by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 1 of
Cheer Boys!! ?
How would you rate episode 2 of
Cheer Boys!! ?
Here's a new idea: what if we watched a show about athletes after they're already in college? And what if the sport they chose was a completely untraditional pick for their demographic? Even with those alterations, the resulting show still stars relatable characters with distinct, interesting personalities. This is what made Cheer Boys!! an irresistible watch for me; it plays fast and loose with the circumstances of the sports anime genre while staying true to its core values. I love the mix of sports anime staples and breaks from tradition, which make for a thoroughly fulfilling first two episodes.
Our story follows two fairly traditional sports anime heroes—Judo club dropout Haruki and his best friend Kazuma. Haruki's big sis is a Judo champ, but Haruki shines more on the sidelines when he's cheering his heart out for her. When Kazuma reveals his painfully typical sports origin story—his dead parents were cheerleaders!—the wheels are set in motion. The only problem is that this pair need something like four members to get started practicing and seven to perform at the school festival (and double that to enroll in competitions)! It quickly becomes clear that we're going to need a bigger cast (as previewed in the opening sequence). So the continuing quality of Cheer Boys!! will rely on how engaging these guys are.
So far, the strongest supporting character is the illustrious Wataru, a business-school dweeb with the range to go from quoting American Beauty to drunken babbling. Less engaging so far is Koji Tono, a heavyset guy whose entire personality seems to be “I like food.” Much humor is eked out of his weight and his interest in eating, which I find more tiresome than funny. There's also “bug guy,” who is afraid of ladybugs, and “curry guy,” who is a wannabe ladies' man—I'm not entirely sure we're supposed to know their names yet. All that matters is they're on the team now. Still most likable are Haruki and Kazuma, since we've seen so much more of them. We know plenty about their lives outside of cheerleading, like Kazuma's cute predilection for doting on his grandmother and Haruki's habit of retreating to the rooftop when he wants to think. There's very definitely a pattern here—the longer a character has been part of the show, the more I already like them. With such a large supporting cast though, I'm less optimistic that I'll be able to build deep affinities for all of the cheerleaders.
Let's talk about college life. This is a side of sports anime we so rarely see, one that comes with social drinking and the revealed vulnerabilities that go with it. Since everyone's a university student, there are no uniforms to speak of, and characters express their personalities clearly with their clothes (Ton only wears shirts with food on them). The setting is rendered in sunny, muted colors that give the campus a friendly vibe. The music is subtle and hopeful, like freshman year. But even with more mature collegiate characters, there's much ado about the cast being male cheerleaders, and I get it, that's the running joke. It's almost a metaphor for this show's relationship to the sports genre in its break with tradition. Still, I'm rooting for these hopeful, vulnerable characters at its heart.
Cheer Boys!! is currently streaming on Funimation.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist
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