By Sullivan Wallace
Sanrio Boys is another in a long line of anime based on mobile games about objects or ideas personified by attractive young men. It’s easy to understand who this genre appeals to, mainly otome and fujoshi (and fudanshi) fans.
Sanrio Boys, helmed by Studio Pierrot, is different in that the boys all represent or cling to licensed Sanrio characters. Sanrio, it seems, has been treating this as a new product line to cash in on the ikemen craze, one only has to look at the success of Touken Ranbu to see why. The Sanrio Boys themselves already spun off from their original mobile game into a manga, and now the anime follows suit.
Does that mean that the anime is a cash-grab? Yes and no. Sanrio characters feature prominently in the first episode, and their value to the characters will tempt you into adding a Pompompurin or My Melody to your Amazon Wishlist. But perhaps inadvertently, it’s a little more than that. Our main character Kouta was given a plush Pompompurin by his grandmother that gets him teased for being “girly” on the playground. We are teased that by the end, all of the boys will embrace their love of Sanrio with their masculinity firmly intact.
And that’s not to say such a message isn’t important or valuable, but the story and marketing so far seems to push a healthy distance between the twee-ness of the Sanrio mascots and the “normalcy” of the boys. This isn’t handled with swaggering or bravado, but a tepid reinforcement that, yes, our heroes are young, ordinary, healthy kids who just happen to like cute things. Having not played the mobile game or read the manga, I’m curious to see how this unfolds.
But, this doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the first episode of Sanrio Boys, on the contrary, I was completely charmed by it. The character designs are appealing, if not wildly creative. You have your plain Yamada Taro main character, the effeminate (possibly sporting winged eyeliner) pretty boy skirt chaser, the tanned, toned athlete (who anyone with taste would ship with the aforementioned pretty boy), the pale, tough-headed too-pure baby brother of the group, and the tall, masculine student body president. Characters that have existed since the dawn of the male harem anime.
But, somehow it sucks you in. Kouta’s relationship with his grandma brought a tear to my eye, and the cuteness of Sanrio still works after all these years.
If you’re looking for another series about attractive boys, this one isn’t a bad one to add to your collection.
Sanrio Boys is streaming on Crunchyroll and VRV on Saturdays.
Sully can be reached on Twitter @calva_kun