(from the back of the box)
The story touches the unchangeable in any era...
These are people in search of directions, love, inspiration and accomplishment.
Let's see how it fares when reviewed by a member of its target audience ...
Boys Be tells the story of six high school students (three guys and three girls) as they progress in their love lives, symbolized by the passing of the four seasons. The main story, however, focuses on Kanzaki Kyouichi and his childhood friend Nitta Chiharu. Once close friends, they slowly drifted apart as they grew older, and only now Kyouichi is beginning to develop feelings for her. The other characters are also starting to discover romance, but each in their own unique way.
The series is mainly episodic in nature, with each episode focusing on one or two of the characters and an event that happens to them. There is, of course, the budding romance between Kyouichi and Chiharu that goes on through the course of the story. The best part about Boys Be is not really how the plot turns out, but how it's told. As mentioned before, seasons play an important part in this anime, and the overall mood of the episodes shifts to reflect this (each episode is named after a part of a season). For example, the Spring episodes are those of romance developing and discovering relationships, Summer ones are about fun, and Autumn episodes color the relationships formed. I won't spoil Winter for you.
While slightly stereotyped, the characters do have a down-to-earth appeal to the viewer. Kyouichi is soft-spoken and loves art, but lacks self-confidence. Kenjou, the athletic baseball star, would probably get labeled as a jock but actually longs for a beautiful fairytale romance. Makoto, while coming across as everybody's favourite pervert, is actually quite caring and devoted. Likewise, the girls also have some interesting personalities, although they are less developed than the boys (absolutely no pun intended).
Amusingly, this is one title that bravely goes against the time-honored tradition of portraying boys as perverted idiots (well, *almost* in Makoto's case). The guys here are genuine romantics, and this would probably be an eye-opener for some girls. It's all about mood, and almost each episode handles it wonderfully.
Talking about mood, the gestalt would not be complete without the excellent soundtrack. In my humble opinion, this anime has the second best soundtrack I've ever heard (second, of course, to Cowboy Bebop's OSTs). You get an amazingly varied range of music - for example : lively piano or violin pieces in Spring, groovy bossa nova or Beach Boys-style guitar pieces (that's a Japanese drama, by the way) in Summer, melancholic or pleasant synth music in Autumn and mellow themes in Winter. And that's not all of it - the themes fit the show perfectly and are so darn memorable you won't forget them even if you hit your head against a wall. Sadly, the OST is out of print in Japan.
Well, there wouldn't be a review if it didn't have any faults, and it does. The art, while quite pretty, is rather inconsistent when it comes to character design and sometimes gets a bit too simple. Fortunately, it's good when it matters the most, and ... er ... that's what matters.
It's also too short - it doesn't give enough time for the romance to lather, rinse and repeat. The ending also leaves some things hanging - while this is a fun tactic to use when writing a script, it *kills* people when you do it for a romance-themed title.
In short, I totally enjoyed this title and so did the many friends I showed it too. Besides portraying a side of boys that you rarely see, it also shows us that sometimes a show can be better than the sum of all its parts. Just keep in mind that (like I've stated above), I *am* a member of the target audience (i.e. young adult male) and my view might differ from yours.
All in all, an excellent effort.
For people who enjoy a good romance story, or just love shows which go heavy on mood and feeling, then this is just the one for you. If you don't like romance themes or are outside the target audience, then subtract one or two stars. You can also subtract a star if you are thoroughly convinced that there is no way in hell that boys could act that maturely, especially as dashing romantics. — Enoch Lau
Recommended Audience: Teenagers and up, obviously. No nudity, no sex. But there's panty shots and plenty of ogling at huge breasts, and generous display of skin, especially the eye-catch.
Version(s) Viewed: Commercial VCD by Odex Pte Ltd (Asian Release), Japanese with English subtitles
Review Status: Full (13/13)
Boys Be... © 2000 Itabashi Masahiro / Tamakoshi Hiroyuki / Kodansha / Boys Be... Committee
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