The Spring 2022 Preview Guide
Heroines Run the Show: The Unpopular Girl and the Secret Task

How would you rate episode 1 of
Heroines Run the Show: The Unpopular Girl and the Secret Task ?
Community score: 4.0

What is this?

Hiyori Suzumi is a high school girl who becomes a manager-in-training for the high school idol unit LIP×LIP. Hiyori left her hometown to pursue her passion, track and field, by enrolling in Tokyo's Sakuragaoka High School. Looking for a part-time job in Tokyo, she ended up working as an apprentice manager for her classmates (and LIP×LIP members) Yūjirō Someya and Aizō Shibasaki.

Heroines Run the Show: The Unpopular Girl and the Secret Task is based on the Vocaloid creator unit HoneyWorks' song "Heroine Tarumono!" and streams on Crunchyroll on Thursdays.

How was the first episode?

Caitlin Moore

The premiere of Heroines Run the Show reminded me of Akebi's School Uniform in a few ways, including its lush animation and excitable heroine, but this time, it actually feels like a shojo series rather than a seinen series using a shojo manga aesthetic. Never mind that it's based on a Vocaloid song rather than a manga running in a shojo magazine; I'm so starved for series aimed at a female audience that aren't about primarily male casts that I'm willing to overlook little details like that.

As a heroine, Hiyori doesn't offer much in the way of surprises. As the country girl who moves to Tokyo and quickly finds herself deeper in than she expected, she's a distinct type. She dreams of eating crepes and running into celebrities, but when she finds herself quite literally stuck in the middle of two actual feuding celebrities, they're nothing like she imagined. She has thick eyebrows and messy hair and a whole bunch of siblings and—well okay, I just described myself in high school, even though I'm a city girl since the day I was born. She also has a surprising amount going on. Not only has she moved to Tokyo all by herself, she's on the track team, has new friends in her class, and is now starting a job as the personal assistant of a pair of idols on top of all that.

These disparate elements all inform each other: she moved because of the track team, needs a job because her parents have to support her siblings, and ended up with this one because of the hours she needs to devote to track practice—but it's hard to know exactly how the show will manage to interweave them. For a person, having so much go on sounds like a recipe for burnout, and for a story, it risks feeling disjointed or compressed. Even so, I like that Hiyori has so much going on. Too often in shojo melodramas, the heroine has no friends or real hobbies outside of her abusive boyfriend, sorry, I mean primary love interest. Hiyori being a well-rounded person means having support structures and people to turn to when the boys act like buttheads, and buttheads they are.

There are a lot of ways for Heroines Run the Show to trip and fall, but I want so badly to see it succeed. I'm rooting for Hiyori and everyone around her.

Richard Eisenbeis

This first episode threw me for a loop. Despite going in blind, from almost the first scene, I had a strange sense of familiarity: the school, the uniforms, even some of the characters. And then, as Hiyori wandered aimlessly through the school and met her upper classmen, I realized this is set in the same world as the two Kokuhaku Jikkou linkai HoneyWorks films from 2016—which completely changed how I was viewing the show. I suddenly cared far more about the background characters and how they were getting on rather than our main trio.

That said, Hiyori is not a bad character. “Country girl comes to the big city” is a trope as old as time and she is likable enough. Rather than being a blank slate of innocence, she is both earnest and opinionated. She knows what she wants to do and what is important to her. It makes her feel like a real person rather than a walking cliché.

The episode also sets up the anime's main conceit in a believable fashion. Hiyori needs a part-time job and ends up becoming the assistant manager to the two boys in her class who are also popstars. While it seems far-fetched on face value, Hiyori really is the best for the job. Because she is their classmate, her working hours match up with theirs, and she will be on hand to make sure they don't break character and reveal their obvious dislike for each other at school. But honestly, the best reason is that not only does she dislike idols in general but Aizo and Yujiro specifically. She won't be swooning for them and won't be easily steamrolled by them.

What strained my disbelief in this episode wasn't Hiyori being in the same class as two pop idols—nor was it her becoming their manager by the end of the episode. Rather it was that she could afford an apartment in Shibuya (one of the most expensive places to live in all of Japan). Even with her 1,500 yen an hour job, she'd be needing to work more than 40 hours a week just to make rent on the cheapest place I could find—and that's before adding in things like food and daily necessities. In a world where teens often commute hours to school, I'm not sure why they chose to establish Hiyori living in Shibuya but it's completely insane.

While not a bad half-hour of TV, I doubt I'd be coming back for a second episode if it weren't for this show's connection to Kokuhaku Jikkou linkai. I don't really care for Aizo and Yujiro, and while Hiyori is interesting enough, she can't really carry the show on her own. However, with a supporting cast filled with characters I do care about... well, we'll just have to see if this show can come into its own before I completely lose interest.

James Beckett

Heroines Run the Show has a perfectly watchable and good-natured premiere that, unfortunately, happened to rub me the exact wrong way. I can see how this anime could be a fun time, both for fans of idol anime and for anyone looking for more comedies to fill out their Spring Watchlist, but I honestly had to force myself to get through most of this episode, and I had to take a couple of breaks just to even manage that. It's not a bad first episode, by any means, but I can't say that I'm eager to revisit Heroines Run the Show any time soon.

A lot of what grinded my gears in this premiere comes down to the main character, Hiyori, which I almost feel bad saying, because she's a nice girl that's just trying her best to survive in the big city. It's just that her “Golly Gee! I'm Such An Inexperienced Small-Town Bumpkin!” shtick, combined with her aggressively twee personality, is such a fine line to walk, even in the best of circumstances. What pushes Hiyori over the edge of “Adorkable” and into the realm of “Okay, Seriously, Turn It Down a Few Notches” is her voice actress, Inori Minase. Now, I'm not about to badmouth such a prolific talent as Minase; the woman has talent to spare, and the filmography to prove it. Here, though, she adopts this incredibly grating vocal affectation that gave me Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! flashbacks, and it made it very difficult for me to appreciate a lot of scenes that should have been sweet and charming.

The rest of the premiere also takes its sweet time getting to the point of having Hiyori become the “manager-in-training” for the duo of high-maintenance idol boys that conveniently attend her school, and yet the “idol” aspect of the show still ends up coming across as a bit under-baked, since so much of this premiere is actually devoted to Hiyori's love of running track. I have no doubt that the show will devote plenty more time to the showbiz angle of Hiyori's new job in future episodes, but wouldn't have minded if this first outing had a touch more focus and direction.

Still, I can recognize that this was not at all a “bad” anime, and Heroines Run the Show will likely earn itself plenty of fans over the course of the season. I won't be one of them, but that's okay. And who knows? Maybe I'll come back to the series in a couple of weeks and discover an idol anime that's worth rooting for! I'll probably just have to watch it on mute.

Nicholas Dupree

I was looking forward to this one. Not because I'm familiar with the HoneyWorks songs it's inspired by, or because I knew all that much about the premise or staff going in, though. No, what had me excited was just our main heroine's face. One look at those big, honkin' sausage eyebrows and I was ready to die for this girl. And now that I've actually watched the first episode, I'm also ready to kill for her, should the need arise.

Pretty much this whole episode is just about getting to know Hiyori as she ventures into the unfamiliar worlds of Tokyo and High School. We do eventually get to the hook – Hiyori gets a job as the manager-in-training for a duo of idol boys who are also in her class at school – but only in the final moments of this premiere. Everything before that is just about gradually showing us who our titular heroine is – what she loves, what she's bad at, how she makes (or doesn't make) friends, and just getting a strong dose of her lovable personality. It's super sweet, and a good chunk of that is down to just how expressive she is. Between her eyebrows, her high energy movement, and her body language it's hard not to be charmed as she bumbles her way through the ups and downs of high school life. Watching her slog through the endless cycle of job applications and interviews hit especially hard, and declaring her reason for applying is because “I need it to live!” had me ready to stan this doofus full-throttle.

The one downside there is that we don't yet have a good idea of the side characters, or what the dynamic of the show will be going forward. We know the main idols boys are far less gracious than their public personas, and seem to hate each other's guts behind the scenes, but we have no clue why. We meet several other characters who are presumably part of our extended cast, but most of them never interact with Hiyori, so how they're connected to anything going on with our central trio is largely a mystery. All those question marks don't need to be a problem, but in a show as character-driven as this one, it's a little uneasy to not know what our main characters' dynamic will be like going forward. Hiyori may be a wonderful bundle of chipmunk energy, but if everyone around her is a jerk, I don't know how entertaining that will be.

But for now, at least, this is a super charming beginning. It's well-paced, features lots of lovely and expressive animation, and more than made me want to see Hiyori clear the hurdles in front of her. That's plenty of motivation to keep following this one.

Rebecca Silverman

I have heard Inori Minase in many roles where I have enjoyed her performance. Heroines Run the Show is, thus far, not one of them. I bring this up strictly because Hiyori's voice, which is somehow louder than everything else in the show, is like nails on a chalkboard to my ears. I'm not entirely sure why, but something about it made me wish I had a mute button just for her.

That's a shame, because this is actually looking like a pretty fun show. Hiyori's total disinterest in idols doesn't remarkably transform the moment she realizes that LIPxLIP, the hottest boy idol duo, are in her class at her new Tokyo high school; in fact, their behavior makes her go from “disinterest” straight to “disdain,” and that's absolutely deserved, because both Aizo and Yujiro are jerks, especially to her. Besides, Hiyori didn't come to the big city to gawk at hot guys; she's here to participate in her chosen sport, track, and nothing is going to prevent her from doing what she loves. Her go-getter attitude is another really fun piece of the story, because she truly is focused on what she wants to do and what she needs to do in order to get there. When her dad hurts his back, she decides to get a job so that her parents don't have to send money, but not even this can make her give up on her track aspirations. Yes, this makes job hunting harder, but it's also a very nice way to show how important it is to her without having her talk endlessly on the subject. There's no big surprise when the one job she gets involves her least favorite idols, but watching her win them over (or wear them down) while remaining true to herself would be a fun direction for this to go in.

I wouldn't be myself if I didn't also mention that the opening theme makes use of the fairy tale classified as ATU432, The Bird Lover. The most commonly known variant of this tale type is the French The Blue Bird, recorded by Madame d'Aulnoy in 1697. Basically, stories that fall under this heading involve a woman whose noble lover takes the form of a bird and falls into a trap; in the French version specifically called L'oiseau bleu, there's one prince and two princesses, a kind and an unkind one, along with an evil fairy godmother. If I had to guess, Hiyori is meant to be the kind princess Florine while her classmate Chizuru is either unkind princess Truitonne or the evil fairy, although I could also see it being that the idols are the princesses to Hiyori's prince. In either case, that's a neat break from the usual Beauty and the Beast or Cinderella, and it piques my curiosity for where this is likely to go. It's a shame about Hiyori's voice and the oddly old-school character designs that just look kind of uncanny, but if you're looking for romantic fluff and boy idols, this may be a good choice.

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