Sonny Boy: Where Do We Belong?

Here we are. Another anime that ended in the Summer of 2021 which greatly needs attention is well. I think you guys know considering what I titled this post. Sonny Boy is an interesting piece of media. It really is one of those abstract pieces of art that will click with some people while missing almost everyone else. This is Shingo Natsume’s baby considering that it is a mostly original story. Just a small bit of an adaptation with lots of Shingo Natsume blending and stylings in some interesting and expressive styles of art and animation. If you can think of Masaki Yuasa, then that is the visual style at play here. A lot of the madness of Masaki Yuasa’s style is brought together in some very interesting and inventive ways that only Shingo Natsume can do. I love it because it captured the insanity and wonder of this story in ways no one else can.

When this anime’s plot was announced, it made people think of the novel Lord of the Flies. Especially since it featured students from the same Japanese middle school transported to an alternative dimension where they had to seemingly fight for survival. Well, that is only partially right. There are some bits of the middle school kids creating their alliances to rule over the island. Combine some of them having some strange powers from the trip or even before the trip happens and you can picture that happening. Yet, Sonny Boy is about the kids who don’t belong. That is the focus of this anime. That is a quiet boy named Nagara, a transfer student named Nozomi, an Indian student named Rajdhani, and a lonely girl named Mizuho. Plus, a lot of others. Almost like there is an entire class. Oh, yeah. Haha.

The first half of Sonny Boy is the part that has a lot more structure to it. The focus of the story turns not only what powers can be helpful, but the mechanics of how the students will live on this island. One of the first questions that is food and apparently the food and supplies in the school resets itself every once in a while. There are also the abilities that people use to make technology. Our girl Mizuho uses her cats to acquire goods through Cat Amazon. Some people have to create a phone-based trading economy unless they want objects to covered by blue fire. Sometimes, people will disappear because they were disjointed from society. All while the lonely Nagara can’t find his self worth even with his power of dimension hopping.

So yes, the first half is also the story of Nagara as he finally gains his own mental strength as time goes onwards. Why? Well, a lot of kids do what to return home. The guy who has dimensional powers should be at his best when using them. Sometimes that come sin the forms of monkeys playing base ball. Other times, it could revolve around finding a formation of mice. The group of Nagara, Rajdhani, Mizuho, and Nozomi work hard to uncover the secrets of different dimension in order to find a way home. Asakaze, one who can bend time and space, is jealous over Nozomi and Nagara’s supposed relationship which Nagara really doesn’t care. Eventually, a way home is found only to find that at that point, everyone adrift in their own dimensional spaces in an attempt to find something. A false teacher is in the mix too.

I’m not going to lie here, while the second half is lesser on a structural level, I think the weirdness of the second half with its look at very weird introspection and weird bits of character-based story telling was pretty good too. Well, for the most part. There are some episodes that didn’t hit at all while others were very interesting. How does one explore different worlds in singular episode? What about character introspection? Will we see Mizuho finally grow up and leave her cats behind? Will Nagara face the blame of creating so many dimensions, according to same people, by spending some time in jail? Some character motivations make sense while others very much don’t. At the end of the day, not a lot of things mattered.

That is another thing weighing this portion down. While some aspects of Sonny Boy’s strangeness do make sense like how animals the gang interact with in the first portion of the episode tell the story for the rest of the episode and there being other things like a pandemic that war caused, a talking dog, or even two twins fighting over a piece of land because one has one more hair then the other, not all of them really add into anything. Maybe that has to do with the drifting between dimensions. Does going home really matter? Does staying her make people feel matter either? Is the listlessness and weightlessness of these many dimensions capture that sort of emotion? Considering that Mizuho and Nagara are the only characters that go home and carry that weight with them, maybe that is the point.

That is my own interpretation of what Sonny Boy was trying to say and I could be wrong. Sonny Boy, in my eyes was a story of people growing up. Them living the unknown and excitement and brought into a void where, in the places they travel, nothing sticks out to them anymore. Or at least, each person isn’t as important as they used to be. Their powers, while interesting and unique, do not amount to anything. Even at home, Nagara and Mizuho do not have the most exciting or vivid life. If anything, there is shadows of their experiences amongst the dimensions in which these people are still not an important factor to any of this story. The people who left and the people who stayed are still lost in that world where they aren’t as important as they used to be. Not all people choose to grow up willingly. There is no good end.

So in the end, I will give Sonny Boy a good. You know, like how I placed it in my Summer 2021 Anime in Review post. Once again, how much a viewers look into, takes from, and enjoy the story of Sonny Boy depends on how much the viewer wants to. If the viewer sees nothing, I don’t think that there could be any more coaxing people to look into this show from a knowledgeable point of view. I also think that this should could be a bit more tightly written or given more of a larger direction with these characters to make each point stand out more then it could. Or would that have ruined the point of Sonny Boy? Thus we have this anime that is still a thematic soup and what is perceived is what one perceives and what one doesn’t perceive is well…not perceived. The obvious binary of this, but that is human logic.

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