A group of young men who bond together over their shared love of popular Sanrio characters sounds like a fanfic, but it's very real. Welcome to the world of Sanrio Boys, quite possibly one of the purest and most adorable male bonding anime series out there, reminiscent of the all-guy road trip of Final Fantasy XV. While you might expect that it's fan service meant for viewers to fawn over, it's touching and sweet in ways that you probably didn't expect. It also challenges the archaic notions of masculinity and what "makes" a man in important ways.
It's a series that challenges traditional masculine roles in ways that aren't preachy or obnoxious. It's easy to follow, too. A young man named Kouta is hanging out with his best friends one day when he notices a little girl crying for her mother in the middle of the city. He sees she has a Pompompurin character purse and strikes up a conversation with her about it, which results in Kouta being able to reunite the girl with her friend. Kouta is shy and somewhat afraid to share his love for the character with others, so it's hard for him to make friends or "shine" the way he wants to in life.
The little girl gives Kouta a sticker with Pompompurin on it, which prompts him to dig out his Pompompurin plushie given to him by his grandmother, with whom he shared a very close bond. Of course, Kouta's classmates got word that he loved his plush doll and carried it around with him everywhere, culminating in him throwing it into the dirt and ripping its ear.In a fit of rage after being made fun of, he told his grandmother he hated her as well as Pompompurin. His grandmother fixed up the plushie on her own, as Kouta stayed away. His grandmother passed away without Kouta ever speaking to her again, leaving the repaired doll with her belongings.
Kouta has a problem, as such, admitting that he likes things like his Pompompurin doll or Sanrio characters because of the way his classmates treated him in the past. When Kouta meets Yuu Mizuno by way of a My Melody keychain he drops in school, it's the beginning of an awesome friendship between the "Sanrio Boys," a group of guys who share a self-professed love for characters like Hello Kitty, My Melody, and Little Twin Stars.
It's preposterous that you should have to explain or even apologize for the things you enjoy. But this is something men deal with on a daily basis if they're into a hobby people don't find traditionally acceptable for them, just as women do. Sanrio Boys does an admirable job of spreading the message that it's okay to like what you like and even flaunt it, no matter what people say.It's refreshing to see Sanrio Boys take this stance and saddle up personable and likable characters with recognizable Sanrio personalities rather than doing the predictable thing and bringing a bunch of high school girls on board. It's frustrating that it takes an anime series to do this, of course, but any message in media that confirms that you can like whatever you want and you're still very much "a man" is welcome. It's a lesson more shows should adopt, even if it has to come from an anime season borne as a promotion for a specific brand.