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

Cheer Boys Episode Thoughts

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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Karandi James


Cheer Boys!! Series Review – Finding Your Way Through Cheers

cheer6

The basic premise of Cheer Boys!! or Cheer Danshi!! is that Kazu wants to start an all male cheer-leading team with his friend Haru. They work together to first recruit and then train a team.

At first glance, there’s not a lot to say about Cheer Boys!! and the various male members of the squad. It’s kind of by the numbers get a group together to reach certain goals and along the way deal with each group member’s 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 Cheer Boys!! week to week but really it never rises beyond the premise and while the characters are enjoyable enough they aren’t exactly memorable.

Cheer Boys Haru and Kazu.
Image from Cheer Boys 2016.

While the core group of original Breakers become fairly endearing, the injection of a large number of team members in a single episode made it difficult to really connect with them. Character designs are nicely distinguished so at least you aren’t left confusing one Cheer Boy for another but ultimately you also don’t feel a lot of connection with most of the members other than a general sense that they are part of the team.

What this show isn’t is a serious competition anime. While it is similar to Run With The Wind in the sense that a goup of untrained people come together to engage in a sport as a team, Cheer Boys!! never takes itself so seriously and even the final competition is more just a conclusion rather than a battle to overcome enormous odds.

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The focus remains on the in-team relations and what limited attempts there are at inter-team rivalry mostly amount to nothing. This is about the Breakers, the central team in Cheer Boys!! (and I wonder why the team name wasn’t used for the actual title of the anime) 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 more similar to Prince of Stride.

There’s also a heavy focus on overcoming the fear of taking on new things. Kazu has waited a long time to begin to put his plans into action. Haru hesitates at every juncture. Even the other guys are at times plagued by uneasiness.

Here is Haru's pep-talk.
Image from Cheer Boys 2016.

All of these boys are going to have to work hard to overcome their fear of new things and of stepping out of their comfort zone and that’s probably the most positive message this story brings forward. Seeing them rise to the challenge and accomplish something new, and have fun doing it, is really quite delightful.

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 in Cheer Boys!! 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).


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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).

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.

Other characters have their own dramas and problems and your enjoyment of an episode will probably vary depending on how engaging your find that character and their current dilemma. Fortunately most the boys here are pretty fun to spend time with so I largely enjoyed it.

So, if you are in the mood for watching a range of guys jump around and improve at cheer-leading 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.

Okay, the visuals aren't great.
Image from Cheer Boys 2016.

Largely that is because the animation in this sports anime is a little less than stellar. Brain’s Base isn’t exactly known for cutting edge animation in the first place and Cheer Boys!! didn’t exactly come out looking like it had a large animation budget. It is serviceable but if you aren’t drawn in by the happy feelings it generates you aren’t going to be won over by visuals.

That said, because the animation isn’t amazing, they don’t have you spending hours of runtime watching repeated routines or showing you every single team’s performance. While I loved Yuri on Ice and found it beautiful and emotional and (okay small diversion as I go to my happy place) if you cut out all the animation it’s pretty short. Cheer Boys!! has to focus more on the bits outside the sport because it doesn’t have the pretty animation.

Overall, this is enjoyable but pretty much without substance. If another season with the new recruits came out I’d probably watch it however this one is either take it or leave it. While it is fun enough it isn’t something you need to rush out and watch and ultimately it is pretty forgettable.

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


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


Anime Recap Episodes (Or Why I Came Close to Dropping 91 Days)

keep calm and recap 9

If you’ve been following my reviews this season, you will know that I have now had not one, but two anime 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 anime recap episodes annoyed me so much.

91 Days - Promotional Image

It came down to two main points.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.

Firstly, 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 anime 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.

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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.

Twin Star14

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 an anime 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.

Anime recap done right.

Kurumi is the queen of an anime recap episode.

Another example of an anime 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 anime 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.

91Days3

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 the anime recap did 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?


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James