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.
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.
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.
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?