Daily Lives of High School Boys is hilarious. Beyond that, it's the best comedy anime I've seen in years. You probably shouldn't even read this; just go watch it now.
The anime is based on the manga of the same name, and will be at least somewhat familiar to those who read it. Each episode consists of a few short skits, and while they don't necessarily follow the source material perfectly, they're utterly fantastic in their own right.
Few comedies are as funny in as many ways as Daily Lives of High School Boys manages to be. Between episodes and even within skits, you'll see visual gags, plain ol' one-liners, or stories and pranks that could be somewhat believable. Regardless of the method in which jokes are delivered, they hit their mark far more often than not.
One particular skit for instance, sees Hidenori and Yoshitake playing a rather extreme version of kick the can, in which no holds are barred. While that seems crazy, its true high point is when Mitsuo shows up wanting to join. The duo explain the game to Mitsuo, which puts him off, but get him into it by replacing the can with one of his most prized possessions. It's one of the cruelest, most hilarious moments in the series; just a few second-long clip from this episode is enough to send me into a fit of laughter.
If there's one thing I love more than anything, it's a comedy that doesn't forget it's a comedy. Daily Lives of High School Boys never tries to take itself seriously, and is messing with the viewer up until the last frame. It's great to see comedies that aren't trying to teach any life lessons or make us feel good about ourselves. Just make me laugh. This series doesn't forget that most critical tenet of comedy. Even the fourth-wall-breaking, self-referential stuff is great, which is hard to do well. If there isn't something in Daily Lives of High School Boys that'll make you laugh, you might be dead inside.
Despite the fact that Daily Lives of High School Boys is unapologetically a comedy above all else, it does manage to weave a bit of a story throughout its short sketches. There's Tadakuni's boring pizza-place gig. There's also a budding-but-reluctant romance between Hidenori and Yassan, a book-loving girl who has found a bit of her protagonist in him. There's Yoshitake's quest to become the person he's always wanted to be in there, too. They're smaller pieces of a larger narrative, but they're all handled with care and wrapped up nicely by the end of the series.
Despite the fact that Daily Lives had me in stitches throughout, I found myself surprisingly invested in the characters, and wanting to know what became of them at the end of the series. Thankfully, fans aren't left hanging (kind of) which is something I think every anime fan can agree is a good thing
At the end of each episode, there's a single short sketch that's sort of its own standalone show titled High School Girls Are Funky. Of course these are riffs from one-offs that appeared in the High School Boys manga. Many of them revolve around the girls lamenting how uninteresting the boys are, and how much better an anime about high school girls would be. Although my favorites have to be those telling the story of the arch demon, a girl who in her grade school years was a bully of such infamy that a legend sprang from her exploits. She is universally feared by the rest of the cast, to the point that some are genuinely traumatized by her.
There's an episode in which she and the two other main characters of the mini-series agree to fight that's as horrifying as it is hilarious. My favorite episode, however has to be one in which Yanagin and Ikushima look to an older girl for help in attracting boys. The pair play a Jeopardy-like trivia game in which the correct answer is to not know anything, in order to make themselves more approachable. It's the closest the series ever comes to social commentary, and it does so in a way that's absolutely hilarious and entertaining. I would love to see High School Girls Are Funky as a full-fledged series all its own.
The premium edition of High School Boys came in a somewhat non-standard set that included a coffee-table book. The book itself isn't as informative as, say, The Eccentric Family's—it doesn't include interviews with the mangaka or notes about the production, but it is, like the series it's based on, pretty humorous.
The book is handy in that it also serves as an episode guide, containing info on each of the sketches in each episode, but beyond that it's a tad bare. The captions are funny enough and key in on some of the parts well enough to interest newcomers. It's sitting on my coffee table right now and has started a few conversations about the series, which prompts me to sing its praises. It's not going to sit there permanently, but it's nice to look at.
Overall, High School Boys' translation is good. The subtitles are accurate for the most part, but there's one part in particular that bugged me. There's a scene in which Tadakuni, Hidenori and Yoshitake are playing shiritori, a word game in which you take turns saying words that begin with the last character of the previous word. In this scene, the subtitles NIS America inserted are completely ad-libbed where they didn't necessarily need to be. As a Japanese speaker this seems a bit unnecessary, but it's not like it harms the plot in any way and likely makes it a bit more relatable to American audiences, so it's hard to fault them for it.
Daily Lives of High School Boys isn't just another comedy anime, it's the comedy anime. It easily falls in the top three funniest anime I've seen to date, and may very well be number one. Few series are as effortlessly funny as High School Boys, and its jokes are timeless. It's as good now as it will be ten years from now. Watch it now and make it part of your collection.