What They Say:
Haruki has had a crush on his classmate Miharu for a while. But wracked with nerves, he’s never had the courage to act on his feelings. His best friend Towa has the opposite problem—he’s too forward and risks scaring away his crush. Now, they’ll both get a chance to show they care. All they needed was a chance meeting on some common ground. All they needed was a convenience store.
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo while the English language dub gets a 5.1 boost, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The show is pretty much all dialogue with a few moments of tension within the music so the 5.1 mix doesn’t get all that much of a real bump here, though the sound level does come across a bit louder. The show handles the dialogue well in both mixes as it moves between the characters and deals with their internal struggles, providing for some simple directionality and placement from time to time. It’s a basic mix because of the nature of the show but both tracks come across clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2017, this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes are spread across two discs in a standard nine/three format. Animated by Studio Pierrot, the show has a pretty good look about it with nice if simple character designs, some well detailed backgrounds to give it a richer look, and some fluid animation in the couple of high motion pieces that do pop up from time to time. The series isn’t one that will win awards for how it looks but it’s a competent and solid work that comes across really well in the encoding here with the color palette handled well and a solid feeling throughout it. Details come across well and there’s no blocking or other problems to be had.
The packaging design for this release is done with a slightly thicker than normal Blu-ray case that holds the four discs of both formats. The set comes with an o-card that replicates the case artwork but as is usual the o-card has a bit more color vibrancy to it as we get the four quadrants with the four main characters getting spread around. The colors are nicely done and providing a wedge for the logo along the left so that it stands out but doesn’t dominate hits a sweet spot. The back cover goes for an all white background with a blue box that has the various shots from the show that are larger than normal and definitely appreciated. The summary of the premise is simple but covers the right things and we get a good breakdown of the extras. The technical grid along the bottom is very easy to read to see how the set is put together with the audio and video. While there are no show related inserts included with this we do get artwork on the reverse side with two separate panels where one pairs the boys and the other the girls with white backgrounds. These look great and it makes for an easy flip while retaining the o-card.
The menu design for this show keeps things simple in that it works a static image design for it, which makes sense. With a really nice rich blue background, the foreground provides for the character material which shows off the designs well, though the white outline feels just a bit off as I suspect there wasn’t a lot of materials available to use. The background provides for some white etching pieces while the menu navigation is kept to the lower left with an off-white box that breaks down the basics with quick access and load times both as the main menu and as the pop-up menu.
The only extras included with this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Based on the manga Konbini Kareshi, Convenience Store Boy Friends is a twelve episode anime series that aired during the summer 2017 season. The show was put together by Studio Pierrot with Hayate Date directing it, which feels kind of weird. He’s spent the bulk of the decade prior to this working on Naruto: Shippuden as an episode director and to shift to this afterward just makes me grin. The original manga from Tsukuba began in 2015 under Kadokawa’s Enterbrain Mook imprint where it has four volumes published so far. It wasn’t something that had caught on fire or anything but it was an ideal show for TBS to have put together as it plays to simple and real world style and tells a fairly complete story.
I am, by all accounts, a sucker for a good romance. Romantic anime elements are what kept me within the medium back in the 90’s when all we usually got were mecha or ultraviolence shows and the arrival of some romantic comedies were exactly what I needed. Here, we get something that does go for a fairly basic approach but it captures the feeling and small trials and tribulations that high school students go through in trying to find love, particularly through the lens of a group of Japanese kids dealing with all sorts of little cultural aspects. There are things within this that are consistent with a whole host of other shows that I’ve watched over the years so there’s some level of truth to it but you also know some of it is played up just a bit more. But there are things that carry through regardless of culture when you get down to it and resonate to kids here just as much.
While there are a couple of guys within this that have background roles working at the conveience store and we do get some regular returns to the place, the convenience store is a simple propr in the bigger picture here where it’s a catalyst point for things happening. The primary focus is on four teenagers who are in various states of love. Haruki and Towa are both freshmen that are active and outgoing for the most part and riff off each other well. There’s an easy friendship that you can see here where they hang out at each other’s a lot, the play videogames, and check out manga, and generally just get each other. But being the main friend for the other means that they tend to reveal a bit more, particularly when outside of all the other stresses and hanging out for a sleepover.
A lot of it tends to revolve around their respective interests. Towa has a big interest in the class rep Mami, who is a quiet and introspective type who simply enjoys reading her shojo manga and doing little things. She’s not exactly dour but she keeps to herself and focuses on the rules of the school. Complementing her is Miharu, a bit more of an outgoing young woman who puts a positive focus on a lot of things. We don’t get quite as much about their lives as we do the boys because we see them through the boys, and having their stories revealed in a way that shapes the relationships as it progresses. It’s a standard approach but largely works well here because they tend to operate more in a classmate fashion for a lot of the early period, allowing us to get a handle on them to some degree.
The relationship dynamics as they play out are, at times a bit awkward. Towa is very into Mami but it’s done in a way where he really doesn’t know how to express it. Without a proper father figure in his lifes backstory, he’s very persistent in trying to get Mami to agree to go out with him while expressing just how interested in her he is. There’s an element of what a young man is like as the hormones rage figuring out the whole dating thing isn’t easy, especially in Japanese culture. Mami, for her part, isn’t sure either though she pushes him away a lot because she comes from a very strict household where she’s not really allowed out for much outside of school. And Towa, coming from a family like his and other issues makes him pretty unacceptable in her parents eyes. So she tries to keep him away because of that as well, which he seizes on at a key time to get her to start thinking about what she wants to do and be. From my perspective and upbringing, there are things Towa does here that I saw lots of teenagers do when as growing up. But there’s also lots of things he does here that makes me cringe because of what he does and just how pushy and persistent he is, even as Haruki tries to get him to see it.
Less problematic is Haruki and Miharu’s relationship as there’s a slow burn on this one as Haruki essentially befriends her but does it in a way where it’s obvious that he likes her, and that she has an interest in him, but neither push it as far. The problem is that Miharu is hiding a bit of a secret in her past that makes things difficult on her because a misconception has fallen into it. While they’re all first-years in this school, they apparently knew each other way back in kindergarten and later on briefly, which is something that has drawn Haruki to her all this time. The wrinkle within it is a bit tragic to be sure and I really like that as the series draws to a close it’s uncertain as to whether things work out well or end up going badly. That kind of uncertainty to their relationship was a big appealing element for me since you can envision it going several different ways, especially if you want something a little more real world.
While there’s nothing here that stands out in a big way, Convenience Store Boy Friends is the kind of show that we don’t see too often and I enjoy them when they do arrive. There’s a simple nature to a lot of this and some problematic areas as well, culturally speaking in how things are done in different countries, but there’s a lot of appeal in these first blushes of love and how they all react to it, both with what’s being said to them and how they feel themselves. Funimation’s release is pretty basic but I’m really glad it got a dub and it has a clean looking presentation that was put togethere here in a nice little package. Definitely a solid pickup for fans of the show that want to own it.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: August 28th, 2018
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.