Boys Be... Vol. #4 - 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: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Boys Be...

Boys Be... Vol. #4

By Chris Beveridge     June 20, 2006
Release Date: June 27, 2006


Boys Be... Vol. #4
© 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 Christmas Eve, but Yoshihiko isn't spending it with his family " he's being dragged all over town by a sexy supermodel in a Santa suit! Jyunna Morio is one of the biggest pop idols in Japan, but when she runs into Yoshihiko (literally), she whisks him off on a whirlwind tour of all the hottest dating spots in town.

Has Yoshihiko accidentally struck gold with this pop-star princess, or is something going on that he doesn't know about?

Then, it's almost time for the New Year's bash! The countdown to the turn of the

millennium is fast approaching, and everyone is busy making plans. But what about Kyoichi and Chiharu? When the clock strikes 12, will the New Year find them together or apart?

The Review!
Coming in with the final season and a look to the future, Boys Be continues to avoid the main clichés as we follow these young men and women into their new phase.

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. Boys 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.

Packaging:
Using artwork from the Japanese release but changing the background a bit to add more color and life to it, the final cover brings in a pivotal character of sorts from the final episode and lets her wild ways shine through in almost an eighties style look that's really appealing. 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 that guest star in this volume, including Megumi Hayashibara. There are a couple of pages of just designs and comments as well as a section with comments from the series director about how to interpret the ending and his intent with it and the other relationships.

Menu:
The menu layout for the release uses the same elements as the front cover but with a slightly zoomed in shot of Chiharu 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:
The extras get bumped up a bit for the end here as we get the latest art gallery installment but also a clean closing sequence for this volume. Also included is a bonus track that has a brief special mini episode of sorts that details some of the relationships in flashback via the airing of Shoko as the lead vocalist for SAIL, which gives a nice bit of closure to that episode.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Boys Be brings on its final three episodes and much like the rest of the series, it avoids doing the obvious things and being cliched, though it does let some of them slip through just because many clichés simply are based in reality. With relationships, it's hard to avoid these or to be truly original but Boys Be has managed to do some really enjoyable normal relationship storylines among a group of friends and how it affects not only them but each other. The growth is slow but easy to see over the course of the series.

The three tales for this volume cover a good deal of ground among all of them but the focus tends to be heavily on Kyoichi but also on Yoshihiko. Yoshihiko gets pretty much an entire episode to himself again as he finds himself out wandering around bored out of his skull and still not completely aware that Horikawa is interested in him so he doesn't react to her flirtations properly at all. While wandering around, he literally bumps into an attractive young woman named Jyunna whose dressed up as a sexy Santa Claus for a Christmas TV special. She's actually in search of someone and had skipped out on the special so she decides to berate Yoshihiko at first and then to make him her bodyguard and guide of sorts as she looks for her missing boyfriend. Yoshihiko doesn't have a clue about her real popularity or who she is so he's surprised along the way but it's appealing to her. The two have an interesting time together as she's focused and unaware of the kinds of signals she sends out, resulting in some very sweet moments that really punch up areas of the storyline.

In order to recap the series to some extent, more so in the nature of showing where everyone is now and how the relationships have changed, a New Years Eve episode comes into play. With it being the countdown to the millennium, there's a lot of rumors and superstitions to go with it about whether you should or shouldn't be with someone at the time of the change, so we see that with both Makoto and Yoshihiko and their significant others. There is a lot of focus given to Kyoichi and Chiharu's relationship throughout this as we see bits of their past and how things went badly for them and it does things in a way that brings it all together nicely, if far too cleanly. But that's sort of the point of things here at times and it has a really positive and warm feeling to it but it also tinges it with reality and the kinds of emotions you'd have in young men like Kyoichi.

The series has a good episode to close it out, though it moves us away from the cast in general for the most part and leaves us with Kyoichi as he takes an extended trip to Hokkaido in order to get his thoughts in order and to do some sketching that will hopefully help him find what he's looking for. Like many from the city who go to Hokkaido for the first time, it's an eye-opening experience that has him feeling like he's in a completely different country. From the change in the colors he's surrounded by to the difference in the quality of the air, it inspires him to achieve more but he has to find out what the more is inside of him. Interestingly, he ends up spending a lot of time with a woman who helps him out after they bump into each other but where you'd expect the storyline to show how she helps him find his way, it's far more the opposite, though in the long run Kyoichi is able to realize things about himself that are important.

In Summary:
It's been nearly five years since I first saw the end to the series and it still strikes me as being one of the more enjoyable real world style romantic series. There are no easy answers, each relationship is unique to the people involved and not every question is actually answered. Some of the unexpected relationships are the most interesting, such as the very nicely building one with Makoto, and the ones that you expect to be trouble filled but to work out happily every after don't quite do that. The people who appear briefly and change the main characters don't come across as being forced, something that's really difficult to do, but since the series has really felt like it's had a large cast since the beginning, it's been able to smoothly bring in that real world aspect. We're all changed by everyone we meet, particularly at such an age as Kyoichi and the others where they're so easily influenced. Boys Be has long been one of my favorite shows and I'm very glad to see that it finally found a home here and others get to experience this wonderful and very memorable series.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles, Textless Closing, Character Bios, Audio Commentary from the English Directors, Line Art Gallery, Japanese Voice Actor Reports, Japanese Director's Commentary

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Samsung BD-P1000 Blu-ray 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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