RECAP: Sonny Boy Episode 1 and 2

Sonny Boy is the Summer 2021 anime original I was most looking forward to, and it certainly has been the most unique experience this season. Sonny Boy is about a high school class of 36 students that appears to drift into another dimension with the school, and there appears to be an endless void centered around the school. Strangely enough, some of these students have gained superpowers, which has created an interesting power dynamic. 

There are a ton of details to unpack, and I’m hoping to keep track of the important details and themes that may be missed every week. For this week, I’ve decided to cover the first two episodes together because it provides a more coherent framework for the rest of the series. Without further ado, let’s dive in!

Episode 1: “The Island at the Far End of Summer”

This episode focuses on the group dynamics within the school in the aftermath of the drift. It is assumed that most, if not all of the students, in the main building have developed a superpower, but the students that were in the secondary building adjacent to the main school building do not appear to have any superpowers at all. 

A school lost in another dimension.

To prevent the school from diving into chaos and to get a grip on their current situation, most of the students form a group chat on their smartphones. Interestingly, the group is titled “Drifting Classroom,” which refers to the horror manga of the same name by Kazuo Umezu that ran in Shonen Jump from 1972-1974 and follows a similar premise where a school is teleported to an unforgiving post-apocalyptic world. The events of Drifting Classroom go horribly wrong in a huge fight for survival, so I’m hoping things don’t turn so gruesome for our students in Sonny Boy

We follow Nagara and Nozomi, who seem to have no powers. Still, Nozomi appears to see things beyond the void surrounding the school, giving us a sign that she may be hiding a secret power. Meanwhile, Nagara truly does not seem to have any power. His constant apathy reflects the current state of the school, locked in a stasis surrounded by darkness, and this episode’s flashback insinuates that he was in this mental state prior to drifting into this new dimension. 

Nozomi and Nagara’s personalities are like day and night, and their dynamic might hold the key to this new dimension.

Our introduction with Nagara and Nozomi is framed like a typical shōnen cliche. Nagara is apathetic despite being trapped in a void dimension, while Nozomi seems cheerful and determined to forge her own path in the face of peer pressure. The manic pixie dream girl setup with the indifferent loner fills a familiar duo combination, and the shot composition illustrates their dynamic by contrasting them with both day and night visuals. 

Nozomi seems to see something within the void, and one possibility is that Nagara’s power might have something to do with the void which would complement his apathy. Her drive toward the light that she sees beyond the void is what ends up revealing the darkness surrounding the school, and, once Nagara finally takes action and chases after Nozomi, the void is lifted. This reveals that the school is surrounded by an entire ocean along with a nearby uninhabited island, further compounding the universe’s mysteries.

Power Struggles and Dynamics in the School:

Hoshi congratulates Cap on becoming the new leader, but does Hoshi have other plans?

The student council is composed of Hoshi, the mysterious master of persuasion; Cap, the dimwitted but highly respected baseball captain; and Pony, the reserved student council president. The trio establishes the need to create order within the school, but most of the decision making is spurred by Hoshi. Hoshi himself suggests that Cap be the leader and is able to get the other students to go with the flow and elect Cap. Hoshi’s power involves invoking visions, which can inspire a great amount of fear in the students through his rhetoric. His motives remain unclear, but one thing is clear: Hoshi is not to be trusted.

Through the student council’s coerced suggestions, the students establish a set number of rules within the school and Cap, the newly voted leader, seems to have the power to enforce the rules with the help of his authoritative “Batsu!”

BATSU!

This seems to be a check on the students with the most unruly superpowers such as Asakase’s pulsing energy and godlike flight, but it fails to address the dynamic of authority being derived from the will of the students itself. Despite the fact that Cap is the leader, he finds himself subjected to the rules of the school as well. 

It turns out that any student has the ability to enforce the rules established in the school, and Hoshi conveniently keeps this detail hidden from the other students. He seems to be testing the limits of these absolute rules established in this world but does not want to be at risk, which is why he pushed for Cap to be the de jure leader in the first place.


Episode 2: “Aliens”

Upon discovering that the school was surrounded by an ocean with a nearby island, we are shown that much time has passed. The students have become acquainted with the newfound island, and daily life seems to be more established. They’ve survived for over a month, and it turns out that the world takes care of their most basic needs. The students’ wounds heal, but they still need to eat and sleep. While it seems that they’re on a clock to survive, both the school and the island both have a “reset” period where any items broken or used are magically fixed and returned to their original locations. These periods do not seem to be aligned between the school and the island, and the absolute rules are completely different, so the school and island are treated as separate “worlds.”

All the supplies burnt to ashes save for the legendary resilient GameBoy.

On the island, items begin to spontaneously combust, and they all seem to be items created by Mizuho, a reserved grumpy girl whose power can generate anything using Nyamazon (including the standard 3-day shipping). She is able to use Nyamazon to generate items such as infinite cup ramen, manga, and even her very own Disney castle, complete with furnishings for her and her three cats. She mostly keeps to herself for some reason, but it seems one of her cats, Tora, has gone missing.

Mizuho has already been an outcast in her group due to potentially seedy rumors regarding a teacher prior to the drift. The circumstances are currently unknown, but there seems to be heavy implications, possibly a student-teacher relationship? In a later scene, Mizuho is wearing the same ring that the teacher was wearing during her flashback. 

Many questions here.

This isolation prevents Mizuho from defending herself, and she created those items with her power, the students target and blame for the fires because they assume she can control the combustion. After Nozomi and Nagara find and rescue Tora to Mizuho, they help her open up to the rest of the group that she wasn’t at fault for the fires — except for the part where she tried to burn down the island by summoning money everywhere. Luckily, the island repaired itself or else that would have been difficult to forgive. I have one small thought regarding Mizuho’s use of money. In the first episode, there is a detail mentioned about a locker in the school that was found to have a large sum of money. This most likely was originally there when the school was transported. Could these be related to Mizuho’s past?

Nonetheless, the cause of the burning was not any of the students but actually a rule for the island. The rule is simple: any material items must be exchanged in a transaction. If not, then the item will ignite. If the item is given for free, then this rule should still be satisfied since the “seller” agreed to the price. Interestingly enough, to start a flow of goods on the island, Rajdhani, the video game-loving tech wizard, comes up with a digital solution: Hyō-Ryū-Coin, a digital currency to facilitate these trades. The name for the coin is derived from the kanji for leopard (Hyō 豹) and dragon (Ryū 龍), but when combined as Hyōryū, the word means “Drifting,” another reference to The Drifting Classroom manga. 

The cryptocurrency that will revolutionize the world!

Lastly, we finally have confirmation from Nozomi that her power, Compass, allows her to see a beacon that could hold the key to escaping from this dimension. There are a multitude of worlds that could be explored, but we still do not know the connections or the rules between the worlds, which is a mystery for another day!


Sonny Boy is currently available for streaming on Funimation.

Nico is part writer, part podcaster, and part Italian. When he is not working for Anime Trending, he is hard at work caring for his cats Solo and Doppio and making sure they grow up with only the most refined tastes in anime such as works directed by Masaaki Yuasa and Gen Urobuchi. When he's not watching anime, he is busy playing competitive card games and RPG's he never will have time to complete.
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