Daily Lives of High School Boys (series + 6 shorts)

Very Good

This is an oddity in the slice of life comedy genre because it’s about average high school boys.  Well, weirdo high school boys, but normal nonetheless.  Daily Lives of High School Boys is certainly fun to watch passively, enjoying the comedy.  You can also pay attention to the subtle (and sometimes in-your-face, not so subtle) commentary worked into the background.  With that in mind, this anime does some really interesting things that are very rare in the slice of life and comedy genres.  Overall this anime was structurally sound and pretty entertaining to watch.

Purpose: Very Good.  The first half of the anime is somewhat hit-and-miss with respect to the consistency of the humor.  Once it settles into its stride, and finds out what works well, it’s consistently strong.  The type of humor present in the anime varies quite a bit.  However, much of the humor is perspective-based, which may be somewhat surprising to the unaware.  This means that certain actions and reactions and even violence are exaggerated to the viewer to give a sense of how the characters interpret it.  Some of the perspective-based commentary is perhaps a bit too overt.  The commentary varies, but seems to generally coalesce around frustration at the differences between girls slice of life and boys slice of life comedy.  That aside, this anime truly shines when it accompanies a scene with characters’ internal thoughts.

Characters: Very Good.  Characters generally aren’t deep, but this is an example of a type of anime where they don’t need to be.  Instead, characters are generally interesting enough by acting in a distinctive enough way.  What was surprising was that several characters ended up having a good deal of depth, but in an unexpected way.  The strongest characters are the ones where we can see their internal thought processes.  It’s a really odd, yet effective, way to build a character since we really learn about that character by the way he thinks.  That ends up creating almost a template where, even if we don’t see the character’s thought process in another scene, we know generally what he’s thinking. By the end, they manage to develop a surprising attachment to the characters and the everyday struggles they face – you sort of feel like you knew these guys.

World: Good.  On a physical level, while fairly plain, the world served its role solidly.  For this anime, the world ended up being much more of a backdrop of everyday locations.  Those locations actually served as a passive indicator of the kind of humor to be expected.  As the anime smoothed itself out, the settings generally resolved themselves into themes that set the stage for the comedic gags.  The other aspect of the world is all the ways the characters are related to each other.  That sets up a continuity between gags.  The continuity supports and lends credibility to the characters, especially in creating a general mood and atmosphere.  This anime includes something that is also quite rare in this genre’s worlds – the solid progression of time.  The anime is far from the “slice of life that never ends.”  In all, the world did a solid job of supporting other elements.

Plot: Very Good.  Normally, in slice of life comedy, you’d expect the plots to be very, very short – often limited to the several minute gags.  For the most part this is true.  However, with the addition of time, and continuity, there ends up being a plotline to several running gags.  There is a surprising amount of progression and development that happens, which is another oddity in the slice of life and comedy genres.

Storytelling: Very Good.  Storytelling in genres of this type is also usually limited to how they set up the gags.  Continuing to praise the addition of continuity, the storytelling both benefits and utilizes it very well.  It represents a constant evolution of how you understand the characters and their odd relationships with each other.  Several of the running gags are told in such a way that it makes you want to know what happens in the end.  Fortunately, they are kind enough to show us.

Pace: Good.  While this anime suffers a little bit in the beginning, it eventually finds its internal pacing.  Once it does, things run smoothly.  As it hits it stride, they begin to vary the skits’ internal pacing – some slower and some faster.  Once things are running smoothly, the pacing’s role in the gags ends up increasing.  They manage to play with pacing in a way that manages expectations and allow for several gags during the specific skit’s runtime.

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