I just recently finished Azumanga Daioh. It was simply incredible. Azumanga was originally a manga that was turned into an anime series. It really sums up Japan in a perfectly quirky and human kind of way. The story is about seven high school girls going through school, living, etc. It is, for all intensive purposes, a show about nothing. There are no real drawn out story arcs, no big plot twists, no real changes at all. It is just about these girls going through high school. The story is also told in a highly unique way. Each episode was only about 5 minutes long and aired throughout the week, on the weekend there was a compilation episode that featured all the shorts of that week. The version I watched was of the recaps episodes each about 30 minutes long.
The show is about Japan. They do everything you do in Japan. They have sports day, they go on their senior trip, they plan for culture festival, etc. It is remarkably accessible, and having lived here it is also something more. I feel like nothing I have ever seen really sums up Japan school life like this show. That being said it is off the wall and very odd, but not in an unbelievable way. It takes a standard event and pushes it to the comedic extremes. It is also a master of the non-sequential humor; particularly from my favorite character Osaka-chan. The show also has an understated sweetness that just makes you feel good watching it. I really loved this anime.
If you are looking for a great representation of Japanese schools, or simply want to watch a laugh out loud hilarious show get Azumanga Daioh, right now.
Just watch the opening, it’s funny stuff.
P.S. My new “entertainment” icon is a clip from the show featuring Sakaki-san (the silent uncomfortable athletic girl) grabbing a snowball as it zooms towards Chiyo (the young prodigy).