“It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.” ―Babe Ruth
Kohane Hatoya becomes enamoured with cheer-leading after seeing a riverside performance and decides to take it up when she becomes a high school student. On her first day of high school, after learning that her school has no cheer-leading club, she decides to start her own and decides to recruit experienced cheerleader Hizume Arima. While her initial efforts are unsuccessful, her persistence moves Hizume, who relents and agrees to join. They begin training, although Kohane’s wavering motivation appears to be an impediment. With Uki Sawatari’s assistance, Hizume is able to convince Kohane to keep moving forwards. Kohane longs for Uki to join the cheer-leading club, as well – she sees Hizume’s performance and consents to participate. However, exam season is upon the girls, forcing them to put their club activities on hold while they study. Later, the girls’ cheer-leading club becomes approved as an association, and turn their efforts towards helping fellow classmate Kon Akitsune convey her feelings to her private tutor. This is where we are three episodes in to Anima Yell!, this season’s Manga Time Kirara series that follows Kohane’s journey to become a cheerleader.
Like beach volleyball in Harukana Receive, my knowledge of cheer-leading is very limited, although insofar, this does not appear to be an impediment. Anima Yell! is immediately familiar to folks who’ve seen Manga Time Kirara series previously, and here, the notion of putting a club together is a very well-worn one. Having seen clubs all manners, from light music, to yosakoi, resurrecting a club and embarking on a journey with friends, old and new alike, is a staple in Manga Time Kirara. Messages of discovery, camaraderie and overcoming challenges are universal, and as such, series such as Anima Yell! have well-known outcomes before even the first episode has aired. In Anima Yell!, cheer-leading is the topic of focus; protagonist Kohane has no trouble fitting the role of a cheerleader, possessing all of the energy and very little in the way of physical capabilities. By comparison, her friends are rather more disciplined and physically capable of the role – as their journey progresses, Kohane will learn more about herself and her friends as they build up a small cheer-leading unit. What will be motivation to watch Anima Yell!, then will be the nature of the journey that occurs.
Screenshots and Commentary
- Kohane is Anima Yell!‘s protagonist, and the story proceeds primarily around her journey to focus on something of her own choosing after her longtime friend, Uki, urges her on. Kohane’s tendency to help and support those around her, even at a cost to herself, is her defining characteristic, and she also resembles Angel Beats!‘ Yui with her energy and enthusiasm. By comparison, Uki is more similar to Yuyushiki‘s Yui, who was serious and reserved.
- Hizume is an experienced cheerleader, and whose performance is what led Kohane to seriously consider cheer-leading. Disappointed that their new high school has no cheer-leading club, Kohane decides to start her own, but invariably, without any talent or expertise, intially finds it difficult. When she encounters Hizume, Kohane goes on a mission of unbridled focus, determined to convince Hizume to join.
- As it turns out, Hizume was ejected from her old cheer-leading group for excelling; others felt her to stand above them. It’s a situation one might compare to Hinata’s experiences in A Place Further Than The Universe, where Hinata’s performance in track and field spawned jealousy amongst her teammates. A part of Hinata’s struggle was coming to terms with things and making the most of her travels to Antarctica: seemingly an escape, she comes to learn what friendship is anew with Komari, Yuzuki and Shirase.
- By comparison, Hizume’s experiences created a situation where she became quite worried about losing those near her. After rebuking Kohane’s efforts to recruit her, Hizume realises that she’s, in effect, driven Kohane off, and finds it awkward to speak with her the next day. However, par the course for a Manga Time Kirara series, protagonists rarely hold grudges, and the next day, Kohane continues her pursuit.
- While enjoyable, and lacking the elements that make it a guilty pleasure, I find that Anima Yell! treads on extremely well-worn territory. As such, there is very little to discuss in the way of thematic elements and big-picture topics this early in the game, in turn corresponding to my difficulties in writing about series such as these consistently. However, simply because I find it difficult to write about a series does not mean the series was lacking, and there are many shows that I’ve enjoyed, that I don’t bother writing about.
- Anima Yell! has average artwork: settings are very simplistic and flat. This design choice results in many open spaces; it presently results in expanses that the eye lingers upon, creating a sense of emptiness, but there is a reason why landscapes and interiors are simple. As Kohane and her friends get further into cheer-leading, their movement will fill that space, acting as a visual metaphor for how cheer-leading and its associated energy can bring a tangible change to the feel of an environment.
- Kohane has acrophobia, and is usually unwilling to go anywhere elevated. While acrophobia is no laughing matter, Anima Yell! chooses to represent it as an obstacle that Kohane must overcome en route to becoming a cheerleader, showing her dedication to things. Her initial understanding of cheer-leading is likely equivalent to the average gamer’s understanding of the military, and as such, she makes many mistakes that Hizume is quick to point out.
- Realising that Kohane is likely to stick it out and be with her, Hizume reluctantly accepts Kohane’s invitation to join the cheer-leading club, and promptly goes about setting up training for Kohane. Today was a bit of a quieter day, and I capitalised on slower things to enjoy a burger and fries from a nearby A&W: of the fast food chains that delivers reasonably good burgers and my favourite fries. I suppose that slice-of-life anime can be considered the fast food of shows: if made to a reasonable standard, they can be good in moderation.
- A portion of the comedy in Anima Yell! comes from Kohane’s naïveté: she orders cheerleaders’ outfits, not knowing the implications of the source she orders from. The more rational Uki immediately declines to wear them. While she might be afraid of heights, Kohane strives to overcome this fear, and is also shown to be okay as long as she does not have a direct sight of how high up she is relative to the ground.
- I empathise completely with Kohane’s situation in being inflexible: flexibility is an aspect of fitness that I am guilty of neglecting (I lift for strength and run for endurance), and a well-written article out there states that having the strength to lift things and the endurance to last long doesn’t mean much if one isn’t flexible enough to move their muscles. I stretch before lifting, and warming up before a run or bike ride has helped me to kick higher, but compared to most people, I’m still well-below the norm. It is not a mark of pride that I am more flexible than Kohane.
- An aspect of Uki’s character that I’m particularly fond of is that, as level-headed as she is, she’s also got a bit of a mischievous side to her personality. Unexpected parts of a character enhance an anime by making the character more multi-dimensional.
- The pom poms of cheer-leading are completely unrelated to the QF 1-pounder 37 mm autocannon seen in Battlefield 1: here, Hizume provides instruction to Uki and Kohane on making them, after learning that endlessly drilling Kohane with exercises might dissuade her from sticking to cheer-leading. In a way, Uki’s friendship with Kohane, and Hizume’s desire to never be alone results in a bit of an equilibrium that also will lead the two to become friends.
- The sum of the forces keeping Kohane, Hizume and Uki together result in a dynamic that I don’t think I’ve seen in other slice-of-life series, making it a novel one. Once their friendship is established, Anima Yell! will invariable introduce new characters to disrupt the status quo and keep things fresh. However, before this can happen, Uki must become a part of the cheer-leading club, as well.
- Old habits die hard, and while Hizume might not want to be a cheerleader any further, the combination of wanting to keep Kohane around and her training means that she has no trouble putting on a show for Uki’s benefit. The girl with long, dark hair is a staple in Manga Time Kirara series – from the protagonist to being support characters, such individuals are serious, proper but also have an unexpected vulnerability. I think Yuyushiki is one of the few exceptions in recent memory; my familiarity with Manga Time Kirara does not go that far back.
- Uki is moved by the performance, feeling it to be simultaneously cute and cool, and at last, consents to join the cheer-leading club. Uki occasionally runs with her imagination and sees herself or those around her in somewhat embarrassing outfits, lending itself to the series’ comedy.
- On what Anima Yell! actually means, the title’s representation in Katakana implies a word of foreign origin, and from there, Google-fu finds that anima is Latin for “animating principle”, itself a translation of the Greek term for “soul” or “spirit”. Then, Anima Yell! becomes “Soul Yell”, which is appropriate considering that cheer-leading is really about a sort of coordinated cheer for the soul to drive up motivation. Anima Yell! also lives up to its title in that there is indeed a great deal of yelling and high spirits.
- When faced with exams, Kohane finds it difficult to study until Uki and Hizume motivate her; with the threat of being unable to pursue club activities, Kohane gives it her all, until Hizume fears that Kohane will drop the cheer-leading in favour of her studies and then asks Kohane to reign it back. The end result is that Kohane gets trampled by the exam and is made to take remedial exams. However, she manages a pass here.
- Instructor Inukai (given name unknown at the present) is one of Kohane’s instructors, and while appearing strict at times, she eventually lets the cheer-leading club know that they’ve now got enough members to form an association. At least, this is what the translations give: Yuru Camp△‘s translations have been quite variable because of the Outdoors Activity Club’s informal status, and some have yielded “circle”. For me, as long as I can understand that there is a difference (e.g. when a group is operating with a different level of freedom and resources), then the precise translation is not so important.
- When Kon Akitsune comes to the cheer-leading club with the aim of getting some support for a kokuhaku, the girls immediately set about helping her out, and are successful. Discussions on Anima Yell! are limited right now, although I think that this scene would be a topic of interest, for a remarkable moment where characters are very forward and direct with how they feel.
- With the cheer-leading club having its core members now, I imagine that upcoming episodes will follow a conventional approach, adding more characters and sending them on familiar adventures, leading up to the big finish when the sum of everyone’s efforts is shown in a titanic final performance. Predictable that Anima Yell! might be, and likely being ill-suited for long discussions, it will still represent twenty minutes every week of light-hearted fun, and for me, this is what counts.
In a manner of speaking, Anima Yell! is initially similar to Yuyushiki in its initial setup, with three central characters whose personalities that share some overlaps. Yuyushiki‘s draw was its unstructured premise, with each of Yui, Yukari and Yuzuki bouncing off one another as they explore random topics and experience high school. The setup in Yuyushiki allowed for very unusual humour to be presented, and aside from its character design, Anima Yell!‘s premise is rather different – there is a focus on cheer-leading, which means that the anime will remain in the realm of the experiences that Kohane and her friends encounter as they build their club out and perform at sports events. Anima Yell! looks to offer a familiar experience on first glance, sticking with the tried-and-true rather than anything novel, although the character setup and cheer-leading elements could also create unique moments, as well. I am not expecting anything too fancy in Anima Yell!; this is a series to share a few laughs about, but beyond this, I imagine that writing about this one could prove quite challenging.