Boys Be... Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Nozomi Entertainment
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Boys Be...

Boys Be... Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     May 02, 2006
Release Date: April 25, 2006


Boys Be... Vol. #2
© Nozomi Entertainment


What They Say
Just another love story? No way! After ages about hearing what girls have to say about relationships, BOYS BE... steps forward to reveal the flip side of love " what's really going on from a guy's point of view! Meet Kyoichi, Makoto and Yoshihiko " three normal high school guys with just one thing on their minds: girls.

It's the rainy season, and with the soft rain showers and blooming hydrangea, Kyoichi's classmate Aki's thoughts are drifting back to her middle-school crush, a shy cameraman named Ueno. When a chance meeting in the park brings him back into her life, she begins to notice that he's changed, somehow. Is he still the boy she once loved?

After the rains clear, summertime is full swing! and you all know what that means: sunny days, sprawling beaches, and gorgeous girls in skimpy suits! Makoto and Kyoichi have landed the jobs of a lifetime " they get to work part-time at the beach with a great view of the female clientele! That's what they thought, anyway, until they met their new boss " a hulking brick wall of a man who's not about to let them get a moment's peace.

Contains episodes 4-7 and a special 16-page booklet!

The Review!
The Summer arc kicks off and the kids are spread out but their romances and troubles continue to happen.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The series has a fairly straightforward stereo mix where the majority of it is focused around dialogue as there is precious little real action to the series. There are a number of good ambient sounds used throughout such as traffic or general school sounds that come across well while the music track makes good use of both channels. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout on both tracks and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2000, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Boy's Be is one of the shows that had managed to get to the point where digital productions started to look good and not quite as poorly layered during its original airing and it stands up well over the last six years since it came out. The show is set in standard school territory and is done in a real world color palette that allows for some very vibrant areas but keeps to mostly standard muted colors. The transfer comes across very well overall though there are a few moments where you have the boy's school jackets showing some blockiness. Colors otherwise tend to be very solid and full while the print overall avoids cross coloration and very little aliasing. The problem we noted on the previous volume about the chapter stops has thankfully been corrected with this volume and it's no longer an issue.

Packaging:
Using artwork from the Japanese release but changing the background a bit to add more color and life to it, we get a good shot of Aki in some very minimal attire and her jacket falling away as she's running. It's a cute and attractive shot overall with some nice soft and muted colors to it. I'm glad they didn't use the artwork from the recent Japanese box set release since it would make the show look like a massive harem show instead of the ensemble piece that it is. The back cover continues the background style and provides a number of paragraphs covering the basics of the shows premise as well as a few shots of the various characters. The discs features are clearly listed and most of the technical information is covered in the grid along the bottom. The reversible cover is essentially identical to the front one other than its use of the original series logo for the front cover and spine. The included booklet is great with a few pages that provide designs of some of the characters combined with full color pictures of the Japanese voice actresses alongside comments from them about their joining the production. There are a couple of pages of just designs and comments as well as a section with comments from the series director.

Menu:
The menu layout for the release uses the same elements as the front cover but with a slightly zoomed in shot of Aki while still using the same background and shifting it to the right so the logo can take up a good part of the image. There's a brief loop of some of the opening vocal song included here while selections are lined along the left in standard form that are easy to navigate. Access times are nice and fast and the disc correctly read our player's language presents and played without issue.

Extras:
With little available in general, the second volume runs with just the new set of line art that can be used.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Keeping with the seasonal arcs of the series, the second installment has the slightly odd shift of going to four episodes after the first volume only did three but it works in order to keep all the relevant episodes together. The summer arc is a good bit of fun as it takes the characters we got to meet in the first volume and spread them out to different locations so that some like Yumi and Aki will travel about to see what kind of trouble that they're all getting into.

Some of the issues of the first volume are carried over, mostly in the form of the tension and odd feelings that both Chiharu and Kyoichi have between each other now. Since she sort of freaked and ran off to her training camp, he and Makoto ended up by the beach where they work at a surf side shop. Makoto had the grand idea of being around women in bikini's for the summer but didn't grasp how much work would be involved while working at the shop that Chiharu's cousin owns. While Daisuke runs roughshod over the boys and has them working hard, Makoto finds himself distracted quite often not only by the beauties on the beach but also from Nao, Daisuke's sister who has a bit of a condition that keeps her weak and indoors. There's a touch of potential summer fling and romance going on during it but it's the kind of thing where it's just a sensation and little more.

Probably my favorite part of the summer arc is the dip into the baseball world as it deals with Yoshihiko as he discovers that very brief period where he realizes he's falling in love. Since he wasn't able to go with the others to the beach due to game commitments, he's not exactly all that keen on practice and is feeling out of the loop. He gets his motivation back though when Horikawa starts helping out a bit more as the team manager by showing how good of a pitcher she is and gets to take down Yoshihiko without him realizing it. She's a crafty type in that she manages to get him to go out on a date without him realizing that's what it is and before he knows it he finds himself realizing that she's more than just the team manager and a girl he knows, but someone he's developing feelings for. It's such a nicely paced little self contained romance in its own way that doesn't deal with girls being on the team or other issues but rather just the two of them figuring out how they all really feel about each other.

A good bit of focus throughout the four episodes tends to filter back to the main relationship of the series between Chiharu and Kyoichi. There are flashes to what each of them are going through during the forced summer separation which has led to them being really unsure about where they stand with each other and imagining the worst at times as well. Their relationship serves as the book ends to what goes on in this volume since each of them has to deal with temptations that come their way. Everything that goes on in between helps to accent it as we see how others are dealing with their own first blush at love. And just as much a character as those involved in the relationships are the settings. The visuals for the series continue to be very stylized at times, such as the episode that deals with the flower gardens and photography, where the colors mixed in with the rain just create such a great atmosphere. Some of the style does look a bit dated since this came out as the shift to digital was underway but I think it holds up far better than a lot of other shows from that period.

In Summary:
Slice of life romances where there aren't a harem of women involved and dozens of wacky situations are few and far between but when they do hit the stage they are quite enjoyable to watch. A lot of shows prefer to play in the realm of the time before the relationships but few of them actually carry through on it or go through the motions without a lot of the garbage that seems to drag down so many others. Boys Be, while not avoiding fanservice, is a very enjoyable show that avoids the gimmicks and just tells a nicely progressive series of romances among a group of teens. I loved it when I saw it almost five years ago and it's held up wonderfully.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles, Line Art Gallery, Character Bios, Japanese Voice Actor Reports, Japanese Director's Commentary

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Toshiba HD-A1 Progressive Scan HD DVD player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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