Daily Lives of Highschool Boys
- Trailer: DVD Trailer
- What it’s about: Tadakuni, Yoshitake, and Hidenori are three utterly ordinary high school students. There’s no secret plot to take over Japan, no sports trophy to be won or grand romance to play out. There’s just the everyday world of teenagers in an all-boys academy; arguments, fantasies, awkward encounters and amusing yourself and your friends while hanging out.
- Why you should watch it: It’s one of the most accurate renditions of male adolescence that I can think of. All of the social awkwardness, jokes that only make sense to you and your friends, and all-around low-stakes activities that nonetheless have all the characters invested in their outcomes. The show is hilarious, and the short sketch format (each episode being broken into three or so individual segments) lends itself well to the setting. The cast steadily expands to keep things interesting, to the point where several of the original characters more or less fade into the background by the end. The Japanese voice actors play their parts perfectly, every single one. The “Literary Girl” skits are some of the funniest stuff I’ve seen in anime for a long while.
- Caveats: As with any comedy, there are going to be a few jokes you find unfunny, and when that happens you’re stuck with it while it plays out for the next ten minutes. It’s an almost exclusively male cast, so don’t go into it expecting your standard boobs-and-cute girls high school anime.
- Themes: Adolescence. Friendship and social awkwardness.
- Similar works: Nichijou, Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and its follow up film Disappearance
- Trailer: English dubbed version
- What it’s about: Haruhi Suzimiya is bored. This isn’t an unusual trait for a high-schooler, but her solution is unique: set up a club dedicated to investigating the paranormal and supernatural. Dragged along for the ride is the cynical Kyon, who takes the general weirdness and domineering personality of Haruhi in his stride.
- Why you should watch it: Haruhi is a cult sensation within anime, and she’s far and away the most popular character for female anime cosplayers. She’s an incredibly strong and well-developed character and anchors the entire show. Kyon, likewise, is one of the best realisations of the “cynical, sarcastic narrating teen male lead” that’s almost omnipresent in the world of Visual Novels. The series itself is easy to pick up and drop whenever, leaning towards episodic content and with a non-linear storyline. It’s funny, it’s addicting, and it’s weird. Finally, even if you don’t enjoy what you see in the series itself, the movie conclusion Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya is quite rightly lauded as one of the best anime movies out there today.
- Caveats: Viewing order for the show is a little contested. See this image for a breakdown of the argument. Pacing-wise, the original broadcast order is fantastic, but it makes some bizarre choices in what to show and when. Particularly with the first episode, which is a home-movie created by the characters and has an entirely different style, storyline and aesthetic than the rest of the show. To anyone who’s already seen the whole show, I should only have to mention the words “Endless Eight”.
- Themes: The power of imagination is the surface theme but, if you dig even slightly below the surface, there’s a strong urging by the creator to the audience to try to find joy in the “merely real”. You don’t need espers and time travelers for the world to be interesting, and if they did exist, they’d quickly become mundane anyway.
- Similar works: Robotics;Notes and Angel Beats! both have a somewhat familiar set of characters and share the same premise: weird stuff going on in a high-school environment.