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The Summer 2024 Anime Preview Guide
Narenare -Cheer for you!-

How would you rate episode 1 of
Narenare -Cheer for you!- ?
Community score: 4.1



What is this?

rhs-cheer-cap-1

The original coming-of-age story anime depicts the various ways six high school girls — with different talents, personalities, and hobbies — find support in their lives. The teaser visual above shows the lead character against the backdrop of a city in Gunma Prefecture.

Narenare -Cheer for you!- is an original anime series by P.A. Works and director/scriptwriter Koudai Kakimoto. The anime series is streaming on Crunchyroll on Sundays.


How was the first episode?

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Caitlin Moore
Rating:

Oh, I so wanted Narenare -Cheer for you!- to be a thrilling look into the world of competitive cheer. Featuring a sport I know little about (that's most of them) but have a lot of respect for (that's very few of them) with production by P.A. Works—one of the most consistent studios in the industry—this was on the short list of shows I was looking forward to for the season. However, I do not think I'll be watching episode two.

Cheerleaders need a strong core, but the core of this show is weak, weak, weak. Kanata quit cheer when her teammate Suzuha was severely injured—not out of fear, guilt, or other trauma, but because she “can't fly” without her friend. She meets a pair of unsuccessful YouTubers—including an overly-touchy Brazilian—trying to recruit a parkour-leaping gymnast to boost their channel's popularity (along with a couple others whose gimmicks I can't be bothered to remember). They spend the vast majority of the episode faffing about, to the point where I started to feel like, if the story couldn't bother to focus, why should I?

The character writing isn't awful, but it was a bit too “anime girl” for my tastes. They weren't quite moe archetypes—though Anna sure is a foreigner who loves touching people!—but they also didn't really operate on any kind of human wavelengths. “I can't do cheerleading because I can't fly without Suzuha!” Why not just say it's not the same without your friend? That you were partners and you don't want to do it without her? The resounding impression was more “idol anime” than “sports anime,” which is pretty much an instantaneous “no thanks” from me.

Nor did I really care for the visual style. Nothing is ever outlined in black but the outline colors shift based on the mood of the scene. It can be striking but at times it's outright painful to look at. The backgrounds are heavily-filtered photographs, as far as I can tell—and whenever there's vegetation in the background, it kind of looks like vomit.

But I don't think this is really a P.A. Works anime. Sure, they're animating it but it's produced by DMM.com, a gigantic multimedia corporation that's connected to a lot of gacha games/multimedia projects, owns racehorses, and sells solar panels among other business ventures. Maybe, in the end, it's just a commercial.


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James Beckett
Rating:

Cheerleading is not a sport that I think I've ever seen get much focus in an anime before, and that alone makes Narenare an interesting series. It makes sense for a show to give cheerleading the spotlight, too, since it is essentially a mix of dance and gymnastics, and there's all sorts of ways that the usual sports show formula can capitalize on those elements. Narenare also takes a page from the idol-anime playbook and utilizes some decently composited CGI models for the cheer routines, which is no doubt very helpful for the animators in the crew.

Beyond the novelty of its subject matter, I think what will stand out the most about Narenare is its art direction. The show looks kind of wild, to be honest, with a very saturated color palette that gets cranked up even further by stylistic lighting that sometimes borders on phosphorescent. It can honestly be a little overwhelming to look at (especially if you're watching it way up close to your face on a big HDR screen), but I won't deny that it made an impression. If you were hoping for a grounded and realistic sports anime, then I don't know how much Narenare will be for you. If you were intrigued by the comparison I made to idol anime earlier, though, then you're in luck. The only thing that separates this candy-colored LiteBrite-iverse version of cheerleading from its idol-anime siblings is the fact that our heroines aren't also singing while they're dancing and flipping around.

Now, anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I am very picky when it comes to idol-anime (or idol-anime adjacent) projects. Thankfully, I'd say that Narenare falls into the positive end of the “Impossibly cute and talented girls do a bunch of flashy moves on stage” spectrum. The girls are all likeable but distinct, for one, and their personalities are diverse enough to make for a very interesting team of cheerleaders. The fact that we have Megumi, who looks like she will be trying to figure out how to continue pursuing her passion for the sport while also adjusting to life as a wheel-chair user, also adds a compelling dramatic wrinkle to the proceedings. While I wouldn't say that Narenare is exactly an anime that I'm chomping at the bit to catch up on in the coming weeks, I am curious enough to check out a couple more episodes to see if it can get its hooks into me.


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Rebecca Silverman
Rating:

Cheerleading, despite the stereotypes perpetuated about cheerleaders, is no joke. It's a combination of a hardcore sport and a beautiful performing art, and if you're a flyer and get dropped, you could be in for some serious injuries. That's why I like the direction this episode took – while it implies that the character who uses a wheelchair was injured during a cheer routine, that's not necessarily the truth of the matter. Instead, the focus is on her friend Kanata, who seems to have quit cheer around the same time – not because of injury, but because she felt she couldn't “fly” without Megumi there to spot her. And if you're not sure you're comfortable doing something that requires that much trust and skill, then you really shouldn't be doing it. Kanata is clearly conflicted about her decision (and her former teammate Hana is downright bitter), but I still really respect the choice to have her stop for at least a little while. That feels more honest, somehow.

This episode seems primarily invested in establish its cast of characters and their various skills. Kanata and Megumi have been on a cheer team, Anna and Nodoka are into streamers (or trying to be), Shion's a gymnast, and Suzuha is a feral gymnast – er, parkour enthusiast. It's not hard to see that eventually they're all going to come together to form a cheer squad, with the show's title implying that they'll be each other's supports going forward. It seems like at least Kanata really needs that; she's clearly reeling from the worsening of Megumi's condition and how it shook up her world. Is that her making things about herself rather than her friend? Maybe, but it's fairly true to the age of the character, and when something turns your world upside down, it's easy to only be able to see how it affects you. It's a little selfish, but understandable.

I think that's this episode's big selling point – everything's a little over the top, but it also seems to have its heart in the right place. Yes, Anna's a stereotype of the touchy-feely foreigner (complete with blonde hair), and Suzuha's acrobatics are on the unbelievable side, but they're fun to watch, especially the way Suzuha flings herself through space and up walls. It's definitely distracting that the girls' skirts barely move when they're flying around; hems flutter, but they remain firmly glued to their thighs, nary a flash of underwear to be seen. I'm not complaining about a lack of fanservice here, but rather how unnatural it looks when girls are cartwheeling around with their clothing acting like it's been glued to their bodies.

I wasn't really excited about this show, but now I definitely want to see where it goes. I love the idea of a cheer group finding a way for a cheerleader who uses a wheelchair, and I'm here for the crazy acrobatics. This is the kind of surprise I love finding in Preview Guide – a story I wasn't expecting anything from that manages to make me want to see more.


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Nicholas Dupree
Rating:

There's a lot to like in this premiere, but it's a bit hampered by the fact that it doesn't really feel like a complete first episode. Far be it from me to ask for a double-header when I usually complain about those, but between this and BanG Dream! It's MyGo!!!!!, it seems like director/writer Kōdai Kakimoto really doesn't like fitting a whole thesis statement into just one episode. So while I did like this premiere and plan to keep watching, it's mostly on faith that this will coalesce into a more cohesive story as it goes on.

For now, this episode is entirely about introducing our ensemble cast, slowly bringing them into each other's orbit, and doing a whole lot of gags. Like, we know from the OP that this will eventually be about these girls forming a cheerleading team, but by the end of the episode there's no hint of that. The closest thing to a central storyline is Kanata's fascination with Suzuha, and even that doesn't really resolve so much as it leads into an interesting character moment to punctuate the episode. The rest of the episode could charitably be described as “characters screw around for a while.”

It's lucky, then, that is some pretty good screwin' around. Turns out a show built to portray full-body sports like cheerleading is perfectly equipped for some great physical comedy. Suzuha's parkour is at once impressive from an animation standpoint, and constantly amusing as she quite literally stunts on the other characters. Kanata gets her fair share of trips and pratfalls, which gives her character a lot of playful energy. I'm so glad that the show has adopted the Love Live! version of physics, where these girls can suddenly hit 30-foot vertical leaps for the sake of a gag or a dramatic crescendo. Combined with the vibrant aesthetic and strong character designs, and you have a show that's just fun to look at.

For as incomplete as this episode felt, I do appreciate that we didn't immediately jump into Kanata recruiting girls to become her cheermates. That's the standard for both sports and idol anime, and having a more casual approach where we establish the cast's arcs beforehand will likely feel a lot more organic. Kanata is obviously dealing with some kind of hangup, presumably due to her friend Megumi's medical issues. Megumi describes it as a “disease” which could also be really interesting, as it's extremely rare for sports shows to feature disabled athletes beyond career-ending, freak injuries. The rest of the cast are harder to read right now, but they have potential, and if nothing else I laughed out loud when Anna started smooching girls right in front of a shocked nun.


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