Kohane Hatoya’s most lovable trait is also her greatest flaw. She loves to help others no matter how far she has to go in order to get the job done. Her biggest inspiration to do so comes to light when she sees what cheerleading looks like for the first time in middle school. Now a highschooler but as enthusiastic as ever, Kohane wants nothing more than to start her very own cheerleading squad. She's encouraged by her best friend, Uki Sawatari, who often has to help her get out of trouble. There is just one problem: Kohane does not have any experience in cheerleading. She has absolutely no idea what to do, what to wear, or how to perform. To make matters worse, she has been scared of heights since childhood, and this new sport is full of stunts pulled far from the ground for a girl her size. Enter Hizume Arima, a former cheerleader who wishes to leave her pastime behind. Unfortunately for her, Kohane recognizes Hizume, and will stop at nothing just so she can lead the new squad, even if it means facing her childhood fear. [Written by MAL Rewrite]
Anime almost feels like a religion sometimes. Anyone who is a faithful follower will recognize that the concept of CGDCT (“Cute Girls Doing Cute Things”) always has a spot in every season. It’s 2018 and we had series like Yuru Camp that expressed the joy of comfy camping, Comic Girls to showcase the concept of manga crafting, and even Harukana Receive about beach volleyball with sexy sporty girls doing athletic things. Manga Time Kirara seems to never run out of ideas and their family of magazines will probably never disappear in our time. Before I die, Anima Yell is another show that I checked off the bucket list that I didn’t regret.
Anyone familiar with Doga Kobo will easily know their talent that usually adhere to schoolgirls and slice of life. Anima Yell doesn’t derive far from their usual trend although it has an interesting concept about cheerleading. From the first few episodes, we are introduced to Kohane Hatoya, an energetic schoolgirl who have fallen in love with the sport of cheerleading. What’s her goal? It’s basically to form a club with her friends and share their passion and joy. Say hello to the main cast consisting of Hizume Arima, Uki Sawatari, Kotetsu Tatejima, and Kana Ushiku.
Now I’ll be honest. If you’re not familiar with Doga Kobo’s other works, then it may be hard to embrace this show. Their modus operandi generally has a female main cast that sometimes also consists of soft shoujo-ai. You can see them through some of the character interactions although Anima Yell is light on this. There is one episode with a short plot about how to get the crush of a girl while other episodes consists of teases. The center of attention is Hizume Arima, the cool girl and ace of the group. At school, she’s admired as a beauty and often attracts attention whether she likes it or not. It’s no secret that other girls wants her and that even includes one of the group’s own members, Kana Ushiku.
But let’s go back to square one for a bit. The one that started this all is the ultra-upbeat girl, Kohane Hatoya. While she isn’t a child prodigy with impressive skills, there’s no doubt that her personality is influential to others. She is always helpful and can make friends with just about anyone. This even includes Hizume, the cool girl who isn’t easy to open herself to others. Kohane’s love for cheerleading borders on obsession and often causes hilarious scenes between her and others. My impression of Kohane is that she’s pretty much the poster girl of selling the main context for this show. She’s there to deliver her passion and is ready to be received by the audience. There are many episodes where her personality enables others to see what she enjoys in. And such, her group grows more in a positive way.
For such a charming anime, you may wonder what to be aware of the main plot. Honestly, it’s very loose as each episode presents itself like a storybook. It ties the whole show together through the essence of cheerleading with a great amount of colorful personalities. Each of the main cast is diverse enough to stand out individually. However, I do admit that some characters are less likable to others. Personally, I find Kotetsu Tatejima’s timid personality to be borderline annoying. Her lack of confidence sometimes feels embarrassing to watch and is no doubt in my mind the weakest link in the group. This is a sharp contrast compared to Hizume, the girl with previous experience in cheerleading. In fact, the series even has background story about why she got kicked out of her old squad until she decides to embrace the love of cheerleading again. Beyond the main cast, there isn’t much to say about any others as most of the episodes consists of throwaway characters. In other words, any minor character you see rarely appears again and easily forgettable.
Well, they’ve done it again. Thanks to Doga Kobo’s colorful art style, Anima Yell stands on its feet as an adorable show with cute girls. Cheerleading in this series is portrayed as an upbeat sport and the characters (especially Kohane) show great enthusiasm. There’s an abundant amount of character expressions that often stretches themselves over the line with its humorous gags. Kohane is the main culprit of this due to her excitement about cheerleading. Often, she just pushes any situation into such direction and it’s pretty damn priceless. The character designs for the cheerleading outfits themselves are well decorated with vibrant touches and stylish colors. Surprisingly, I’m also impressed by the overall direction of the choreography. There’s even excitement expressed by the body language of their performances. Their performances in this show also keeps its pace and carries an adamant momentum that’s hard to keep eyes off of. I’m not a big fan of cheerleading but there wasn’t one episode that made me walk away from those performances. Well done again, girls.
I bet anime fans are questioning in today’s world if we have too many shows about “cute girls doing cute things”. Now, we have cute girls doing cute cheerleading things. But really, Anima Yell isn’t here to jump on the bandwagon. Instead, it’s a show that has a lot of heart thanks to Kohane’s club with her friends.