3 Episode Rule is a series in which I watch the first three episodes of a new anime and decide whether to stick with it or drop it based on those three episodes alone.
Every time I do this series, there is always a “just one more” series I end up watching. Usually going into it totally blind and on a whim. Sonny Boy was that series for me this anime season. Jumping into it based on the look of the show and the single paragraph promise of “kids with superpowers” in the description.
Although there mere description of kids and superpowers really doesn’t begin to describe what kind of show. Taking stylistic queues from things like Lord of the Flies and Akira, amongst many other things, Sonny Boy is a series of high strangeness and nonsense logic where half the mystery of the series is just figuring out how the world works as much as it is escaping it.
At it’s core, this series is a mystery. As the show begins, we see a collection of 36 students, along with their school building have been transported into a black void. Many of them have developed superpowers, ranging from the mundane to the god-like.
Right off the bat, the tone of the series is one that contributes to the whole feel of the thing rubbing me the wrong way. Despite their situation, none of the kids seem to be perturbed by it. Most of them loiter about, mess with their phones (which still work) and have a generally apathetic vibe about them.
In fact, a sense of dead eyed apathy seems to follow around most of the kids as they find themselves in this situation. Those that don’t seem to have an almost wide eyed lunacy to them as they seem adamant to take charge and create some kind of new hierarchy amongst the 36 kids.
I get vibes from so many other sources when I’m watching this series. There is this old school, minimalist look to the character designs that really makes me think of the more iconic, body horror/phycological anime of the past when watching Sonny Boy. It kind of weirds me out more that despite the situation and the immense power some of the kids have gained, they have kept everything relatively under control.
They’re not outright attacking one another or really abusing this power. Maybe I’m overthinking and expecting something that is never actually going to be there in this show. I dunno, when I find myself thinking of Devilman Crybaby and Akira when seeing this show’s visual style, I guess I’m just convincing myself it’s going to be darker than it’s shown itself to be so far.
After the initial episode, the kids and the school break through the darkness and find themselves floating off the coast of a tropical island. Although they very quickly realise that they’re not back on Earth. A lot of the time spent in these first few episodes focuses on two major things: The kids discovering that the world they find themselves in has a series of “rules”.
Rules that defy the laws of logic and physics, but they must figure them out and adhere to them all the same or face strange repercussions. Things like stolen items bursting into blue flames shortly after being being taken, the items within the school resetting once every 24 hours to what they were before and the fact that the kids themselves seem pretty impervious to long term harm.
Additionally, this world seems to be just one of many. Although almost all of the others are incomprehensible hellscapes that reject their very presences as three dimensional beings. It’s Lovecraftian horror type stuff, although the tamest interpretation of it. So the kids spent their time trying to figuring the rules of these worlds out and how they can use their powers to get back home.
The second major thing the kids spend their time doing is dealing with typical teenage high school bullshit. Sticking to their cliques, bullying one another for not other reason than they can and just establishing their dominance over one another to soothe their own ego. And this isn’t Lord of the Flies, abuse of power type hierarchy, this is just typical high school crap. Seeming to prefer your typical phycological torture over using their literal God-like abilities to do so.
Verdict: I’m intrigued by the plot, but not so much the characters
I do think I am going to keep this one up. The setting and the ideas presented through this highly strange world in which the basic laws of physics don’t really apply is interesting to me. I am activyl interested in seeing where it goes, and if they end up giving an answer to the whole thing or just keep it constantly “unknowable” in true Lovecraftian style.
The characters themselves I don’t find as interesting. The art style makes it kind of difficult for me to tell some of the characters apart from one another at times. And our main lead is Shinji from Eva levels of mopey nihilist. Which just makes him annoying more than mysterious and/or sympathetic in my eyes.
I more want to see if the series will stick the landing and which aspect of its story it ends up focusing on more as it goes on. This really was a last minute pickup and as a result I don’t really have any big expectations from it. But sometimes its those kinds of shows that really surprise you.
I guess my feelings on this one are really going to delve into how dark and mature its themes end up being.