Even though I like Nichijou, I am enjoying A-Channel more, through one episode. So I thought I'd lay out, both for myself and for others, just why I like it so much...so far. I'll do that with short captions on a large number of images, mentioning things that really struck me.
I think the details of the animation are excellent, the yuri-moe sentimentality is spot on, the characters are individual, the voice-acting is good (epecially Yuuki Aoi) and the humor works. (Click images to enlarge.)
|The 3DCG cherry-blossoms give a full, rich, spring-like feeling.|
|Great image showing Tooru's loneliness at seeing Run entering a different classroom from her.|
|I liked the hollow metallic sound of the bat bouncing on the stairs.|
|The tiny smile that blossomed on Tooru's face as she ran toward where Run was .|
|The way Run held her fingers when she found the cherry-petal on her forehead,|
|The OP animation was almost Shaft-like, and Kawano Marina sang well.|
|The whole meme of Tooru with the baseball bat is so wonderfully outlandish. The "violent tiny girl" trope well done.|
|The way Yuuki Aoi said "Run-chan" here -- her first words in the show -- makes it one of her great lines ever, for me. It was so full of meanings: warmth, delight, declaration, etc.|
|Brilliant long-shot emphasizing Tooru's feeling of loneliness, and her apparent stick-like fragility and lack of glamor.|
|Fukuhara Kaori's "sure, come on over" was beautifully delivered, with all the freshness and affection of her character.|
|Great use of photo-realistic backgrounds, with the character fitted in between planes of a very homely, real scene.|
|Tooru's splay-legged run, wearing her dowdy middle-school uniform, worked beautifully.|
|The whole sequence of Tooru arriving at Run's house was masterfully designed and animated.|
|The camera angle down into the stairwell was great, as was the animation of Tooru's steps.|
|The lovely way they had Tooru's fine fingers so delicately on the door handle, rather than fully gripping it.|
|Tooru absent-mindedly straightening her hair before she enters the room. Details matter. |
This whole sequence up to now has brought us right into Tooru's mind.
|I've heard it before, but the sound Yuuki Aoi makes in shock at what she sees in Run's room is one of her classics.|
|Golem Tooru is a hoot.|
|Sawashiro Miyuki's bored delivery as the disinterested teacher is perfect, |
as is the way the character is shown reading a novel and wearing her track suit.
|The immediate contrast of Tooru's teacher, who wants to be sure her students understand what they are to do.|
|Maybe it's because I know the manga, but I love Yutaka's slit-eyed face and delighted smile as she gets interested in Tooru.|
|Yuuko's fall is not hilarious, but the flat presentation of the whole sequence works for me.|
|The telepathic connection between Tooru and Run.|
|Run's sizzling-meat ringtone.|
|I like the repeated trope of Tooru attacking Yuuko (except for the breast-flipping), but the funnier thing is Run's idea that the conflict shows them becoming friends. And the development of Nagi's reaction makes the three times worthwhile.|
|Yuuko gazing after Tooru makes me think she is fascinated by her and can't help liking her, despite herself.|
|I loved this whole falling out the window sequence, and especially the drawing of this scene, |
with the accurate way the effort made by Yuuko and Nagi is drawn.
|Like the earlier falling sequence, the candy-cutting sequence is not laugh-out-loud funny, but Run's plaintive "I thought it was going to work!" was an unexpected line well delivered by Fukuhara Kaori.|
|I could see Tooru's disappointment in her eyes, as she saw Run approaching, not alone, but with two friends.|
|The whole sequence here where Tooru expresses her desire to be close to Run is very touching, |
to those of us who like being touched.
|The sappy moe will either move you (as it does me) or repel you, depending on your bent.|
|Tooru seems to have only one friend, so the idea that the other two could be her friends is a revelation.|
|This sequence of huge smiles, evolving slowly, is a strong emotional punctuation.|
|Tooru's delight is like the sun coming from behind the clouds.|
|Yuuko's odd, old-fashioned profile is striking.|
|I wonder if there will be more of this hinted no-pan look.|
|For some reason, this scene just got to me. I somehow received her feelings.|
|Has there been another moe heroine so friendly with the guys?|
|Run tapping her papers on the desk to get them straight, and her childish concentration, were so cute.|
|Tooru's sudden arrival made a strong contrast.|
|Yuuko's very natural movement, sweeping back her hair as she leant over to talk to Tooru. |
I wondered at the time if she was just putting herself in range, lol.
|Finally, Nagi agrees with Run that Tooru and Yuuko are becoming closer. I think Tooru fascinates Yuuko, as she does me.|
And I like the singing of the four lead seiyuus in the insert song and ED. They do this style of music very well, it seems to me. The K-On five may or may not be better. It's close.
I've seen criticisms that the humor of the manga has been de-emphasized in favor of more moe and sentimentality. This is true, but since I like yuri-moe sentimentality, that is not necessarily a bad thing, for me. We'll see if they can give us more of the deeply bizarre humor of the manga as we go on. We got some, but it would be good to get more of the manga's flat absurdity.
I know the producers are trying to find a way to help people relate to the characters, by developing some kind of continuous narrative, which the original 4-panel comic didn't really have, and by giving more emphasis to the girls' relationships. This staff did Saki, so yuri moe is part of their stock in trade.
This franchise is definitely an attempt to cash in on K-On. The manga started in Manga Time Kirara Carat magazine a little over a year after K-On started in its sister magazine Manga Time Kirara. And the basic set-up is similar. But I think that comparisons of Yuuko to Mio and Run to Yui are overblown. Yuuko's greatest similarity to Mio is being tall and dark. Run and Yui are quite different versions of the common airhead stereotype.
I lost interest in K-On about halfway through season one. Maybe the same thing will happen here. But I find these characters more interesting, and the humor has more absurdity and bite. I lost interest in Saki, too, so we shall see.
Kotobuki Minako is actually from Kobe, so her Kansai accent should be good, but it is fairly stilted here. I have been told that the script makes her speak the way Tokyo people think Kansai people speak, as opposed to how they really speak. But I still found Mina-chan's voice strong and affecting.
Anyway, this show has just started, but it and Hanasaku Iroha are my two favorites of the season so far. They both have the emotional subtlety I love, although they are at very different levels of seriousness. This show is an absurd comedy (Tooru is absurd in herself) with some nice moe and yuri emotion, and that show is a real drama.
Note the link at the top right of the page to a characters/seiyuus page showing pics of the main characters and their seiyuus.