Cheer Boys Series Review

Overview:

Kazu wants to start an all male cheerleading team with his friend Haru. They work together to first recruit and then train a team.

I reviewed this week to week so if you are interested individual episode thoughts click here.

Review:

There’s not a lot to say about this show. It’s kind of by the numbers get a group together to reach certain goals and along the way deal with each group members baggage in a touching and sweet way while not actually injecting real drama into the show because that would upset any kind of feel good notion we have going on. Okay, that sounds like I hated the show which isn’t true. I actually quite enjoyed watching it week to week but really it never rises beyond the premise and while the characters are enjoyable enough they aren’t exactly memorable.

What this show isn’t is a serious competition anime. The focus remains on the in-team relations and what limited attempts there are at inter-team rivalry amount to nothing. This is about the Breakers and how they overcome their own shortcomings, a fact that you will be slapped in the face with about every second episode just in case you thought this show was about a cheer-leading competition.

So, if you are in the mood for watching a range of guys jump around and improve at cheerleading while confronting their inner feelings, this will entertain and put a smile on your face. Otherwise, watch the opening theme and you’ve more or less seen the final routine so call it a day.

And I just realised some of my week to week reviews were longer than this so maybe I should go into some actual details.

Haru is probably the character we spend the most time with, which is a shame because he is one of the least interesting. However, he does help a lot of other characters overcome their shortcomings even while he remains completely passive on dealing with his own sister issues until very close to the end. I guess they felt the protagonist couldn’t solve his own problem too early or they would actually have to put some real conflict into the show. This makes Haru a frustrating character most weeks because he is so insightful and action oriented when it comes to others but he actively avoids dealing with his own issues (and to a lesser extent, Kazu’s).

Sho is my favourite character even though about half-way through the series you realise that the accident that has emotionally stunted Sho wasn’t as bad as foreshadowing would make it seem and while there have been real consequences, Sho is probably holding a little too tightly to his own guilt. That said, most episodes that have a Sho focus I found a little more interesting than some of the others.

By the way, I am wondering if the writers of this have some hang-ups about being a little brother or sister because there are a lot of sibling issues that come up throughout the course of this anime. Yes, we have the usual big brother with a little sister complex but there are some actual and genuine sibling relationship issues (and not just for our main character).

Alright, I’m done. This is enjoyable but pretty much without substance. If another season with the new recruits came out I’d probably watch it but if you ask me for a recommendation this one probably wouldn’t be it.

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Cheer Boys Episode 12

Review:

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 litter (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 is available on AnimeLab.

Cheer Boys Episode 11

Review:

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 Boys 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 is available on AnimeLab.

 

Cheer Boys Episode 10

Review:

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. 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 round of routines and the story was going to get stopped in it’s tracks.

Cheer Boys is available on AnimeLab.

Cheer Boys Episode 9

Review:

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 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 is available on AnimeLab.

Cheer Boys Episode 8

Review:

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. Though, Hisashi definitely needed to learn how to give criticism without being offensive. Cheer Boys remains an enjoyable, if fairly pointless, watch.

I am however concerned about the fate of Kazu’s grandmother.

Cheer Boys is available on AnimeLab.

Friday’s Feature – Recap Episodes (Or Why I Came Close to Dropping 91 Days)

If you’ve been following my reviews this season, you will know that I have now had not one, but two recap episodes thrown at me. The first came from Cheer Boys (episode 5.5) and the second came from 91 Days (episode 7.5). In both reviews I made it pretty clear that I don’t like recap episodes in general and that these ones were particularly hideous. But then, I realised just recently I watched the recap episode of Twin Star Exorcists and it didn’t really bother me so I began thinking about why these two recap episodes annoyed me so much.

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It came down to two main points.

  1. These series haven’t even had 12 episodes so why are we recapping? I know 91 Days kind of threw me with some of the family relations and characters but the recap did nothing to alleviate that, instead focussing on Avilio’s interactions which were already pretty prominent.
  2. Linked to the first issue – no new material or insight given. Now Cheer Boys attempted some narration over the top of their wonderful reconfiguration of seen footage to let us know that next episode the whole squad would show up so at least they kind of got us interested in what was about to happen next episode. They also tagged the recap on after they achieved their first goal or performing at the festival so at least they found a natural spot in the story to pause. 91 Days didn’t do either of those things. Avilio did orchestrate Nero killing his brother quite well but this has never been stated as a primary goal so there hasn’t been any real break through on the revenge he seems to be craving and there was really nothing new revealed.

Recaps make sense when you have a long series (or you’ve taken a break and are coming back). They make sense when the recap is given a purpose (other than to fill air time). Personally, I prefer it when whole episodes aren’t dedicated to recap and the story finds a better way to remind you of key plot points but if you have to do a recap episode at least do it in an entertaining fashion.

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Which brings me to Twin Star Exorcists episode 14. Notice it isn’t a X.5 episode title. Episode 14 Yukatas, Stars and Wishes is an episode in its own right, admittedly a fairly weak one. If you remove all the flash backs, it’s an episode about out main group of exorcists sitting in the back yard and contemplating their wish for Tanabata. There is little new revealed but the interactions are on occasion fun. What it really becomes is a framing device for each character to reflect on the journey to where they are. The contrasts between the characters in episode 14, and who they were in each of the flashbacks, gives the audience something to reflect upon as well, while it reminds us about key plot points. So Twin Star Exoricists managed to do a recap in a way that didn’t make it feel like they just gave up for the week.

Recapping: It had already had more than 12 episodes which means the story had been running for over 3 months which is a long time to remember some of the finer details and it provided us with new material while it made us reconsider the characters.

Was it a brilliant episode? Not really. But it was watchable and enjoyable enough.

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Another example of a recap episode that was done well comes from Kimi ni Todoke. Season 1 goes for 25 episodes without a recap (which given how slow the story is moving is probably a good thing). Then there is a gap before season 2. Enter season 2’s episode 00 which is a recap of season 1. At this point, a recap is warranted to remind us where we are in the story and how things have progressed. But Kimi ni Todoke does one better than just timing their recap appropriately. They have the recap from the view of Kurumi (Sawako’s rival during season 1 for Kazehaya). With this we get insight into a character who before was really played up as an antagonist but is moving into a new role during season 2. It’s a great way to recap and make things feel purposeful.

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So back to the title of my blog. 91 Days started slowly but interesting. It was a really well done opening episode and in honesty, every episode after has been well put together. The story however has been stagnating. Despite lots of things happening, none of it has really been explained in context to the stated goal of our protagonist and while we can see connections, it hasn’t started bringing anything together. That would be fine (save the reveal for the end) except that we haven’t been given anything else to care about. I don’t care about the in-fighting of the family’s because I haven’t been asked to by the story, and yet that is all we’ve seen for several episodes. Then we are recapping. Reminding us that yes, Avilio’s family were killed and it was horrible. Reminding us that since then, he made some progress on his revenge (taking out one of his 3 targets) before realising there was another target and since then he has stalled. All recapping at this time did was remind me how little progress has seemingly been made.

I get that some people are going to disagree with me, but 91 Days has not been holding my interest well for awhile and the recap episode nearly did it in. Episode 8 is going to need to be amazing for me to re-engage.

What are your thoughts about recaps? Or 91 Days?

Cheer Boys Episode 7

Note: Sorry about the late replies to comments. I did not realise I was going to be without internet over the last few days. Hopefully everything is back on track now.

Review:

Well this episode 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 is available on AnimeLab.

Cheer Boys Episode 6

Review:

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). 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 is available on AnimeLab.

Cheer Boys Episode 5.5

Review:

I remember I said that I’d be pretty happy if Cheer Boys ended after their debut in episode 5. It seemed like a great place to stop. They assembled a team, trained hard, and succeeded at starting their team. Yay. Apparently the writers thought so too because this week we somehow get a recap of the first 5 episodes and nothing else. I don’t like recap epsiodes as a rule and I like them even less midway through a season. If you have to have it at least have it as a catch up when starting a new season.

So no actual review of the episode because other than a little bit of commentary from our main characters (nothing all that insightful) this is all just rehash of what we watched and I know very few people with memories bad enough that they couldn’t follow the very basic story being presented in this anime up to this point.

Cheer Boys is still a go, but skip this episode if you haven’t already watched it.

Cheer Boys is available on Crunchyroll.