My favorite anime: Singer-songwriter Yaeji on the shows she loves

My Favorite Anime is a column dedicated to collecting the stories of the biggest celebrity anime fans in the world, charting a path from their earliest introductions to Japanese animation to the series and films they love today with two questions: What was your first favorite anime, and what’s your favorite anime now?

Polygon caught up with Yaeji, the Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter and producer and a lifelong anime fan. Her debut album, With a Hammer, peaked at No. 13 on Billboard’s World Albums chart last April and was named The Guardian’s No. 7 album of 2023.


What was your first favorite anime?

Based on the original manga written by Yasushi Akimoto and illustrated by manga author Koi Ikeno, 1995’s Nurse Angel Ririka SOS is a magical girl fantasy anime following Ririka Moriya, a bubbly fourth grader who is gifted a magical nurse cap on her 10th birthday that allows her to transform into a superpowered guardian known as the Nurse Angel.

On the surface, Nurse Angel Ririka SOS appears fairly conventional in its similarities to other foundational magical girl stories, like Sailor Moon or Cardcaptor Sakura. Ririka is tasked with fighting the malevolent schemes of an alien terrorist organization known as Dark Joker, which is hellbent on tarnishing the world through mass pollution. It’s only later that Nurse Angel Ririka SOS begins to show its full hand, exploring the emotional turmoil of a young child grappling with her role as a foot soldier in an extraterrestrial war and forced to make hard decisions, often with no favorable outcome. Unfortunately, as of this writing, Nurse Angel Ririka SOS is unavailable to stream or purchase in North America, though enterprising readers might be able to track down clips of the series on YouTube.


What’s your favorite anime now?

While Yaeji’s first favorite anime may be a title that’s flown under the radar of contemporary anime fans, her current favorite anime is one of the most celebrated anime of the 2010s. Based on Keiichi Arawi’s manga series, Nichijou is a surreal slice-of-life comedy that follows an ensemble cast of characters going about their everyday lives in and around their small town. However, as is the case with Nurse Angel Ririka SOS, appearances can be deceiving.

Nichijou is known for its deadpan, irreverent style of humor, presenting simple and unassuming scenarios that quickly escalate into life-or-death struggles with often explosive consequences. Look no further than the first episode, which opens with a skit of an android chasing a cat through the streets of her neighborhood after it steals a fish she was preparing for breakfast. Everything seems pretty normal, until the android inadvertently collides with a young man absentmindedly walking in her path, causing an over-the-top explosion that engulfs the entire town in a blast of blinding white light before fading to the opening credits. Again, this is literally five minutes into the first episode.

Produced by Kyoto Animation and directed by Tatsuya Ishihara (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Sound! Euphonium), Nichijou is widely beloved as one of the best slice-of-life anime of the 2010s not just for its outlandish characters and memorable jokes, but for its exceptional animation that elevates minor sight gags into meme-worthy material.

The show’s humor is inextricable from the exaggerated bursts of fluidly polished animation that act as the punchline to its silly and surprising scenarios. Take for example Nichijou’s sixth episode, which features a skit of a principal attempting to fight a deer that’s somehow wandered onto the school grounds. What would otherwise play out as a cute aside becomes a titanic showdown on par with a WWE title match, with the principal attempting to grapple, suplex, and even divebomb the deer into submission.

That’s Nichijou in a nutshell. There’s no explanation, no contrivances of plot, and no reservations, just silly characters stumbling headlong into even sillier situations. For all those reasons, Nichijou is a fantastic series that every anime fan should make time for at one point or another in their journey throughout the medium.

Nichijou is available to stream on Crunchyroll.

Via

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