OUTBURST DREAMER BOYS comes from one of our favorite genres on this column; that of the school life comedy. The genre’s star has fallen somewhat in recent years, but highlights like The Demon Girl Next Door and Hitoribocchi No Marumaruseikatsu prove there’s still life left in the format. Outburst Dreamer Boys comes from a more manic school of comedy than either of those, but the emotional core is much the same.
It’s also something of a return to form for the much put-upon Studio DEEN. A group whose output has struggled to resonate with audiences since their last contribution to the KonoSuba franchise in 2017.
Production is all well and good, but you may be wondering what the show is actually about. The premise is refreshingly straightforward. Our protagonist is Mizuki Hijiri. She’s an ordinary high school girl, so you may already have an inkling as to where this is going.
The first day of school sees Hijiri struck sick, and as such she has to wear a flu mask. This catches the attention of one of the local chuunibyou, Yamato Noda, who believes he’s found a kindred spirit. Hijiri is, perhaps inevitably, roped into his antics, and that of his school club. This “Hero Club”, keeps itself busy by helping (or “helping”, as the case may be) the townsfolk with various small problems. This is our core premise. Hijiri is the sole comedic straight man in a cast consisting otherwise almost entirely of screwballs.
The Hero Club consists of Noda, or “Red” as he styles himself. Plus a few compatriots. There’s Tomoki Takashima, a blonde prettyboy who happens to also be a massive otaku. Rei Tsukumo, whose pink hair contrasts with his forced delinquent personality (an illusion that’s deflated by the occasional presence of his older sisters, who he’s under the thumb of). A later episode introduces Rei’s cousin, the green-haired ladies’ man Futaba Mikuriya, who is fond of sprinkling English into his sentences. Lastly, there’s Kazuhiro Nakamura, who is, um.
Chuunibyou is an interesting concept for anime to tackle in general. The term, coined by a novelist, roughly means “eighth grader syndrome” and refers to that period a lot of teenagers seem to go through where a desire to stand out translates to mild self-delusion about having special powers, being smarter than everyone else, that kind of thing.
The concept is sometimes analyzed quite seriously in anime. Here though, it’s played strictly for laughs.
It’s the kind of thing that scans as okay to make fun of mostly because lots of us have been there. The show’s first half has shown our boys getting into such antics as working as fill-ins at a theme park, where Nakamura’s fantasy-themed monologues while working a food stand make it the most popular in the whole park. An episode centered around cooking (which introduced Futaba) featured a smorgasbord of hilarious, intentional broken English. The most recent episode features Sports Day at their high school.
These are the sorts of settings and situations that this kind of comedy works best in. It never feels too mean-spirited either, which was a mistake that close stylistic cousin Wasteful Days of The Highschool Girl made earlier this year. We’re laughing at the boys, sure, but we’re still rooting for them in the end.
Stuck In The Middle With You
Hijiri is the other binding agent here. The boys are pretty funny, but without someone to play off of the appeal would be limited. She’s more than just a simple straightman, though. The everyman factor comes from the fact that sometimes Hijiri gets caught up in their antics too, if only for a moment. A few scenes in the most recent episode betray a crush she’s developing–probably against her own good judgment–on Noda.
Of course, this is still a comedy series. This moment of bliss is broken just a few moments later when Noda decides to pick up the pace as the two run.
And Other Delusions
So that’s Outburst Dreamer Boys. Well, mostly.
There is one other thing to discuss. The show has made a point of dropping small, but definitely pointed and deliberate, hints that the boys’ delusions might not be as fake as we’re initially lead to believe. Similarly, there are the same sorts of hints that something is up with Hijiri herself.
The show’s tone makes it hard to know where–if anywhere–this is leading. It’s entirely possible it’s all just a setup for a grand punchline at the end of the show. Yet, it’s worth remembering 2017 WAO World series Anime-Gataris, a show that was also part of this genre and even similar in tone for eight of its twelve episodes.
Then, it blew the roof off in a deliriously genre-defying finale to become one of the best anime that aired that year. It’d be presumptuous to simply assume that Outburst Dreamer Boys is planning to follow a similar route, and the show is superb as the comedy series it already is, but it’s certainly possible. That’s something prospective fans should find very intriguing.
The reason I bring all this up? The most recent episode marked the foregrounding of the mysterious Student Council. They’ve yet to do much of anything, but something is clearly being set up here.
Maybe it’s all just a lark! Or maybe it’s something deeper, we can’t really yet know for sure. We can be certain of one thing, though, and that’s that Outburst Dreamer Boys is one to keep your eyes on.