First Impressions – Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou

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I LOL’d…

OP: “Shiny Table” by Mix Speaker’s, Inc.

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That the premiere of Daily Lives of High School Boys was exactly what I expected isn’t really surprising, given that I’d seen three of the five mini-episodes already in the PV releases from Sunrise.  Still, it’s awfully nice to know that even the new chapters were every bit as funny as the others, and that the series works when they’re combined into a full-length episode.  From the very beginning fantasy sequence where Tabata (Sugita Tomokazu) makes sport of the studio animating this series with a preposterous mecha fantasy sequence (“It’s ‘cause I heard Sunrise and Square were doing a collab”) it’s obvious that DKnN is going to offer a different slant than anything we’ve seen in anime for quite a while.  And not a minute too soon.

Make no mistake, these are not the sensitive metrosexual boys of fujoshi-safe Kimi to Boku (which turned out to be a pretty decent show in it’s own way).  Tabata, Tadakuni (Irino Miyu) and Yoshitake (Suzumura Kenichi) are over-the-top archetypes of adolescent male goofiness – they’re fixated on the bizarre and the perverse, they’re crude, they’re hopeless around girls and generally prefer to lie around obsessively fantasizing rather than actually do much of anything.  Despite or perhaps because of that I find them likeable, because while they aren’t exactly what I’d call photo-realistic – this is an absurdist comedy after all – they’re grounded in the essence of typical guys in high school.  As such, that makes them almost a unicorn as central characters in a series.

Each of the three main boys has a little niche carved out in their circle, and my favorite is Tadakuni.  He’s generally the victim when silliness gets out of hand, the most gullible and earnest and in many ways both the most and least mature of the trio in that he thinks about serious questions more than the others but generally seems to approach life in the most childish way.  Tabata and Yoshitake haven’t distinguished themselves quite as much yet, as they seem quite similar.  When one gets going down a stupid and potentially risky path (usually Tabata so far), the other goads him on (anyone who knows – or has been – a teenaged male knows this scenario well).  Absurd scenarios like the girlfriend role-play and the skirt-wearing generally start with one of them, and end up with Tadakuni getting the worst of the fallout.

There are girls here too, though the trio does attend an all-boys high school (itself a pointed response to the spate of Girls at School shows we’ve been swimming in lately) and they’re refreshingly silly and able to meet the baka heroes on their own terms.  My favorite skit of the first episode invovles Literary Girl (Hikasa Youko) who sits down next to Tabata on the riverbank on a windy day.  The dialogue in this scene – all tied into the fantasy playing out in Tabata’s head – is matched in hilarity only by the facial expressions on Literary Girl.  When it turns out that she’s actually trying to play out the schoolgirl romance novel she’s written in real-life, Tadakuni spoils the mood by showing up and shouting about the half-priced potato chips at the convenience store.  My other favorite skit involves Tadakuni’s younger sister (Takagaki Ayahi), as Tadaka decides the boys need to try on her skirts to see what it’s like.  Naturally, Tadakuni – who had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the exercise  – is the only one who actually takes his pants off to do so.  It’s his sister’s reaction that really sells the scene, though.

The formula here is pretty simple.  We get some hilariously ridiculous scenarios such as Yoshitake shaving his nipples or people barfing up centipedes, a sort of stream-of-consciousness riff on that, lots of satirizing anime clichés and (crucially) every chapter has a payoff that delivers on the premise.  Director Tamakatsu Shinji has been in charge of shows like Gintama and School Rumble, so it should be clear that he knows comedy and has the ability to present teenaged boys in a pretty authentic way.  He’s the right choice for the material, and the result is the show that delivers the biggest laughs of the season so far, and it isn’t close.  The cast is uniformly excellent and very funny.  I still think it a bit odd that Sunrise is doing this, as it’s a long way outside their normal comfort zone, and it looks and feels quite unlike any other Sunrise show – but that’s more a curiosity than a problem.

One note on the ED – I think we can assume this will be changing after this week, as there was a controversy regarding the lead singer of the band Jinkaku Radio got into trouble for saying some rude things about Horie Yui.  Why anyone would do that is beyond me, but that’s a topic for another day. In the meantime we got a pretty funny number derived from the Literary Girl Sketch.

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ED1: “Bungaku Shoujo” by ENA

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  1. K

    I thought this was awful and dropped it after the 1st episode. Was hoping it would be a little more like Kimi to Boku or even funny like Nichijou, instead its just stupid. Different strokes for different folks I guess.

  2. t

    Favorite quote:

    "leave behind your tsundere childhood friend,throw out your little sister who's unrelated by blood!Run past that beautiful mysterious transfer student until she fades into the distance!"

    I had to pause I was laughing so hard.

  3. A

    "over-the-top archetypes of adolescent male goofiness"

    Weeeell, if you consider casually wearing your sister's underwear, lying around way too close to each other, and hugging one another all the damn time with no provocation – male archetypes…i guess that says something about you.

    "Director Tamakatsu Shinji has been in charge of shows like Gintama and School Rumble, so it should be clear that he knows comedy"

    Not clear at all, Gintama is utter shit as a comedy, so what he cant and cannot do is a bit vague.

  4. A

    I am sooooo happy that the show delivered exactly what the pv's promised.

    The show is about young men having fun by acting stupid and screwing around with each other.

    To that extent it is an accurate reflection of how many boys actually act, think or at least unleash their imagination in crazy and idiotic ways. In other words – it is a reflection of an element that is very real imo.

    One may not like this type of thing or have a different experience when they were in their teen years. That's another story and understandable – not everyone has the same xp. But that being said many people DO have similar experiences as well.

    I thought it was great.

    – Flower

  5. S

    Love love love Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou. Can't remember when was the last time I LOL so hard. Yes, it's hilariously over the top, but this is by far the most accurate portrayal of high school boys. Unfortunately for the fujoshis, males do have the tendency to be quite disgusting (at times). I'll admit the thought of what it's like to wear a skirt has crossed my mind and BS-ing about some very repulsive stories in the hope of grossing everyone out, those are some good memories :)

  6. M

    There were actually 8 previews total and I'm a little disappointed to see they are going to be included in the episodes instead of new footage.
    Complaints aside, this show is pure gold.

    For those curious, the ending song will (or was supposed to?) be:
    Personally, I think the thing with the ED was blown out of proportions (his remarks on Horie Yui were as mild as you can get).

    @Karmafan: I'm surprised to see you think this is awful yet you liked Nichijou. I think they are very similar in terms of comedy style. Nichijou was just even more over-the-top.

  7. K

    Why am I not surprised your favorite of the 3 is the one voiced by Irino Miyu. :)

    I think my favorite of the skits was the literary girl one. Although I'm not entirely sold on this series. I just think (with the exception of Azumanga Daioh) these type of shows are not really my thing. Even though I might stick around for a few more episodes because of Irino Miyo & Sugita Tomokazu.

  8. A

    I have little time for anime this winter, and yet this one promises to be among them. I can't say I ever did any of this, or knew people who did, but it has that truthiness of believability about it that makes it hilarious.

  9. 0

    Yup, best comedy of the season. This is one of the ones we do agree on. As opposed to, say, Nisemonogatari (probably). I actually do plan on responding more to our last AS conversation at some point but I've been busy recently.

  10. Murkel, I actually think what he said about Hochan was pretty nasty.

    Interesting but not surprising to see such divergent opinion on this. I love it, myself.

  11. M

    As far as I know, he only said on his blog that she wasn't cute enough to be an idol, which, while being a stupid thing to say and totally uncalled for, hardly justifies firing the band in my mind.

  12. Actual quote is: I have been seeing interviewers from this kind of magazines since I began to work for an anime. (A picture of Horie Yui on the cover of Seiyu Grand Prix magazine was inserted.) All the seiyu have 'seiyu-ish' looking. They look "less than an idol" or kinda cheap if not deteriorated. They are like Universal Studios Japan if an idol corresponds to Tokyo Disneyland. I don't say it's good or bad. It's a matter of taste.

    "Cheap and deteriorated" is a really idiotic thing to say about Hochan, and yes I admit I'm biased. But she may be the most beloved seiyuu in the business because of both her talent and her personality, so in that context I'm not surprised it was controversial.

  13. M

    Alright, there seems to be several different translations of what he said over the Internet and the level of rudeness varies quite a bit. No matter how I look at it though, firing the band still seems excessive.

  14. E

    Firstly: "Gintama is utter shit as a comedy"


    Umm which Gintama are you watching? Cause that show is comedy GOLD. It's not slapstick, it's satire at its best. Which I find refreshing in a niche where if humor requires the usage of your brain it's automatically branded as 'not funny' … But I suppose to each their own.

    Anyway, Ep.1 had me DYING! I was a little bit disappointed in the format. It felt really choppy, as if the clips had just been pulled out of arse and then randomly tossed together. I'll def be watching til the end since I'm a fan of both director and cast, but it would be nice if all the clips in one episode at least shared a common thread!

    As for the Horie controversy, we'll have to see what happens. To put it mildly, respect is a BIG f'n deal even in the world of Japanese entertainment. Poking fun at someone in a gag is usually acceptable, blatantly insulting them on the other hand … is usually not. And yep, calling a seiyuu "cheap if not deteriorated" then likening them to the 'bootleg' version of yourself, is an insult. I suppose it will depend on the age of the singer, the band's reputation vs the seiyuu's and if there was an apology etc.

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