Episodes seen: 2 of ?
There's manga and there's Azumanga, AZUMA Kiyohiko's unique brand of humourous manga. And then, there's Azumanga Daioh, a four-panel comic strip (well, most of them, at least) which, since it's serialisation in Media Work's manga magazine Dengeki Daioh in February 1999, has become extremely popular in Japan. Azumanga Daioh the Animation (Azumanga Daioh) is a wacky series about a comical bunch of highschool girls and their equally eccentric teachers.
Just like the four-panel manga strip, each episode is also made up of a few loosely related segments involving the characters--almost in 'a-day-in-the-life-of' fashion--and lacks the kind of continuity you find in conventional shows with a more central storyline. In fact, the anime's pretty much based on the manga itself (though not always), elaborating on the stories that appear in the comic magazine.
Herself the Elf sez: You know, it's nice to see some normal-people wackiness from time to time. Azumanga Daioh is refreshingly free of angst, giant robots, the Tokyo Tower, explosions, or magical powers--it's just a bunch of girls going about their normal highschool lives, and as we can all remember there's nothing so bizarre as highschool. There's not much plot here, just fun characters and wacky hijinks. Seemingly normal situations are made funny through the use of eccentric characters and clever twists on the ordinary. Since the story (such as it is) is very episodic in nature, you can theoretically jump in at any time.
Azumanga Daioh uses a clean, simple art style reminiscent of Love Hina. The animation isn't anything to write home about, as there's lots of cheap CGI, but it's decent and serves the show well. The music isn't that great, but it's very low-key and doesn't register much. All in all, though, the strength of this show is its character interaction, so the music and animation aren't too important.
Light-hearted and wacky, Azumanga Daioh is fun and clever. It's not on the level of Excel Saga for comedy value, but few things are. A thoroughly enjoyable and quirky slice-of-life show that would be great for introducing somebody to anime. If you liked Karekano, give Azumanga Daioh a try.