Warning: There will be a copious amount of taking my comedy anime seriously in this post. People frequently berate me for taking comedy too seriously because they think that by doing so, you stop finding it funny, a notion I disagree with. This post is a way to counter those claims, explaining why I think Daily Lives of Highschool Boys is funny compared to the likes of Nichijou or Kill Me Baby or other comedy anime that haven’t sat well with me in the past.
Daily Lives of Highschool Boys is a satire of anime’s depiction of highschool life in anime. The entire name and set up is a direct reference to the glut of anime about a bunch of girls doing cute shit in highschool, although it frequently jumps into referencing romance anime or other dude wish fulfilment stuff. From the very direct referencing of K-ON to the highlighting that boys ‘are only any use in sports or battle anime’, it’s constantly lampshading this genre. But what makes it better than most anime’s attempts at parody is it’s not a ‘playful parody’. It’s not doing the exact same thing these other anime are doing except pointing to itself occasionally and shouting ‘look at me, I’m doing this thing that other anime does, aren’t I cool‘. It mocks these aspects and satirises them, and through its depiction highlights what makes them ridiculous or dumb.
Take the show’s seemingly most popular segment, Literature Girl. The characters start to spout lines about the weather is, except in poetic ways to indicate their feelings at the time. But instead of leaving it at that, which is what many self-serious romance anime do, it provides a running commentary track with the male character constantly berating his own attempts to sound cool, and in turn laughing at the girl’s own attempts to fulfil this ideal romantic scene she’s seen in romance stories. It’s also satirised it from the girl’s side too, a character whose own attempts to put herself into these idealistic romantic situations turn her into this raving mad girl whose desperation to fulfil these checklists from her fanfiction only serve to drag her further down in the eyes of the male love interest of her choice.
Another area of choice Nichibros mocks other anime is the depiction of girls. Instead of cutesy ideal girlfriends, the women in this series are how highschool boys in real life feel girls are like. They’re scary monstrous beings, completely incomprehensible, whose only aim is to jam more suffering onto the lives of the boys. The depiction is no less realistic than the hyper cutesy versions of other anime (although many of the women I follow on twitter seemed to find this less-celebratory depiction more realistic), the fact that they go all out with this depiction of girls as universally horrible is a large part of the reason I respect its devotion to satire. This all comes to a head in the Highschool Girls Are Funky segments, which takes a group of girls starting scenarios the exact same way the girls in something like K-ON does, but go in completely different directions due to how horrible they all are. The first segment in particular stands out, for one girl asks what they are going to do today, followed by another girl yelling at her and punching her in the face. Completely fucking ridiculous, but its direct contrast and reference to K-ON and its ilk frames the scene and uses this contrast to highlight how ridiculous the insufferably nice versions of highschool girls are.
And so on and so forth, the show satirises so many various aspects of how unrealistic the depictions of highschool life is. Sometimes it’s just through placing this scenes in more realistic settings, such as the above literature girl segment, or how the boys try to act out scenes from their favourite RPGs but completely lose the sense of the plot. There’s satirising through exaggeration, such as the depiction of girls or the very opening segment where the main character leaves house with a piece of toast in his mouth, followed by his friends eating bowls of ramen. There’s a few ones that defy classification, such as the depiction of sisters. They’re not desirable love toys. Rather, they’re inhuman creatures that you’ve spent so much time around that you don’t even consider them as girls anymore. They’re referred to solely as “X’s imouto” and are never shown to have any eyes.
Again I could go on, but all I’d be doing is continuing to spoil the various jokes in the anime. What I’m trying to say is that Daily Lives of Highschool Boys is a satire of modern anime’s depiction of highschool and how this can warp the expectations of teenagers for how this life is supposed to run. When viewed through this filter, every joke in the series takes on a new light. It’s not the actual daily lives of highschool boys. It’s the daily lives of highschool boys as viewed through the filter of how anime thinks their lives should go.
On a personal note, I had pegged this show completely incorrectly in my season preview. I probably shouldn’t have, what with the director being the same guy who did School Rumble and Gintama. But a season before this we got Kimi to Boku. It was an unusual idea, having cute boys doing cute things rather than girls. But the end result was the exact bloody same. You could have swapped those genders around and got the exact same shit we have been getting for the past few years, except now seen through a more shoujo-y filter. It made me depressed. I love anime because of how it can take totally crazy ideas and animate them to make wonderful stories no other medium would even dare to try approach. Yet we were living in an era where it was becoming commonplace to make non-stories about a bunch of kids doing nothing. The announcement of Daily Lives of Highschool Boys struck fear into my heart because I thought perhaps Kimi to Boku was not just a once off, and that cute girls doing nothing was going to spread into other genres.
So thank you Daily Dudes. Thank you for not only being that, but satirising the very thing I thought you were going to be.