34 CommentsAnime Analysis / By Scamp /

Why Daily Lives of Highschool Boys is special

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.

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34 Comments

  1. Jump
    Posted March 30, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    Soo, top 30 material?

    • Scamp
      Posted March 30, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

      Not quite. DMC does slightly better in the satire territory, and that doesn’t quite make it either

      • OneDollar
        Posted April 1, 2012 at 4:57 am | Permalink

        DMC???

      • Scamp
        Posted April 1, 2012 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

        Detroit Metal City

    • Miles R.
      Posted April 1, 2012 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      It Belings In The TOP SPOT! #1~ The Show Made Me Die Laughing~ Its A Show That Is A Must Buy.

  2. Flawfinder
    Posted March 30, 2012 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    So who was your favorite character? I liked Karasawa.

    • Scamp
      Posted March 30, 2012 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

      Leaning towards Literature Girl, mainly for the slapstick scene where she ends up just lying there bawling her eyes out

  3. Karry
    Posted March 30, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    “”They’re scary mon­strous beings, completely incom­pre­hens­ible, whose only aim is to jam more suf­fer­ing onto the lives of the boys.”

    Which is basically every single anime ever, apart from harem shows. Seriously, you claim to have never seen any show where a main character has some sort ofcompletely batshit insane female relative of sorts, that abuses and berates him at every turn ?

    • Arbee
      Posted March 31, 2012 at 4:39 am | Permalink

      But the idea was that they don’t have a soft dere side AT ALL. That’s prolly what they are showing in the anime: The girl characters breaking the “uguuable” stereotypes and became something similar to gender bent droogies from A Clockwork Orange which makes the anime tolerable in my book.

  4. Posted March 30, 2012 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    I wrote an opposite opinion about that.

    Basically, while I feel that the show was good as comedy, it’s weakest points were when it was simply trying to run on “We point out how unrealistic every other anime is, and we are funny because we do the opposite of what they do”.

    That’s just like paraphrasing your debate partner’s points with allcaps and misspellings, or saying the opposite of what you mean, and calling it “sarcasm”. It might be good enough for a random critic on the net, but from a whole show based on that, I would have expected more complex setups, like Literature Girl, and less random scenes of subverted clichés after one another.

    • Scamp
      Posted March 30, 2012 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

      So you’re asking it to be a story as well as satire? I mean, when you boil down any joke to its base level like you have, it won’t appear particularly deep

      • Posted March 31, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

        “So you’re ask­ing it to be a story as well as satire?”

        Either that, or just stick to gag-based jokes and not try being a satire.

        Something like Lit girl, as a complete series, was interesing, because it was deep. You could (and some people did) write whole posts about the theme of romantic expectations, and willingness to play along with them, based on it.

        Something like the one with the girl’s mole hair, is funny for the same reason why any good comedy is funny: there is a dramatic buildup, and a quick twist.

        But most Funky scenes, ranting about moe, or the one with narrowly avoiding the late-for-school girl with the toast, left me thinking “yeah, these are pointing out that these clichés exist. So what?”

      • Scamp
        Posted March 31, 2012 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

        So you’re ask­ing it to be a story as well as satire?”

        Either that, or just stick to gag-based jokes and not try being a satire.

        Now this is where I completely disagree. What is wrong with a show sticking to doing satire? For one, I think you completely underestimate how the satire is played out. Lit Girl is the best, but it’s still a satire of romantic expectations. The depiction of sisters is done in so many clever ways, but is still a commentary on how teenage boys actually see their sisters and nothing more

      • Posted March 31, 2012 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, Lit girl is a satire, but as you asked me first, I expect a good satire to also have a story. *IF* it wants to insist so much on one-scene gags, only then it shouldn’t try so hard to be a satire, because that will just end up stating the obvious in the scenes.

    • Stef
      Posted March 31, 2012 at 10:41 am | Permalink

      I see what you mean. I have myself ambivalent opinions on the show.

      It’s satirical theme is both it’s strength and it’s weakness. The comedy is good, but it doesn’t go beyond what it wants to criticize. The very nature of the show makes it extremely restrictive vis-à-vis of the viewers ; it’s designed to be seen by an “experienced” audience in the domain of comedy, a “casual” viewer won’t get it.

      I have the feeling that the show doesn’t aim to be anything more than a satire. It won’t survive the test of time on it’s own, though it might be interesting to see what influence it will have in the near future, if it has any. Maybe this will be enough to incite a few shows to abandon – or at least think about – the anime archetypes of our time. Or maybe not.

      • Scamp
        Posted March 31, 2012 at 11:04 am | Permalink

        I guess I think higher of satire than most people do. Detroit Metal City hasn’t dipped in quality in anyone’s eyes, but I guess Nichibros is more a product of this exact point in history, so it won’t age quite so well at all

      • Stef
        Posted March 31, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

        I don’t disregard satire as a lesser form of comedy. But there’s a reason why Voltaire’s Candide is still a reference, and I see it as very modern. It was a product of its time, yes, but it didn’t lose its value over time nonetheless.

        I just think that past a certain point in time, Nichibros won’t be worth viewing. I don’t hold it against it mind you. It delivered a good message, and if it’s goal isn’t to become a timeless classic it’s alright.

      • Scamp
        Posted March 31, 2012 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

        I think some of its stuff is timeless, such as the Lit. Girl segments and the depiction of sisters and general demener of teenage boys and how they view society through the lens of entertainment. But specific references will be lost in time, particularly the cutesy girl parodies.

  5. Posted March 30, 2012 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    Reading this post made me sad. I’ll miss this show. Like you said, these guys are being put in a path where their lives seen through a filter of how anime perceives it should be. Nichibros is that show that goes out of its way to say “Well, this is really stupid and dumb and we’re here to remind you of that.” The ending itself showed that yes, you can properly resolve anime. (Of course it turns out to be a dream which only makes it funnier.)

    This reminds me of that skit with Hidenori’s summer. It turns out the girl who found herself crushing on him was his cousin and she immediately drops the idea after finding out. In anime, the incest trend is so strong and almost off putting that it was so refreshing to see a series go and say: “You know, in real life you probably wouldn’t go out with your cousin.” There are exceptions but this was such a funny reality call.

    This was also one of the more realistic shows I’ve seen that’s dabbled on highschool life. I mean, it’s probably different in every country and culture but those girls in the show? Yes, they’re crazy and wacky–we’re not really lacking those in most anime shows– but I felt like I could relate to that craziness and horrible attitude. Like, they seem that way because that’s how the boys see them and that’s how they cover up their insecurities (like that Funky Girl with pigtails kept berating Yoshitake).

    The radio skit scenes where Yoshitake keeps blaming mothers for a teenager’s bad attitude. I did some research on it when I was doing this paper on Battle Royale (of all things), and stumbled upon the Japanese word Amae where a person wants an authority figure to take care of them, something that occurs often in Japanese culture even until adulthood.

    There’s also the Nabe skit where Motoharu metaphorically becomes the Nabe that all his sister’s friends pick on. This all happens because of the girls are older than he is.

    I know it’s no fun to explain or analyze jokes but the way the show includes all these things made me enjoy the show even more. It’s not DEEP or incredibly smart by all means but it’s a somewhat obnoxious yet charming shout out to the anime community as a whole.

    • Scamp
      Posted March 31, 2012 at 11:08 am | Permalink

      I read that final skit where they do graduate differently. It was both doing all those ridiculous cliche things without the parody to highlight that we have learned from our tour with Daily Dudes and we can now see how dumb these scenes really are

  6. Overly-animated
    Posted March 31, 2012 at 2:31 am | Permalink

    The truly sad part is.. We will never see a comedy like this again, which tries to branch out from the same thing never ending loop. Unless there is a Daily life of highschool boys Season 2. Which I would fight Tooth and Nail to see.

    Literature girl segments I will surely miss the most, from the first time they introduced her to the time she chased down that Daily Dude through the city just to say. ” It was a misunderstanding! It isn’t what you think!” That was truly the best segment ever, second only to the Ecchi Toothbrushing in Nisemonogatari.

  7. Posted March 31, 2012 at 4:07 am | Permalink

    It’s all right Scamp. You were just mentally afraid of a show with what seemed to have a similar premise to Kimi To Boku, and you must not have been impressed with the short trailers they were airing to advertise, so your thoughts were justified. (Some knew better though :D ). And now, you’ve learned your lesson. I think.

  8. Posted March 31, 2012 at 4:45 am | Permalink

    Couldn’t agree with this more. Whilst Nichijou was far from the perfect anime and even far from being one of the funniest animes, it was nonetheless original and a treat to watch in contrast to the more recent releases.

    The only problem is, it isn’t just stopping at Kimi to Biku, its slowly expanding. Apparently cute girls doing cute things, is no longer cute and the mass market (who’re guys?) want cute guys doing cute things.

  9. Posted March 31, 2012 at 5:44 am | Permalink

    Well, for me, although I did find the satire in this anime to put a few smiles on my face, in retrospect, that’s just how most anime parodies work. Sure, this is such a pleasant surprise since like you, I wasn’t expecting any innovation from Daily Lives. But really now? Aren’t you just basking in the afterglow here? You know, that feeling when something exceeds your low expectations? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean any offense.

    • Scamp
      Posted March 31, 2012 at 11:12 am | Permalink

      Most parodies don’t work like that though, that’s a big part of why this show in particular is special. Stuff like Korean Zombie Desk Car just parrot the same shit other anime do except occasionally point to themselves and go “look at me being cliche har har har”. Nichibros is satire done right, and for that I can’t praise it enough.

      Although yes, I also admit there’s a certain amount of basking in the afterglow of the show being the exact opposite of what I was expecting, but I also think anime desperately needed something like this to be made

      • Posted March 31, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

        Well, I do agree that anime needed something like this, but if I saw it correctly, you gave this show a 9 in MAL, which is kinda high considering your standards… well I guess you just enjoyed it more that I did.

        By the way, I hope you start blogging shows that I will watch next season, because well, I can’t really comment on your Mirai Nikki posts since I dropped it at episode 3, no matter how well-written they may be.

      • Scamp
        Posted March 31, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

        It’s probably an 8, but I’m giving it 9 for that personal touch I mentioned at the end of this post

  10. Posted March 31, 2012 at 6:12 am | Permalink

    This show was a classic. Somehow I expected it would be something good from when I first heard of it, since you don’t name a show “Daily Life of High School Boys” for any reason other than irony. The overall sense of humour was nicely different from most other comedic series, and it was easy to understand why these ridiculous situations were happening.

    • Scamp
      Posted March 31, 2012 at 11:13 am | Permalink

      In retrospect you’re totally right. “Daily Lives of Highschool Boys” should have been obviously used in irony. It’s just the combination of Kimi to Boku and the stupidly literal light novel titles like My Little Sister Can’t Be This Fuckable led to me think otherwise

      • Posted March 31, 2012 at 11:47 am | Permalink

        It was a giveaway that the other Nichijou also used the phrase ironically, since it was anything but ordinary.

        By the way, for both of this shows, that phrase should totally be translated as “Slice of life”, given that they both parody a GENRE, that they call the “Nichijou” genre, and we have that word for it.

      • Scamp
        Posted March 31, 2012 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

        Cromartie did that better than Nichijou

      • Posted March 31, 2012 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

        Maybe. I haven’t seen Cro­martie yet, I was just commenting on the word in their title.

  11. Posted March 31, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    I like it just for its introduction of an anime Daryl Surat.

  12. Posted April 1, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    I must admit, I enjoyed very much this show. I guess it’s not funny all the time, but is very original in playing with cliches in a charismatic way. And yeah, although the Literature Girl segment were fantastic, I prefer the High School Girls Are Funky ones. The way they openly pointed all the ridiculousness in K-On was great to see.

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