Looking at the strangeness that is boys, well, there’s not too much surprising there in the end.
What They Say:
Join Tadakuni, Hidenori, and Yoshitake as they undergo the trials and tribulations of life in high school! Each episode presents the boys and their classmates in unique situations that you may or may not have faced in high school yourself. You’ll laugh! You’ll cry! But hopefully laugh more. You’ll be astounded by the zany antics of the Sanada High School community!
Contains episodes 1-12 plus a hardcover, full-color 30-page art book that contains detailed character bios, school “guidelines” based on the episodes, and additional artwork.
The audio presentation for this release is pretty good for what it is as we get the original Japanese language in stereo using the uncompressed PCM format. The show is pretty much all dialogue driven but it gets loud and unruly at times considering the characters involved and the action is more just comical physical material, but the stereo mix handles it well with some good placement at times and the rare but useful bit of depth and directionality. The back and forth between the characters drives the mix well, especially when you add in a few inner dialogue moments along the way, and what’s conveyed definitely fits for the show but it isn’t one that will be all that striking or make you take notice of it in a significant way. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2012, the transfer for this twelve episode TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The show is spread across two discs with nine on the first and three on the second as well as the original shorts, which adds another seventeen minutes. The series, animated by Sunrise, works with a fairly basic design that while minimal in a lot of ways works for the kind of comedy they’re going for here. Character designs are simple but with some interesting bits of detail for some of them and there’s a uniqueness about most of the cast which helps. Backgrounds have a bit of detail to them but they’re not going for a strong real world vibe here but rather just enough to convey the setting and let the humor carry it. The animation isn’t anything noteworthy with what it does but the transfer comes across well here with bold, clean colors with no visible issues, detail that doesn’t devolve to line noise and solid colors throughout with only a few hints of noise that stands out on occasion.
The premium edition packaging for this release brings us another strong design from NIS America where we get the heavy chipboard box, hardcover book and the discs themselves. The box is definitely comical from the get go as the front has a shot of the main trio with one of them already crossdressing and the others helping him right along. With a clean looking logo, it has lots of bright colors without being garish but also shows off the comedy of the show well. The back cover gives us a bigger look at the cast with a wide variety of the students together in their uniforms for a group picture and it highlights their various personalities well. The hardcover book included is fantastic as it provides a look at the main characters and then delves into the episode breakdowns which covers the various stories within each episode. We get some extended pieces along these lines with the guidelines for boys and some really appealing cover artwork from the Japanese releases. The inclusion of the guidelines for girls is a hoot too as it deals with them in the same way that it tackles the boys. The look of the book is spot on with lots of bright colors, appealing blues and white framing on a graph paper design that works perfectly.
The two clear thinpak cases inside work in a similar way overall as the two front covers provide different configurations of the cast in solid, bright colors as they have on their school uniforms while it works with a newspaper style design behind them to a degree as it uses an array of different sizes for the logo at an angle with a few quirks along the way. This carries over to the back cover where it dominates along some silhoutte style artwork and a good breakdown of the episodles on the disc and a straightforward technical grid. The specs are laid out clearly and it’s one of the few anime releases I can remember that’s region A, B and C. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design for the release is the same on each volume as we get a couple of small text blocks done up the same as the series logo. The menu is laid out with a series of clips from the show, some playing up the mood and characters, others going for the physical humor, where we get the logo and volume along the upper left while the bottom has the selections, which are pretty minimal since it’s a monolingual release and the extras are only on the second volume. The layout is easy to navigate but I do continue to wish that during playback, hitting the pop-up menu and looking at the episodes that it would highlight which episode you’re on, especially for shows that don’t include that within the episode itself.
In addition to the bonus episodes that are placed after the main series ends, we also get a clean version of the opening and closing sequence as well as some of the original Japanese commercials for the series. The bonus episodes are cute, but there is some overlap with the show proper, but it’s another seventeen minutes of fun with the boys in the end.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga of the same name by Yasunobu Yamauchi which ran for seven volumes between 2009 and 2012, Daily Lives of High School Boys is a twelve episode series animated by Sunrise. The company has been trying to spread itself in some new directions in the last couple of years with non-mecha shows like this and Phi-Brain: Puzzles of God, and it’s good to see them do so since it will help with those other series in the end by giving them some new views to work with. This series, which started off with a few web based episodes that are included here, is the kind of show that works with the kind of mild and rough boys level humor that comes from the age that you’d expect. What the show does in terms of design works well for it as each episode is essentially filled with a bunch of short stories that could have worked as four minute weekly installments on average. They’re sometimes a little crude, sometimes a little raw and mostly things that I would recommend not marathoning. This is one of those cases of a little at time is better than gorging on it.
I’ve grown to really like these kinds of short form gags in the last few years since so many comedies for the longest time ended up dragging gags through the ground by going over half an episode or an entire episode, which really made them hard to deal with. The flip side is that while they’re enjoyable, there’s not a lot of “there” there with it. The series wants to revolve initially around a trio of friends, loose friends really when you consider the way their relationships play out, and the kinds of silly things they do. What we get out of them early on is fun as they do play up the weirdness that comes from boys in this transitional state since they do a lot of games of the imagination and role play, though not with all of them fully on board at times, and they completely mess with each other. But as the show goes on, it expands into dealing with students at other schools in the area and also introduces the sisters related to each of the main trio. There is some fun with this, especially early on when two of the boys convince each other to dress in one of the girls clothes and only one of them actually follows through just as his sister comes home.
But as the show goes on and more of the cast is introduced, it gets harder and harder to remember who is who and what their connections are to each other since there are the couple of schools. Those complications can be fun at times as we get competitiveness between a boys school student council and the girls school student council as the girls are always trying to outdo the boys after they realize that the boys are acting and operating in a more mature way than they are. In fact, the girls student council comes across as how you’d imagine the boys would be with slovenly and cruel natures with a whole lot of lazy thrown in. Changing it up like that is definitely fun to watch since it’s a regular theme for a bit and the boys are trying to be oblivious to it when it comes to the student cultural festival that the two schools do together. The boys just want to make sure everything goes off well and that everyone has fun, which does happen. Trying to get the girls on the same page results in some brief but nicely done bits of dialogue and prodding.
But what gets me is that the show itself knows it’s pretty sprawling not too far into it. During one of the text gags, they even admit that it’s getting hard to keep track of everyone since it’s growing at such a pace and the short form nature of the various sub-stories keeps things moving quickly between the various groups. I like some of the additional characters that get introduced, especially when the girls interact more with the boys, but when we shift away from the core trio I do find myself less interested overall. But in the end, everyone is really just identified by their visual nature, something that you can see from the hardcover book that’s included as on the front and back cover it just identifies some of the casts basic unique bits, from baseball hats to stances to hair type. You know who they are by personality and looks more than by name and the character of them. Which isn’t bad if you do spread it out and just stick to small servings of the show rather than wholesale consumption.
The comedy for the show works well overall since the boys and girls are definitely filled with more personality in a way than a lot of other shows. There’s a strong dose of weird here, but not unrealistic weird as we see pranks, verbal comedic tormenting of others and various interests that come to light along the way. It’s not deep or rich, but these are all things that do give them personality, something that’s often lacking with male characters in a lot of series. Combining this style with the simplistic and basic style of animation, the show really does its best to present itself by the humor of the characters and the various comedic configurations that come up as the cast expands and more variety enters into it. I just wish it had more characters that really felt like you could connect with, but it’s not that kind of show.
Daily Lives of High School Boys definitely has a lot to offer, but it’s the kind of comedy show that you have to dig in and work at it a bit in order to really get at it. The characters are thin on who they are, but they’re filled with realistic quirks and amusing bits of personality and imagination that allows them to have an interesting kind of depth that we don’t often see. But since it works with short form storytelling within a larger framework, we don’t get anything along the lines of real growth or exploration to allow us to connect with these characters. What we get is a lot of humor – and not a lot of toilet humor or sex humor either – that shows us some people that you certainly enjoy watching but aren’t sure you’d really want to hang out with. Across the twelve episodes here, there’s plenty of enjoyment, but it’s one that really needs to be spaced out and needs a certain kind of comedic appreciation for. It worked for me more than not, but the flaws in it kept it from being a stronger show overall.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening and Ending, Bonus Scenes, Japanese Commercials
Content Grade: C+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: A-
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: NIS America
Release Date: August 13th, 2013
Running Time: 288 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation 3 via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.