A Review of “Boys Be…” Milquetoast Malady

“An ending will come to everything in this world. It may be a fate that one could never avoid.”
Kyoichi Kanzaki “Boys Be…

Can I tell you a secret? I really, REALLY did not want to finish this series. OtakuAndrain could tell you that I went into “Boys Be…” kicking and screaming. Why? Because it had so much potential…SO MUCH FREAKING potential…and it doesn’t do anything with it. It’s like buying a bag of potato chips from a vending machine, opening it up, and finding air with one or two small chips inside. Technically, you got the product on the bag, but you didn’t get ALL of what you wanted. This anime really disappointed me on so many levels, but it’s not without SOME merit. After all, “Boys Be…” takes a unique view of the high school romantic series, viewing it through the eyes of a group of males. It was this unique aspect that lead me to purchase this series years ago. While its story premise is unique, the execution is what brings this anime series WAY down. How low does it go? Well, you gotta read on to find that one out.

Warnings and Notable Objectionable Content – “Boys Be…” is a relatively clean series. There may be some PG language, and maybe a perverted moment here or there [mostly coming from the eye catches between each episode…], but it’s actually the cleanest of the series I’ve reviewed this month.

Series Availability – “Boys Be…” is readily available from different anime purveyors both online and off. The series is available as a four-disk volume or a four-disk “Complete Collection” from “Right Stuf International“, complete with episode guidebook.

Story Premise – “Boys Be…” is a thirteen episode series based off a manga by Masahiro Itabashi. The story follows three high school male protagonists, each with individual personalities and approaches regarding love. Throughout the series, we follow each character as they find, and in some cases lose, opportunities for love and romance that come their way. Honestly, this is one of the shortest “Story Premise” sections I think I will ever write…not because I’m lazy, don’t get me wrong, but because this story doesn’t have that much…oomph. The whole thing plays much like an old-school 90’s high-school drama; a feeling compounded by the nauseating music which I’ll touch on later. While the idea of a boy’s eye view romantic drama is a unique idea, the presentation of it is markedly lackluster. The story just seems to go off in different directions without having any kind of set destination. This can be a problem with a series of this type with multiple couplings; if it’s not done right, the side-couples could deviate from the main one, and indeed, I found myself more concerned and interested in the Mokoto/Yumi relationship than the Kyoichi/Chiharu relationship, which is the supposed focus. With regards to the ending, the ADR Director in the commentary track said it best; “You can stop watching the series after episode twelve and feel satisfied.” Episode thirteen, which was supposedly a teaser for a second season of “Boys Be…” leaves you with more questions than answers, and only weakens an already weak story further. [12.5/25]

Characters – Our story opens, as it will for the majority of the series, with a soliloquy from our main character, Kyoichi Kanzaki. He is a high school student who is agonizing over whether or not he wants to be more than friends with his best friend from childhood, Chiharu; a headstrong athletic girl who seems oblivious to the fact that Kyoichi has any kind of interest in her. Offering “helpful” suggestions to aid in his mission is Makoto Kurumizawa, the go-to guy for detailed and intimate information on every female in the school [Yeah…THAT’S not creepy at all…] and Yoshihiko Kenjo, the resident jock.  On the female side of things, along with the above mentioned Chiharu, we have Yumi Kazama, a glasses girl with a taste for public cosplay who develops a crush for  Mokoto, and Aki Mizutani who has a relationship with a non-main character who’s into photography. Overall, I am under-impressed with about 95% of the cast. Kyoichi is just so frustrating to watch and listen to, it’s not even funny. He puts me so much in the mind of Hiroyuki from “ToHeart“; just a male lead who drifts along without any real meaning. The only difference is that, unlike Hiroyuki, I actually want this character to succeed…but because he doesn’t put forth much effort, trying to care for him as a character is difficult. Mokoto is an interesting character, if not extremely creepy. At times, he can get EXTREMELY annoying, but during his more mellow moments, he’s a very admirable guy. Chiharu really confuses me in a bad way. She leaves things so ambiguous between herself and Kyoichi, it makes you wonder just what does this guy see in her and what did I see in this anime that made me want to purchase it? On the positive side, I really liked the characters of Yumi and Chiharu [that is, the last episode Chiharu…]. Both of these characters are fascinating and interesting to watch, and bring a new kind of dynamic to the show that I really liked; the latter more than anyone. [17.5/25]

Animation – Honestly, I have a love/hate relationship with the animation style of this series. It’s unique, and there are times when I really like it, but there are times when I honestly get sick of it. The character designs seem to change from episode to episode ever so slightly, giving an inconsistent look to the entire series. The backgrounds and landscapes are absolutely beautiful, though with nice rich colors. What I don’t understand, for the life of me, is the eye catches between the first and second half of each episode, which sometimes features animals and more often than not features zoomed in shots of girls in swimsuits with the word “Soul” on them and “Boys Be” on some parts of their bodies. Just add that to the list of things I just don’t get about this series.  [9/12.5]

Music – Oh, boy…where do I begin? The opening theme for “Boys Be…”, “Daijobu (It’s Okay)” by Aki Maeda has to be one of the most puzzling openings I think I’ve ever heard since watching anime. I just don’t feel anything from it. It doesn’t get me excited, it doesn’t pull me into the series, and it doesn’t make me feel anticipation for what I’m about to watch [which in hindsight might be a good thing; fewer opportunities for disappointment…]. It doesn’t help matters much that the background of the opening title sequence is confusing as all get back, featuring a barefoot girl walking amongst what looks like a nuclear wasteland. While I understand this COULD be a reference to the dream sequence in episode twelve, I still don’t get what the creators were trying to say with this opening. The ending sequence and song is equally confusing. “Minna Ga Iine” also by Aki Maeda is dry by itself, but the animation, which features cats superimposed on Chihiro’s dress, just leaves me scratching my head. I don’t know what the heck the creators was on, but I think I want some. The incidental music sounds like a bad combination of supermarket music and BAD after-school drama. I can’t really explain it any other way; it’s something you actually have to listen to…if you have the stomach to. The only positive I can say regarding music with this series is the opening for episode thirteen, “Hatsukoi” by Yuka Imai. Though its animation is simplistic, the song really draws me in…unlike the other twelve episodes.  [6.5/12.5]

Performances and Production – This series was licensed by “The Right Stuf International” and dubbed by Headline Sound Studios with co-directors Liam O’Brien and Sam Regal sharing the helm and also acting in the series as the main characters and working as the English script adapters. Now, I know you guys know my thoughts on people who try to wear too many hats in a project [see my reviews on the first two “Evangelion” movies and my “angry letter”…] so I’m not going to beat that dead horse again. When looking up this particular information on Anime News Network, I couldn’t help but notice that this same crew also worked on the english adaptation of “ToHeart”, which you recall, I reviewed as being…

“…50/50 across the board, ranging from good to horrible…”

This time around, I feel comfortable in saying the same. The acting in this one is either hit or miss. Not saying that it’s all bad; for example Chiharu Reicha, voiced by Kirsten Potter is the highlight of the series for me. She really does an excellent job, and I loved every second of her performance. Likewise Jennifer Sekiguchi [Stephanie Shea under an alias…] as Yumi is very well done and she captures the role perfectly. That being said, the acting is not all that GOOD either. For example, Sam Regal as Kyoichi honestly makes me fall asleep. Seriously, it’s Rich McNanna in “ToHeart” all over again; little to no variance in tone. Granted, the character was supposed to be a little moody and milquetoast, but I would’ve preferred a little more emotion injected into the performance. On the other side of the coin, Liam O’Brien as Mokoto is TOO over the top. He seems to out there and goofy for my tastes. Granted, the character is supposed to be goofy, but there is such a thing as going too far, and for me, it crossed that line. In all honesty, I would’ve preferred if the two switched roles, with Liam playing Kyoichi and Sam playing Mokoto. I think it would’ve made for a more interesting end product. [18.5/25]

Scoring Summary:

Story Breakdown – 12.5/25
Characters – 17.5/25
Animation – 9/12.5
Music – 6.5/12.5
Performance and Production – 18.5/25

Final Score – 64/100 – F

Lagniappe (A Little Something Extra): 

  • In the director’s commentary track, Liam O’Brien mistakes the lyrics of the opening song, referring to it as “Boys, My Boys…” when in reality, the songs lyrics is “Voice, My Voice…” [Not that it matters too much…the song still sucks…]
  • In episode nine, when Mokoto and Yumi are having a date dress rehearsal of a date, Mokoto asks Yumi [Playing the role of Erika, her friend and potential date for Mokoto] if she saw “Mecha Iku” yesterday. In the English dub, Mokoto asks “So, Erika! Don’t you love ‘Naruto’?”
  • In the director’s commentary, Jennifer Sekiguchi said that the “boo!” sounds made in episode nine when Mokoto did something incorrect during the mock date with Yumi was “her best Greg Ayres impression”, as he tends to say “boo!” often to express disapproval. [After listening to the Commentary tracks for “Kodocha”, “Legend of the Mystical Ninja” and “Spiral: The Bonds of Reasoning”, she ain’t lying…]

So, where does that leave us? One word–disappointed. “Boys Be…”, in its attempt to be creative with its story telling, has plunged us into the world of bad high-school drama, complete with agnostic characters, bad music queues, and acting that leaves you wanting for better. While it can be argued that because “Boys Be…” is only thirteen episodes long and that there wasn’t enough time to fine tune certain aspects, and that the second season would’ve brought about a much better series; the fact remains that the material given to the viewer is extremely lacking in certain areas. Crying shame it’s the areas that REALLY count. 

And so, we close out Love-Love February! Overall, I think it was a complete success! It is my hope that I gave you some good ideas on what to watch and what to avoid when your sweetheart comes over and asks “What do you want to watch tonight?” To put a finishing cap on this month, we’re going to be doing something special with our “Drew Threw it to You” Award, and kicking off our Musical March [Assuming nobody answers OtakuAndrain’s question before the end of the month…]with what I consider to be one of the greatest shows of all time centered around musicianship…that doesn’t involve high school girls. Yup. We’re doing that one. So break out and tune those guitars, because we’re going on the road with…

“Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad”

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