Before I begin this review, props to Waseda University Shockers for giving us this anime!
Watch the link to get an idea for the anime: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AE7QecvR3fQ
Men doing something like cheerleading? Not unheard of but this show is the definition of male empowerment! I believe no activity should be restricted to a certain gender with this show being the beginning of countless opportunities. This a series that has the sport cheerleading under the spotlight as we follow the lives of two former judo participants who embark in this new challenge.
The main character for this show is undoubtedly Bandou Haruki, who is a college student that has the background of being from a prestigious judo family. This is evident in the fact that his father runs a dojo/gym in their name and that his older sister Haruko has won countless titles throughout her career. He then makes the decision to abandon the sport after suffering a severe right shoulder injury preventing him from participating. His best friend Hashimoto Kazuma follows suit in his decision as they do everything together since childhood. After this life decision, they immediately pursue cheerleading for a fresh start by trying to recruit members to start a college club, which would later lead to the formation of the Breakers. Initially they were ridiculed for even trying but our two main characters never struggled and persevered dutifully by researching the basics and applying it in front of campus. This caught the eye of a certain few which led to them joining and a chain reaction ensued since then with more volunteering to join.
Now one thing that needs to be disclosed is the ridiculous pacing which is apparent when a recap is inserted 5 episodes into the broadcast. The first episodes mainly focus around 6 characters who are the initial core of the group with them being the founders. Mostly everyone is inexperienced to some degree which is shown when every member undergoes a brutal training process just to be fit performance wise. This implies that they should be naturally strong and have a good sense of balance. Mizoguchi and Toono who are one of the earliest to join struggle with this aspect, due to the fact their bodies aren’t equipped for the sport.
Haruki and Kazuma are not subject to this because they are already in good shape from their time doing judo but still encounter problems in the process. Tokugawa Shou, who is an important character later on is adamant on not joining until the group can get on his level, which is the purpose for these episodes. The group weren’t called the Breakers until afterwards when the numbers reached to around 15. As more people joined, the same process of training had to be applied for everyone to be in sync. If they had the time to make a recap episode, then surely they could’ve accommodated another episode to deal with every member settling in to the new organisation.
The characters are numerous but there is just no reason to talk about everyone, so I’ll narrow it down to the three most significant characters with them being Haruki, Kazuma and Shou. Haruki is an individual who has defected judo once he realises he cannot keep up with the strenuous workload. His shoulder injury he sustained from a grappling move has somehow led to him having a fear of heights. Yes, this is the man who fell from less than 2 metres at best has resulted in this joke of a character. This is totally unnecessary when he hangs out on his apartment’s rooftop just to socialise and is a base for further cheerleading training. It is also known that he sees his older sister Haruko with an inferiority complex despite the fact that he is a fervent supporter of her when she performs in matches. The irony being is that being the physically stronger sex doesn’t always guarantee success which is the case for our unfortunate young man. It’s not like she doesn’t have her fair share of problems…
Kazuma on the other hand is just as talented as Haruki and even exceeds him in some aspects as being a better well rounded character. Kazuma is the focal point of the Breaker’s group when he is assigned the position of captain due to being a very vocal and earnest person at heart. The man is the superglue who resolves disputes that may occur and is the regulator to preventing any infighting. As stated earlier, Kazuma is a childhood friend of Haruki which has given him the status of almost being a family member in the Bandou household. I should rephrase that; he is treated to being the equivalent of a family member which just shows you how far their friendship has come. The reason for him choosing cheerleading is simple, as both his parents were active cheerleaders in their youths but even that does not explain the sadness that lingers in his mind.
Finally, we have Tokugawa Shou who has the most difficult circumstances among the main cast. At first he was rejecting every proposal for him to join when it is known he is terrific at gymnastics. Once he is impressed with the setup and general abilities of the group, he is convinced in the direction the Breakers are heading and sort of acts as a player-coach because he is the most valued and experienced of the lot. Things change when they recruit Satsuki Takashiro to supervise their progress, only for it to not go down well with Shou who has a complicated relationship with her, which is later explained in his backstory. Despite this, he is still a team player and is ready to sacrifice himself for the greater good of the team. Even with less screen time, I find him to be a far more intriguing character compared to Haruki who comes off as one note at times.
The art style and animation is certainly subpar compared to the norm that is produced nowadays. Brains Base have had some spectacular looking shows in the past such as Baccano! And Mawaru Penguindrum only to find themselves with Endride and Cheer Danshi this year. You don’t have to be an expert to say this is reminiscent to what Studio Deen had to go through but they are making a solid comeback. The character designs are somewhat basic but are peculiar at the same time, I could never get tired at looking at the same faces. Since this is basically a sausage-fest, this should be well received by the ladies who this time have good looking characters for once! The animation is just below average as there are too many instances of poorly drawn scenes when it’s not related to cheerleading. If only the whole show could be drawn like the opening segment, then that would make me a happy man.
The sound is slightly better as there are moments where I was solely focused on the tune that played in the background over the other content. The OST has not been released for me to identify that part of the soundtrack but is usually always played at the end and gets me every time in the upcoming previews. Once again, with a cast so large you will expect top seiyuu to perform their characters with the likes of Okamoto Nobuhiko playing Kazuma perfectly. Another thing to note is that the seiyuu for Haruki who is Yonai Yuki, is completely new to me did a splendid job as he hasn’t worked on many shows.
If you’re looking for a sports anime, then look elsewhere as this is a show that may feel underwhelming in many aspects. Sure the competitive drive is there but I feel this is more of a drama-oriented show personally. It’s lacking in production values but won’t necessarily stop you from enjoying it.