「跳ぶ教室」 (Tobu kyoushitsu)
It was a big week for Natsume Shingo fans. He was announced as the director of Science Saru’s Yojohan Time Machine Blues, an adaptation of Morimi Tomohiko’s Tatami Galaxy spinoff novel. It’s interesting to see Natsume step into this role – it’s not a stretch to find stylistic overlap with Yuasa Masaaki – though one hopes this doesn’t signal the end of his tenure at Madhouse. He was really the last of the big names at that venerable studio and I’d hate to see that relationship come to an end.
Sonny Boy continues to be one of Natsume’s most cryptic works, reminding me more of Kon than Yuasa but more than anything of the 90’s sci-fi anime whose cloth it’s clearly cut from. Frankly I find watching this series a bit exhausting – it requires to much patience and such careful consideration that there just isn’t a moment to breathe. I rarely find any but the most manic action series exhausting, because you can watch them with about half your brain in standby mode. With Sonny Boy, if you’re not fully engaged at all times there’s just not much point.
If you imagine what would have happened in Lord of the Flies if a demon disguised as a teacher had shown up on the island, that’s more or less the turn things seemed to take here. Aki-sensei (Kakuma Ai) may look like these kids’ teacher, but she apparently doesn’t act like her. In point of fact Aki-sensei seems very much like someone sent to cause trouble – to undercut whatever might have been leading to the students eventually thinking their way out of this situation. Whether it points to a vested interest in the kids’ failure or more a general interest in watching them struggle (for research purposes, perhaps) nothing she says seems pointed towards any other purpose.
It’s interesting to see Hoshi – who was the first character to be built up as a potential big bad – set in opposition to Aki-sensei. We now know he’s being fed information from the outside, which paints his dynamic with Aki in an interesting light. Two researchers externally stirring the pot, or two opposed parties trying to facilitate different outcomes? The students drawn to Aki-sensei fall in under the influence of Ace (definitely the biggest asshole in the student body), while the “council of the wise” continues to try and solve things systematically (and seems to have found common ground with Hoshi).
Another dichotomy developing is Nagara and Asakaze. Nagara is all but an overt homage to the heroes of those old lost in space anime – riddled by self-doubt bordering on self-pity, quiet, a loner. He’s definitely drawn the interest of Nozomi and Mizuho (that glare confirms the latter) but that’s straight out of those 90’s shows too. Askakaze is the blunt instrument Aki-sensei (or whoever is pulling her strings) has chosen to strike at Nagara before he can lead the others to safety. It’s natural that these self-obsessed hormone bombs would eventually start blaming Nagara for everything, so for Aki-sensei that was a piece of cake – she barely had to strike the match before the fuse lit.
Asakaze is a surly boy but I don’t think he’s a bad person, and at some point he’s likely to reject Aki-sensei’s manipulations. In the meantime though there’s definitely trouble, as Aki uses his ability to slice into these worlds – Nagara’s worlds – to further instigate the others. Rajdhani has sussed out the true nature of Nagara’s talent – it’s not to teleport to new worlds, but to create them (though it seems very likely to be both, as the latter power would be pretty useless without the former). If Raj is right though Nagara’s ability offers no obvious means to get home – something Aki-sensei will be able to use in her continued incitement of disharmony.