REVIEW: ‘Sonny Boy,’ Episode 3 – “The Cat Who Wore Sandals”

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Sonny Boy Episode 3

Some fairly big plot bombs were dropped in Sonny Boy Episode 3, which helps keep the show from coasting on just atmosphere and aesthetics. Studio MADHOUSE is behind this anime-original production, which is written and directed by Shingo Natsume (Space Dandy; ACCA: 13). When Nagara, his classmates and their entire school building are transported to another world, eerie things start happening. Some students develop mysterious powers, and others work behind the scenes to attain power as the class jumps from world to world to survive.

Sonny Boy Episode 3 continues the eerie “mystery of the week” format, this time instead of items suddenly catching fire, students are freezing in place and turning pitch black as though they are negative space. The negative space visual is key here, as this week focuses on the teen struggles of acceptance and belonging. Many of the students who freeze are ones who no one notices are gone. In a way, Sonny Boy has taken many of the social horrors of high school and found a way to physicalize them.

In general, the writing for the show is good, although sometimes Sonny Boy Episode 3 seems to bite off more than it can chew in 20 minutes. This episode plays with a range of big ideas: from social isolation, to conformity in capitalism. It’s a lot, and since a lot of Sonny Boy wants viewers to come to their own conclusions, sometimes characters toss out philosophical ideas and just leave the audience to sit with them instead of delve any further. It isn’t bad by any means, but this episode might have been packed a little full.

Mizuho, fabulously voiced by Aoi Yūki (So I’m a Spider, So What?), is the one who brings up many of these concepts. After becoming the target of the student council last week, now she has begun to stand up for herself. Since the rules of the world require an exchange of some form, a currency has been created so that people cannot take advantage of her Nyamazon ability. After being told to speak up by Nozomi and Nagara, she certainly is, and is also telling Nagara to as well. One of the stronger powered classmates, Asakaze, is seemingly threatened starting to try and shut Nagara down. After previous complaints of Nagara feeling too blank, it was nice to see these two characters push each other forward.

The animation and art is still mesmerizing. Sometimes jarring, as certain bizarre inventions made by the students are boldly outlined in white. The neon colors and white outline blatantly clash with the show’s primary color palette, which makes it clear when something not of This World (ex. the inventions) are created. From the direction and writing all the way to the art, Sonny Boy is certainly an anime that will turn the gears in your mind for a solid 20 minutes every week.

Sonny Boy Episode 3 improves on certain character issues with Nagara, however the writing bit off a few too many big ideas for one episode. Key plot elements are revealed which keep the anime interesting, right at the point where it needed to push past just relying on philosophy and atmosphere.

Sonny Boy is streaming now on Funimation, with new episodes premiering Thursdays.

 

Sonny Boy Episode 3 — "The Cat Who Wore Sandals"

TL;DR

Sonny Boy Episode 3 improves on certain character issues with Nagara, however the writing bit off a few too many big ideas for one episode. Key plot elements are revealed which keep the anime interesting, right at the point where it needed to push past just relying on philosophy and atmosphere.