Insomniacs, never fear! J.C.Staff have finally answered all your woes by unleashing the slumbering behemoth that is Kimi to Boku. No longer will you lie awake at night, tossing and turning your way into the Land of Nod, when one episode of this li'l baby will transport you there immediately. Plot? No, there's nothing even approaching that level of excitement here. This is what you'd describe as the standard template for the slice of life genre, neatly interweaving the dullness of high school life with... well, that's it, really. When the dialogue reduces to the banality of what kind of juice each person is having, you suddenly uncover a new level of boredom hitherto unrealised by the human mind.
But what really makes this the perfect series to fall asleep to, is the fact that it rides its wave of boredom so innocently, so innocuously, that there is no rage at the characters being one-dimensional – or worse, Ouran High School Host Club clones – nor at the situations they become involved in. There's no screaming “but why do we care about this?!” because let's face it, there's nothing to compare it to. Highlights of the 13 episode series are... well, I suppose the one where they collect stickers from bread was mildly entertaining, though how it didn't end with an older woman inviting Yuuki back to her place, I'll never know. There's also the standard festival episode, just so that they can all dress up and watch fireworks. Which is pleasant.
Now, I have to admit to some sway of bias on my part; I have previously fallen asleep to another giant of the slice of life back catalogue – Ichigo Mashimaro – but even I could see that it at least attempted to instil a modicum of comedy to proceedings. In short, what J.C.Staff have completely failed to realise is that school life series are so overdone that you need to inject something new into them or risk being swept under the carpet. Having said that, I don't think I'd expend the effort required to grab a brush to even do that.
Sure, it's a sweet, somewhat ponderous look at high school life and friendship for a group of five teenagers, but where's the angst? Where are those silly little crushes on classmates that we all grow out of? Is this really the studio that brought us Takemoto's coming of age bike ride across Japan in Honey & Clover? How can anyone have made a series that even makes School Days look good?
Of course, it's by no means the worst series out there and the interplay between the characters is never wholly predictable, nor for that matter, out of character – but after more than four hours of keeping the Sandman at bay, all I'm left with is a sense of mild curiosity on whether a medically-induced coma would have been a better way to spend my time.
It's a high school. There's not really all that much you can do with it. True greats of the school animation sequence, Kyoto Animation, pushed the bounds of the school boundaries with Kanon (2006) and The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi, but the production staff on Kimi to Boku must not have been paying attention when those two were on. Locations range from the classroom to the roof to the cafeteria and sometimes even as far afield as a convenience store, so as you can see, a whole heap of variety there.
Elsewhere, the characters are drawn as adequately as you'd expect from dozing artists, though there are definitely some physics issues when it comes to things like bouncing balls, and every frame seems to either be zooming out slowly or panning across (even the opening sequence, oddly enough), which only serves to give a slight sensation of sea sickness.
The opening and ending really fit the show, in that they're both cookie cutter affairs that are inoffensively average. The voice actors have definitely got their bishounen voices down, with the token female even going as far as to perfect her tsundere squeals and harsh intonations. No single voice stands out among the crowd as being particularly great or particularly poor, which I suppose is all you could have asked of the cast, given the material they had to work with.
I have to admit that Kiichi Hotta (author of the manga source material) has some huge gonads to rip off Bisco Hatori's mighty titan of school-related drama, Ouran High School Host Club, to such an extent. Every character in Kimi to Boku is a watered-down version of a much better one from Ouran, but with the glaring omissions of foils for Haruhi and Tamaki, who actually make the show what it is. If the fact that Kimi to Boku has a set of inseparable twins with about as much sensitivity as cheese wire doesn't tip you off that they've just taken characters wholesale, the inclusion of a grumpy, no-nonsense bespectacled bore probably does.
As with the voice acting, no single character rises above the parapet of unremarkableness and merely remembering their names is an achievement in itself. It doesn't help that they don't even act like high school students, with affability being the name of the game. There's absolutely no banter about Shun's feminine features, Kaname's unrequited crush on his teacher and his childhood friend's older sister doesn't culminate in a misjudged affair, and the blonde annoyance whose name escapes me right now doesn't dissolve into a mess of jealousy over sheep girl. Mildly put, there is no conflict, no room to grow – and in a series that is solely about growing up, there's little wonder the cardboard cut-outs called characters don't go anywhere other than staring at flowers and trying new kinds of bread.
Shun, Kaname, and the twins Yuuki and Yuuta have known each other since they were young children and are now entering their second year at Homare High School. However, despite having been friends for many years, their life together isn’t always smooth sailing. And with the sarcastic and indifferent twins constantly teasing or irritating the serious Kaname, it's left up to the optimistic and kind Shun to keep the peace. But no matter their differences, the four boys stick together through everything, whether they’re simply reminiscing about their days in kindergarten, attempting to get Yuuki interested in a school club, or trying to stop the source of Shun's recent run of bad luck.