There are series that I was looking forward to more as we entered the Fall season, and there are series that I had higher expectations for. But there’s no series that I was rooting for harder than Kimi to Boku.
OP: ByeBye (バイバイ)” by 7!!
Just why is that? Quite frankly, it’s about damn time we’ve had a show like this – even one adapted from a manga (by Hotta Kiichi). We’re in an age when we’re swimming in series about four cute teenage girls and their daily lives at school. In the beginning a few of them were interesting, but now it’s become a featureless mass of bland, uninspired and banal copycats. So sue me, I’m a guy and I like to have a few series that relate to the male experience. We get one every now and then, but why shouldn’t we have one about four teenaged guys instead of four teenaged girls? Maybe that’s why I liked the first season of Baka Test so much, because in a way that’s what it was – absurd, bizarre and surreal though it was, Baka Test was basically a testosterone-driven series about four guys in high school acting like guys. Now of course that show has turned into just another mediocre romcom, but you’re heard me sing that tune before, so back to Kimi to Boku.
Though I don’t know this manga and I worried that this was a JC Staff series, director Kanbe Mamoru and writer Yoshida Reiko are competent industry pros, and they have two split cours to work with. The acid test for me was whether the anime industry of 2011 was able to create a show about teenaged boys that didn’t pander to the fujoshi and just gave us the high school experience from the male perspective, with the guys acting like guys, and managed to be entertaining while doing it. Based on the first episode, well – I’m not ready to bail by any means, but it’s fair to say I’m worried.
It’s not that the premiere was bad, because it was pleasant. It was a little bland, but that’s not uncommon for premieres. What really concerns me is that instead of what I described above, they seem to have given us a “four cute girls” series where the girls have penises. I don’t mean to be flippant about this in any way, but the boys here pretty much acted like girls. When was the last time four high school guys hung out on a roof and one of them brushed the other’s hair? I don’t think Japan is that different from the US, to be honest. I charge you with this test – think back through the episode, and find me a scene that wouldn’t have worked if the four boys had been girls. I don’t think you’ll find one. And if that continues, as far as I’m concerned it torpedoes the whole enterprise. I mean really – what’s the point?
So who do we have? Long-haired Shun (Toyonaga Toshiyuki), the sensitive, kind-hearted and slightly girly narrator of the story. Twins Yuta (Uchiyama Kouki) and Yuki (Kimura Ryohei), both of whom are deadpan and somewhat detached. And there’s Kaname (Ono Yuuki) the bespectacled, responsible one of the group. The premise of the opener is wafer thin, with Kaname trying to find a club for Yuki to join as a sort of tsundere gesture of affection and concern. There are a lot of flashbacks to the boys as elementary schoolers, interspersed with a large number of quick-cuts to cats doing various cat-like stuff for reasons I can’t explain (quirky, but it sort of works). This looks to be pretty much a school-life series, so I have no problem with plots focused on small events, though this one wasn’t especially gripping. As an introduction to the characters it was fine, if you liked the characters. I’m not sure about that myself.
It’s too early to panic yet. I know we have another major cast member yet to be introduced, to be played by the great Miyu Irinu, so hopefully that will add some life to the proceedings. Is it too much to ask that we have a series where the guys aren’t the boring and slow-witted harem leads or training to be mecha pilots, but just normal guys acting like guys? We’ve had school life series that had strong male characters in support of female leads, and we’ve had good series about boys that were good in spite of being preposterously shoujo and fujoshi-bait – Oofuri comes to mind. But it was really my hope that Kimi to Boku could be that impossible series I’m asking for. It doesn’t need to be great, as long as it’s pretty good – and authentic. So far, it looks like that grail quest will have to wait for another season. Please, JC Staff – change my mind, starting next week…
ED: Nakimushi. (なきむし。; Crybaby.)” by Miku Sawai