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


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.


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.

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Karandi James

Voice of Fox Series Review

Voice of Fox Episode 1

Singing, Lies, Rumours, and Social Media – You’re Always On Stage

Voice of Fox is one of those short anime that comes out that very few people seemed to pay attention to. And it kind of makes sense. The Autumn anime season was full of some amazing titles and you can’t watch everything. A short anime that adapts a Chinese Manhwa about a kid wearing a fox mask and wanting to make it as a singer probably isn’t high on people’s watching priority list. Still, there was something about the first episode that drew me in and I’m really glad I strapped in for the ride. While Voice of Fox isn’t a ground breaking masterpiece that must be watched, it is a solid effort at telling a reasonably interesting story in a fairly short run time given episodes are only around ten minutes long.

Voice of Fox Episode 6 Hu Li

Where Voice of Fox works is the tight focus on a very small pool of characters who interact within a larger social setting. With idols and stars making up a large part of the cast, social media and the internet play a huge part in this story as public perception sways and changes with events, rumours, apologies, and performances. While at times the public opinion seems to veer far too strongly too quickly, it is a good look at the pressure of anyone living in the public view and who relies upon fans and an audience for their livelihood. Hu Li also explored the idea of being independent or being part of an agency and the difficulties in getting yourself out there alone vs what a large company can achieve.

Where it falls down is that too many of these characters are either good people with poor luck getting trod on by an uncaring system or they are ruthlessly ambitious with very little in the way of actual human emotions. The characters who are set up as the antagonists don’t get to be anything other than star hungry and while the anime does attempt to give Kong Que (the guy who Hu Li is the ghost singer for) some sort of angsty back-story, it is one of the moments that is a bit rushed and the emotional impact is minimal. It also is quickly forgotten when you realise that despite what has happened to Kong Que he is still pretty ready to throw Hu Li or anyone else under a bus for just a scrap of fame so he’s not exactly a nuanced character.

The story largely focuses on the events around a reality idol show searching for the Rising Star of China, at least for the first half. The filming is rocked by scandals as singers get sick, power outages occur mid-performance and Kong Que is revealed as a fake and Hu Li as the real voice. This section of the story is really quite focused and driven and while there are some comedy moments that don’t quite stick their landing, by and large it is highly entertaining.

Voice of Fox Episode 6 Hu Li

The second half, where we explore the characters and their motivations a bit more and wait for their final decisions, is a little less well handled. It does come back to the competition and we do get a satisfying ending, but there’s a little loss of momentum in the second half.

There’s also a lot of singing in this. I really enjoyed the music including the OP and ED but I also really just liked the performances. If the music doesn’t work for you, that is possibly going to be a deal breaker because all of these characters are on stage at some point and singing.

Voice of Fox Episode 3

I’d recommend giving this one a go. It was one of those pleasant surprises of the Autumn season and I really wish more people had watched it because it would have been fun to discuss it more each week. Not a perfect show by any means, but one that I could definitely get lost in and just go along for the ride.

It’s Never As Simple As Follow Your Dream

Voice of Fox Episode Review Title

Voice of Fox Episode 10 Review

Chuyun’s emergency call at the end of last week turned out to be a sick pianist and guess who she has in mind to replace him. Of course, this being Voice of Fox, this is all some elaborate set-up to try to promote Hu Li and have him find his love of music again, but the positive change in Hu Li is pretty extraordinary to watch.

Voice of Fox Episode 10 Chuyun

I think what makes this really special is for once the childhood friend isn’t getting shafted by a narrative. Chuyun originally had little presence but now her story and her struggles within her group are every bit as important to the overall narrative as Hu Li’s. These two are great together and for each other and each one of them has inspired the other and helped them when they are down. It is a great dynamic and one that I’ve found really impressive throughout the series.

Voice of Fox Episode 10 Chuyun and Hu Li

Also, Chuyun’s song was amazing.

However, when someone rises up there’s always someone who wants to bring them down. It’s too bad that in this case it is Chuyun’s own group members. Another round of dealing with social media fallout later and things seem like they are on track. But there’s another character in this story who has yet to have his last hand played so I guess we’re throwing one more obstacle onto Hu Li’s path and I guess we’ll see how that goes next week.

Voice of Fox Episode 10

Episode 10 did however find its pacing again which is good news after episode 9 kind of packed in more than it could actually deal with. 

Rumours and Lies, Tragedy and Triumph

Voice of Fox Episode Review Title

Voice of Fox Episode 9 Review

This week finally reveals the accident that put Hu Li’s mother in a coma and gave him the ‘burn’ on his face. I know that is supposed to be a scar but honestly it mostly looks like a tattoo or poorly applied make-up. Anyway, for the first time I really felt they rushed over what should have been a fairly emotional note in the story. And it is no wonder. Given they also crammed Kong Que’s angst-ridden back story into the same episode.

Voice of Fox Episode 9 Hu Li

Now both of these things are important given Hu Li has to overcome his tragedy if he’s actually going to take to the stage and that Kong Que is getting involved in some scheme with his father that is sure to be bad news. However, given the build up, the rushed through delivery, while serviceable and getting the idea across, wasn’t exactly getting the emotional impact across with it. Which is a real shame given so far Voice of Fox has done a relatively good job at building up and conveying emotional moments despite its short run time.

Voice of Fox Episode 9 Kong Que

Yet if you think they were stopping there, think again. They also crammed in an interview with Chuyun where she essentially gets fans back on board despite her knowing about Hu Li. This enrages her group member, who is more or less just consumed with jealousy at this point and has some really poor reasoning skills, and so a rumour is started on social media that Chuyun is going to go solo. In the midst of the social media fallout from that Hu Li receives a call from Chuyun and then the episode ends.

Voice of Fox Episode 9 Chuyun

It’s a lot for an eleven minute episode and a lot of the nuances don’t quite hit their mark this week. That said, I’m fully on board with this story at this point given the build up so far so I’m just hoping this isn’t a sign that they are going to self-destruct in a rush to get to the end.

Do These Characters Have The Courage To Face Their Ghosts?

Voice of Fox Episode Review Title

Voice of Fox Episode 8 Review

Even as Hu Li thinks it is all over, a surprise is headed his way when Hetian challenges him in the finals. Caught by this surprising announcement, Hu Li is taken even further by surprise when he is literally carried away in a sack. Once again the drama of this show is slightly ill-balanced against its more humorous moments and Hu Li getting rolled out of the hospital and knocked silly in the process wasn’t exactly the best this show has had to offer, even if it did transition us smoothly to the next part of the show.

Voice of Fox Episode 8 - Crowd

We’ve finally been given a motive for Sky’s actions as well as the reasons for certain other characters acting suspicious. The one thing we don’t have is clear confirmation as to who Sky is, though the suspect list is pretty low at this point in time so I’m kind of thinking my earlier thoughts are correct. I’d happily be proven wrong but I’m pretty sure we’re out of time for another twist in this story.

Voice of Fox Episode 8 Hu Li

However, in order to take up Hetian’s challenge, Hu Li is going to have to get over his sense of inferiority and that idea that he doesn’t deserve to be on the stage or live his dreams. It might seem pretty straight forward but Sky was not the only ghost haunting Hu Li and a lot of the drama that has unfolded has been entirely of his own sub-conscious-es making. I’m hoping he does get over it because Voice of Fox has taken me on an emotional ride and I really want Hu Li to have his moment even if he doesn’t win.

Voice of Fox Episode 8 Kong Que

That said, Hu Li isn’t the only character with ghosts to face. Kong Que is coming to terms with the fact that it was he who needed Hu Li and that without a ghost singer, he might as well be a ghost, and he isn’t taking it well. It certainly sets up a rocky future and I’m thinking this isn’t the last we’re going to see of the now dumped idol.

Still, the preview for next week looks like it is going to delve into the past of these characters and I’m hoping that then clears the way for a final run to the end with more singing and less angst. Not so much because the drama hasn’t been fun, but more that I’m ready for these characters to get a little bit of happiness and want them to get a happily ever after. Or at least an ever after.

Why Strong Competition Caused The Need For Contemplation

Tsurune Episode Reviews

Tsurune Episode 7 Review

Tsurune took a turn this week with the team heading to their first competition. This shook up some of the characters, forced others to face things they’d sooner forget, and the pressure most definitely pushed other characters over the edge. While this is certainly good for ongoing character development, it most definitely damaged the calm feeling the anime has portrayed up until now. That isn’t to say it suddenly dove into full competitive sports anime mode, because it definitely retained its languid story feeling, but it definitely constructed tension and awkward moments for the characters and the audience to endure.

Tsurune Episode 7

And that’s really a solid move. While it isn’t the feeling Tsurune has been giving us up until now, what it does is force the audience to realise just how much they’ve come to love these characters in six short episodes, and to love the dynamic they’ve built in their dojo. Leaving it and facing the other schools, being exposed to the mocking of the twins, the pressure of competition and unpleasant memories was hard on the team and the audience.

Tsurune Episode 7 The Twins

The twins are an interesting addition to the cast of the show as they’ve really been the only source of real contention between characters outside of Onogi. It is hard to really dislike them, but so far they’ve acted pretty bratty and have generally been deliberately unpleasant. It was fun to note that the person most riled up by their antagonism was Onogi and realistically Onogi’s character is going through some growth right at the moment so the tension is just pushing that along. Or pushing him to self-destruct. I guess we’ll see which.

Tsurune Episode 7 Shu

However, the highlight meeting of the episode was Shu and Minato. In typical Tsurune fashion, and in a way that pointed out that no matter how different this episode felt it is very much the same show we’ve watched all along, this meeting was ultimately a very low key affair. Few words were exchanged and the meaning of a lot of the meeting is yet to be fully realised by the audience, but there’s certainly plenty to consider. 

Tsurune Episode 7

I’m really looking forward to next week when the team event is on. As much as there were some uncomfortable moments watching this week, it was a feeling I enjoyed because it just spoke of how much I’ve come to care for these characters.

The Fallout From A Fox’s Shattered Reputation

Voice of Fox Episode Review Title

Voice of Fox Episode 7 Review

Last week saw the dramatic conclusion of Hu Li’s career as a ghost singer when his presence was revealed live on TV. This week, idol fans do what they do best in this sort of media (and unfortunately occasionally in real life), they went a little crazy. Threatening to beat him up, stalking him on social media, and generally being as unpleasant as humanly possible, Hu Li is driven into a corner thick and fast.

Voice of Fox Episode 7

And does the company who hired him do anything resembling damage control? Yep. They fire him, charge him for damages, fire the actual performer too (and I’m guessing he’s the board of director’s son or something from that exchange), and pretty much hang them out to dry. But that’s cool. They have a plan. Hu Li will be desperate for money so he’ll come back and write music for them again.

Voice of Fox Episode 7

Of course, that’s assuming he doesn’t take a header off the roof and as we return to where the series began you seriously wonder if he will or not. What I liked was that he wasn’t feeling excessively sorry for himself. It was more he felt like he was causing trouble for those around him, including his friend Chuyun, and he had run out of options to improve the situation. So while it might be accused of melodrama, Voice of Fox feels like its built up to this moment sufficiently to carry the scene.

Voice of Fox Episode 7

And then, because it isn’t the end just yet, Sky sends Hu Li another message (why Hu Li keeps talking to Sky or paying him any attention is beyond me at this point). Of course, this is where the episode ends leaving us wanting the next part of the story as they intended and I don’t really know that this is needed at this juncture. I’m hooked. I don’t need these to be continued baited endings to keep me coming back.

Still, this one remains one of my surprise hits for the season and while it may not be able to go toe  to toe with some more notable titles, it remains fairly impressive for what it is.

The Downfalls of the Pursuit of Perfection

Run With The Wind Episode Review Title

Run With The Wind Episode 8 Review

Contrary to my expectations that Kakeru would attempt to leave the team or quit running again, Run With The Wind has taken a different path. It seems the track meet has served only to light a fire underneath him and make him incredibly impatient. He wants to train harder, improve sooner,and he’s become even more critical of his less experienced and able team-mates driving tension through the roof.

Run With The Wind Episode 8 Kakeru

While Kakeru might be on a path to self-destruction, and it certainly seems that way with an ominous near miss with a cyclist because he’s got tunnel vision, excessively driving his body and not letting his muscles rest, and even the pan down to Haiji’s leg where we know he has an interesting scar that has yet to be fully explained, the writing is more or less on the wall unless somehow Kakeru manages to turn things around I suspect it isn’t going to end well for him. Then again, if Kakeru actually sustains a major injury that more or less ends Haiji’s dream of Hakone so I suspect the power of teamwork, or maybe one of his teammates finally having enough of his dribble and punching him, may solve the problem (or at least I hope so because while Run With The Wind might be 23 episodes, I don’t want to get to the half-way point without this being resolved).

Run With The Wind Episode 8 Haiji and Kakeru

But let’s look at those teammates. For once, Haiji didn’t do a single actual obnoxious thing for the whole episode. It isn’t enough to make me forget that he essentially coerced all of these guys into the situation so everything, including Kakeru’s potential crash-and-burn is ultimately his fault. Kakeru had abandoned running and Haiji was the one who talked (and more or less bribed and threatened) him back into competing. So any fallout there is going to be laid on Haiji.

Run With The Wind Episode 8

However, the rest of the team are now fully on board. Some to the point where they are also driving themselves too hard and others are just now not resisting Haiji’s drive and training. With no more attempts to escape being a part of the team, the dynamic has shifted into one of concern for key members.

Run With The Wind Episode 8 Prince

Still, as always the MVP is Prince. Tired of being asked to run outdoors, particularly when it might rain, he begins to look for a treadmill. In his words, if he has to run, he’d like to be able to read manga while he’s doing it. Prince is golden and every scene he is in is just perfect.If you have no other interest in Run With The Wind (which would be a shame because it is very good), you should definitely check it out for Prince.

The Incredible Realisation This Anime Is Amazing!

Voice of Fox Episode Review Title

Voice of Fox Episode 6 Review

There was a moment somewhere during episode 6 of Voice of Fox, and it probably came close to the end of the episode where the titular ‘trap’ was revealed where I realised just how into this anime I actually am. Yes, there have been coincidences and silly moments peppered along the trail, but at its core, Voice of Fox has been driving to this climatic moment since episode 1 and it delivered it with an emotional weight some other anime series couldn’t have mustered even with twenty minute episodes by season’s end.

Voice of Fox Episode 6

Six episodes of barely over ten minutes each and several moments lost entirely to comedy (which has mostly worked in an eye-rolling kind of manner) and singing (which has been glorious and can we please have more). In just the time left, Voice of Fox (or Kitsune no Koe) has made me love Hu Li and feel dearly for his predicament. We still don’t even know the full story behind said predicament but we know enough to care, and boy has this anime made me care.

Voice of Fox Episode 6

With the fake out reveal of Sky, Hu Li’s desperation, and then the final reveal this week, all beautifully rounded out by the devastating silence and then isolated sound of the fox mask hitting the floor, every part of this episode did exactly what it needed to in order to carry the audience to that moment. It genuinely hurt to watch and the desperation to give Hu Li a hug was very real as was the desire for the next episode right now.

Voice of Fox Episode 6

This is an anime that hasn’t gotten anywhere near enough attention this season. I’m not saying it will work for everyone. It is idol focused, it is a short form anime, the animation isn’t amazing and the story is hardly a work of art, but it is a seriously competent effort and what it has delivered has been consistently good and right now I’m really feeling that last episode. 

Hopefully the conclusion can be as good as the build up to this moment was because so far Voice of Fox has managed to be a surprising delight.

Fastest Finger First Episode 9: Way To Make A Character We Hate



The final group of the second round have their go and of course Koshiyama ends up paired with the girl (who is actually a guy) from the arcade who really is just a jerk. There’s no other way to describe someone who treats others with that much disdain. Really, really wishing, that his team leader had actually sent him home after that round.


Despite really hating that character, the quiz was still fun and because of the format of needing two people to buzz in I was actually hearing enough of most of the questions to guess an answer which was entertaining. The outcome of the round is pretty much what you would expect at this point in the season, but I’m just not sure adding that character was a good idea. The characters so far have been relatively benign and then adding one truly irritating individual to the mix does not seem like a good plan.


I guess it did mix things up a bit, but this was probably my least favourite episode so far of this show.

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Karandi James.