I’m usually adverse to writing up a review for something like a television show if the season isn’t complete yet. I just think reviewing the first or the first few episodes of a show feels a little futile because it can lead to disappointment as things can change later down the line. But I will make an exception if a show impresses me enough and I feel it’s not getting the attention it deserves.
So you can probably guess how my review of the anime Ya Boy Kongming! will go based on the first four episodes of the show.
Ya Boy Kongming’s premise follows Zhuge Liang, otherwise known as Kongming, a brilliant tactician from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms saga. On his deathbed and tired of all the battles he’s fought, he wishes that, in his next life, he gets to live in a world without any wars. Kongming gets his wish and is reincarnated in Shibuya during Halloween. While traversing the area, he goes into a bar where he hears Eiko Tsukimi sing. Enamored by her voice, he pledges his services to her in order for Eiko to become the latest pop superstar of the world.
As you can see, Ya Boy Kongming! is a neat take on the normal isekai story. Instead of an ordinary person being transported to a magical world, this anime has Kongming, already an exceptional person by his own right, transported to the “regular” world. Instead of gaining new abilities because of his knowledge of the regular world, Kongming uses his knowledge about strategic warfare and combining it with his strong observational skills in order to help Eiko. Ya Boy Kongming! also sidesteps the usual “fish out of water” trap all isekai heroes seem to fall into as Kongming almost immediately adapts to this new world. That alone makes this anime stand out from the others.
The first thing I really want to talk about is the show’s title as it’s probably the best instance of how great localization can enhance the mood. The original title of the anime/manga is “Paripi Koumei” and, if you directly translate it to English, the show would be called “Party Person Koumei”, which sounds a little nondescript. The localizers opted to use his “Americanized” name of Kongming as well as use the slang “ya boy” to replace “Paripi” to make it sound more unique. In all honesty, it was the anime’s name that made me want to watch it in the first place!
The few characters they’ve introduced so far in Ya Boy Kongming! are very charming in their own right. You have the owner of the bar where Eiko works and, while he comes off as a tough guy, he has a lot of interesting quirks. Being a huge Romance of the Three Kingdoms buff, he immediately takes a liking to Kongming as he’s a figurehead of the saga. While he doesn’t exactly believe he’s the real Kongming, he just finds it fascinating to finally be able to talk about the stuff from Romance of the Three Kingdoms with someone else. Eiko, the singer who Kongming takes a liking to, is also a really good character but I do wish they would give her more personality. Right now, she’s just a good singer who lacks confidence in herself.
The star of the show is, undoubtedly, the titular character. It would be so easy to get the character wrong. They could have made him the usual imbecile because he’s a man out of time but he quickly learns the modern ways. They could have made Kongming super stuck-up as he’s super revered back in his time. But they didn’t as he remains extremely humble as he doesn’t care about his status as long as he’s helping Eiko. I also like his voice actor as he does make Kongming sound very polite with his delivery while still making him sound very regal. I also have to comment on Kongming’s design as he definitely stands out. he does look different than most of the characters and it’s not just because he’s dressed differently. His facial design doesn’t follow the normal anime style. He also seemed to be colored differently in a way as, well, you never see any other light blue when he’s in the frame. His light blue robes do make him stand out because of the lack of blue everywhere else. Maybe it’s just me overthinking it but, if this was intentional, really good job on the attention to detail!
Unfortunately, while the characters are beautifully animated and designed, the backgrounds do seem a little drab at times. They do a good job with all the lighting and when the action takes place in a club or during a concert. But there are also a lot of time when the background just look a little too plain. There are scenes when Eiko is jogging in the park and the park just looks blah. It’s not terrible and you might not really notice it unless you’re looking for it.
As this is all about Eiko’s dream of becoming a singing superstar, Ya Boy Kongming has a lot of times where music plays an important role in the story. Which is why I’m glad the music in Ya Boy Kongming is a blast to listen to. As of right now, the show has around five songs and they are absolute bangers! They all have a disco/J-Pop/eurobeat flavor to them so how much you like the music here is totally subjective. However, the ones that I’ve listened to are really good. Special mention has to be given to the show’s opening and closing songs, Chiki Chiki Ban Ban and Kibun Jojo, respectively, as both of them are actually remixes of existing music tracks. In fact, Chiki Chiki Ban Ban is actually a remix of a Hungarian europop song! I think I would’ve found the original a little bit grating but the Japanese version, because of the more flirty (and probably more synthesized) female vocals, it’s much more of a bop now.
However, probably the best thing about Ya Boy Kongming! is, well, it’s very charming and rather wholesome for now. As of the four episodes I’ve seen, there’s no romance between the two main characters and that’s very refreshing. Of course, I haven’t read the manga so I’m not sure if that’ll change. It’s generally an underdog story that anyone can understand and most people can relate to that. It’s also fun to see Kongming battle tactics and how it can be used to work with the music industry.
I can’t really say if Ya Boy Kongming! will be as charming as the next few episodes drop in the near future. However, I do have to say that the show is severely overlooked and I want more eyes on it. It’s definitely worth a watch.
Have you seen Ya Boy Kongming!? What do you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!