As anyone with older sisters can tell you, there are no scarier words than “Is this your younger brother?”
I’m seeing some complaints about the way girls are portrayed on this show, and to say that I find that ironic would be understatement on the galactic scale. I think girls are portrayed more “realistically” here than in the countless series that idealize and sexualize them endlessly. Their grotesque tendencies are highlighted to a ridiculous level here the way the guys’ are in all those other anime – which I think is exactly the point. While not every skit is hilariously successful, I’m really growing to appreciate how fearless, merciless and unerringly accurate the satire in “Daily Lives” really is.
If I have any complaint about the show, it’s that the main trio – especially Tadakuni – haven’t had much screen time lately, and I’d like to see a little more of them. On the flipside we’re seeing an awful lot of very good supporting characters introduced, which in a gag show – no matter how smart – is important in keeping things fresh. In fact the only sketch featuring Tadakuni at all this week (not counting the hilarious pre-intro featuring mangaka Yamauchi-sensei’s editor) was the very funny first one, where the boys overdubbed a conversation between three preposterously giggly and hyper middle-school girls. While the “script” was funny enough, the payoff (it’s always about the payoff) was the highlight, as the made-up dialogue seemingly matched up with the real dialogue.
As a guy with two elder sisters I felt terrible for Motoharu in the next chapter, which was almost too painful to be funny (it’s a thin line and often hard to spot). I’m not always impressed with sadistic humor if there’s no irony or justice in it, and this one felt a bit joyless for me. Much better was the next number, which featured our delinquent-faced trio from the student council, this time accosting the estimable Ringo as she’s enjoying a curry-pan, trying to get her to loan them some of her school’s unnamed equipment for an unnamed purpose. The laughs here come from the appearance of Fukuyama Jun on the scene as a would-be knight in shining armor, “rescuing” Ringo from the “delinquents”. The guys prove they’re truly “bros” here, letting Hero-boy beat on them so he won’t lose face in front of Ringo, but their plan is foiled when Ringo is so clueless that she doesn’t figure out what they were up to.
One of the wonderful things about “Danshi Koukousei” is that is loves to act as a showcase for seiyuu legends to show off, and in that spirit Fukuyama Jun gets to play yet another role here – this time as an old middle-school pal of Hidenori and Yoshitake who they meet on the way home. The girl he’s with is looking daggers at them and our two heroes are naturally horrified and wonder why their buddy keeps hanging around them and talking about hook-up parties, but it turns out it’s just his little sister with a bad squint. This is followed up by another classic as two more seuiyuu legends join the cast, this time Sanpei Yuko as 8 year-old Hidenori and the great Paku Romi as his savior and protector from bullying (which is definitely a recurring theme this week), Rubber Shooter (and Kobayashi Yuu plays one of the bullies). R.S. comes complete with his own theme song – Pachelbel’s “Canon in D Major” (Eva flashbacks, anyone) performed by a whistling chorus – but it turns out the masked hero just might have been Yoshitake all along.
Finally we have the return of two favorites. First it’s a short-visit from Literary Girl, and the combination of Sugita Tomokazu’s florid/panicked inner monologues and L.G.’s facial reactions may be the funniest running gag in anime. Capping things off is what looks to be a weekly feature, the return of “High School Girls are Funky”. If the rest of the show is a slow dissection of the Girls@School obsession in anime, these omakes are the killing blow – where Yamauchi tosses aside pretense and rips the fad apart like a pack of wolves on a poodle. K-On is squarely in the line of fire this week (“With this crappy girls band we won’t be able to ride the coattails of this high school girl fad and earn the money to go to London after playing our hearts out for just one week, dammit!”), and it isn’t pretty – but it is damn hilarious. Once again it’s Karasawa – who gets more out of less dialogue than any character in anime right now – who gets the last laugh. Turns out the sweets he tossed the girls last week were expired, but when they bully him he consistently turns the tables on them while maintaining his dignity (and Ikushima gets a hilarious kick in the butt as a result) and finally doffs his hat, showing off a scar which turns the trio into groveling apologists – especially Habara (seemingly the sane one) who apparently caused the scar with some childhood bullying.
I’ve come to view this series not to much as an anime, but a PSA – if the Blu-rays don’t sell (and come on – do you seriously think they will?) Sunrise ought to be compensated by government subsidy or something as a token of appreciation for finally being the ones to call the industry out. It wouldn’t matter if it wasn’t funny, but thankfully that’s not even close to a problem here. Now if we can just reconnect a little more with the main trio, God will be in heaven and all will be right with the world.