Sonny Boy was the most unique and delightfully weird anime that I’ve seen in quite a while. However, a show being unique doesn’t necessarily mean it was good. Let’s find out how the show as a whole captured the minds and hearts of so many people in this review!
Sonny Boy Overview
Sonny Boy was based on an original story written by prominent director Shingo Natsume, previously known for directing One Punch Man. The show was produced by Studio Madhouse, the powerhouse anime studio behind absolute classics such as Hunter x Hunter, Death Note, and No Game No Life! The story has been said to be inspired by The Drifting Classroom, another manga and anime title that was popular in the early 80s.
If you’d like to start watching the show from Episode 1, I’d recommend you read our spoiler-free reviews of the entire series, as we covered it extensively and episodically. You can also check out our entire coverage in one place.
Sonny Boy Review- The Plot
According to the creator and showrunner Shingo Natsume, “Sonny Boy is a simple story about a boy growing up and people drifting apart,“ and that is exactly what it is. Behind its complex narratives, weird story structure, and unclear philosophies, Sonny Boy is a story about a boy learning to live in a world that isn’t as kind and nourishing as it was when the boy was young. It is a story about maturity and the humanity within people.
However, to call Sonny Boy‘s story dense would be like calling the Amazon rainforest the Sahara desert. The plot is absolutely stuffed full of metaphors, visual storytelling, philosophical ideas, and conversation that make no sense at first but reveal themselves once thought about. It is impossible to watch an episode just once and garner everything you could out of it. It just doesn’t work like that in this show.
It is to be expected that one is going to be confused by the show from time to time, as it doesn’t seem to be following the laws of conventional storytelling. The episodes jump forward in time with no consistency, and it might not even address the events from previous episodes in the next one. Everything still feels natural for this show, however, as it established what it was going to be like in the first minute of the first episode.
Sonny Boy has two distinct halves of its story, and the show switches directions pretty heavily after Episode 6, which acts as the end of the first part of the story. At first, it starts as a Lord of the Flies inspired “children stuck together in an island” type, with a super-powered twist. Some children get exceedingly powerful abilities that they either use to wreak havoc or help everyone. One thing is very apparent about these earlier episodes- the children are portrayed very realistically.
If you were to drop any 34 Gen Z’ers into “This World”, the world where the students in Sonny Boy are, they would act in exactly the same way as they do in the show. The show portrays teenage angst and relationships accurately to a fault, as most characters in the show turn out to be awful people. The conversations, the tangents, the groups, and even the bullying is hyperrealistic in the first 6 episodes. Then the penny drops, and the characters are ripped to shreds by one piece of information- They are never going back.
This causes a shift into the psyche of the characters and the show itself. The show becomes more conceptual and experimental with its concept, and the story becomes more of survival than escapism. The children form entire societies and are there for seemingly thousands of years. They never grow, but they still become weary as nothing ever changes. There are different societies within the show’s universe, as multiple grades within the same school are transported to “This World”.
There are descriptions of capitalism, religion, fanaticism, communism, absolutism, and higher powers in various abstract episodes that are just as hard to understand as they are to explain. The show is dense and deep to the point where every episode can be looked at with a magnifying glass and dissected in at least 3 PhD dissertations. All of that is on top of the complex rules the show’s universe, or “This World”, operates by.
There are Gods, there is War, there is love, and there is a mystery. Sonny Boy is a show that’ll keep you engrossed for ages with just its 12 episodes, and time will move faster than you’ve ever imagined. Then it’ll end, and you’ll realise that the show didn’t leave any answers about what happened in it. You don’t know what happened to the characters, you don’t know how everything came about in the first place, you don’t even know what’s happening in front of your eyes right now. Yet, you still love everything that happened in Sonny Boy all the same.
At the end of everything, Sonny Boy is a story about growing up. The story is a commentary about how hard it is to move on from a student’s life and step into the hard world of adulthood and how some people can never move past their wonderful childhood years. It is a tale of caution and understanding that despite some things being difficult, they are the right things to do and thus, we must strive to do them. It is a story about friendship, love, and perseverance. It is a story that is amazingly well crafted and has something in it for everyone.
Sonny Boy Review- The Characters
The show is full to the brim with a variety of well-written characters and some poorly written ones. There’s the titular “Sonny Boy“, Nagara. Nagara started as a fairly average and boring character. Still, as he grew within “This World” and showed more of his personality, he transformed into a fantastic projection of the watcher into the show. His interactions with the friends he had changed home to his core, and he was receptive to the change in a way that was adorable to see.
By far, the best character in the show was Mizuho, who was, by all means, the female lead of the show. She has the most relatable personality on the show. Her character follows a very interesting arc involving reluctance and facing authority to follow her ideals and trying to be herself despite everything around her. Her tenacity and efforts to keep her friend together are endearing, and she is an effective character.
Nozomi is the heart of the show, and a lot of Sonny Boy revolves around her and the mystery surrounding her. She is the catalyst for a lot of major events and many major changes in the show. She is a fine character, even if some of her efforts to feel mysterious fall short at the start of the anime. She does undergo a significant shift after a twist in the middle of the season and evolves because of it.
Apart from these major 3, a few others are important to the story of Sonny Boy. Rajdhani is the smartest guy in the room and a genuinely fantastic character to boot. Yamabiko the dog is the source of many a tear shed by watching the show, and he is effortlessly able to command any scene where he gets to speak. Mizuho’s cats get an episode to themselves, and only Sonny Boy could pull off something as brazen as that.
However, not all major characters were well written. Asakaze is the biggest missed opportunity of the show, and the show didn’t do his character justice. He was stuck in limbo with Ms Aki, another worthless character, for quite a while before randomly messing everything up in the final episodes. He was infuriating the whole time he was on screen, and I don’t know if that’s what Shingo Natsume was going for when he wrote him.
Sonny Boy has a huge cast, so, naturally, there are a lot of minor characters. A character who seemed to have a lot more influence than he ultimately did was Hoshi, which was a wasted opportunity in the end. God and War were also prevalent, although they didn’t matter all that much by the end of it all. There were a lot of minor characters that made an impact despite only being on one episode, so I won’t name all of them. Overall, a solid cast.
Sonny Boy Review- Animation and Music
The animation in Sonny Boy is simplistic yet exquisite. There is a distinct old-school style to it that helps it stand out from the rest of its peers. However, just because it is simple doesn’t mean that the animators didn’t work hard. Some episodes look positively magical, bathed in every colour imaginable, and the finale is a triumph in all definitions of the word. The series is a delight to experience because of the vibe this kind of animation sets.
The credit for the character design in Sonny Boy goes to manga veteran Hisashi Eguchi, whose influence upon the show is obvious by taking a solitary look at it. He was also behind the character designs of Perfect Blue, which looks obvious in hindsight. His characters, while simple outwardly, showcase many subtle emotions and facial expressions, which tell their own unique stories among the hundreds the show already tells us. There is a distinctly old school vibe to Sonny Boy, which is coated with a very fresh coat of paint to look as majestic as possible.
The music in the show is one of the best soundtracks ever created for an anime, and that is not an exaggeration. The show made a bold decision not to have any music in the first episode, so that the first hint of music that we get is the absolute masterpiece Shonen Shoujo by Ging Nang Boyz. This tune accompanies every episode of Sonny Boy in the end. Sonny Boy does not have an opening theme.
The song carried a lot of meaning related to the show and its plot and dropped many hints on the direction the show was going to go at that start. That’s not it, either. The show has some astounding background scores and inserts songs that compliment the anime’s tone and animation perfectly. Never before in the medium has been a song like Yamabiko’s theme, and I doubt that there ever will be. The music in Sonny Boy is the definition of perfection.
Sonny Boy is a modern masterpiece, and time will be very kind to it. There hasn’t been an anime that encapsulated the feeling of being a teenager and a God as Sonny Boy did. This one is worth your time and so much more. Give this a try! There will never be a Sonny Boy Season 2, but there doesn’t need to be. The show is almost perfect as it is.Instagram & Facebook to keep yourself updated with the latest news and reviews.