Wasteful Days of High School Girls was a 2019 show, and yet I had never heard of it before until it landed on my anime review list. Have I really watched so many of these kind of shows that, to me, they are all the same? Just like we see so many isekai shows in each anime season, we will get at least one show that falls into the school life category, and whether it is any good or not doesn’t really matter. We’d get to watch some dorks at their high school do some very silly things in comedy sketches, we’d laugh at them, and then move on to the next episode.
Calling myself a bit of a hypocrite here since I’m watching three comedy shows for Otaku Theater this season, two of which are school ones. But I think what is very important about these kind of shows is how unique they should be from one another. Kaguya-sama: Love is War is different from something like Komi Can’t Communicate, and it isn’t just down to character design, ongoing story and pacing. So what does Wasteful Days of High School Girls have that others do not?
Nozomu Tanaka, Akane Kikuchi and Shiori Saginomiya were all girls who grew up together as youngsters, but it’s only when the three of them enter high school when they reunite and connect with each other. While the majority of the show is focused on the core trio, all of the secondary characters have their time in the spotlight too. With each girl having their own quirk, this show is essentially their everyday lives, or their ‘wasteful days’.
Sometimes slap school comedies prefer to stickstick to the main characters, so it’s good that we don’t get that here. What I do like about the show is how each character’s names/nicknames are a reflection or pun to the kind of person they are. This is something that Komi Can’t Communicate (the second season of which I’ll be watching this Spring) kind of did too. Here in Wasteful Days of High School Girls, Nozomu is ‘Baka’ because she’s an idiot, Akane is ‘Wota’ because of love of idols, Shiori is ‘Robo’ because of her lack of emotions, and so on. It’s funny how it was Nozomu that thought up these nicknames for them all, but when it came to her, it was the others who did it for her.
In terms of plot when it comes to a slapstick comedy like this, it’s extremely light…but then a lot of viewers looking for these kind of shows don’t really come for some deep and dramatic story, do they? Nozomu is desperately looking for a boyfriend, but her own lack of social skills and graces means she fails at every hurdle. I also found it funny that she only realizes that she signed up for a girls-only school until the very last minute. Meanwhile Akane wants to become a big-name manga writer and yaoi fan, and usually ends up being the stupid one to reign Nozomi in when she does something incredibly. And Shiori is an aspiring microbiologist and obsessed with bacteria.
As for comedy, well the show is self-aware that’s for sure, which is refreshing to see. There’s a good enough balance of situational, visual and chaotic humor here, and gives the show some variety. I’ve seen a few school comedy shows that lean more towards one of the three listed (or something else), and haven’t turned out so great. It’s also good to see how each character has been developed. Each girl has their own little quirk, and becomes someone we can recognize in the show. The teacher’s own interactions with Minami/Yamai, the token chuunibyou of the show, is something that stands out and doesn’t detract us from the core three.
However it can be argued that this variety of humor and character design is precisely what makes Wasteful Days of High School Girls not stand out, and that is my one gripe about this show. This show just was not so original that it went and caught my attention when it came out in 2019. Azumanga Daioh, Non Non Biyori, Nichijou, Asobi Asobase, Love Lab, A-Channel, to name just a few; they all go on the same model and wavelength that this show does. Gag comedy shows set in high school aren’t something we should look down on of course. It’s just when we see the same kind of jokes over and over again, we start wondering whether watching more of them is a waste of time or not. Baka, Wota, Robo and the others are all fun to watch, but that doesn’t mean that they are the kind of characters we have seen before.
I know not everyone flocks to gag comedy shows like the ones mentioned. I didn’t like either Azumanga Daioh or Nichijouand Asobi Asobase only stood out for me because of the character design and animation. We don’t get anything that makes us stop and think here in Wasteful Days of High School Girls. I did mention earlier that these are the kind of shows where the plot becomes secondary to the humor, but as you watch this show, there are a lot of times where you just wish something, anything, would happen.
Wasteful Days of High School Girls gives a lot for its target audience and the fans who are looking for this kind of show. Its lack of originality is the one major thing that holds it back though. It will be very harsh for me to say, but I feel it needs to be said: even with all the positives the show has, it is not something that is very eye-catching and makes people stop and pay attention. These jokes and characters are things we’ve seen before, and that’s the sad part about this, because it’s still an enjoyable show to watch. We ask ourselves if it just had one tiny thing that made us stop (animation style, pacing, etc.), would reviewers and critics like me give it a higher score? Probably.
Maybe as the likes of Azumanga Daioh and Nichijou are seen as the ‘gold standard’ when it comes to slapstick school comedies, other shows feel overshadowed. This show did definitely tick off a lot of boxes for me, but not enough for me to re-watch it.