I wasn’t sure what I was getting into with Daily Lives of High School Boys. I guessed by the cover art that it was a comedy, and indeed it is. Lacking a major overall plot, the show is a series of smaller skits or scenes that are strung together to make an episode kind of like a variety show only focusing on main characters and sticking to a theme instead of a whole new set of characters when the gag has run its course. It’s definitely riffing on anime and the genre while at the same time having fun with what works in anime and the genre. The show isn’t as over the top as some, but it certainly has its moments where it heads for that cliff at full speed. NIS America has collected the series of twelve episodes into one of their Premium Editions, but on Blu-Ray only. Let’s take a look.
The show itself is told mostly through the eyes of three high school boys, Tadakuni, Hidenori, and Yoshitake, but will sometimes follow the lives of three girls, Yanagin, Ikushima, and Habara, usually towards the end of the episode. Most of the episodes are a short series of vignettes that aren’t necessarily tied together within a given episode and may have other parts in later episodes. This makes it a little hard to comment on the overall narrative which is just basically short little moments of fun, so instead I’ll talk about the characters a bit.
The three main boys are all students at Sanada North Boys High, well as far as I can tell. Tadakuni is the glue of the trio and when they all roleplay out fantasy scenarios which involve anything from ancient Samurai to Evil Gundam Invasions, he’s playing the lead role. He’s got a job at a pizza place and his house tends to be home base for their activities. He also has a younger sister, which leads to some truly bizarre situations mainly due to Hidenori’s scheming. Hidenori is the idea man who comes up with most of the crazy stuff he and his friends get in to. He doesn’t have a job and likes to read by a river, which leads to some hysterical situations with an unnamed girl by the river who’s longing to be a writer and is using the trio as a launching pad. Yoshitake is a bit of a trouble maker with a secret past. He conspires with Hidenori a lot to pull things over on Tadakuni who falls for the pair’s scheming a lot even when he should see it coming. The trio are quite funny on their own, but their antics when paired up with the other boys from their school can be a lot of fun as well.
The girls are a little different from the boy trio and sometimes show up in the boy sections of the show, only lacking some of their facial features when they do. Yanagin is the leader and tomboy of the group. She is doing great with her schooling and practices karate, but has a lot of wild ideas and often has outbursts. She became friends with Habara initially to keep tabs on her as Habara was a big bully in Elementary School and became known as the Archdemon. Habara is actually the most normal of the group now, mostly. She still believes a fight needs no rules and that each one should be to the death. She’s also trying to make it up to the boy she scarred when she was the Archdemon with little success. Ikushima plays the part of Yanagin’s lackey or minion and basically does or goes along with whatever idea Yanagin has come up with. All three girls attend different high schools.
While these six are the bulk of the main cast and who we spend the most time with, there are some really memorable characters that attend each of the schools and then of course the random family members that show up. There is quite a bit of off the wall stuff and while it is a series of vignettes per episode, the episode’s rambling nature never really feels all that disjointed, more like it’s moving from one impending or interesting disaster to the next. I did love the little bits of satire that pop up all over the place as they poke fun at the different anime tropes that have risen up over the years. For example in one of the episodes the boys are late for school and are riding their bikes, one eating toast and the other two pop up eating noodles out of bowls while they’re riding on bikes telling the one eating toast that it’s so overdone when Zakus painted up like Gundams drop into their path and start firing on them. It sounds ridiculous and it is but at the same time it’s quite hilarious as I can name a number of anime they’re picking on with that, some serious, some not. It ends up being a very funny twelve episode ride.
The animation runs the gamut for quality range. Being a comedy series some of it is really detailed and some just glossed over to get the idea across. The voice actors do a great job with the characters and work with the humor well. The Blu-Rays looked and sounded great playing on my big screen TV and through my sound bar. The transfers NIS America has usually look great and this is no exception.
Being the Premium Edition there are some bonus goodies here. Disc based extras include clean openings and ending, some bonus scenes and commercials for the show. It’s all in Japanese with English subtitles like other NIS America releases. As a side note, the subtitles on these discs cannot be turned off. There isn’t much on the discs themselves, but like their other releases they’ve put together a gorgeous package for the set.
The two discs come in slim cases with artwork for each case that fit with a thirty-two page hardcover artbook inside a case with wrap around artwork. The case itself is about eleven inches by seven inches and is about an inch thick and would look great on a coffee table but can be a bit daunting to find space for on the DVD and Blu-Ray shelf. This is something to think about if you have a space issue, but the slim cases could be taken out and would work in storage if you needed the space, so there is that.
The artbook that comes with it is done up almost like a cross between a high school yearbook and a school’s rulebook for class behavior and it’s a lot of fun. There are decent write-ups for the main characters in the show and the others get to share a page with another. Some of the images have little side notes that are either really funny or make little to no sense but it fits with the show perfectly. After the character write-ups they go in and cover the episodes with a series of ‘guidelines’ for attending school. After that you have the usual full page poster artwork which is equally good.
The set retails for $64.99 but is currently tagged for $51.99 off the NIS America website. It’s a little cheaper than some of the other premium sets as its Blu-Ray only not bundled with both DVD and Blu-Ray. I would have like the DVD option but the Blu-Rays will get far more play time anyway. It’s a great set overall and I really enjoyed the humor of the show. This one is easy to recommend for people who like their slice of life a little more light-hearted and like a bit of satire in the mix. Daily Lives of High School Boys is one of those shows that will put a smile on just about anyone’s face.