by Punch Rockgroin
Anime clichés get smacked by reality in Daily Lives of High School Boys
High school girls in Japan live the life. Before them stretches a vast array of possibilities: They could be magical girls saving the world from evil, having other-worldly adventures surrounded by the most beautiful men in the universe, or even just starting a band and having a great time with their friends. With so many fun and exciting activities to choose from, it’s no wonder the anime industry has made it their duty to show the many teenage girls of Japan what they can do while in high school. Despite the myriad of options available to the Japanese high school girl, high school boys in Japan are only good at fighting or sports, and are thus much more limited in what they can accomplish during the golden years of their life.
Of course, we as well-educated purveyors of the finest in animated entertainment (heh) know that the prevalence of high school girls in anime is only because the target audience tends to like girls that are a bit too young for them to be chasing after. But thankfully Yasunobu Yamauchi, the original creator of the manga that the anime is based on, knows better than that. And better still Shinji Takamatsu, the director of the series, was all too willing to animate Yamauchi’s ideas.
So if you haven’t figured it out by now, the show follows the lives of high school boys rather than their female counterparts. While this is a refreshing change of pace, the best part of the show is that it is dedicated to taking many tropes within anime, applying them to real life, and summarily turning them on their head. Everything from kissing cousins to panty shots gets this treatment; something I think is much needed during what is the Anime Doldrums.
The show follows three average high schoolers: Tadakuni, who usually disproves of his friends’ antics but goes along with them anyway; Hidenori Tabata, who comes up with the schemes that Tadakuni doesn’t care for; and Yoshitake Tanaka, who goes along with Hidenori’s ideas. While these three get the most attention, there are many other side characters that also get a good bit of screen time despite their status, especially the trio of the “High School Girls Are Funky” skits. Being that it’s a “slice of life” anime, the show consists of many short clips that are generally unrelated (with the notable exception of the “Literary Girl” ones in particular). It keeps the show basic and allows it to get the most out of its variety show-esque style.
If you’ve noticed a pattern in a few of my past reviews, I rather enjoy watching shows that serve no other purpose than to entertain. Granted I also enjoy the show because it takes pot shots at the many tropes within the industry and does it well. Not every skit is laugh-out-loud funny – some will only elicit a chuckle at best – and some episodes feature more of the funnier skits than others. But the overall product is definitely worth a watch if you have some time to kill, or are just looking for something good to watch during this most tepid season, even if it’s lacking in a compelling story or plot.
To cap this review off, as well as to get a tie-in with the Strongest Month, I have a little tidbit for Touhou fans. Yasunobu Yamauchi goes by another name: Bomber Grape. If that name rings a bell, good. Daily Lives of High School Boys contains a similar style of art and humour to that of Yamauchi’s/Bomber Grape’s Touhou comics. While this doesn’t actually make the series any more or less interesting, it is a nice little factoid for the Brohous among us.
The only real downside I could find with the series was that it is a scant 12 episodes long. But boy, what they managed to do in 12 episodes that some series can’t even manage in 26. If you don’t mind sitting down for a half-hour to get a good laugh (and I certainly hope you don’t) then you’ll enjoy the series. Honestly, unless this really isn’t your brand of humour, I don’t know how anyone wouldn’t enjoy this great show.
Fuck Yeah! Look it up:
Daily Lives of High School Boys
based on the manga by Yasunobu Yamauchi
Produced by Sunrise, Licenced by NIS America