Shantelle Flavien, Resident Otaku
Hello, hello! I have an anime recommendation for you! Today I will be reviewing Sanrio Danshi! First some context. Sanrio Danshi is a story about five high school boys with different personalities and goals in life. However, what connects them is their love for you guessed it Sanrio products!
Sanrio Co. lst is a company that designs, licenses and produces products focusing on the cute theme. They create products like stationary, schools supplies gifts and accessories that are sold internationally. Sanrio has created many characters used to sell their products the most popular one known internationally is Hello Kitty.
We follow our main protagonist, Kota Hasegawa, a 17 year-old boy who at the start is more or less in the closet about liking Sanrio products particularly his favorite character, Pompompurin, a golden retrieve with a brown beret, given to him by his grandmother. As a child Kota loves both his grandmother as well as Pompompurin openly spending his time with both of them. However as he grows up and since he is a boy he is made fun of on multiple occasions. The tension becomes so great that he lashes out against his grandmother as well as Pompompurin, who is left in his grandmothers care. Months pass Kota never visited his grandmother to apologize or retrieve Pompompurin and his grandmother falls ill. Kota is wracked with guilt and wants to apologize but finds it hard to muster the courage. She unfortunately passes and Kota never got to apologize to her. Years pass and it seems like Kota has moved on more or less until he encounters a lost little girl and comforts her the same way his grandmother use to comfort him. It is only then that Kota begins to wonder if liking Pompompurin is a bad thing.
Despite being a kind of really long commercial for Sanrio's most popular characters, the show is earnest, deep and compelling. The characters all all complex and different. They all struggle in things with their daily lives based on goals they want to accomplish, or being perceived by others and enduring great sacrifice. This anime exposes a different type of the male life that we don't always get to see. The media portrays men in a closed off manner and way with out allowing us the viewers to see how male characters struggle and grow in average ordinary ways. Whether it's learning to open up to people after being abandoned, accepting yourself and being true to yourself, being there for family and being upbeat about a less than perfect situation. Each of these characters dig into a type of person who exists. I think it paints a very interesting portrait that allows us to peek into a male gaze of his life and how he can grow with a level of vulnerability that we so not always get to see.