October 26, 2021

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Home » Law and Order with Sonny Boy Director Shingo Natsume

Law and Order with Sonny Boy Director Shingo Natsume

Law and Order with Sonny Boy Director Shingo Natsume

The Sonny Boy original anime tells a unique story about students stranded in a strange world
filled with supernatural phenomena. Its director is Shingo Natsume, best known for his work on
One-Punch Man and Space Dandy. We spoke to him about the anime’s themes and its unique
artistic choices.

©Sonny Boy committee

While Sonny Boy is a sci-fi story, it’s also strongly tied to the emotions and philosophies of the individual characters. Specifically, there already seems to be friction between “maintaining order” and “expressing individual freedom.” Can you talk about how this theme is woven into the story?

Boys and girls who square off against the illogical – the theme of this work is the frustrations and difficulties that anyone has felt through living. Every subjective point of view, no matter what it is, has its own form of correctness. One of the themes of the story is the children who continue to resist the illogicality that is born from that subjectivity.

Each world the students drift into has different “rules” to be discovered. For instance, the “school world” exacts penalties when rules are broken and the island world will cause objects to catch fire if they are not obtained fairly through trade. The first world reinforces rules and the second world reinforces bartering/commerce. What other kind of
“world rules” can the audience expect to see?

Rules are what tie together every real-life society. The story is inspired by the illogicalities that can sprout through rules. It can affect not just the formation and relationships within society, but the physical phenomena as well.

©Sonny Boy committee

As the creator of the story, do you feel that rules are a necessity? Where do you feel the balance is between rules and freedom?

I think that the balance between rules and freedom exists within the people who are affected by the rules and their relationship with it. I get the feeling that you can’t find a complete answer, and that it’s important to keep finding the balance. Society is ever-changing, and if rules are adopted in accordance with the times, then I think that they are necessary.

At the beginning of the story, Nagara has a passive position as an observer. He doesn’t push back against the rules and seems to take a position of not wanting to get involved, such as when he sees the dying bird. The dying bird feels like a pivotal moment in the first two episodes. Can you talk about the idea and emotion behind that scene?

I think that there are a lot of things that people think or feel but won’t act upon. Nagara may have watched a bird die without helping, but he does save an injured cat. Birds and cats are symbols of freedom, and Nagara’s attitude towards them indicates a change in him. However, what’s most important is that, regardless of what Nagara really thinks, why wasn’t he able to act upon it? The change in his actions in the midst of new encounters is a display of his growth. The bird is not just a symbol of freedom; it will continue to appear as a symbol of various things according to the environment it’s placed in.

©Sonny Boy committee

Episode two introduces the audience to Mizuho, the girl with the power of “Nyamazon.” She has a certain conflict involving the student council members and her teacher. I also think it’s interesting that she casts herself as an isolated princess in a huge castle. Can you talk a little about her character and outlook on the world?

Mizuho is a girl who bears the difficulties of living, and who tries to bury her unsatisfied heart with physical objects. The Cinderella castle that represents her may be filled with all sorts of desirable things, but it does not fill the emptiness. However, in the society of the school, she can find what she needs for herself through clashing with her classmates who are of the same age as her. Things which can’t be expressed in a single, simple word like “happiness” or “love,” take on a form particular to her. Those invisible things manifest through her actions.

Sonny Boy doesn’t appear to have a “villain” yet, but Hoshi is a rather intimidating character despite his small stature. Was there any particular inspiration for his character or personality?

He isn’t modeled on anyone in particular, but as a representation of an influential person, I vaguely imagined him as a politician.

©Sonny Boy committee

It’s a unique choice to start the story with the students already drifting through space. Was that always your intention or was it decided upon later?

It’s an original work, and I strongly wanted to hook the audience by making the plot develop quickly. I made use of the suspense technique of showing something strange happening first, and then explaining it afterward.

Can you discuss the decision to bring in Hisashi Eguchi as the original character designer for the series? I also happened to notice that Mizuho is reading Eguchi’s iconic manga, Stop!! Hibari-kun! in the first few episodes…

I was always a fan of Eguchi, and the image I had of the characters in Sonny Boy was just like his drawings, so that’s why I asked him. The reason why Mizuho is shown reading Stop!! Hibari-kun! is because it’s my show of respect to Eguchi.

Approximately when did you begin to formulate the idea for Sonny Boy? Is it a story you’ve been thinking about for a long time or were you suddenly inspired one day?

The proposal gave me a lot of freedom, and I tried to cram everything I wanted to express without holding back. I started thinking of the story when I was looking back on my work. I think it naturally took shape from there.

Are any of the characters particularly reflective of your outlook or feelings during your own teenage years?

That would be Nagara. He might be a reflection of how I was always constrained.

©Sonny Boy committee

Sonny Boy is streaming on Funimation.

This interview was translated by Kim Morrissy

#Law #Order #Sonny #Boy #Director #Shingo #Natsume

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