Sonny Boy Episode 12 [Final Impression]

Ok. Well. Umm. I have a lot of thoughts about this last episode. I was definitely not expecting the majority of it to take place in the real world.

But before I recap the episode and share my jumbled thoughts, a word of caution: if you have epilepsy or are sensitive to flashing lights or strobing effects/images, please watch this episode with caution. I don’t have epilepsy and even I was struggling to watch the sequence of Nagara and Mizuho running through space-time to be very difficult without looking away. Please use your own discretion if you watch the episode after reading this.

 Alrighty! Where to start??

As I mentioned, most of this episode takes place in the present. Nagara and Mizuho are successful in traveling to space-time and using Nozomi’s compass (and Asakaze’s) to find their way back to their home world. Nothing has changed while they were gone. In this last episode Nagara looks a little older, so maybe those two years spent drifting suddenly caught up to him on a physical level once he returned home? Or he hit a brief growth spurt over the summer before the new school year started? Mizuho doesn’t look too different though.

The episode is initially told from Nagara’s perspective before it switches to Mizuho’s for a short sequence, then flips back to Nagara again.

With Mizuho and Nagara having returned home, their lives continues on as normal. Summer has ended and Nagara and Mizuho are now all high school students. Wow that feels so long ago.. /ahem  Nagara has picked up a job and lives on his own. Mizuho is back to being quiet and distant. Nozomi is alive BUT (and I wanted to throw my screen out the window here) she’s involved with Asakaze!

Nozomi being alive poses an interesting question: is she the same Nozomi that Nagara and Mizuho knew before the school went adrift? Is the Asakaze Nagara sees with Nozomi the same Asakaze who willingly chose to remain adrift in space-time? Does every person who stayed in space-time gain a separate counterpart in the real world and there are now technically two of each of those people? Did the Asakaze left in space-time suddenly snap back to the real-world and gain a new personality and temperament based on the roll of some theoretical dice? I DON’T UNDERSTAND.  /bangs head against wall

I honestly found this episode a bit frustrating. While it didn’t play out the way I anticipated, and that’s ok, I guess I was just expecting more. I’ll explain this a bit more down below.

The end game message of “our lives are just beginning, what lies ahead will take just a little bit longer” was bittersweet. After two years with everyone stranded in space-time, life has reset and all the students now have a second chance to shape their lives as they wish. Everyone except Mizuho and Nagara has forgotten their time together and while the present may not be what everyone had hoped for (ie Nozomi being attached to Asakaze in some capacity and not remembering Nagara), there is still plenty of time to make their dreams happen. It’s a sci-fi twist on a coming of age story and I wasn’t expecting that at all.

What things did I enjoy about this finale? I am glad that both Nagara and Mizuho remembered the drifting so they have each other as companionship if they ever want to discuss those “missing” two years of their lives. We see Yamabiko and Kodama, so they came back too. I’m glad there was a sequence showing how Nagara and Mizuho actually got home, trippy as it was.

Things I’m disappointed about include that we didn’t get to see (or maybe I just missed) characters like Hoshi, Rajdhani, and Pony back in the real world. Are they still adrift out in space-time or did they snap back to the real world too once Nagara and Mizuho made it back? Also The Voice only had a couple of lines in this last episode when he weakly attempted to persuade Mizuho and Nagara from returning home, but they punched through him like a wet paper bag so really, what was the point of having him appear in the last episode at all?



Final Impression

I had such high hopes for Sonny Boy at the beginning of the season. It was a sci-fi, there were supernatural components, it was in a unique animation style (rotoscoping apparently), and the plot was unlike anything else I’d watched before. Technically I guess it was an isekai. I was so psyched for it!

I can say with confidence that I enjoyed the first half of the season a lot. I looked forward to watching Sonny Boy each week. However after the halfway point, I started having some issues with how the show was presented. Every week for the back half of the season, I felt my interest in Sonny Boy dropping little by little, my personal score for it dropping lower and lower…   /sigh  Why was this?

My first major issue was that the episodes started to become “scattered” or “achronological,” and that’s something I admittedly struggle with. Some viewers may be fine with having flashbacks dropped into the episode seemingly randomly or having time/location skips without much context, but for me that made Sonny Boy more difficult to watch. I like not knowing on the condition that I also still feel like I can put the puzzle pieces together. After Sonny Boy‘s halfway point I started feeling less and less like I could do that.

I wish that Sonny Boy had been a two-cour show instead of just one. Perhaps with the extra episodes then more of the plot, universe mechanics, and other details could have been left in to help explain the drifting better. There also would have been more room to expand on plot lines like Asakaze being recruited to kill War, more of who War was, and so on.

Second was the trend of new characters being introduced and then we barely had time to get to know them before they’d leave to do their own thing. I thought Ms. Aki was going to be some kind of villain but instead she just manipulated Asakaze with her large chest and stole some students in a school bus to fly them around space-time. War was introduced and we learned a few things about him but after the one episode he shared with Yamabiko we didn’t really see him. We don’t really learn what happens to War either (unless that dead-faced guy who looked like he was perpetually falling in episode ten was him, in which case Asakaze used his powers to just wipe him out of existence….?). And what was up with The Voice/school principal? I feel like we barely saw him and he didn’t have much of a role, especially since he was supposed to be the mastermind behind the school drifting in the first place.

Speaking of Ms. Aki, I want to have some words with Sonny Boy about pacing and having several subplots end in a bullshit anticlimactic fashion. For example, Ms. Aki arrives, tries to manipulate Asakaze for several episodes, then takes some students in a flying bus and leaves. Ms. Aki also pits Asakaze against Nagara for several episodes but nothing ever really comes of that either. I mean, in this final episode Asakaze just says that Ms. Aki and the students with her are gone. There was also the instance of Ms. Aki and The Voice telling Asakaze to go kill War and if Asakaze actually succeeded, it was like with the wiping of a board that War disappeared. Nothing big or special, hell not even any dialogue saying, “Ok War is dead, let’s go back to the island.” Nagara and Asakaze never have it out with each other too, despite me feeling like that’s what Sonny Boy might have been building up to earlier in the season. All that tension between those two guys just vanished like it was never there at all.

ALSO. While it’s a completely legitimate turn of events because real life can be a bitch sometimes and doesn’t go according to plan, Nozomi being with Asakaze at the very end pisses me off. Urrgggh Nikolita want smash things! (ノಠ益ಠ)ノ彡┻━┻     Nagara allowed Nozomi inside his defenses and became her friend, and I suspect he started to fall for her. Then she died, he grieved… and yet at the end of everything, Asakaze gets the girl after all. He spent the entire season being a whiny baby, a manipulated brat, and Sonny Boy ends with Asakaze getting the girl who opened Nagara’s eyes to what he was missing out on in life. I hope Nagara chases after Nozomi.

Side note about the animation. As already mentioned, Sonny Boy was done using rotoscoping (according to AniList), but I wanted to quickly add my appreciation for the show’s use of CGI. The CGI was mostly used for the scenes in space-time but was also used for some other occasional, minor uses like Asakaze using his power. I had no issues with how any of the CGI was used and am glad to see it used alongside the rotoscoping; it makes for an interesting combination and I feel like Madhouse did a fantasic job with it. I’m already considered an outlier in some anime communities because I have no major issues with the CGI used in the Berserk reboot (aside from that it was clunky), so maybe my opinion that rotoscoping and CGI being used together isn’t terrible will be considered odd too. Did anyone else enjoy Sonny Boy’s animation style besides me?

All in all I find Sonny Boy a mixed bag. It has some delicious sweets, some sour drops, but too many of the candies stick together in unpleasant ways for me to enjoy the show more than I did.

 

Would I Recommend This Anime to Others?: I’ll likely recommend it with a caveat similar to what I tell people when I suggest they watch FLCL, which is that they should be prepared for something completely whacked out that doesn’t make a lot of sense, but is still a good watch. The music’s alright, the ending theme’s decent, the animation is unique, and the plot is at least half-baked. Unfortunately I feel like the lack of coherency and continuity in the back half of the series hurts Sonny Boy and prevents me from ranking it higher on a to-watch list.

Final Score: 7.5/10

 

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