In today's anime market series like Boys Beâ€¦ are something of a rarity. Sure you see a lot of shows that focus on teenage romance and high school dramas, but you don't really see them presented in this fashion. Instead of taking a trip into the harem genre or turning into an all-out laugh-fest Boys Beâ€¦ feels more deliberate than most. The characters have a realistic feel to them and even though each episode is dedicated to a new romance, the show has a way of making you feel personally connected with all of the characters.
There are several characters to get to know and you meet new ones with each episode. The roster is one of the most robust that I have ever seen in a show of this nature though it's the way that each case is handled that keeps them from getting lost in the shuffle. On the first volume things got started out in spring since each of these installments is broken down into a particular season.
The first couple that we got to meet was Kyoichi the artist and Chiharu the athletic "barbarian". They had been childhood friends all along and are basically the pair in the thick of all the teenage action. The two were reluctantly attracted to each other at first but Kyoichi took the steps towards expressing how he felt about Chiharu. It was handled in a touching manner that made this otaku step back for a second. Instead of getting blindsided by a wishy-washy overbearing scene the moments between the two felt realistic somehow. At the end of the volume the lovebirds had some difficulties coming to terms with their emotions though and there was a bit of a bottoming out.
More relationship mumbo jumbo went on for Kyoichi's friends Kenjo and Makoto. The two of them hooked up with their dream girls later in the volume, though it only lasted a short amount of time. Makoto fell in love with a nurse after he had an accident and Kenjo got all hot and bothered over a foreign exchange student. While each of these characters started out immature and naÃ¯ve they eventually came around to face the realities of life. Every once in a while it's nice to sit back and watch a series like Boys Beâ€¦ unfold so I was pretty excited when the second volume showed up.
The first episode features one of Chiharu's friends, Mizutani, bumping into one of her ex-boyfriends. He's a photographer that used to love standing in the rain with her and snapping pictures of a flower. They split up, but that was back in middle school. Now it's later in life and it seems that Mizutani's ex lost his muse when she left him. Slowly the two reconcile events of the past and begin to appreciate each other again.
Things in the next episode get a lot more upbeat as Makoto and Kyoichi head to the beach to work at Chiharu's cousin's shop for the summer. Well, Makoto has ulterior motives though since the beach is of course filled with girls in bikinis. This episode in particular is mostly about having a good time instead of focusing on a budding relationship. The show shifts gears a bit after that particular one and features a story about Kenjo and his baseball team's manager falling for each other. She starts out with the faÃ§ade of assisting his training but eventually works other things into the picture like a whip and a candle (though it's not what you think). The last episode on the disc is pretty gut wrenching. I'm not going to spoil anything in case you've been watching the show but man, that ending is pretty harsh.
I have to admit that I don't usually get into series like Boys Beâ€¦ for the simple fact that I'm not a teenager and most of the time anime of this genre is too off the wall for my taste. Luckily this series is sincere and practical with just about every execution of dialogue. The characters feel real and their emotion is conveyed well through the script, voice work, and animation. The series comes back again with a strong volume full of well presented drama.
Boys Beâ€¦ is presented with a 1.33:1 full frame aspect ratio and features a very tight transfer. Apart from a few spots of grain and some aliasing, the image quality here is smooth sailing and razor sharp. Color tones appeared natural and the animation looked fantastic from start to finish. This is definitely a great looking show though it would have benefited from a widescreen presentation and possibly some clean-up detail.
Naturally this DVD is presented with options for English and Japanese language tracks, along with some English subtitles. Both offer decent quality for stereo output and there is even a little channel separation where it counts. I got more enjoyment out of the Japanese selection more than the English, but this isn't reflective of the dubbing job; it's just personal preference.
For bonus content there is a handful of trailers for other Right Stuf products and a collection of line artwork. I thought the first volume's offerings were meek as it stood, but at least that had textless animation.
Boys Beâ€¦ is an offbeat series that marches to its own drummer. The collision of high emotion and dramatic storytelling crafts an anime that is pretty different when you get right down to it. A great sense of humor helps balance things out especially for guys like me who wouldn't normally be into a show like this. If you find yourself on the look out for something different and that makes an impression you'll definitely want to check this one out.
Check out more of my reviews here. Head on over to my anime blog as well for random musings and reviews of anime, manga, and stuff from Japan!