I would like to clarify this review by saying this: I love Azuma Kiyohiko. I love Azumanga Daioh, both the manga and the anime, and Yotsuba&! is one of my favorite series of all time. I began reading Supplementary Materials with the expectation that it was going to be great; I found myself bitterly disappointed.
I'm pretty sure I'm going to be flamed for this review; Supplementary Materials currently has an average score of 8.25, so I'm probably in a minority. If you enjoyed it, wonderful, but I really felt like I had to get this out.
I guess you could say that Supplementary Materials is
a midquel to the original Azumanga Daioh series; the events depicted in this manga happen at completely random times throughout the original series. You're kind of expected to already know the series before reading it; however, this is acceptable as they were originally put in reprints of the main series anyway.
As Azumanga Daioh is a character-driven manga that doesn't have a plot, the series relies on the humor to hold the story together. And though this isn't the main reason (I'll get to that in a minute), this is a part of why Supplementary Materials falls apart: THE HUMOR IS NOT FUNNY.
And let me tell you, it tries. It tries very, very hard to be funny, but it just fails so much. While the original manga wasn't always laugh-out-loud hilarious, a lot of its better jokes came from the sheer randomness of everyday life. Here, the manga tries very hard to be random, and it shows. For example, there is a scene where Kagura is digging a hole in the sand. Chiyo-chan asks her if she's going to bury something, to which Kagura replies "Nope. Just digging a hole," and continues on. I realize that a lot of the original humor was hit-and-miss -- there were a lot of cultural jokes that were lost in translation, no matter which version you read -- but can someone PLEASE explain that to me without saying that it was TRYING to be random?
To be honest, there's not much to say about the art. Although Azuma Kiyohiko is amazing when it comes to hilarious expressions, the art for Azumanga Daioh has never been perfect. Then again, it IS mostly a 4-koma, so what's to expect?
I will say, however, that the art for Supplementary Materials was nothing like the art of the original series. His previous work on Yotsuba&! really shows here -- the characters are a lot rounder than they were, and there are a lot more closeups than in the original. However, unlike Yotsuba&!, there was a lot less detail, and it was pretty plain most of the time. Again, it's a 4-koma, so there's not a lot of detail to be had anyway.
As for the colored art... It's average. It's certainly not as good as some of the colored art from the original Azumanga, but it's fine.
And, of course, the characters. The characters were the thing that really made Azumanga shine. Though most of their personalities could be explained in one word (the loud one, the weird one, etc...), their antics and interactions with each other were what made the series.
And THIS is where the series REALLY falls apart. Because here, the characters are... Gone. Every last one of them are gone, complete shells of their former selves. Most notable is the character of Tomo, who seems to have taken a Ritalin since the original series. In a scene where she oh-so-randomly decides that she wants to cosplay as a giraffe, she sits there in the classroom with a completely monotone expression, choosing not bounce around to show off her "quirky" attire as she normally would. When she's finally yelled at by the gym teacher, she whimpers, saying "That was scary..." For God's sake, when would Tomo ever whimper?!
The other most notable change is in Osaka. Osaka is already strange enough as a character, but there was just something about her here that didn't seem right. For example, she makes a stamp of the hiragana for "O". "O is for Osaka!" she says cheerfully, as she innocently stamps O's all over Yomi's textbook. Er... Yeah, there's not much you can say about that.
As this series has no plot, there was never really any character development either. Therefore, some of the new developments introduced here didn't seem to fit at all, and they were really unnecessary. For example, did we really need to know that Tomo's dad has the same haircut that she does? Or that Sakaki is scared of robot construction guards? Or that Kaorin sees her crush on Sakaki as "just a teenage thing"? (The part with Kaorin really confused me... Tomo straight-up asks her if she's gay, which seems to be something that just never would have happened in the original. Did we really have to resort to gay jokes?)
I read this right after finishing up the original manga series, and I thought it was going to be great. In fact, I thought that it was going to be even better. But this manga honestly upset me. You may think I'm being overdramatic, but this manga literally had me pulling my hair and slapping my forehead. I love Azuma Kiyohiko, but this was just so bad...
I don't recommend this to anyone. If you're a fan of Azumanga, and you haven't read this yet... Don't. If you're not familiar with this series, but you want to try it out... Just stay far away from this and read the original, infinitely better, Azumanga Daioh.
The knowledge that we won't be able to see someone or something we love anymore is a painful feeling. As I, and many fans of Azumanga Daioh watched the final episode the knowledge that there will be no more Osaka, Chiyo, Tomo, Sakaki, Kagura, Yomi anymore hit all of us fast and hard.
But lo, by a fortunate twist of fate, Azuma sensei released more chapters of Azumanga Daioh. These chapters are not the continuations of the main manga, but instead, they are a few chapters that show the lives of our beloved characters in various points during the three years. It may not be
much, but for those who love Azumanga Daioh, these chapters are no less than a blessing.
I won't beat around the bush. If you love Azumanga Daioh, read this. You can read this in any manga hosting site. For those who don't know what Azumanga Daioh is, go watch the anime. That is all.
A score of 10? Biased? You bet I am. The feels this extra gave me aren't to be taken likely.