Kimi to Boku.
Someone finally did it: after what feels like several hundred TV series on the topic of "cute girls doing cute things," someone finally made an equivalent version with boys. While it's similar to a lot of other recent school-life shows featuring female casts, such as A-Channel and Yuru Yuri, Kimi to Boku stands out from the pack for reasons other than the gender-swap. Fans of the slice-of-life genre will likely find the show's combination of interesting observations about adolescence and understated humor very appealing, although the show may be too slow at times for anyone who isn't already a fan of the genre.
The action focuses on second-year high school students Kaname, Shun, and twins Yuki and Yuta, friends dating back to their childhood days. While Kaname and Shun are character types you've seen many times before (driven overachiever and gentle boy, respectively), the twins are perhaps the main draw of Kimi to Boku; lazy and apathetic to the point of being nearly sociopathic, yet somehow charming, Yuki and Yuta are the source of most of the show's humor. Soon the group is joined by Chizuru, a half-Japanese, half-German student whose energetic attitude clashes with the twins, who would probably bop him over the head to get him to stop with his crazy schemes if they could be bothered.
We sometimes had a hard time telling Yuta and Yuki apart, despite slightly different hair styles, although we're supposed to; characters get them confused in-universe all the time. Usually Yuki, the more eccentric of the two, doesn't bother to wear his school blazer, making it possible to tell the two apart at school. Still, there were plenty of situations where it can be hard to tell who's who, and it's a little weird not to know which of the two is speaking until another character calls them by name.
Presumably, just as K-ON! and similar shows are meant to appeal to male viewers who find the female characters attractive, Kimi to Boku is meant to appeal to women with its cute male cast. However, the show doesn't really feel like it's targeted at only one gender. Unlike many "cute girls" shows, our boys don't go to school in some parallel universe where members of the opposite sex don't exist. Girls play important roles in Kimi to Boku, and there's even a love triangle or two. While the focus stays on the friendship between the boys, the show presents a broader picture of school life than just a bunch of attractive boys hanging around.
The only problem is that some viewers, especially those who aren't particularly enamored with slice-of-life shows in general, are likely to find it boring. The frequent, if understated jokes help, but there are stretches where the humor goes missing. We thought between flashbacks to childhood adventures, Yuki and Yuta's antisocial antics, and musings about the challenges of growing up, there was always just enough going on that the show felt like it was going somewhere, but it's a close thing. Needless to say, if you don't like slice-of-life shows, this probably won't be the one to convert you.
However, if you happen to be a cat lover, drop whatever you're doing right now and watch this show, even if what you're doing right now is feeding your cat. For some reason, studio J.C. Staff seems to have gathered every cat hanging out in silly images on the internet and put them to work in Kimi to Boku. Cats populate the commercial break eyecatches. Cats glare incredulously at the boys as they discuss their latest challenge. Cats of indeterminate ownership stalk the high school halls for no apparent reason. When in doubt, Kimi to Boku throws in a random cat. We have no idea why this is, but we laughed out loud more than once when the narrative was suddenly hijacked by feline invaders.
Still, even if you only tolerate the cat theme, there's something so thoroughly pleasant about Kimi to Boku, you might find it puts you in a better mood. Character's problems are usually mild and dealt with quickly and sensibly, and the whole show, including production concerns like the color palette and score, exudes a relaxing feel. Even when the boys are at their silliest, like when they insist on treating thumb wrestling like an extreme sport, everything somehow feels low-key.
Obviously, this series is not going to win any awards for high drama, intrigue or pulse-pounding action. However, if you're looking for a light, pleasant diversion, J.C. Staff's gender-swapped take on the school life genre might just be a perfect fit. And if you love cats, well, this just might be the show of the century. Currently, Kimi to Boku is available streaming on Crunchyroll.
Reviewed by Karen Gellender, February 2012
Below: Scenes from Kimi to Boku..