Cheer Boys!! – Preview
Original Air Dates: Jul 5, 2016 to ???
Synopsis: Haruki Bandou was born into a Judo centric family. His mother and father are professionals and his sister is a champion on the girl’s team. Unfortunately Haruki’s never felt like he quite fit in, and after an injury puts him on the benches, Haruki loses all self-confidence. His childhood friend, Kazuma, decides this is the opportunity for the two to find a sport that will let them be true to themselves and introduces Haruki to Men’s Cheerleading.
1st Episode Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Cheer Boys’ story is a personal one and really isn’t your typical sports anime in the slightest. Haruki is struggling with family pressure, and his own desire to be true to himself. It’s a highly relatable and understandable story; one that isn’t about growing into the sport his family wants him to practice and improving, but instead finding a new and more true path in life. Haruki and his best friend, Kazuma are the stars here that drive this story forward, but the real highlight of the series is Wataru Mizoguchi, who joins their cheerleading squad after Kazuma convinces Haruki to form their club. Wataru is a pretty outrageous character who manages to catch you off guard with surprisingly well placed jokes and physical comedy that got some of the biggest laughs yet from Linny and I this season.
Linny: Wataru is definitely the star and if you like unexpected comedy, the scenes with him in it steal the show. The juxtaposition of his sincere and oblivious nature against his rather odd and silly behaviour will have you in stitches.
Tom: Cheer Boys!! is surprisingly engaging, and serious for a drama about male cheerleaders. While it does joke with the subject, there’s plenty of real character drama that keeps the plot moving and its subject matter is treated with a sincerity more adult and honest than, say, the typical shonen sports anime. That said, with the premiere episode, our characters have already resigned themselves to continue down this path of becoming Cheer Boys and it leaves me wondering what will be the driving force going forward. Is Cheer Boys to be about learning the ins and outs of cheer leading, a physical sport often unexplored? Or will the series remain more personal, dealing with the internal and emotional struggles of Haruki, Kazuma and any other members they gain? I’m hoping it’s a moderate balance between the two, as I did feel the premiere, if deserving of any criticism, was a bit too centered on the drama of Haruki’s Judo troubles. Another aspect I’d enjoy seeing explored is their families’ reaction to this decision and even further explore the opposition they’ll face from the community as was touched in the episode.
Linny: While this episode was focused on Haruki, it also offered us a peek into Kazuma’s past and his own motivations and reasons for wanting to form a cheer leading squad. Haruki’s struggle with the expectations that rise from his family name should strike a chord in viewers who’ve faced similar situations. Kazuma also gets some drama in the form of his deceased parents but it’s played as more melancholic than outright tragic. And despite my greatest fear of how this would be the Free! of cheer leading, so far there’s literally no pandering to the female gaze. So for those who wanted fan service, don’t get your hopes up. Setting the story in college and having older protagonists definitely helped to make the story feel more serious and mature about how it handles and explores the uncommon idea of an all male cheer leading squad.
Tom: Perhaps the only significant downside to Cheer Boys!! is its more muted color scheme. It just doesn’t pop visually, making it less engaging than Days, our other major sports anime of the season.
Linny: This show pleasantly surprised me with its lack of pandering and its mature setting. As someone who never imagined I’d be into a show about male cheerleaders, I would suggest you give this a try if you’re into realistic character drama and unexpected comedy.
Tom: Cheer Boys!! is based upon a singular novel, so I think there’s a decent chance we could see the entire thing adapted. Right now I’m very optimistic and I believe this series has a good chance of becoming one of the stronger dramas this season, rivaling Days as top Sports anime this summer. It’s definitely worth checking out if you’d like a sports anime that deals with a sport/subject not often depicted.
Cheer Boys!! is available for streaming via Funimation.com.