Boys Be... Vol. #1 (of 4) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Thursday, January 12, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, February 28, 2006



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.

The quiet, artistic Kyoichi has been friends with the shining girls track star Chiharu, ever since they were young... But lately, his feelings for her have begun to change. Will he risk their longtime friendship for a chance at love?

Then there's the lecherous Makoto; self-proclaimed master of the rules of romance. Armed with the trusty "Dr. Mitsuboshi's Love Manual", Makoto is ready to sweep the ladies off their feet! But when a moped accident lands this Casanova in the company of a beautiful nurse, will the book's advice be enough to win her over?

And Yoshihiko – a handsome, confident sports nut - is unfortunately a bit clueless in matters of the heart. When a beautiful girl surprises him with a tender kiss, he just can't stop thinking about her. Who is this mysterious stranger, and could she be his destiny?

Contains episodes 1-3. PLUS! DVD 1 includes a 12-page booklet featuring character bios, Japanese voice actor reports, director's commentary and more!

The Review!
Short stories interlinked across one series, tales of teenage love, uncertainty and sexual preferences make up this enjoyable show.

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. My main issue with the layout of the discs video, and it's a standard problem across several recent Right Stuf releases, is that with each episode set as an individual title, when you get to the end credits chapter you cannot skip past it to get to the next episode quickly. You either have to menu or fast forward to get past it. This is easily alleviated by adding another chapter to the end of the title that's basically an empty chapter that would then force it to go to the next episode.

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 Chiharu with her jacket off and blowing in the wind with her hair as she smiles and winks. 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 Nitta 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:
This series hasn't had a lot of extras in the past so the standards are pretty much what we get here with a series of line art pictures in gallery form as well as a clean version of the opening sequence.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Boys Be, based on a popular boys manga in Japan that has had a couple of different series, is an interesting franchise. Having read a few of the volumes from the second manga series that's come out, they're short tales about various kinds of teenage romances and situations that happen, the kind where the characters either have to take a chance or actually reveal themselves in some way.

Its original broadcast was done in an attempt, according to the series director, to create an anime that would be viewable by the general populace after anime had become so fractured and shifted further and further away from being a mainstream entertainment, particularly for teenagers, as it was during the seventies and eighties. It eventually landed on DVD across six volumes in Japan and even received a brand new box set release in 2005. It was hoped some years ago that it would be picked up by Pioneer due to Pioneer Japan's involvement but it never happened. Many fans ended up seeing it through a region three release via Odex Pte Ltd and that's where we got our first taste for it and fell in love. Boys Be is the kind of tender and sweet kind of anime that breaks out of the standard mold where the characters either never reveal their feelings or do it at the last minute of the series. Very few shows actually portray the really interesting area of what happens after the chase as that's where I think the real drama can begin.

While the show has been in a virtual limbo for the North American market since 2000, Right Stuf has stepped in and picked up the show which fits in really well with the kinds of titles they've been building their library up around in recent years. .

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.

While Chiharu and Kyoichi provide the overall arc to the series, friends for both of them come into the mix and take over the storyline for entire episodes. The more lecherous of the main trio of boys is Makoto who has a cute PDA of sorts where he tracks all of the attractive girls in the school. He ends up in the hospital for a bit of time and falls hard for a nurse that's there, an attractive girl named Takano. Their relationship is explored through the way that a teenager like him would approach things, resulting in an amusing moment with a frog, but it shows growth not only for him but for Takano. The most enjoyable story here though is Kenjo's as he comes across a girl in a library who he saves from a fall and she repays him by kissing him. Not just a peck on the cheek but a real solid adult kiss. He keeps returning to the library to see her again and reads various books there while waiting which he uses to re-imagine his time with the girl, such as a fantasy adventure, a science fiction epic or a classic beach romance.

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.

In Summary:
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. Boys Be hits all the right marks here in the first three episodes as it covers the first season of the four that these teens will go through over the course of the year that the series covers. This is the kind of show we need to be aired on TV to show how much more there is to anime. Boys Be is a very welcome addition to my library and one I'm glad that has received such a solid dub that will appeal to a lot of people. Very recommended.

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

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI at 480p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.



Mania Grade: B+
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...