REVIEW: ‘Sonny Boy,’ Episode 8 – “Laughing Dog”

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Sonny Boy Episode 8

This week, Sonny Boy Episode 8 dives deep into another character, but not one we’ve known for long: 500-year-old talking dog Yamabiko. The original anime is written and directed by Shingo Natsume, and produced by MADHOUSE. The story follows teenager Nagara and his classmates when their school is suddenly teleported to what seems to be a different dimension. As they discover superpowers and the different rules of “This World” they learn about each other and if they can ever return home.

Sonny Boy Episode 8 once again is slower-paced, which works in its favor. It starts with a relatively simple question from Mizuho: How did Yamabiko turn into a dog? Originally another classmate castaway, he wandered different worlds for 5000 years in solitude, not wanting to form connections with others. This changes when he stumbles upon a group of castaways and meets a girl with godlike powers named Kodama. Initially feeling her kindness is an act, he shuns her, but her determination to form a connection sways him, and he becomes one of her most loyal followers.

Soon, a plague hits the group, slowly eating away at the small population. It is here that Sonny Boy Episode 8 experiments a bit with body horror. The disease manifests as blood-red tumors that grow all over the students’ bodies. Eventually they turn into geode-like rocks on the ground. Even Kodama’s lips dry and turn blue, her eyes bloodshot and face misshapen as the tumors overtake her. Those who once believed her to be their savior slowly turn on her, and Yamabiko witnesses it all. His loyalty to Kodama fuels his transformation.  The body horror isn’t gory but certainly unsettling to look at, giving the episode an unsettling chill the entire time.

All of this is interspersed with Nagara, Mizuho, and Yamabiko going on a long trek. They camp, climb mountains, and navigate a kaleidoscope-like world. It feels like the surreal detail the anime had in its early episodes, where the concept of time-itself was disorienting. Once again, some explanations given create more confusion but returning to more self-contained stories the last two weeks have helped make it less of a slog. Yamabiko wouldn’t be my first choice for a character I’d like more insight on: I think there is still a lot more unexplored with Nozomi and Mizuho. However, at least now he isn’t just a completely unexplained existence in the anime.

Finally, Sonny Boy Episode 8 is rewarding in a few smaller details. Yamabiko’s sudden appearance felt random (and was); however, the show is finally addressing it. While it doesn’t entirely make up for the earlier jarring-ness in the writing, the inclusion of a few visual details at least gives viewers the satisfaction of putting a few puzzle pieces together in this jigsaw of an anime.

Sonny Boy Episode 8 provides a self-contained storyline that still connects to the foundations laid down early on in the anime. Yamabiko feels like an actual presence in the plot now, instead of a random addition. Body horror visuals elevate the tension for viewers, even when there may be less emotional attachment to the characters.

Sonny Boy is streaming now on Funimation.


Sonny Boy Episode 8
  • 7/10
    Rating - 7/10
7/10

TL;DR

Sonny Boy Episode 8 provides a self-contained storyline that still connects to the foundations laid down early on in the anime. Yamabiko feels like an actual presence in the plot now, instead of a random addition. Body horror visuals elevate the tension for viewers, even when there may be less emotional attachment to the characters.