My Ordinary Life anime review

My Ordinary Life anime review
The ordinary life of the peculiar students from class 1-Q and their odd acquaintances.
While the title suggests a story of simple, everyday school life, the contents are more the opposite. The setting is a strange school where you may see the principal wrestle a deer or a robot's arm hide a rollcake. However there are still normal stories, like making a card castle or taking a test you didn't study for.

Kyoto Animation's first non-K-On! high school comedy in four years, My Ordinary Life is one quarter Peanuts, one quarter Warner Bros., and the other half a whole lot of energy.

My Ordinary Life's biggest strength lies with its fairly large cast. The town in My Ordinary Life isn't huge, but it's bustling with the scope of how big a small town can actually be. There are shops, supermarkets, coffee places, convenience stores, and even dango stands. Kyoto Animation does a darn good job making this animated world come to live, doubly impressive for a series made for television. It's also nice to see a high school comedy where there are male teachers and students that get a significant amount of air time, especially after the no-boys-allowed-ness of K-On!.

Unlike many recent gag comedy anime, the original My Ordinary Life manga wasn't a series of 4-panel comics. Instead, chapters consisted of short 10-page chapters like School Rumble. Also, each episode was divided into small parts labeled like chapters throughout the series, much like the recent Arakawa Under The Bridge. Though there are plenty of little segments and sub-plots, the series is mainly divided into two main segments: one involving high school girl Yuuko and her friends Mio and Mai, and the other involving child professor Hakase, her teenage robot Jenny…er, Nano, and their talking cat companion Sakamoto. This would already be enough characters for a show, but they're sandwiched by smaller stories involving the 15+ other students/staff in the school: Helvetica Standard gag manga shorts, Short Thoughts, Like Love segments, and even short rounds of Jan-Ken-Pan and jump roping early on.

My Ordinary Life's humor, much like the earlier Doki Doki School Hours, aims toward the loud and brash department of comedy. When it comes to the high school segments with Yuuko, Mio, and Mai, the jokes (typically) work. The problem mainly lies with two characters: the painfully unfunny teacher Kana Nakamura "humorously" stalking Nano, or the loud Manabu Takasaki, a teacher with a not-so-subtle crush on the short, shy, and easily worried Izumi Sakurai. Sorry series, but wacky faces and double/triple-takes don't a great comedy make. The attempts to hide this with good animation and backgrounds don't work at all; it's like wrapping up a last-minute birthday present from The Dollar Store in golden foil. Oftentimes the joke is the wacky facial expressions the characters make, which would work if these weren't repeated several times in the same scene. And then there's Misato Tachibana, whose segments consist of her acting super shy/irritable around a guy in school named Koujirou Sasahara, often blasting him with weapons (including a rocket launcher!) that barely faze him. Mio also happens to have a huge crush on him…and yes, this means we have the standard "they're hanging out together" whine fest from Mio when he sees him with another girl. Twice actually, and just a couple of episodes after Yuuko tricks Mio into thinking another girl is hanging out with him.

My Ordinary Life's jokes are seldom crude - I can only think of one time in the entire series where there was fan service, and it was regulated to a model from a magazine. Still, that doesn't make the jokes themselves any better. and the way the show transitions between these scenes - elevators, Sakamoto crawling around in a box, a traffic light over the course of a day, a person drawing by a river, crows on a wire, and the outside of an apartment complex - aren't exactly seamless transitions, either. If these segments were divided up more evenly, or if they were clearer transitions between scenes, My Ordinary Life's pace would be much better.

Still, there are some fun moments here and there. The Like Love segments introduced later on are far more relaxed and sweet than most of the episodes they appear in. Another segment in the middle of the series, in which Mio and Yuuko talk about things they think are cool, are quite cute, too. Even Yuuko has her moments, like when she tries to sneak into her classroom, watching Mio vault jump and fail miserably, and her watching her school principal body slam a deer. In regards to the Nano/Hakase segments, I greatly enjoy Sakamoto the cat as a character. His dry, sarcastic nature reminds me of Luna from Sailor Moon, and he steals every scene he's in, much like his actor (Minoru Shiraishi) did in Lucky Star's Lucky Channel segments. When Nano starts going to school later on and hanging out with Yuuko, the cast seems to gel better, like the two "shows" My Ordinary Life is made up of (the Yuuko and Nano stories) have become one.

I always like how the series does tend to actually pick up on its minor sub-plots, like Kenzaburou Daiku starting his own club, the go-soccer club (which is go pieces bounced off of a soccer ball. Yeah, it's as dumb as it sounds), with member Makoto Sakurai getting Takasaki involved via blackmail, Makoto using his teacher's crush on his older sister to do so. Another has the school's staff eventually interviewing most of the students about their futures. Another segment involves science teacher Miss Nakamura stalking Nano to find out more about her. These sub-plots aren't always funny, but at least it shows effort on the writers' parts for remembering minor plot points in a series this long.

My Ordinary Life is too loud and overbearing to be great, but it has a charm of its own even so. Most of the characters (even Hakase at times) are a fun bunch, and the animation, art, and music are quite good. That makes it all the sadder that this series flopped on DVD in Japan. Kyoto Animation no doubt will probably go back to making more K-On!/Haruhi/Key/Visual Art's adaptions instead. That's too bad for such a cute little series like this. Hopefully most of the voice cast - many of them new to the anime industry - will find new roles in the upcoming anime seasons.

Better than review, is a Trailer video of: My Ordinary Life. Watch it now:
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