The Daily Lives of High School Boys is a slice-of-life comedy series from mangaka Yasunobu Yamauchi which focuses on a trio of high schoolers, Tadakuni, Yoshitake and Hidenori, as they find themselves in bizarre and humorously awkward situations, day-in and day-out.
Some may be familiar with the series due to its equally humorous 2012 anime adaptation from Sunrise. This first volume from Vertical Comics contains the first 15 chapters, alongside a special compilation and a one-shot chapter focusing on a female cast.
Tadakuni is the straight man with a naive streak, Yoshitake is a bit of a lovable idiot and Hidenori is full of dry and witty commentary. The story approach is them essentially exploring and trying to find out more about certain topics that come into their adolescent lives.
The supporting cast includes Tadakuni’s ever-suffering little sister (she isn’t named in this volume), the much-feared supposed delinquent Motoharu, and Yassan, a wannabe novelist who gets some of the spotlight, sharing chapters with Hidenori.
I think where the appeal of the manga lies is the chemistry between the three leads, each of whom has their own quirky personalities which drive their actions and reactions to the randomness around them.
Some of the scenarios in this first volume involve Tadakuni finding unexpected appeal in wearing a skirt (a scene made iconic by its usage on the NIS America BD release), and some ghost stories that aren’t so much scary as disturbingly off-kilter.
My favourite chapters were the pair mentioned earlier which involve Hidenori making awkward but endearing conversation with a literature fanatic with some rather funny results.
Interestingly, I found that with this volume that reading one or chapters at a time worked to my advantage, as opposed to bingeing through as I usually do with more story-focused manga.
Your mileage may vary as a reader but I appreciated Daily Lives more when I came to read it at a more leisurely pace – which makes sense considering the simultaneously laidback and zany scenarios within.
I also found it interesting to note that this volume was first published around a decade ago, arguably during the heights of Cute Girls Doing Cute Things. This series sort-of feels like a male version of this familiar set-up but where there are general pleasantries and normalcy, there’s also a borderline unhinged side which is where the core of the comedy comes from, as it often rises to the surface.
Situations like Yoshitake’s idea of a scary story involving the insecurity surrounding shaving his chest or an increasingly obscure game of topical ping-pong radiate throughout this volume. It’s little wonder that the anime adaption worked so well as the gags and skits already deliver the laughs on paper.
The two bonus chapters also have something to offer as we get a skit involving a spoiled Lady and her hapless butlers and a one-shot which features a trio of eccentrics who appear to be female equivalents of the main characters.
The translation for The Daily Lives of High School Boys Volume 1 was handled by David Musto and I think the comedic timing and dialogue comes across pretty well – I was often chuckling away during my reading sessions so that’s a sign of a job well done!
My overall first impressions of the first volume of The Daily Lives of High School Boys are very positive as it delivers a unique brand of humour which has left me enthusiastic for the next volume’s worth of laughs and bizarre scenarios.