Golden Boy Anime Review
GOLDEN BOY - さすらいのお勉強野郎
Golden Boy - Sasurai no Obenkyou-yarou
US Release By
6 30-minute episodes
1995-10-27 - 1996-06-28
Meet Kintaro Oe, age 25. Kintaro refers to himself as a freeter, a person who takes on various odd jobs. The strange thing about him is that after achieving all the credits required to graduate college, he quit. He now travels the world on his mountain bike in search of knowledge, because, after all, 'Study is life!'
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Golden Boy isn't for kids, but it's really no worse than an A (US R) rated movie--it's not hentai. The episodes follow a simple pattern, but the situations are well thought out and original, and above all, this series is bust-a-gut hilarious--I seriously had to pause the tape, catch my breath and wipe away tears before I dared continue watching. Sharp-looking designs and vibrant colors add to the whole viewing experience, and the dub is one of the best I've ever had the pleasure of listening to--generally considered better than even the original dialogue. The casting is perfect, and the acting incredible, with Doug Smith as a flawless Kintaro stealing the show.
Golden Boy is a hilarious, outrageous sex-comedy that shouldn't be dismissed as hentai. While it's not for everyone, fans on this type of humor will find very little wrong with the series.
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With fairly vulgar synopses, a couple risque box covers, and the fact it's based off a manga that is definitely Hentai, no questions asked, it's very easy to shy away from this title. I won't sugar coat it, Golden Boy isn't for kids. But to say it's only for adults 18 and over isn't exactly accurate. The content is equal to that of an A (US R) rated movie. Despite what we may say, to actually see mature sexual content in an animated film (unless you're a hentai fan) shocks us more than we'd like to admit. The same goes with the language. The writers didn't pull any punches with the sexual terms. The dialogue, while flawlessly written, was very raunchy and it may shock us to see it come out of an animated characters mouth.
The sexual content in Golden Boy is mostly in the jokes. There's no actual scenes of intercourse. In fact, Kintaro doesn't have sex with anyone, nor is that the point of the series. Unfortunately, there are a couple scenes in episode 5 that went too far. I won't go into detail, but it wasn't graphic. They were scenes of solitary expression. It was a little much and I spent that period of time feeling rather uncomfortable. Aside from those scenes, the nudity is very scarce. You may see a flash of a breast, and an even quicker flash of a nipple, but that's all. Anything else is covered with mosaic and that's very scarce.
There's no real background story to Golden Boy. The episodes are all self-contained stories (although ep. 6 ties in with the previous 5). Each story centers on Kintaro taking on a new job in order to learn more things about life. A girl comes along and the plot thickens. The story evolves and concludes in each half hour episode rather nicely. It doesn't even seem rushed and there's surprisingly little repetition. The basic elements are the same, but the situations are well thought out and original. Above all, this series is FUNNY. I mean bust-a-gut hilarious. You wonder just how poor Kintaro gets himself in these problems. Naturally this humor won't appeal to everyone but I had a great time watching what I consider to be one of the funniest things on this planet. Words won't do justice to just how outrageous Golden Boy is. I seriously had to often pause the tape, catch my breath and wipe the tears of laughter away from my eyes before I dared continue watching.
There's a lack of character development I suppose. This is mainly due to the lack of characters. Kintaro is the only person that is in every episode. All the 'Golden Girls' are left behind as Kintaro leaves. However, all the females show a dynamic side at the end, due to Kintaro showing them something about life and himself. Kintaro Oe himself is what keeps the character development alive. You may think 'just one guy?', however; he doesn't just keep it barely surviving but he makes the two words thrive in this series. He constantly surprises us with another side to himself. Even at the end of Golden Boy you can't quite put your finger on who Kintaro is, exactly. At first he seems like a moron, but shows us how smart he is. Then we think he's a total pervert, but there's a nice guy inside him too, etc. etc. Finding out more about Kintaro is one of the high points in the entire series.
Visually and technically Golden Boy is quite a surprise. The character designs are very good. Not just very good, but extremely good. Sharp-looking designs and vibrant colors really help the whole viewing experience. The main thing to watch for in the character designs is Kintaro. We don't see what he really looks like very often. He's constantly in SD (a plus for Dragon Half fans). He also has an interesting face. It's very expressive. The backgrounds were also quite nice, accurately capturing the particular area Kintaro is in. The animation is actually quite fantastic. It's all very clean. The character animation is smooth with a high frame rate. I was surprised at just how good the budget was on Golden Boy.
I've only seen the dub, and this is one of the best dubs I've ever had the pleasure of listening too. The casting was perfect, and the acting was incredible. Golden Boy isn't what you would call a highly dramatic series, but there's a lot of yelling, screaming, shouting, laughing, etc. It's all done flawlessly. Of course Kintaro Oe (Doug Smith) stole the show. His performance was so amazing. Kintaro has a habit of talking very fast, but Doug Smith pulled it off flawlessly. Golden Boy fans almost universally believe that the dub is better than the sub, especially on Doug Smith's performance on Kintaro. Fans say he captures the personality of Kintaro better than his Japanese counter-part. I haven't seen the sub, but I'll have to believe this fact. You have to hear it to believe it, but the dub is excellent. Also, the lip-flap is was surprisingly well done. I didn't see one outstanding error. The words were matched to the lips very well. The writing, as mentioned above, was flawless. I didn't hear one line that seemed out of place. The writing and dialogue were just so funny. It's hard to believe this series wasn't originally done in English. Plus, when someone like Shidoshi (from Gamefan) says that he prefers the dubbed Golden Boy to the Subbed, you know it's gotta be the version to get (Shidoshi being a rather pro-sub anime fan).
The music was quite good. I particularly like the opening. It has no lyrics but the guitar was quite nice to hear, especially in anime. The background music throughout the series also uses a lot of stringed instruments and is quite pleasant to the ears.
My only two complaints were the scenes in volume 5 (mentioned above) and the fact it's a little on the short side. The total running time is three hours, with a total of six episodes ever being made (I haven't heard of any more being produced or any plans to do so). ADV's handling of the series is flawed as well, only releasing one 30 min. episode per tape, for a total of six tapes. This is probably why it seems so short. The other reason it seems short is because it doesn't exactly end. You aren't left hanging, really, but it isn't concluded. Golden Boy is one of those series that can start and stop whenever it wants to. Admittedly, the sixth episode/tape did kind of have a finale quality to it, but anyone who enjoyed this series will probably end up desiring more. I won't count the length against my score, but I felt it was worth mentioning. The only thing that affects the score (and the only problem with this series), in my opinion, are the scenes in episode 5.
Summing up, Golden Boy is a hilarious, outrageous sex-comedy that shouldn't be dismissed as hentai. While it's not for everyone, fans on this type of humor will find very little wrong with the series.
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It's hard to recommend something related to Golden Boy that doesn't leap over the Hentai border. If you liked the aspect of not being able to find everything out about Kintaro Oe, you'd probably enjoy that aspect in Justy Ueki Tylor in The Irresponsible Captain Tylor.
Notes and Trivia
Based on a 1993 manga by Tatsuya Egawa, not available in English as of this writing.
US DVD Review
ADV's bilingual DVD includes the entire series on a single, budget priced disc. The English audio is also remastered in Dolby 5.1.
Eastern Star's much newer DVD lists bilingual audio and no special features.
Appropriate for older teens only; rated 17-up by ADV.
Violence: 1 - Mostly comedic, but there were a few realistic fights.
Nudity: 4 - I think I've made it clear above about the nudity.
Sex/Mature Themes: 4 - Ditto.
Language: 5 - The actual swearing was low, but this was some of the raunchiest dialogue I've heard.
Staff & Cast
Original Japanese Cast
Kintaro Oe: Mitsuo Iwata
Madame President: Hiromi Tsuru
Naoko Katsuda: Yuuko Minaguchi
Noriko: Yuri Shiratori
Ayuko Hayamizu: Kikuko Inoue
Reiko Tarayama: Sakiko Tomagawa
Chie: Mika Kanai
Employee B: Junko Iwao
Employee D: Junko Shimakata
Hiroshi Kogure: Juurouta Kosugi
Employee A: Kikuko Inoue
Child: Megumi Tano
Instructor C: Michiko Neya
Employee E: Mika Kanai
Employee C: Miki Takahashi
Animator: Ryuuzou Ishino
Office worker: Wataru Takagi
Ayuko (Young): Yoko Asada
Kogure's girl: Yoshiko Sakakibara
Yuka Kanzaki: Yuka Koyama
Instructor A: Yuko Mizutani
English Dub Cast
Kintaro Oe: Doug Smith
Madame President: Tiffany Grant
Naoko Katsuda: Allison Keith
Noriko: Kim Sevier
Ayuko Hayamizu: Sue Ulu
Reiko Tarayama: Laura Chapman
Chie: Yvonne Aguirre
Director: Tatsuya Egawa
Storyboard: Hiroyuki Kitakubo
Original creator: Hiroyuki Kitakubo
Character Design: Toshihiro Kawamoto
Art director: Tatsuya Kushida
Director of Photography: Hideo Okazaki
Available in North America from Eastern Star on a single bilingual DVD. Was previously available from ADV as a bilingual "Essential Anime" DVD collection. Was originally available on six subtitled or dubbed VHS volumes or hybrid LaserDiscs, all out of print.