occasional comics and diaries. The “successor” to Nichijou is Arawi’s current work City, which Vertical has also licensed. What these licenses tell me, besides the fact that Nichijou must have sold better than I expected, is that it’s Arawi’s art that seems to be the big pull. There are some startling frames in this volume, particularly in the aforementioned “Mio reaction shots”, where he really goes the extra mile in making things weird yet fascinating. In the end, Nichijou oddly reminds me of Short Cuts, the old manga series by Usamaru that Viz released back in the day. The characters are fascinating, and we like them, but in the end you tend to read Nichijou for the art and the really, really weird humor. It’s been an experience.

Nichijou, Vol. 1

By Keiichi Arawi. Released in Japan by Kadokawa Shoten, serialized in the magazine Shonen Ace. Released in North America by Vertical Comics.

I have a weakness for gag manga, as some of you may have noticed, and also a weakness for high school slice-of-life starring a bunch of quirky high school girls. It should be no surprise, therefore, to learn that I have been awaiting the release of Nichijou for some time. It was initially licensed by Bandai Entertainment about 5 years ago, but they folded their US manga division before it could even get a volume out. That said, the anime did appear over here, and was quite popular – in fact, arguably far more popular than it ended up being in Japan. And so Vertical, which has been dipping its toes into the surreal gag world with titles like My Neighbor Seki, now introduces us to a very unordinary manga.


Nichijou has quite a large ensemble cast, but for the most part is the adventures of five girls. Three of them, Yuuko, Mio, and Mai, are classmates at the local high school. Yuuko is peppy, somewhat dense, and very fond of attempting to make jokes that no one finds funny but her. Mio is the “normal” girl in the csat, but that’s only a matter of degrees, as we discover when she realizes her secret yaoi manga doodle is about to be discovered and becomes Superwoman. Mai is my personal favorite, a quite and shy girl who loves to bait and get reactions from Yuuko, I suspect as it’s the only way she can really show her feelings. There are apparently fans of Nichijou who dislike Mai for her gadfly nature, but these people are objectively wrong, so there’s no need to worry about them.

The other two main cast members are Nano, a robot girl who also attends class and her child genius inventor Professor, who’s a genius at making robots but an immature child in almost every other sense. Those familiar with the anime might be taken aback by Nano appearing in class right away – the anime decided to move all the stories with her in class to the second half of the series, the better to separate the ‘school’ and ‘Professor’s house’ segments of the show. We also meet a few other amusing minor characters here, like the farmer’s son who acts like a stereotypical rich boy, and the parody of tsunderes who can be seen literally blowing people’s brains out (though they’re fine a panel later – this is essentially a cartoon, in the Western Looney Tunes sense).

There’s not a lot to review in Nichijou beyond the gags, which I don’t want to spoil if you haven’t seen them. As with most manga of this sort, the humor can be found in facial reactions, and Arawi is very, very good at these – check out Chapter 9 for the best example. The girls are cute as well, but there is a blissful lack of fanservice that I also greatly appreciate, and there don’t seem to be any obvious romances besides the one-sided crushes Mio and the tsundere parody have. Nichijou is content to make jokes and be strange, and if it has to choose between being funny or being strange, it will pick the latter. If you like laughing, or if you like tilting your head and going “wuh?”, either way you’ll enjoy this.