Azumanga Daioh is one of those series that brought laughter to all and created an eccentric cast of characters that really brought to life the 4-koma manga format. Due this series' success, it isn't too much of a stretch to say it no doubt inspired many other series of its kind that came afterwards. (Shows such as Hidamari Sketch and the recent Yuyushiki come to mind. - Ed.) In contrast to other 4-koma adaptations, when this one was airing from April to September, it would be broadcasted every day of the week in short five minute segments, only to be compiled into one episode for the weekend on the format we are more accustomed to. Nonetheless, the daily high school lives of Chiyo and her friends skyrocketed in sales and proved that a cat for a dad and one hell of a creepy teacher was enough to entertain thousands!
This change from the usual focus is also seen in another anime of 2002 with .hack//Sign. The series is the first of its kind with the characters being trapped in a video game, a concept not too far from more modern shows (Sword Art Online, Ixion Saga DT). Despite that, our hero Tsukasa doesn't rise to the bar and instead becomes someone who avoids the company of others, cynical towards everyone around them for a good deal of the time. It has a slow pacing and doesn't even have much action in it at all, on account of that. and although many do applaud it for its creativity, others criticize it for being a difficult watch. The debate towards its worth is something people still question today.
To conclude, 2002 was a year that started more than a few of the most popular anime fandoms of today. Japan was testing the waters with unlikely heroes and bringing back some favourites. It was also the year where one of the most popular studios finally made their big break into the business. On account of series like Gundam Seed and Azumanga Daioh, anime in Japan finally made some really big sales for the new millennium, which helped to prove that from here on out, anime would only grow to become bigger and bigger!
Next time: Four decades down, one decade to go! Here comes 2003!