Boys Be... - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 3 - Southeast Asia
  • Released By: Odex Private Limited
  • MSRP: S$89.00
  • Running time: 325
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Boys Be...

Boys Be...

By Chris Beveridge     October 01, 2001
Release Date: October 01, 2001


Boys Be...
© Odex Private Limited


What They Say
Boys Be carefully detailed the stories of 6 students in their school years, refreshing, humorous, touching, sexy and will definitely put tears into yours eyes and warmth into your hearts.

The Review!
For fans of shows where the characters are done to realistic storylines about love, loss and simply growing up, Boys Be... is one of those shining lights to good anime that you can give to anyone. These stories are the kind that transcend their origins because the emotions are universal.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. Of course, it helps in that this disc only has Japanese language on it. Being a 13 episode series from the late 90's, this has a pretty decent stereo soundtrack to it. Dialogue is generally through the center channel though there are some nice moments of directionality to help the presentation along the front soundstage. The music and few ambient sound effects come across nicely, with the music being the main beneficiary.

Video:
For the most part, this is a really great looking transfer. The one thing it really benefits from is being a very recent show and being done in a very shiny digital animation way, similar to Lain at the time. Colors are nice and vibrant, line noise is at a minimum and there's only some edge rainbows throughout some scenes. A lot of this may be just the Skyworth player doing a bang up job of reading the info, as looking at it on the Apex shows a lot of block artifacting in solid colors on the 19" TV. On our high end gear, it's just great looking though.

Packaging:
This four volume set has a bunch of great looking covers. Each volume is labeled as a season (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter) and have some good looking artwork mixed with real photos for it. For example, the Spring cover has the main character Nitta in her school outfit with an real cherry blossom tree in the background. The look works rather well for this show. The layouts for the back covers are the same for all four volumes, with four pictures, a bit about the series and its origins and the episode listings. They also replicate fairly well the technical block that the Japanese use for the information at the bottom about the disc encoding. No inserts are included with this release.

Menus:
The menus are simple affairs, with the collection title and a static animation image behind the selection bars. The opening song plays behind it, in full I believe, so letting it sit isn't a quick repeat experience. Access times are exceptionally fast, and if there's only one criticism, it's when selecting a language, nothing changes to indicate what the default is.

Extras:
There's a few nice extras here, with the majority of them being music videos spread across the 2nd-4th discs. The first disc has an image gallery. All the discs contain trailers for the other Pioneer shows that Odex has licensed.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Pioneer Japan released the six volumes of Boys Be... in the fall of 2000, which has given some hope of a US release at some point, though Pioneer USA remains mum on it, and they've not released everything Pioneer Japan has produced. What may be holding it back? Boys Be... is a real world coming of age story. Typically, these shows don't sell here.

Thankfully, Pioneer Japan has (officially) sublicensed the series to Odex, a company in Singapore. As per Singapore custom (law?), the disc is provided in Chinese, Malaysian and English subtitles. Add in to the fact that the disc is mysteriously region free, you get something that's very easily marketed to a segment of US anime fandom that doesn't get a whole heck of a lot of respect.

The show focuses primarily on about just under a half dozen characters, each that come into contact with various people that affect their lives. The introductory couple, which can basically be considered the leads, is Chiharu and Kyoichi. The two lead us into the story of old childhood friends becoming something more in their high school years. Their tale isn't told with a lot of flash or heavy action or even all that much in the way of gratuitous shots. It's a slow paced affair with some fanservice done in a real world way, things you would normally expect to see and to find the boys intrigued by. It's these moments throughout the series that resonate well, in that they're universal and for the most part, almost everyone experiences it.

The episodes are all fairly well self-contained, though various situations do lend themselves to spreading over multiple episodes. The second disc, entitled Summer, has everyone off doing their summer thing, so we see Makoto and Kyoichi doing their jobs at a beach shop while the others experience things elsewhere. The lack of a cohesive multi-episode storyline helps things a lot here, in providing a great number of first-love stories and new emotions for the characters.

The show also brings in some fun bits of style to it, in how the opening and eye-catches are done. Rarely seen, the opening sequence (which is a great song) doesn't have any animation with it, but rather has various clips and poses with the singer (in angel wings no less at times). The eye-catches are all various body-shots (plenty of T&A here) that bring the whole "boys" mentality to the forefront. Yeah, that's right, that's where we're looking more often than not ladies.

The only real problem with the disc, and it's likely due to a number of factors, is the sometimes stilted dialogue. The English subtitles are very good for the most part, but there are a few certain phrase turns that just come off wrong or sound awkward. But this is something I've come to expect from Japanese releases as well as other foreign releases that have English. These subtitles will elicit a chuckle once in awhile, but they're quite good otherwise.

Boys Be.. is a show that consistently brought a smile to our face throughout it. Remembrances of experiences past and the ring of real world truth to much of it makes this something that people can connect to in a way they can't with a lot of other anime. I truly hope that Pioneer or someone else snags this series and brings it over, as it does deserve a wider audience, an audience that is definitely growing here. This is the kind of show we need to be aired on TV. Boys Be... is probably one of my favorite additions to my library of shows this year. Highly recommended.

Features
Japanese Language,English Subtitles,Chinese Subtitles,Malay Subtitles,Music Videos,Image Galleries

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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