The Fall 2019 Anime Preview Guide
Outburst Dreamer Boys
by Lynzee Loveridge,
How would you rate episode 1 of
Outburst Dreamer Boys ?
What is this?
New transfer student Mizuki Hijiri is only hoping for a simple, ordinary high school life, with normal friends and normal club activities. Unfortunately, what she gets instead is the Hero Club - a collection of boys who all suffer from various forms of adolescent delusion, be it obsession with 2D characters, a little too much love for superheroes, or an unshaking conviction that they are a reincarnated half devil/half angel. Between them, these deluded boys are making Mizuki's high school life far more eventful than she might have hoped - but given the strange events surrounding her, there's a fair chance at least one of these fantasies might actually be real!
How was the first episode?
Though it's been localized as the absurd and no-less-confusing Outburst Dreamer Boys, this show's gimmick is likely familiar to many of you by another term: “chūnibyō.” A persistent nemesis of translators, “chūnibyō” refers to the tendency by adolescents to play-act heroic or fantastical identities, whether in the form of a thrice-cursed devil or a heroic sentai ranger. In Outburst Dreamer Boys premiere, we're introduced to a whole club's worth of uniquely delusional high school boys, along with our put-upon heroine, Mizuki Hijiri.
Outburst Dreamer Boys' first episode offers a fine example of a genre I'm unfortunately not particularly fond of: the hyper-energetic, exaggerated-reaction comedy. Mizuki spends most of this episode suffering from the attention of her new school's various chūnibyō champions, from the sentai-obsessed Yamato Noda to the 2D-girl-infatuated Tomoki Takashima. Though a premise like this could easily get repetitive quickly, I was actually impressed with how well this episode managed to balance its title characters' gimmicks with their underlying personalities, making them come off more as actually quirky people than vehicles for their delusions. The jokes will all likely feel familiar if you've seen any other shows with chūnibyō characters, but I appreciated how Mizuki's presence gave the episode a sense of forward momentum, and even a potential mystery hook.
In visual terms, Outburst Dreamer Boys feels a little unbalanced. The show's character designs and backgrounds are nothing to write home about, and not all scenes are fluidly animated, but this episode is blessed by a few specific cuts that felt far more charming and energetic than the norm. Sequences like the one of Yamato Noda attempting to knock over a falling goalpost embodied the strengths of animation as a vehicle for comedy, giving this show a visual appeal beyond the inherent silliness of its premise.
All in all, Outburst Dreamer Boys felt mostly “fine” to me. It lacks the consistent visual energy and fast-paced comedy of something like Cautious Hero, but its cast is likable enough, and it certainly fulfills the promise of its premise. If you're a chūnibyō enthusiast or looking for comedies specifically, it's probably worth a try.
At first glance this series follows the most tried-and-true of all possible paths for a reverse harem series: immediately surround a seemingly-ordinary female newcomer with a group of guys that includes an energetic innocent, a serious and formal type, a pure pretty boy, and a standoffish rascal. However, its first episode offers two big twists on the base concept which could actually make this series watchable despite offering bottom half-tier technical merits compared to series airing so far this season.
The first of those twists is that each of the boys has some sort of major geekish quirk. The serious type is actually a chūnibyō edgelord, the energetic type imagines the group as a sentai team, and the pretty boy is actually obsessed with 2D rather than 3D girls. (The fourth one's quirk isn't clear at this point, though he is shown sporting a cat's tail and wearing a hoodie which would make him look like he has cat ears if he pulled the hood up.) They are still an effective reverse harem despite their quirks, but they definitely aren't the normal fare that a girl would look for. The other big twist, as faintly hinted at early on and more strongly suggested near the end of the episode, is that the boys' chūnibyō antics might not be entirely fantasy after all. Even if the objects are innocuous ones– two soccer balls, a shuttlecock, and (most oddly) a stretchy chicken – Mijiri having that many objects flying directly at her on her first days is quite suspicious, she is having some kind of anticipatory flashes, and she did seem remarkably capable of dodging that last ball on her own. Let's not forget the basketball stand falling over and narrowing missing her, either.
Of course, these could also be just red herrings and the things going on here are just perfectly ordinary, in which case that means that Mijiri is already starting to get caught up in their delusions. I almost think that this series might be more interesting if it continues to play coy on that. The other factor it has working in its favor is Mijiri's great facial expressions; Cautious Hero's Ristarte could actually have some competition in that regard this season. Otherwise the technical merits here are very ordinary, and that might even be putting it nicely.
We'll need another episode or two to see if this one has the spark to amount to something, but at least the possibility is there.
The moment I knew I loved the first episode of Outburst Dreamer Boys wasn't the admittedly hilarious sight gag of Yamato Noda folding a staggering number of paper airplanes at his desk, but what came after. Yamato and his friends are the most dorky and awkward of nerdboys who have taken their obsession with Super Sentai, dark magick, and playing gacha games on their phones to its most illogical conclusion by heading up their school's very own Hero Club, where they harness the power of adolescent delusion to solve everyday problems such as snagging missing tea kettles from a nearby stream or making sure their classmates don't get thwacked in the head by stray-flying sporting equipment. Their newest and most unwilling focus of attention is the new girl in class, Muziki, who just wants to stay out of the way of the weirdos and make some normal friends.
Yamato is nothing if not stalwart, though, and once he learns that Mizuki is in need of some friends, that means the Hero Club is on the case, whether she likes it or not. So off he goes, folding airplanes like they're going out of style and tossing them into the air by the hundreds, and it isn't until a mortified Mizuki reads what's on one of them that she realizes that every single plane is a hand-crafted advertisement of her open availability as the local friendless transfer student that only knows the most embarrassing dweebs in school. It's the kind of perfectly cringe-inducing, earnest display of childish heroism that may as well be a honed razor labeled “Feelings” being driven right into my cold, jaded heart.
More than its genuinely amusing jokes and surprisingly spritely animation, Outburst Dreamer Boys exhibits a specific vision of ridiculous play that speaks to me so personally that I can't help but adore it. Though it may shock all of those readers who assume that I must have always been a debonair and exceedingly popular adult man who has never once embarrassed himself over the goofy Japanese cartoons he loves so much, I have a confession to make: I was that weird kid who got way too into playing superheroes at recess. While the other kids gawked and laughed, I insisted my best friends join me and master their Dragon Ball Z, Final Fantasy, and Power Rangers moves, all so we could do battle with the demons that plagued our school playground. Before you ask: Yes, we did shout out the names of all our attacks very loudly, and we fell down quite a lot trying to replicate all of the moves. I may or may not have also frosted the tips of my jet-black hair in an attempt to look a little more like a Super Saiyan.
I often find it very difficult to actually engage in the whimsical nostalgia a lot of anime seek to instill in their viewers, probably because I spend most of my time teaching teenagers, and I struggle to remove the haze of bemusement that comes with so many hours of observing adolescent awkwardness from the vantage point of a Serious Adult Person™. Outburst Dreamer Boys brought me back, though, and its simple story of a not-quite-normal girl getting roped into the nonsense adventures of some proudly uncool geek boys worked like a charm for me. It's unpretentious, and funny, and sweet, and you can bet any number of badass Super Sentai pencil cases that it has earned a comfortable spot at the top of my autumn watchlist.
If there's one thing you can say about Outburst Dreamer Boys, it's that it's aggressively silly. I actually like that about it – it has zero pretensions to be anything other than what it is, and there's always space for a goofy comedy in my books. It may have worked better in short form, because there's a lot to take in here and it all gets thrown in your face rapidly, but it appears to have no goals in life but to entertain its viewers, and there's really something to be said for that.
Of course, it's also easy to drown in second-hand embarrassment or sympathy for female lead Mizuki. The poor girl has no sooner transferred to a new school where she hopes to just seamless blend in than she is targeted by the class (school?) weirdo, Noda, who has delusions of sentai hero grandeur. The moment he sees a mysterious (to his mind) transfer student wearing an eyepatch, he immediately decides that she's the missing Pink Ranger he's been longing for and becomes convinced that her eye covering is because of the powers residing within her eye. Naturally the poor girl just has an eye infection, and even worse, she gets caught up in Noda's insistence, despite her attempts to resist, and it's not hard to see that her hopes of normalcy are on their way out the window. That's a bit hard to stomach, especially if you remember being a teenager who just really doesn't want to be noticed; the saving grace is that Mizuki isn't terribly shy or anxious, because that would have added an unbearable aspect to the story.
That doesn't make her watching the antics of the guys any less mortifying for her, all the more so when they begin involving her, thanks to some really bad advice from the one girl willing to approach her, class rep Nanako. But the guys themselves don't feel ostracized or upset by the fact that others may perceive them as weirdos, and that saves this episode in a way. Teenagers are still kids, and there's nothing wrong with them playing imagination games, even if their peers aren't engaging in them, so that the Hero Club is just genuinely having fun is nice. The pacing of the episode is definitely a bit much, and it can feel very overwhelming, but it does a good job at showing how Mizuki could easily be pulled into their immersive game. This could be a nice brain-break this fall, a silly show that doesn't require any thought to enjoy. It's a little overwhelming, but it also looks like it could be fun.
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