As has become my habit, I picked out a few shows that are streaming this season to review by closing my eyes and engaging the tried and true method of poking randomly at a piece of paper with a list of names on it. Okay, it's not exactly the most scientific method, but it does mean I watch a wider range of shows than I would normally. Kimi to Boku, localised as "You and Me" was one of the picks for this season that was brought to my attention by this method.
Kimi to Boku follows the sedate high school lives of an inseparable group of friends who have known each other since pre-school. The show flips between events in high-school and in pre-school, showing how the friends have become so close through shared experiences despite their clashing personalities and nearly-constant bickering. That's pretty much it, frankly - I'm going to be massively reductionist here by stating that this show is a classic example of a high school slice of life show, except with a twist in that the principal characters are male. This change to the usual template for a slow-paced high school drama/comedy show makes surprisingly little impact as the characters fulfill some of the exact same tropes that you may commonly find in other slice of life shows - you have the uptight guy with glasses, the introverted twins, and the endearing androgynous long-haired wuss. It feels like there is some checkbox ticking happening behind the scenes of the show, but thankfully the characters and their interactions are rounded out well enough to stop this feeling offensive.
The thing that makes Kimi to Boku stand out for me is just how nice all of the characters are - even with all the bickering that goes on between them the main cast are all honestly-intentioned goody-two-shoes to a level that is almost saccharine. Hell, one episode centres around the androgynous wuss trying to give someone a plaster for a cut on their knee. Sure, it’s adorable, and through careful development this idea managed to sustain my interest across the entire episode, but it feels bizarre. Maybe I’m just used to male anime protagonists all being snarky jerks with a heart of gold, but this came across as a little unreal and took some getting used to before I could get into the show. In its more egregious moments the over the top niceness of the cast felt like it was lifted from a dating game for girls or at the very least that it existed as fangirl bait, although thankfully these moments are few and far between.
Not much really happens in each episode - the pace of the show is so sedate that it is almost catatonic. The episode plotlines, at least so far, are uncomplicated and simply told, each episode taking its time to unfold the tale it wants to tell you over the full time it has available. This isn't to say that the show is boring, but if you are an impatient person you may find yourself squirming in your seat demanding something happen to entertain you. The show's use of events in two time frames, both pre-school and in high school, help to flesh things out but make each episode's ending very clunky as the pacing lurches between the multiple separate conclusions it wants to show you.
I’ve been complaining a lot about various irksome parts of the show, but there are genuine things to praise about the series too - in particular the art. The show uses a very pleasant colour palette, has very nice shading, and is in general very nice to look at. One thing that the show does well is to impress by having near-constant movement on screen, with the first episode in particular going all out in this department as it takes place primarily outside, on a windy day, when there are cherry trees blossoming. Its a little cheesy, but the sheer volume of movement of the characters and the surroundings make the show look enchanting. Not quite so enchanting is the background music which, while it is made up of a selection of very nice if unremarkable pieces, is far too loud in comparison to the rest of the audio. You won’t miss a piece of music starting because all of a sudden it starts blaring in your ears, often in the middle of a quiet moment in the show.
Because I can’t think of a very good transition on to this point, I’m just going to say it: interspersed in the show are lots and lots of shots of cats. I'm not kidding here - often the camera will cut away from a conversation or at the end of a scene to show either a single cat or a group of them - sometimes with an attached purring sound effect. Maybe they are all sat napping in a flowerbed, or yawning at the camera. It feels unreal that the show keeps cutting away to show you how damn well they can animate cats, and the show is so slow-paced and relaxed that this never feels jarring and in fact acts as quite a nice palette cleanser between scenes. I'm a massive cat person and as time went on I began to see this as a kind of fan service directed entirely at me.
All in all, I rather enjoyed watching these first three episodes of Kimi to Boku - it’s a little bit funny, a little bit heartwarming, a little bit endearing and it even features gratuitous cute boy and cat fan service. The main problem I have with the show is that it doesn't lean very heavily into any of these elements, and comes off feeling somewhat weak and half-hearted. So while its a perfectly pleasant thing to watch, I could never shake the feeling that I should be doing something a little more engaging with my time. Hopefully as the show develops it will mature into a stronger offering, but as it stands You and Me is pleasant, but missable.
You can currently watch You and Me in streaming form via Crunchyroll.