Home > Episode Reviews, First Impressions > My Ordinary Life Episodes 1 and 2 – The Uncommon Everyday

My Ordinary Life Episodes 1 and 2 – The Uncommon Everyday

Yesterday I tore apart A Channel for being a slice-of-life show that distinguished itself not by its comedy (of which there was little) or its originality (of which there was less) but by its willingness to exploit its cast, in what is typically a rather chaste corner of the anime world. Today, I turn to My Ordinary Life (Nichijou), the latest slice-of-life show from Kyoto Animation, perhaps feeling a bit more charitable simply by comparison.

Once upon a time Kyoto Animation did shows like Full Metal Panic and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, which—love them or hate them—were on the leading edge of the industry. Now the studio seems content to cash in on a never-ending stream of cutsey shows on girls doing nothing, and My Ordinary Life promised to be more of the same.

Or at least, that’s what one would think. But My Ordinary Life plays fast and loose with a number of slice-of-life conventions, and the result is more engaging than I had expected.

That’s Mio, Mai, and Yuuko with her back turned. It’s surprisingly hard to find a shot which has all three of them in it

The usual fare for such shows is a small cast of four to six girls as the primary circle of friends, and perhaps some important supporting characters. The girls occupy a world made abnormal only by their own hijinks and idiosyncratic conversations. It is, really, about ordinary life.

This show, whatever else it is about, is not about ordinary life. The basic cast of the straight (wo)man (Mio), airhead (Yuuko), and quiet genius (Mai) all appear, but they occupy a world which doesn’t operate according to the usual rules. One of their classmates is Sasahara, who despite being from an ordinary family insists on acting like an aristocrat in all respects. He’s constantly followed by a butler and rides into school on a goat from the family farm, just so he can say he didn’t have to engage in the plebeian exercise of using his own legs.

Sasahara’s butler never says anything or is even acknowledged as existing. He only seems to appear when needed

Sasahara is loved by Mio, but possibly also by Tachibana, who possesses a seeming ability to pull out high-powered weaponry from nowhere, but which only seem only capable of wounding Sasahara when she employs them on him (which is often). Mio’s sister seems a remarkably inventive prankster, although perhaps one more versed in Japanese folklore than I am.

But taking the cake in weirdness is the eight-year-old Professor Hakase and her android caretaker Nano. Apparently in the same town as the main trio, but never directly interacting, the pair engage in what must be one of the oddest foster parent situations of all time. Some previews have revealed that there will be a talking cat introduced later.

It’s understandably difficult to maintain proper discipline with your child if she has the ability to use you as a toaster oven. Particularly if she installed the feature without telling you

If you’re looking for a plot in all this, there isn’t one. In that, My Ordinary Life follows the time-honored tradition of its genre. What there is, however, is wackiness and unpredictability around every corner. I liked the second episode far more than the first, I think because it took that long for me to come to understand, or at least accept, the particular idiosyncrasies of the setting. The sooner you’re willing to just roll with whatever happens, the better off you’ll be.

The second episode is also where Kyoto demonstrated, despite the clumsiness of the basic art style, that they still have serious animation chops. With not one but two frantic chase scenes, not to mention some lovingly rendered firearms (although I’ll be talking quite a bit more about lovingly rendered firearms tomorrow), the show continually turns ordinary events into life-and-death situations, while turning the sci-fi household of Hakase and Nano into the mundane.

Yuuko’s potential loss of her favorite type of lunch item turns into a epic rescue attempt

What makes me particularly hopeful for the show is how little of the cast has actually been introduced at this point. With several secondary characters, and particularly male characters, still in the wings, and a willingness to diverge from the antics of the main trio, My Ordinarily Life looks like it will have staying power, with enough new situations to keep the show from ever becoming predictable.

That being said, the humor is at best an acquired taste. (It took me an episode to acquire it.) I’m not willing to guarantee any particular viewer will like it, nor can I promise that it won’t fall into familiar territory a month from now. And, given the essentially plotless nature of it, it’s certainly not something antiotaku will blog.

I had to include at least one shot of Tachibana’s ever expanding but surprisingly nonlethal arsenal

That being said, I think the series is at least worth a look, unless you’re boycotting Kyoto Animation until they produce the next Full Metal Panic series (and if you are, I suppose I can’t blame you). For those inclined to like this sort of show, My Ordinary Life provides an experience that is anything but ordinary. And that uniqueness might be enough to lure in even the most skeptical of viewers.

You can watch the series here.

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