Doki Doki School Hours: The Weirdness of Everyday Life

Doki Doki School Blood Showers
My journey into the weird world of Doki Doki School Hours began innocently enough. I spied the tell-tale anime font on the spine of four dvds in a store, and upon inspection, realized it was the entire dvd series except for the first volume. I got 2, 3, 4, and 5 for the nifty price of $6, and after waiting almost year, found a copy of volume one for $10. Sure, it's annoying, but I was raring to go on this series!

One of the first things you'll notice in the series is that there are a ton of visual sound effects, straight out of a manga, sliding across the screen. I am not very brushed up on my katakana sound effects, so I'm assuming they're only sound effects and not actually important information. There's no option to bring up translations or anything like that. In fact, trying to bring up subtitles proves to be a bit of an issue, which bring me to my next point.

The dub is WEIRD. It's really, really, WEIRD. It is, probably, the WEIRDEST part of this whole series. The teacher, Mika-sensei is supposed to be a young girl, but her English voice actor sounds middle-aged and slightly overweight. Being a bit perturbed by hearing that voice come out of cute little Mika, I decided that I would switch over to Japanese with subs. This worked pretty well for a solid ten minutes, then the subtitles just stopped. Completely stopped. I realized I was listening to Japanese vocals and understanding nothing because there were no words on the screen! So it was back to the weird dub. A lot of the students sound way too old in English, but that's not terribly unusual.

The world of Doki Doki seems to be based on a four-panel style comic. It reminds me of a slightly less funny Azumanga Daoh, in a lot of ways. Imagine Azumanga with a little of the ridiculousness and elementary humor of Kodocha. Mika-sensei, the hapless young teacher who looks like a child, (but is not a child like Negima), is definitely the catalyst for the story but not always the focal character. Basically, the episodes are broken up into activities for the most part. For example, there's a part about the class weigh-in, the school sporting event, and so on. The real interest, as in all slice of life series, builds on the characterizations and their interactions.

There are a lot of really funny little moments, and some well-built jokes in this series. I keep writing in examples of some of the jokes, but they are really worth watching and build on each other, like the girl who has a sadistic streak and enjoys torturing Mika-sensei. Or the weirdly glib moment when Mika declares that her beer belly is proof of her post-pubescence. Or Old Man, who is just another student but has stubble everyday and constantly gets mistaken for a much older man, including getting mistaken for the principal.

I have to throw this series a big bone right here. There are two openly gay characters, who are actually handled rather well, and don't seem to be the usual stereotypical exaggerations you sometimes find in anime. I hate stereotypes, they do nothing to add to the story, but Doki Doki sidesteps them and just adds them in as regular characters. Good on it. Really.

This is a great series to not take seriously. Some series require all of your attention, and you have to pour yourself into it to grasp the series. Doki Doki requires virtually none of your attention to understand, and actually, considering the subs occasionally don't exist, you don't necessarily even have to look at the screen. That might sound like a detraction, but I don't mean it that way at all! I love watching anime as a way to relax, and a series that is easy to watch without being boring is more rare than you might think.

P.S. I'm currently in the middle of the series, so I might have to do a wrap-up post a little later if things get crazy!


Dr. M said...

Why is it so funny when people have violent nosebleeds in anime/manga? In real life this would be a fatal aneurysm...not funny at all.

Mr. Empty said...

I'm not sure, but this one was one of the biggest I've seen, looked like a firehose jammed in his brain.

There also never seem to be any ramifications! I have to imagine you'd be pretty anemic if you were constantly leaking blood.