Cheer Boys!! From Beginning To End – A Viewer’s Journey Into Male Cheerleading

Cheer Boys!! or Cheer Danshi!! with its multiple exclamation points for no reason (I’m guessing it is just really excited about its content) is an anime series released in 2016 based on a novel about a group of college boys who decide for various reasons to start a cheerleading team. There’s 12 episodes plus a recap episode after episode 5 (not sure what was going on in 2016 but this happened a lot).

As cheesy as that sounds, the series ultimately had quite a bit of heart to it and while it isn’t going to rival anime sports giants such as Haikyuu anytime soon, Cheer Boys!! wasn’t bad viewing. Below are my thoughts from each episode of the series from my first viewing.

Cheer Boys!! Episode 1 – The Curtain Rises

Bandou’s family are into Judo but he was never all that good at it. Now he has injured his shoulder and finally has an excuse to quit. His best friend sees this as the perfect opportunity to start a male cheerleading squad.

Queue a whole lot of speeches about the power of cheers and positivity. Okay, this was actually a reasonable first episode but you get more or less what you would expect given the premise of Cheer Danshi!!.

The characters are introduced in a reasonably sensible manner, they discuss events that they probably shouldn’t need to in order for the audience to know what is going on, and then they hand out fliers to start a cheerleading team. There are some funny moments but mostly this one has had a slow start.

My biggest complaint is the jerk who came up to them while they were watching a cheerleading team and berated them over wanting to start one. Who does that? Even if you think they have no chance, just laugh and move on. Why set yourself up as an antagonist when there is no need for it at all?

Anyway, Cheer Boys is available on AnimeLab for those in Australia and New Zealand and this one is a wait and see.

Cheer Boys!! Episode 2 – Your First Cheerleader Smile

Bandou speaks with his sister.
Image from Cheer Boys Episode 2

Cheer Danshi!! is moving along slow and steady. Last episode they formed the team, now we’re recruiting members and setting goals. I like that they didn’t become spectacular after a training montage and that the small improvements feel genuine, though I still question whether an injured shoulder would be any more useful in cheerleading than Judo.

The dynamic between the boys is great and the new additions are keeping it feeling fresh. I’m not going to drop this one for a bit even though it isn’t my usual style of anime because it’s light and enjoyable without too much thought required.

Cheer Boys!! Episode 3 – The Seventh Squirrelurai

Philosophy and sport - just play.
Image from Cheer Boys 2016

Yep, Cheer Danshi!! is light and enjoyable and not too much thought is required. That’s the perfect summation of this anime. This week we get the standard messages about perseverance over talent while we’re introduced to another male soon to be member of the club.

Like most the other members he’s coming with his own motives and baggage but the show doesn’t seem to want to dwell on this but rather continues to focus on the boys developing into a cohesive team and that’s pleasant enough if not particularly exciting. It was nice to see them actually start to develop some tumbling skills though the speed at which they succeeded kind of makes me want to question whether the writers have ever tried actually tumbling.

If you want something light and easy, watch a couple of episodes of this.

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Cheer Boys!! Episode 4 – What We Want To Break

Almost a team.
Image from Cheer Boys 2016

There’s something to be said about a show that just goes about it’s business quietly. Cheer Boys!! has a likeable cast of boys slowly learning the ropes of cheerleading. Some of them have personal baggage, they don’t always get along, and they sometimes don’t succeed. Otherwise, it’s just your usual never give up and keep trying anime with a power of teamwork motif thrown in because that’s what these shows do.

Haru’s fear of heights has been coming for awhile so it wasn’t a particularly stark revelation and the boys watching an experienced team train and realising their current limitations was a kind of necessary next step. This show is pleasant, amusing, doesn’t fall into the so little tension it is dull category, and continues to entertain but it isn’t particularly exciting.

This one also has a pretty cool opening song. It’s a little infectious and kind of fits the show nicely.

Cheer Boys!! Episode 5 – Let’s Go, Breakers!

Eating is a test of courage.
Image from Cheer Boys 2016.

This episode of Cheer Danshi!! just flew by. I got so caught up in the team prepping for their first performance and then the performance was on and the credits were rolling. This episode just feels right, like the culmination of the past four episodes and all of their effort.

Yeah, they still aren’t perfect and clearly the team is still growing (given how many boys we see in the opening) but this core group are finally getting things together and progressing and it is really satisfying to watch. My favourite moment this week goes to Haru’s outburst on the roof. For a normally quiet character when he let’s loose everything just comes out at once.

This show isn’t going to wow anyone but it has been a really pleasant ride so far and so if you haven’t picked it up it is well worth checking out the first 5 episodes.

Cheer Boys!! Episode 6 – Restart

Well that cheerleading team grew fast.
Image from Cheer Boys 2016.

So we now have a full team and a shiny new goal (though personally I think a national competition only a few months after assembling a team is probably overly ambitious) in Cheer Danshi!!.

We also finally confronted Sho’s predictable trauma but by the end of the episode he’s ready to move forward. I kind of get why we went from 7 members to 15 this quickly but it means that our new members are difficult to understand and remember (admittedly they clearly thought about how to visually differentiate the characters but their personalities for the most part remain a mystery).

It will be interesting to see how this plays out and it maintains its positive and upbeat tone.

Cheer Boys!! Episode 7 – Strain

Different goals and approaches cause friction.
Image from Cheer Boys 2016.

Well this episode of Cheer Boys!! is certainly an excellent case study on what happens when a team lacks a shared vision. It’s kind of hard to watch the inevitable break down of communication and the half-hearted and doomed efforts to patch over the problems rather than address them.

That said, it is kind of exactly what this show needed because the feel good and everybody just pulling together thing was really starting to feel a little artificial, particularly with so many new team members joining for so many different reasons. Kind of hoping they find a genuine way to deal with these issues next week.



Cheer Boys!! Episode 8 – The Dawning of a Bond

Unproductive conversation is more or less how we built society.
Image from Cheer Boys 2016.

This episode brings the in-team tension to a head, has Hisashi try to quit, and then has a touching resolution before we go to a New Year’s training camp for a training and cooking montage. It’s fun to watch and we finish on a nice positive, but I can’t help but wonder why the rigid guy has to loosen up to fit in and why it isn’t the irresponsible guy who never quite get’s it that doesn’t have to pick up his act.

The brocoli guy is seriously irritating and as a team member he kind of sucks. I would have definitely preferred an outcome where he started to take something a bit more seriously. Or maybe both characters realising they’d need to meet halfway. Though, Hisashi definitely needed to learn how to give criticism without being offensive.

Cheer Danshi!! remains an enjoyable, if fairly pointless, watch. I am however concerned about the fate of Kazu’s grandmother.

Cheer Boys!! Episode 9 – Tears of the Sun

Kazu having a moment of reflection.
Image from Cheer Boys 2016.

Kazu’s grandmother doesn’t remember him. I don’t know whether the lead up to this episode was good or bad. It’s been clear for awhile that Kazu’s grandmother is not going well and that Kazu is hiding that from Haru. So it wasn’t a revelation of any sort. That said, at least it didn’t come completely out of left field to add artificial tension to the story.

I really feel the issue was that this episode just didn’t hit the emotions I felt it wanted to get across. Which, given Kazu is a main character, is a shame because his episode had so much less impact than some of the other episodes of Cheer Danshi!! we’ve already watched.

Anyway, we’re moving onto the competition and we’ll see what our team have managed to pull together in too short a time period to actually make a team of novices competitive. Hopefully it will be inspiring because realism left awhile ago.

I know that sounds like I don’t like this show but that isn’t actually true. It’s an enjoyable watch. It just doesn’t offer anything else of substance to go with that so will be fairly quickly forgotten by me.

Cheer Boys!! Episode 10 – What I Wanted To Tell You

I'm sure that wall loves the attention.
Image from Cheer Boys 2016.

I think they made some smart decisions this week with the focus on the characters prior to and after their qualifying performance and leaving out lengthy scenes of various teams performing. We’ve seen enough cheerleading throughout this show to know what is happening and this way the story kept up its pace and didn’t feel dragged down by extended pretty animations.

Even a mistake in the routine was mentioned after rather than seen. Though realistically that is also probably because they haven’t really got the animation budget to bring these routines to life. So smart choices all round then.

I also liked the dual focus on Haru and Sho throughout the episode. All and all, this episode was more satisfying than anticipated because I was worried we’d be sitting through rounds of routines and the story was going to get stopped in it’s tracks.

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Cheer Boys!! Episode 11 – Bittersweet Valentine

Hmm yum.
Image from Cheer Boys 2016.

Let’s put cheering on hold and deal with all those pesky relationship issues that continue to remain unresolved. That seemed to be the theme this week and while everything here felt a little bit contrived it also felt like they were wrapping up loose ends nicely before the competition.

I do feel that the whole making a cake for Valentine’s Day thing was kind of needlessly silly as was the ‘twist’ but realistically it was obvious the girl was never making the cake for Haru. However, the resolution of the conflict between Haru and his sister felt needed even if it turns out they just needed to talk and then he just needed to go watch her match.

All and all, Cheer Danshi!! remains pleasant but superficial and I’ve enjoyed watching the season, however as they essentially wrapped up any existing plot point except the finals there doesn’t seem much left for these characters to do but either win or not next week.

Cheer Boys!! Episode 12 – Cheer Boys!!

While I liked that the focus of the episode was on self-reflection and the journey travelled rather than winning a national tournament after less than a year as a team, the note book gimmick fell kind of flat. It just felt like if they actually tried this someone would have grabbed the book and walked off and the team would have had a few more falling outs and misunderstandings the day before the competition which just isn’t productive for generating team spirit.

I am disappointed that we didn’t get to see the routine uninterrupted and instead we had flash backs and quotes from the note books over the top. For a show about cheerleading we’ve seen very little (thankfully, because otherwise it would get dull) but we’ve now watched the final episode and still not really seen a full routine.

All and all, this series has maintained its tone and ended satisfyingly enough but other than being reasonably enjoyable to watch it has also remained reasonably forgettable.

Cheer Boys the full team.

Find the full series review here.

Images from: Cheer Boys. Dir. A. Yoshimura. Brain’s Base. 2016


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