Review: Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou

daily lives of high school boys main characters

It’s difficult for me to find anime comedies I can really get behind. Too often I find the humour either incredibly formulaic and uninspired, or else just plain sexist or crass, mired as it frequently is in slapstick fanservice and/or insipid moe hijinks. I count it as a major achievement when any given anime comedy makes me laugh aloud, especially since the titles that manage this are so few and far between. So, how did Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou, or Daily Lives of High School Boys, fare on my personal laugh-o-meter?

Surprisingly well, actually. I say ‘surprisingly’ not just because of my poor track record with anime comedies, but also because I saw the words ‘school shounen comedy’ in a description somewhere and instinctively prepared myself for panty shots, boob jokes, and an overabundance of toilet humour. To be fair, Danshi Koukousei isn’t completely devoid of these kinds of gags; I was at first vaguely bored and then a little annoyed at Danshi Koukousei’s boys-wearing-sister’s-underwear gag, because aside from just not being that funny, it made an appearance several times throughout the series. On the plus side, this is one of the only jokes I can remember that didn’t work for me at all, and a couple of repetitively bad jokes out of maybe fifty decent ones strikes me as pretty good odds.

daily lives of high school boys underwear

I will admit though, I found this series a lot funnier the second time around than I did the first. Like many comedies, Danshi Koukousei seems far more amusing when watching in company, probably because the majority of the jokes, while funny, aren’t necessarily clever. Much of the material is original enough that I didn’t feel as though I had already seen it all before, and the comedic timing is usually very on point, but the comedy in and of itself is mostly kinda dumb since, being a slice-of-life comedy about high school boys, the characters themselves do predictably dumb things. I don’t think this is a bad thing per se, and it actually links to a very positive aspect of the series that I’ll get around to in a second, but I find dumb humour to be far more enjoyable when you have a friend to laugh alongside you.

Getting back to characters acting stupidly, another thing I can really appreciate about this show is that the title lives up to the reality. I’m not saying that every sketch is realistic – there are some intentionally absurdist moments that are blatant parodies of anime tropes, like the hilarious take on schoolgirls running late to class while eating toast – but when I see something that literally translates into Daily Life of High School Boys, I tend to want the characters to act like high school boys. Anyone remember Kimi to Boku, another slice-of-life comedy about high school boys? Yeah, I dropped that after the first episode, because not one of them looked, sounded, or acted anything like it. I have no problem when this is done as a part of the joke, like with Takeo’s size and voice in Ore Monogatari or the myriad of outrageously bizarre characters in Cromartie High School, but in general I need the cast to feel at least somewhat believable.

daily lives of high school boys breakfast

On that note, I’m also pleased to see that each of the main characters in Danshi Koukousei have distinct personalities of their own and don’t always need to function as a group in order to evoke the laughs. Tadakuni is the straight man of the trio but also works part-time at a pizza restaurant, which several of the comedy sketches are centered around. Hidenori, the one most likely to get the group into trouble, gets himself unintentionally involved with the over-imaginative Literature Girl, another staple sketch of the series. The laid-back Yoshitake tends to just go along with whatever his friends are planning, but also has to deal with his incredibly violent older sister. There are a ton of colourful side-characters as well – an excellent mix of both boys and girls who add a lot of variety to what would otherwise probably be a rather plain and plodding title.

This is especially the case since there’s nothing about the show in terms of production values that’s remarkable one way or the other. The artwork isn’t exactly ugly, but it’s certainly not what I’d call pretty either (though some of those facial expressions are awesome), and the animation does just enough to get by. The voice acting is good in that it matches the characters fairly well and comes across as reasonably realistic overall, but I’m not about to give away any prizes for amazing performances. The background music is entirely forgettable, the OP song is catchy but weirdly serious, and the ED is far better suited in terms of atmosphere but definitely isn’t something I’d listen to in my own time.

daily lives of high school boys funny faces

As a whole, I’d say things mostly balance out in Danshi Koukousei’s favour. The jokes are often silly but rarely dirty or offensive, the timing and execution usually do a good job of complementing them, and at 12 episodes, the length is about perfect for a show such as this. It also makes for a welcome change from ‘cute girls doing cute things’ comedies – or indeed, from cute boys doing cute things. Bottom line, if you’re looking for an anime you can relax to without getting having to get too emotionally invested, and for some genuine but easy laughs, you could do far worse than giving Danshi Koukousei a go.

Question of the post: If you’ve watched it, what did you think of Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou? And regardless of whether you have or not, how do you feel about anime sketch comedies in general? Is it is a setup that normally works for you?

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24 thoughts on “Review: Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou

  1. I liked it! Mainly because similar to what you said when I saw the title Daily Lives of High School Boys, it gave me what I expected. Because realistically speaking, teenagers aren’t all that serious. They talk and do dumb things that when you make a comedy sketch out of it, it makes it really funny.

    Anime sketch comedies or comedy in general is a hit or miss for me since a lot of it comes from cultural and social references that I sometimes get and most of the time don’t. ;; and even if I do get them I don’t find it funny if it touches on a topic that I think shouldn’t be taken lightly. (Maybe I’m just too serious… My family tells me I have no sense of humor either so)

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    • Exactly. If I watch a comedy about regular teeangers, I generally expect them to act like regular teeangers – i.e. pretty dumb.

      Yeah, the pop culture references can make it difficult to fully appreciate a comedy if you’re not overly familiar with either them or the culture surrounding them. I feel like Danshi Koukousei was primarily focused on the characters and teens being teens more than the in-jokes, which I’d say is mostly a good thing.

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  2. Like you, I have a hard time getting behind an anime comedy. It’s usually the same repetitive stuff, and filled with toilet bowl humor. (Not that toilet humor isn’t funny, it’s shock value is lost if it’s constantly repeated) I watched Daily Lives of High School Boys with my friends, and we had a few good laughs. But much of the gags consist of material I would not find funny if I were by myself. A pretty solid series nonetheless.

    Great post!

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  3. I really liked it! Though, as you said, far more the second time around; dropped it early the first time for some unremembered reason. Literature Girl was a favorite (and certainly is a reminder to write that first draft I always put aside), and apart from the sister’s-underwear jokes the rest of the “typical hormone-laden high school boys” humor really resonated.

    I seem to be the rare person out of my acquanitances / followed ani-bloggers who really (and I mean REALLY) likes anime sketch comedy. Manzai routines, reaction faces, 4-koma set-ups, whatever you want to call Teekyuu — I love it. I’m a fan of sketch comedy in general so this is at least partly an overall inner appreciation of the genre, but I do like anime’s specific variations on their own merits.
    This is probably something of a parsing/interpretation thing: I have some trouble reading non-verbal cues, atmosphere, etc. so the over-the-top “lay it all out clearly, with huge neon road-signs in comic sans” style in sketch comedy definitely lets me feel that “Ah!- I understood that interaction” sensation that comes more naturally to the typical person.

    As for cultural references, I take the ones I don’t get as opportunities to learn more random stuff about Japan so they entertain my brain; if I ever end up stranded in Japan with little money, I’ll know exactly which super-cheap snack to go for while I ponder, haha.

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    • I suspect a lot of people dropped it back when it was airing, if only because it’s not a super high quality anime in terms of production values, and not the type to stick out in any given season. When people have one or two shows too many per week, something like this would probably be the first to go.

      I can take or leave sketch comedy – by which I mean like any anime, I’m more likely to keep or drop something based on the characters (and for a comedy, how much it makes me laugh) rather than the genre… I guess I can call sketch comedy a genre? I don’t know, either a sketch comedy ‘works’ for me or it doesn’t, and by and large this one does. 🙂

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    • I’ve seen a little of Nichijou and thought it was about average. Absurdist comedies sometimes really work for me (e.g. Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, Osomatsu-san) and sometimes not. Nichijou felt a bit different in that it was absurdist moe… which, given how much I enjoyed Azumanga you’d think I could get behind, but for whatever reason Nichijou just didn’t quite click for me.

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  4. I recall liking it during the airtime but I more or less forgot it soon after. It falls into somewhat amusing and I heard there was a live movie of it which seems to be not really what I’d consider it working irl.

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    • I haven’t seen the movie yet, though I’d consider watching it if for nothing else than a vague curiosity at just how well (or not) it works in live-action format.

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  5. Like many comedies, Danshi Koukousei seems far more amusing when watching in company, probably because the majority of the jokes, while funny, aren’t necessarily clever.

    Ah, yes, I had a similar experience with the series. Actually, the first time I watched it was with company. We put on the first couple of episodes and I was laughing until my sides ached. Then later on I finished the series alone and found myself surprised by how little I laughed. I thought it was because the jokes got worse over time. I saw some reviews saying something similar, so I thought that must be right. But looking back, maybe Danshi Koukousei would have been funny throughout if I saw the entire thing in company. Hmm… I should test that theory sometime.

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    • I think there were a couple of jokes that got repetitive over time, and a couple that never really worked that well to begin with, but mostly I think the jokes stayed around the same level of funny the whole way through. I might have thought the same as you, only I watched by myself the first time and then in company the second – and while the former was mildly amusing, the second truly did make me sides hurt from laughter. I’d be interested to know if you decide to watch it again in company yourself and if so, how the experience changes for you.

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  6. I didn’t expect to like this at first, but I was so wrong. It’s one of the few comedies I actually enjoyed, next to Nichijou and Azumanga Daioh. Also, I love series that can break the fourth wall.

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    • I felt pretty meh about Nichijou despite its massive popularity among fans, but I did love Azumanga back in the day. I guess you could say that in a few respects, Danshi Koukousei is the male version of that. But yeah, comedies that also break the fourth wall sometimes can be a lot of fun.

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  7. Yeah, I also only watched the first episode of this and couldn’t remember anything about it. I think it was just them lazing around and bantering in a room? I assume it gets more interesting when these kids have another group of characters to bounce off with; was originally going to re-visit it, but I keep forgetting about that and feels like it’s too late now.

    I like this kind of comedy, but also generally prefer ones with strong and novel central premise (the sextuplet in Osomatsu, sentai parody in Tentai Sunred, Seki’s ridiculous creativity in My Neighbor Seki). It shouldn’t be one-trick pony with that premise obviously, but it’s always good for me to have some kind of attention-grabbing start as a foundation. Speaking of, I just heard today that ‘Sakamoto desu ga?’ got an adaptation for next season. It’s the funniest high school-centric comedy sketch I’ve read in a while, you should keep an eye for it :]

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  8. I saw a few episodes of the anime, and did find it entertaining, but it wasn’t gripping enough because I didn’t feel like watching a comedy which is just about boys doing crazy stuff so I stopped watching the anime.
    I prefer anime with comedic elements in them, and if the anime is mainly comedy I like those the best but I usually watch comedy animes that tend to have action/adventure elements, and never watch a slice of life comedy anime. But today I came across a new anime called “The Wallflower” or yamato nadeshiko, which is a romantic comedy mixed with drama and a bit of horror-comedy. I’ve found the anime to be laugh-out-loud funny, so it’s definitely worth watching, and I haven’t finished watching it myself. Another comedy anime which I found particularly funny and enjoyable to watch was Ninja Nonsense.
    I personally don’t think I could watch an anime that didn’t have some kind of story or plot, (Ninja nonsense is an exception). So I prefer animes that have outragous plots and that are comedic, or just general anime that can be funny and light-hearted from time to time. I’ve noticed that most main stream animes have comedy as one of their genres or elements, and I feel that animes that become popular tend to be well-rounded in terms of their genre elements as I’ve noticed the main stream anime (Dragonball, One Piece, Naruto , Bleach etc) have multiple genre elements.
    So although I’m willing to give a purely comedy anime a shot, it needs to have some kind of story that I can get invested in and that could resolve itself throughout the course of the anime.
    Have you watched Ninja nonsense or yamato nadeshiko? Also can you recommend any more comedy anime?

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    • I’ve seen The Wallflower, and I’m sorry to say I didn’t think much of it. I found parts of it okay, but much of the comedy struck me as being pretty stale, and I hated the art style. I’d say my favourite comedy anime so far is Nozaki-kun, though I also really like Great Teacher Onizuka, Azumanga Daioh, and the currently airing Osomatsu-san.

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      • Actually the art style (especially when they make chibi or white chibi silhouettes) was what drew me to it because I like that kind of childish humour. Another anime that uses a similar chibi style for comedic effect is Getbackers (a good action and comedy anime that doesn’t make sense, haha). The titles you just mentioned I’ve heard of them, but as soon as I see a cast full of normal people characters, I lose interest. (Why does something like Lucky Star appeal to anyone? I don’t get that)
        I’ll have a look at Great Teacher as I’ve never heard of it and seems interesting.

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