You know what makes an anime male cheerleading squad even better? Fire. Lots of fire.
Despite being a female myself, I tend to avoid anime aimed at women. This is mostly because by aiming an anime at one gender, it grabs one or two stereotypical tropes considered to be loved by the gender and smothers the crap out of them. This is why I initially avoided Cheer Boys!! (Cheer Danshi!!), an anime about an all-male cheerleading team.
However, after many articles from our writer Toshi and seeing Tweets just about every single day from many of the voice actors I follow on Twitter, I couldn’t really avoid watching it anymore. And, just like Toshi wrote in his article, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was a surprisingly deep and lovable series about college boys following their dreams.
That’s why I was ecstatic to reexperince the story at “Cheer Danshi!! ~GO! Otogeki Danshi!!” (Cheer Boys!! ~GO! Sound Theatre Boys!!), a live event featuring the main voice actors of the series.
From left to right: China Kitahara, Yūki Ono, Katsuyuki Konishi, Yū Hayashi, Yūki Yonai, Nobuhiko Okamoto, Tomokazu Sugita, Kōsuke Kuwano, Tasuku Hatanaka, Keiko Fukushima
I’ve been to many, many anime events over the years–some personal, some for work–so I usually know how anime events play out. Anime events are usually held after an anime has ended, and they feature the voice actors doing one of a few things: quiz games, looking back at favorite scenes of the anime, drawing pictures on a sketchbook of their favorite moments in the anime, or something else similar. Imagine my suprise when I arrived at the Maihama Amphitheater to find not just actors, but live musicians and a real college male cheerleading team performing on stage decorated by a giant Hollywood-esque Cheer Boys!! logo.
Yūki Yonai (voice of Haruki)
Nobuhiko Okamoto (Kazuma)
“Cheer Danshi!! ~GO! Otogeki Danshi!!” recreates the first five episodes of the anime, with the actors standing on stage in front of microphones with scripts performing their roles. Of course, it’s difficult to abridge five episodes of anime into approximately an hour, so some scenes were altered in order to make the story flow.
Katsuyuki Konishi (voice of Gen)
Kōsuke Kuwano (Sōichirō)
Even as someone who has seen the show, this did not feel unnatural at all–in fact, the ad libs from the actors during the story were some of the most enjoyable moments.
On the second day of the show, voice actor Yūki Ono was not present to perform his role as Shō. What replaced him? A mannequin with glasses on. The voice actors worked this into their acting, commenting on how Shō was strangely starting to look like a doll of some sort. When a voice actor tripped over a word in their lines, another picked it up in character, turning it into a thoroughly enjoyable moment instead of a mishap. These additional scenes and lines added a new layer of fun to the original work.
In the background behind the actors, live musicians on the violin, guitar, bass, drums, and keyboard provided the background music. The score from the anime was remixed with live instruments, with some sounds that were originally synthesized being recreated with a funky violin–although, I guess in this case, you could call it a fiddle.
But probably the biggest “shock” to me was that this stage event not only had live cheerleading by the male college cheerleading team, “Shockers”–who danced on both the stage and out in the walkways right in front of audience’s eyes.
It also had fire.
The dances were used to provide an illustration of some of the dances that were being described by the voice actors in their voice drama. In one original scene specifically made for the event, new member Hisashi finds himself forced to leave the cheerleading club because he finds out that his family’s senbei (rice cracker) business might be failing Therefore, he decides that he needs to leave the club and focus on supporting his familly instead. In order to support Hisashi and the senbei store, the Breakers team puts on a show at a local shopping district to promote the shop so he doesn’t have to leave the club. While the day I attended had the senbei story, the first day had a story featuring a female character that focused on Gen.
The Shockers team did a fantastic job creating a performance to match the story portrayed by the voice actors who, might I mention, were dressed in Cheer Boys!! attire.
Yūki Ono (voice of Shō)
Tomokazu Sugita (Wataru)
Yū Hayashi (Kōji)
The event was held at the Maihama Amphitheater between October 1 and 2, but I wish it was put on every year! Though no home video release of the event has been announced, definitely take a look if it is. Even if you don’t speak Japanese, the live music and spectacle alone are worth the price of admission.
Cheer Boys!! aired from July to October in Japan, and it is available to watch now with both English subtitles and a dub on FUNimation’s website. It is also available to watch subtitled in Australia and New Zealand at AnimeLab.