Sonny Boy hit our screens earlier this year to initial confusion. The anime was unlike anything we had seen before with jarring set pieces, a unique art style, and a thoroughly engaging yet confusing story. Now that the show has concluded, we felt it time to take a look back and see just what makes it so special!
Straight out of the gate, we knew Sonny Boy was going to be a ride when the first episode does virtually NOTHING to explain the narrative of the story. This isn't a bad thing and it works incredibly well for a mysterious anime like Sonny Boy. After a group of students find themselves marooned in their school lacking any sort of parental or adult supervision, they struggle to understand the strange happenings around them.
Their school has been dropped into a void of nothingness and several students have developed strange powers. As tensions rise, the students eventually decide it would be best to attempt to return to their own world. And, so, they begin working together, traveling to different "worlds" and piecing together clues that will, hopefully, lead them on the right path back home.
Sonny Boy's Art Direction
Before we dive deep into the Sonny Boy rabbit hole, let's take a moment to admire the unique art style at play. Before being introduced to any characters or any meaningful plot developments, the first thing most viewers will notice is the art direction. The characters themselves are very minimalist which juxtaposes the often sprawling worlds teeming with detail. If the idea was for Sonny Boy to make these characters feel like strangers in this new world then it executes this idea flawlessly through the art style.
Not only this but settings also lend themselves to the avant-garde absurdity of the anime. With vending machines appearing on the beach or luxury couches popping up in the woods, there is never a dull moment to be had. With so much to see, our eyes were positively glued to the screen!
Sonny Boy's Compelling Narrative
It's been said on many occasions that Sonny Boy is a lot like Lord of the Flies. In a sense, this is true. The anime deals with a group of stranded teenagers without any kind of adult supervision or law enforcement. This results in the group having to dictate their own rules, decide who should be in charge of what, and, if necessary, exact punishment on those who do not adhere to the rules.
However, Sonny Boy deviates off this beaten path as the story progresses, transforming into several character studies for its ensemble cast. While the majority of the student body wanted to return to their home at the start of the series, these proceed to drop off *ahem* like flies until only Mizuho and Nagaha remain. Without spoiling too much of the final episode, the reveal that Sonny Boy had been building towards over the course of its run does a good job of explaining most of the questions we had going in and is a satisfying conclusion for these characters. Speaking of which…
Sonny Boy's Cast
You couldn't have a Lord of the Flies homage without centering the story around a group of interesting characters. Sonny Boy does not disappoint in this regard as we meet a collection of unique individuals along the way. Nagara is our protagonist and relatively unbothered by the things happening around him. Partnered with him we have both Mizuho, a brash but confident young girl, and Nozomi, who is both very energetic and rather strange. Supporting characters include Rajdhani; the intelligence of the group, Hoshi; a deceptive manipulator, and Cap; a tough brute who abides by the rules no matter what.
As mentioned previously, this cast drops off over the course of the show but Sonny Boy is at its best when forcing these very different characters to interact with one another. In a world where no one is inherently superior to anyone else, a simple difference of opinion can be the difference between life and death. Sonny Boy has created an excellent cast and one that is perfectly capable of carrying such a heavy story.
Sonny Boy is not for everyone. The confusing premise and slow build-up may turn some people away. However, for those who stick around and see the show out to the bitter end, you will be rewarded with a thoroughly entertaining story and an experience unlike any other. Because, at the end of the day, Sonny Boy is more of an experience than an anime. Its unique conceptual choices make it an anime that, even if you don't understand exactly what is happening, can be enjoyed for the character interactions on screen and the beautiful art direction. Be sure to give Sonny Boy a try and come back to tell us what you thought!