I was rather disappointed to discover that the first episode consisted of basically those pre-air episodes all over again, with barely 5 minutes of new content. It does give me an opportunity to talk about them properly this time, for all my intent was when I last posted about them was simply to correct my misjudgment in the season preview. Now though, I get to talk about why they are brilliant.
Daily Lives of Highschool Boys is by the same director who did Gintama and School Rumble, so the guy clearly knows how to do comedy. Particularly the comedic timing that made School Rumble click so well is on display here too, especially with the Literature Girl segment. Each pause before the dramatic line was timed to perfection, giving us perfect time to stew in the awkwardness of the moment. Comparisons with Gintama are probably more apt though, especially given they’ve brought in Gintoki himself, Tomokazu Sugita, basically doing that exact same Gintoki voice. Much like Gintama, the show is primarily a parody of a certain other genre (Gintama’s case it’s shounen, Highschool Boys it’s cute girls doing cute things) while taking random potshots at other genres and social norms. Unlike Gintama though, Highschool Boys doesn’t constantly regress into the very thing it is supposed to be parodying, which is just one of the reasons why Highschool Boys is better than Gintama.
Daily Lives of Highschool Boys is a satire of many current trends in anime. The opening sequence should tell you that much, starting off with the main character narrating that he’s just a normal guy in a normal town with no personality, only for Zakundams to come down and attack. The boys then inexplicably turn into fantasy warriors, the explanation given that it’s a collaboration between Sunrise and Square Enix. Little prod at producers who try to create anime by tossing in popular elements even when they don’t mesh together, feeling like it was thrown together by an executive boardroom, a criticism that is frequently directed towards Sunrise themselves? Call me out for reading too much into this sort of stuff, but these are the qualities that give comedy the extra laugh out loud factor beyond the immediate joke of crashing two completely different genres together.
Daily Lives of Highschool Boys is what parody should be. Not that bullshit playful parody that the likes of Ouran, where they simply point out that they are embracing cliché. This is satirical parody, where it openly mocks the ridiculous of these factors. The kid running out of the house with a piece of toast in his mouth is followed by his friends eating ramen and pot noodles as they run from their houses. The pretentious dialogue about the weather many romantic stories use, pretending to sound deep and meaningful, but instead just come off as the characters trying really hard to sound cool and failing miserably. And in turn using that same dialogue to mock those airy ending theme songs with nonsense lyrics.
Not all of Daily Lives of Highschool Boys is like that, obviously. If the skirt segment was a parody of something, I couldn’t tell you what it was. It’s just the usual playing with social norms that most comedies worth their salt do anyway. The segment with the boys obsessing over whether the main character was dating this girl was the dramatic exaggeration of aspects of social life that we over-dramatise anyway. It does have that over-reliance on the straight man routine, as does it have a tendency to shout jokes rather too often for my liking (although my love of Arakawa should tell you that these things don’t impede me from loving something). But it still pulls both these segments off great, with comic timing and delivery with jokes that are actually funny. Doing this makes Highschool Boys a Good Comedy. But it’s the satirising of modern anime trends that makes it a Great Comedy.