Cheer Boys!!
Episode 12

by Lauren Orsini,

How would you rate episode 12 of
Cheer Boys!! ?

It's the Cheer Boys!! finale, aka our last opportunity to spend time with the show's enormous cast of sixteen main characters. For once, the episode makes the most of that. Using the boys' practice notebooks as a storytelling device, this episode successfully undertakes the feat of giving character development to every one of the sixteen cheerleaders. Sure, there's no cheering until after the credits (and it's a mirror of the opening sequence at that), but even if we never really learned who these boys are as cheerleaders, we know who they are as people.

Since halfway through the series, Coach Takagi has had the boys journal in notebooks that each came with a special note from her on what she saw as their most important practice goal. We'd only seen one of these notes before now—Haru's message to “Beat Kazu!”—but even from that, it's apparent that these aren't just goals for improving in cheerleading, but also in personal development. On the eve of Nationals, Coach Takagi has a surprising request: after weeks of asking them to journal their innermost thoughts in these notebooks, she wants the teammates to swap them around and read them all. It's a verdict that makes everyone blush, but it shows us more about each character than we've known so far, and it's astounding how well developed they are for such a crowded 12-episode show.

Of course, there are some weak points. Coach Takagi has written the exact same inscription: “Be independent!” in Gin, Doh, and the younger breakdancing brother's notebooks. That's because they're the characters we know the least about, who really come as part of a set. Sixteen is really too many, and these three fell through the cracks. For other characters, like Hisashi and Sakuma and Kin, we learned a ton by discovering their personal inscriptions and reactions to those messages. More than any of this dreamy reflection, we learn lots from the moments before their Nationals cheer routine, when the boys wave at their families in the stands. It's adorable to get these glimpses into the character's family lives. Haru's sister has the best line of the episode when she talks about coming to see Haru's routine: “Is it weird to cheer on the cheerleaders?” Just seeing her in the stands shows how far these siblings have come.

The credits roll before we get any cheerleading, but it does happen! The Breakers' routine mysteriously mirrors the routine we've seen every week in the opening credits, set to an odd music track with a chipmunk-sounding vocalist. The action is intercut with more character development that didn't fit before, chiefly from Wataru and Ton. We never learn how they ranked in Nationals, if at all, but the series ends satisfactorily with a full-circle scene of the entire group soliciting new members, a clear contrast to when it was just Haru and Kazu last year. From a bloated cast to sloppy art to a lack of sports action, Cheer Boys!! had some clear issues in its execution, but after it spent an entire final episode making me love its characters, I can't help but concede its good points.

Rating: B

Cheer Boys!! is currently streaming on Funimation.

Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist

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