“Let’s go, Kaminoki! Go for win!” —Kaminoki High Cheer
The Cheer Association begins gaining momentum, as Kohane and the others farmiliarise themselves with basics. They are asked to cheer in a variety of venues for their classmates, including at several basketball games, an opening ceremony for a festival and for Uki’s younger brother’s soccer match. After wondering why Uki would join the Cheer Association, Kana joins the Cheer Association after standing in for Uki during a routine, who’d become injured. With the required five members, the Cheer Association becomes a full-fledged club. The girls recruit Ms. Inukai as their advisor and make Kohane the president, partake in a training camp on the beach and use their new funds to purchase upgraded uniforms. Kohane and the others sign up for a cheer-leading tournament, as well. Here, Hizume learns that her old teammates are glad to find her and wish that she were still with them; they nonetheless wish her the best, and in their performance, everyone comes together to keep Kohane going after she became worried about Hizume. Despite not qualifying in the preliminaries, the girls have a wonderful time and resolve to continue practising for their upcoming events, as well as for another tournament in the future. Anima Yell! was the fall season’s Manga Time Kirara series, and for better or worse, these invariably end up on my watchlist. After three episodes, Anima Yell! gave the distinct impression of simply being Yuyushiki with cheer-leading, but as the series progressed, there was considerably more enjoyment as the Cheer Association began picking up their activity and explored aspects of cheer-leading that made it worthwhile for each of Kohane, Uki, Hizume, Kotetsu and Hanawa.
Anima Yell! ends up being a fun romp through the world of cheer-leading and high school life, as is the case for almost all adaptations of manga published to Manga Time Kirara. However, there was a bit of a surprise for me; I was not anticipating that the series would have something discernible in the way of a theme: Anima Yell! has Kohane and her boundless energy at the forefront. With her cheer and desire to help those around her, Kohane’s presence is strong enough to overshadow the other characters, even the highly experienced Hizume. Anima Yell! is, upon first glance, about Kohane channelling her energy towards helping others through cheer-leading and over time, realising that she’s got support from her friends, is willing to put an effort towards overcoming her acrophobia. However, each of Hizume, Uki, Kotetsu and Hanawa have their own challenges that cheer-leading helps them tackle. In particular, Hizume learns to appreciate cheer-leading from a smaller group, really allowing her to know everyone better. Initially dismissed from her old cheer-leading team for being a non-team player, Hizume comes to realise that she was more focused on the technical details of her performance, than paying mind to those around her, and so, while excelling as a cheerleader, failed as a team member. Working in a smaller team forces Hizume to train Kohane and Kotetsu, as well as organise things with Uki and Hanawa. In doing so, Hizume opens up naturally to her new-found friends and overcomes her own doubts about being alone. Through Anima Yell!, it is shown that the small-team dynamic provides an opportunity to really get to learn about one’s teammates better, and the ensuing friendship can have a profound positive impact on an individual.
Screenshots and Commentary
- Anima Yell! will receive a shorter post, featuring only twenty screenshots taken from various points in the show. In the beginning, a lack of funds means that Kohane and the others need to get creative – their uniforms are hand-made, as are their pom-poms. Their status as an association ends up being a boon for the club, resulting in actions that indicate ingenuity and a chance to take the characters in directions otherwise unexplored were they permitted club status.
- Kohane’s first objective is to get Kotetsu to join the club, and after much manoeuvring, succeeds in convincing her; their performance in cheering the basketball team sees each of Uki, Kohane and Hizume deliver enough energy to allow the team to win, and inspired, Kotetsu agrees to join.
- It turns out that Kohane’s acrophobia stems from an incident in her childhood, where she’d fallen out of a tree while attempting to help someone. While the physical pain did not deter her, the fear of worrying those around her had a long lasting impact, and since then, Kohane’s concern about troubling those around her means that she cannot be in high places. With time and effort from the club, Kohane gradually begins to overcome these fears, and she’s able to act as the top of some rudimentary formations.
- Hanawa is Anima Yell!‘s Sharo Kirima rolled in with Love Lab!‘s Yuiko Enomoto; fiercely protective of Hizume, Hanawa becomes greatly flustered in her presence and reveres her. She is initially disapproving of the Cheer Association, wondering why Hizume went from being a top-tier cheerleader to participating in a club where it is nowhere near as serious as the sort of organisation Hizume might’ve been in before.
- Uki explains the situation to Hanawa on the school rooftop, but sprains her ankle when she catches a falling Hanawa. Feeling responsible for the situation, Hanawa decides to act as the substitute for Uki when the basketball team requests the Cheer Association perform for their match. During the course of their presentation, Hanawa witnesses firsthand Hizume’s enjoyment, and also rediscovers her own love for cheer-leading. She reluctantly decides to join the Cheer Association, bringing its membership to five and officially giving the group club status.
- Inukai sensei is the stereotypical instructor, being quite lazy and unmotivated. She refuses the post of advising for the Cheer Club, but the girls manage to persuade her. Like every advisor for clubs that come before her, Inukai sensei is not usually willing to expend energy to help the club out, but when the moment calls for it, she will pull through. In addition, she also supports the girls’ aspirations from the sidelines, revealing that for her laziness, she genuinely does care for the club’s members.
- Uki suffers from a conundrum when it turns out the Cheer Club is set to perform at her younger brother’s soccer game. Uki’s younger brother, Akane, is not particularly appreciative of cheerleaders, saying they are quite distracting and contribute little to the game, but also remarks that he’s cool with Uki. Struggling to reveal she’s a member of the Cheer Club and will be making an appearance, Uki finally snaps when Akane mentions his dislike stems from cheerleaders flashing their pantsu during some stunts, and reprimands him, saying that cheerleading is far removed from exhibitionism.
- On the day of the match, Akane finds himself unexpectedly impressed with Uki and the Cheer Club’s energy and stamina; they spur him on, and the coach takes notice, putting him in the starting line for the game’s second half. As the girls continue their cheer, Akane’s resolve strengthens and he scores the game-winning goal. He thanks the Cheer Club and begrudgingly admits that cheerleaders are not so bad after all.
- Hanawa switches from loud and obnoxious to Kohane, to submissive and flustered when Hizume appears. Having seen so many anime with such a character, I knew that it was only a matter of time before Uki and the others managed to turn things around and help Hanawa overcome her own doubts. As such, where I may have felt an annoyance previously, I now wait for the character to grow and mature. Watching Hanawa become increasingly close with the Cheer Club was rewarding, and in the end, she is Anima Yell!‘s Sharo Kirima, whom I’ve come to appreciate for her role in GochiUsa.
- While we’re into winter now, Anima Yell! takes things into summer when the Cheer Club goes on a training camp. Although Hizume insists that their objective is practise, and the girls do get a respectable amount of practise in, there is a focus on what everyone does on the beaches under beautiful summer skies. For me, deep azure skies is a hallmark of the summer season in anime, conveying a sense of warmth that the longest days of the year bring.
- During the training camp, Hizume notices that Hanawa seems to have trouble interacting with her, and is quite unaware that Hanawa’s got a crush the size of a planet on her. Being the most reasoned of everyone, Uki offers Hizume advice, to take things one step at a time, helping the two close their distance. The training camp of Anima Yell! is not particularly fanservice-oriented, and has the characters coming out both on better terms with one another, as well as better equipped to face their challenges.
- Times change, and most of the folks who’ve previously analysed shows like Anima Yell! in forums have ceased. It’s been a year since we’ve been treated to seminar-style discussions of minutiae in Manga Time Kirara series, such as how economics work in Urara Meirocho, the exam procedures of Hanayamata or whether or not older PCs can run drawing software in Stella no Mahou. I cannot say that I miss these these divergences – they contributed nothing to discussions about the show, but now that they’re gone, it also means I have no need to shoot them down and explain why these individuals misunderstood or misinterpreted something. In each and every case, the answer to their questions was simple and could be explained in two or fewer sentences.
- Of course, at least one individual has been left with analysing the kanji in everyone’s names and concluded that everyone’s names has roots in an animal name, but watching through the whole of Anima Yell! finds that this has no impact on the story whatsoever. I’ve long found that analysing names has not done me any favours in understanding a show: names like Jack Ryan or Samwise Gamgee do little for helping me gain a deeper understanding of a story. Back in Anima Yell!, the girls’ training camp draws to a close with another successful and fun performance.
- Having club funds means being able to afford new uniforms, and after spending an entire day at the cheerleading speciality shop, the girls finally agree on a uniform that works for everyone. They encounter twin sisters who were formerly Hizume’s teammates, whose personalities are reminiscent of cats. Their cordial conversation with Hizume foreshadows what her former teammates think of her.
- On the day of the Cheer Tournament, the whole club has gathered and exhibits nerves to some level. Kohane varies between pure excitement and total fright – between her concern for Hizume’s well-being and her own ability to perform, fear slowly creeps into her day. She ruins a few group photos, and despite her insistence that everything is fine, audiences are keenly aware that Kohane’s not her usual self.
- As it turns out, Hizume’s old teammates found themselves in disarray after she left and wanted her back, but slowly pulled together and then found their way. Admitting that she’s happy to have seen this change as a result of Hizume’s departure, they also understood just how important Hizume was to them and are happy to see that she’s found her own way again. For Hizume, working with a smaller team has really forced her to be mindful of her teammates, and she apologises to her old team for not being more aware of them. They part on friendly terms and wish one another luck in the tournament.
- When their performance starts, Kohane immediately falls. Their performance in jeopardy, Hizume, Uki, Kotetsu and Hanawa step in to support Kohane, who realises that her friends will catch her. Her cheering spirit restored, Kohane comes back to help her teammates put on a performance that, despite not having the technical depth of finesse of a more experienced team, one that captures the amount of fun everyone is having in the moment.
- In the end, the enjoyment that each of Hizume, Kohane, Uki, Kotetsu and Hanawa experiences is very visible, and watching the Cheer Club advance was one of the biggest draws in Anima Yell!: my enthusiasm for the show was waning at the halfway point, as the mid-sections of this series was unremarkable and even dull in a few places, but once Hanawa joins, Anima Yell!‘s spirit is rekindled, prompting me to push through to the end. I’m glad that I did.
- If and when I am asked, Uki is my favourite character of Anima Yell! – she’s well-rounded, being skilful enough to keep up with Hizume and Hanawa, but is also able to reign in Kohane and Kotetsu. As seen from her reaction to failing to qualify, Uki is also very serious and committed to what she does. Despite this, the girls remark that yes, things were very memorable. Having seen where cheerleading could take them, they resolve to work hard and see just how far into the next tournament they can progress.
- When everything is said and done, Anima Yell! would earn a B, a 7.5 on the 10 point scale (3.0 of 4) – despite being strictly average, Anima Yell! has plenty of heart, and for me, this counts for something. With this post in the books, I’m officially done with writing about the anime I watched for last year: there are many titles I’ve invariably passed on, and I could return to them at some point in the future (I still need to see if Aobuta lives up to its praises, for example), but for now, with the winter season upon us, a few shows have caught my eye. At this point in time, I express an interest in writing for Kouya no Kotobuki Hikoutai – only one show is on the plate for the present, as my free time has lessened and I’d like to allocate what’s available to blasting bad guys in things like Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash and Battlefield V in addition to writing.
Audiences familiar with the Manga Time Kirara world would seen this countless times in other series; while Anima Yell! may not be particularly novel or exceptional, it is honest, and the end result is a fun story that picks up considerably once the series is under way. The energy and spirits that each of Kohane, Uki, Hizume, Kotetsu and Hanawa bring to the table livens up Anima Yell!; the girls’ cheer-leading performances are surprisingly polished in spite of Kohane and Kotetsu’s inexperience, and while the girls never get to doing the more sophisticated stunts, watching Hizume return to the basics and help bring everyone up proved to be a warming experience that is always a joy to watch for the journey everyone takes to reach the endgame. As such, in spite of Anima Yell!‘s average visuals and aural aspects, the story itself keeps things compelling enough for this one to be watched to completion. Anima Yell! is the sort of anime for Manga Time Kirara fans looking for something relaxing and comforting; beyond this, the nature of Anima Yell! means that it is unlikely to appeal to audiences with a different set of preferences. Finally, I imagine that Anima Yell! will not be seeing a continuation; while the manga is ongoing, I’ve not heard anything that suggests that Anima Yell! is as well-received as something like Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka? or Kiniro Mosaic — this series is not particularly stand-out with its execution or premise, but what Anima Yell! does have is a fun story about growth and being appreciative of those around oneself.