Convenience Store Boy Friends
by Paul Jensen,
It sounds like Funimation and Crunchyroll are wrapping up their streaming partnership, so it might be time for some last-minute marathons if you only subscribe to one or the other. I'm just hoping this doesn't make life more complicated for next season's Preview Guide. Welcome to Shelf Life.
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Convenience Store Boy Friends
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Shelf Life Reviews
You know those lukewarm convenience store hot dogs that no one ever seems to buy? I'm pretty sure I watched their anime equivalent for this week's review.
Convenience Story Boy Friends throws a lot of characters at the audience in its first episode, but the vast majority of the story focuses on four core protagonists. Haruki and Towa are best buddies with contrasting personalities: Haruki is the straight-laced good guy who tends to overthink things, while Towa is more of a wild dude who rarely thinks at all. Haruki is harboring a longtime crush on the kind but clumsy Miharu, but he's never gotten around to telling her how he feels. On the other hand, while Towa flirts with hardworking class rep Mami on a regular basis, all he's managed to do so far is make her angry. Over the course of a year of high school, the four of them navigate teenage life and romance while making frequent visits to their local convenience store.
This show's biggest problem comes up early and sticks around for just about the whole series. Simply put, none of the four main characters are interesting. Haruki has the emotional range of a tree stump, while Towa swings predictably between taking nothing seriously and taking everything too seriously. Miharu is vaguely pleasant but incredibly bland for most of the story, and Mami exists in a state of perpetual stress and exasperation. Based on that, you can probably guess at what their respective romances are like: Haruki and Miharu test the audience's patience as they move forward at a glacial pace, while Towa and Mami fight constantly and rarely agree on anything. Neither dynamic is particularly fresh or well-presented, and the drama produced by all this romance is pretty weak. It's all stale and harmless in a way that makes you wonder what the point of it all is.
But wait, what about all those other kids who factor prominently into the opening credit sequence? You'd think they'd at least be good for a subplot or two, but Convenience Store Boy Friends never really comes up with a worthwhile use for its supporting cast. There's a single, episodic storyline dedicated to the student council president and the girl who acts like his sister even though she isn't, but that's about it. The other characters are lucky to get a few lines of dialogue here and there, and their roles in the story are mostly limited to cheering the two main couples on. As for the convenience store itself, it finds a strange middle ground where its inclusion feels like a forced gimmick but doesn't actually yield anything noteworthy. For the most part, it just provides a location for conversations between characters, and the two employees do little more than announce what month it is at the start of each episode.
On the upside, the story does finally build up a little momentum in the last few episodes. Mami deals with pressure from her family to focus exclusively on her schoolwork, Towa sorts out his conflicted feelings about his mother's remarriage, and Haruki and Miharu fret over Miharu's upcoming heart surgery. These story arcs give the series more of a sense of direction, but even the more dramatic elements aren't all that compelling. I place a good portion of the blame on the writing, which is stiff and clumsy to the point where the show sometimes feels like an educational video on conflict resolution instead of a piece of entertainment. Convenience Store Boy Friends also has an odd habit of keeping potentially significant characters off-screen; we never actually meet Mami's pushy family or Towa's vaguely defined stepfather, almost as if the script is going out of its way to avoid introducing any antagonists. Since we never actually see or hear these people, it's impossible to know if the main characters are facing genuine crises or if they're just being melodramatic about their problems.
The production values here are consistently below average apart from some competent artwork in a picture book that factors heavily into Haruki and Miharu's backstory. It does have enough handsome male characters to justify the title, but don't expect much in the way of eye candy. Funimation's English dub is generally fine, but it can't really do much to elevate the dull source material. This release takes the bare-bones approach to extras, with just some textless songs and trailers on the discs.
Convenience Store Boy Friends does manage to elevate itself up into “boring but watchable” territory by the end, but it's just not worth sitting through the mind-numbingly dull first half to get there. I'm also not certain who this series is even aimed at; it's not compelling enough to succeed as a teenage drama, and yet it's not quite laid-back enough to please the slice of life crowd. In a medium that tends to go after single, narrow demographics, something as unfocused as Convenience Store Boy Friends seems unlikely to find much of an audience. Whatever you're looking for, this show probably isn't your best option.
That wraps up the review section for this week. Thanks for reading!
This week's shelves are from Sarah:
"So there hasn't been a shelf obsessed in a while so I decided to send mine in! Although this isn't all my collection this is a good chunck! I have been collecting for about 10 years. My favorite anime is Code Geass and FullMetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. I am really happy I got the Code Geass Limited Edition release from Bandai when it was still in print. I think that's probably the best limited edition set in my collection. For manga I am most proud of having all of From Far Away, my favorite anime (although I didn't put a photo of it in here). I really like to collect out of print manga as I get a thrill out of trying to find a decent price, although for Rave Master that might back fire on me as most of the prices listed for the few I am missing are really pricey. I hope that my collection continues to grow and that I can resubmit my collection as soon as I have a better display for them. Also the kitty in the picture is named Eerie, she snuck in the photo."
Shelf Obsessed pictures with photobombing pets are always my favorites. Thanks for sharing, and best of luck tracking down those last few volumes!
If you'd like to show off your own collection, send your photos to [email protected]!
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