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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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