In today's anime market series like Boys Be... 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 Be... 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 but for the most part the series focuses on a few key players. Those main characters are the soft spoken and artistic Kyoichi and his buddies Kenjo (the jock) and Makoto (the pervert). Several minor and some more major characters have bopped back and forth into the forefront of the show since the first episode. Each featured romance revolves around the three main guys though so throughout the series we get to know them more and more.
Up to this point we've seen these three guys go through a lot. The characters have developed quite a bit since the first episode and I don't just mean which girls are at their sides. Kyoichi easily has to be the deepest character in the show though his personality didn't start to break away until Chiharu and he broke up. Once that happened he kind of took to doing some soul searching and throughout each volume we have seen him discover more about himself and his feelings. Kenjo hasn't really changed much though he seems to appreciate that there are more important things than sports out there. As far as Makoto is concerned he's still as horny as ever though in the last volume we got to see him settle down.
Last time around Kyoichi hooked up with a rocker chick but his pining for Chiharu kept their relationship from taking off. Kenjo kind of stepped aside for his buddies and not much really happened to his character. Makoto on the other hand found an unsuspecting girlfriend while he was doggedly trying to obtain another. If you have been following the series up to now then you'll remember he spent most of his time with Yumi. It isn't until the fourth (and final) volume that we see the two of them in full relationship mode.
Just like previous episodes the stuff here is well balanced between all three characters. The first episode follows Kenjo's day as he inadvertently bumps into an idol named Jyunna. At first it seems that she has a thing for him because she drags him all over creation for some strange reason out of the blue. It turns out that she's actually looking for someone and since Kenjo is one of the only people in Japan that doesn't know who she is he seems like the perfect company.
The second to last episode takes place on New Year's Eve as the countdown to the new millennia begins. Kenjo and his baseball manager chick, Makoto and Yumi, and Kyoichi the third wheel all talk about rumors regarding the coming of the new year. Some things come up with Chiharu and the two seem to be being drawn to each other. The last episode of the disc and series was entirely focused on Kyoichi and more of his development. It would seem that he has finally sorted out his personal demons regarding the past and the show ends in a very appropriate manner.
Boys Be... has been a bit of a rollercoaster of a series but it's one that has had many strong points. I typically don't go for "romantic" anime but the exploration of emotion and character development for this show in particular are fantastic. If you're looking for a heartfelt show that will leave an impression on you then you'll definitely want to check this one out. Even if this kind of stuff isn't your usual thing there's something to love here.
Boys Be... is presented with a 1.33:1 full frame aspect ratio and features a very impressive 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.
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.
Some Right Stuf trailers and a textless closing await you on the last disc of Boys Be... . There is also a line art gallery as well as a "Special Track" which proves to be a nice little send-off for the show. It's basically a clip montage and a music video with some dialogue involving Kyoichi's rocker chick making the big time. The last (and hilarious) supplemental feature is a commentary for episodes 12 and 13. Sure it's completely irreverent and all together pointless but the commentators had a great time with the track and it shows. Fans looking for more information about the show may be disappointed but if you're just looking to be entertained it's certainly a lively commentary.
Boys Be... is an offbeat series that marches to its own drummer. The series proved to be pretty solid from start to finish though a couple of episodes in between left something to be desired. In the end the high emotion and dramatic storytelling crafts an anime that is pretty unique 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.
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