Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Daily Lives of High School Boys
Blu-Ray - Complete Series [Premium Edition]
Tadakuni, Hidenori, and Yoshitake are high school boys, and pretty typical ones at that. Or maybe “typical” isn't quite the right word...in any event, the boys have everyday adventures, like encountering strange girls on the riverbank, acting out RPGs when they find a stick, and pondering the mysteries of love letters, personal space, and what annoys them. Other boys, meanwhile, feel dirty for looking up a girl's skirt, while high school girls torture their next door neighbor. But this is a comedy, so it's all done in a really funny way.
If Sunrise and Square Enix collaborated, what would you expect? The protagonists of Daily Lives of High School Boys are pretty sure that it means that their show will be about fantasy heroes fighting off Gundams, but sadly they are mistaken. This is, as they discuss a few times throughout the twelve episodes, a slice of life anime. Sort of. Or perhaps it is a slice of life show about the imaginative lives people live, which honestly sounds way too deep for this particular series. In any event, one thing is certain about Daily Lives of High School Boys, and that is that it is incredibly funny, no matter how you classify it.
The primary protagonists of the piece of three high school buddies attending North Sanada High, Tadakuni, Hidenori, and Yoshitake. Tadakuni is the straight man, and actually appears less and less as the series goes on (a bit like Akarin in Yuruyuri), making Hidenori and his overactive imagination the real lead character. Hidenori is the funniest member of the group, organizing most of their misadventures with glee and monologuing his problems in high style. Yoshitake, the bleach-head with the lazy attitude, stirs up his fair share of laughs, but mostly plays second fiddle to Hidenori's straight-faced lunacy. Supporting characters include the student council members, the Book Loving Girl (who gets a name later on in the show), and three random high school girls who star in the recurring shorts “High School Girls are Funky,” whose opening animation is a pretty good K-ON joke. Despite the fact that there are a lot of characters to keep track of, they're all fairly easy to tell apart, and really, the humor in the show overwhelms any real need to know who everybody is. On the off chance that you do want to keep everyone straight, this is a NISAmerica premium release, and the included hardcover book contains a character guide as well as fairly funny episode summaries.
The relatable absurdity of the boys' (and girls') adventures is a large part of what makes this show successful comedy. For every moment of total insanity, such as classmate Mitsuo's mad soccer skills or Motoharu's adventures with bicycles, there's one that makes you laugh and think, “Yes, I did something like that.” Among the better moments, although of course what you find particularly funny will depend upon your sense of humor, are the episodes the gang spends lost in their imaginations. An early RPG moment with a stick found on the ground is memorable not just for Hidenori's pronunciation of the name “Jack,” but for the way it showcases how any moment can become a game, and that high school students still are, in a lot of ways, kids. This theme continues successfully throughout the show, playing with the contradictions inherent in adolescence – the moments of maturity followed by the desire to do something truly stupid. The jokes run the gamut between word play, picking at tropes of both the slice of life genre and anime in general, to flat out pratfalls and physical humor, like an episodelet that focuses on a slippery stretch of sidewalk. While some sections are funnier than others, the energy never lets up and the voice acting is always stellar.
The stand-out voice is hands down Tomokazu Sugita, who plays Hidenori. All of his over the top embellishments to even his smallest lines make his character stand out, and the flexibility of his vocal range is very impressive. Yōko Hikasa as the Book-Loving Girl also delivers a wonderful performance, making the most of her few lines in a striking growly voice. Cast members take turns reading the title or the sponsor information a la Hetalia, and in general you get the feeling that everyone who worked on this show had an awful lot of fun. Each episode is broken up into five or six mini-episodes, which keeps jokes fairly fresh. Images are clean and crisp, and while a few obvious CG intrusions mar the look, it on the whole is a good watch both in terms of quality of picture and content. Extras aren't terribly impressive, apart from NISA's book, although the included "extra scenes" which play automatically after the final episode do essentially bring the show to thirteen episodes rather than twelve.
If you enjoyed the absurdity of Ixion Saga DT, chances are good that you'll enjoy this as well. With jokes that rarely fall flat, great vocal work, a very funny and purposefully poorly sung ending theme, and an overall nice look, Daily Lives of High School Boys does the genre right.
Overall (sub) : A-
Story : A-
Animation : B
Art : B
Music : B
+ Consistently funny, including the purposefully bad ending theme, great voice acting.
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