Image source: アニメ チアフルーツ＆トキメキ感謝祭公式 on Twitter
Many Japanese rural towns are trying revive their economy through tourism. Action Heroine Cheer Fruits shows us how the fictional town of Hinano is planning to use local Power Rangers–type heroes and live shows to attract people.
Action Heroine Cheer Fruits follows normal high school girl Mikan Kise. When super popular local hero Kamidaio is set to appear at the Hinano Sakura Festival for a live hero show, Mikan’s younger sister is looking forward to it. But the show is suddenly canceled. So, in order to make her sister happy, Mikan takes it upon herself to create her own superhero show in just one week’s time.
Rural Japanese communities have tried incredibly hard to create a robust economy for their towns again. It’s a large issue facing many communities, and since fiction tends to imitate life, Cheer Fruits looks at the problem by using Power Rangers-type local heroes. The idea of using local mascot characters or idol groups to do this isn’t a new phenomenon in Japan. But seeing an anime series take the same principle and apply it to a team of heroes comprised only of girls makes the series really fun to watch.
Image source: くまモン【公式】 on Twitter
Before understanding how Cheer Fruits applies Power Rangers-type heroes to reviving local communities, we need to know how Japanese communities have done this in the past. One of the more popular methods is the use of local characters like Kumamoto Prefecture’s “Kumamon” or Nara Prefecture’s “Sento-kun.” Prefectures, towns, government services, and so on have invested quite a bit of money into producing these characters and in some cases have brought attention to those communities.
On top of these local mascots, some prefectures have also invested in creating local heroes in the same vein as Power Rangers or Kamen Rider. These include Okinawa Prefecture’s Ryujin Mabuyer or Saitama Prefecture’s Musashi Ninpou Den Ninja Reppu. These characters and heroes are just one way communities and prefectures all across Japan have tried to reinvigorate their economies.
Image source: 琉神マブヤー on Twitter
While Cheer Fruits isn’t the first anime to use the theme of a town trying to revive their economy, (I mean, just last season, we had Sakura Quest) taking the hero approach is a refreshing idea. This is because, where the story is rather serious in nature, the small amount of action spectacle is fun and really captures the essence of what makes a hero show fun to watch. In fact, in the first episode of the series, we see this numerous times, but it is summed up nicely in two specific scenes.
The first scene is when Mikan is watching a Power Rangers-type show called Chotenkai Kamidaio with her little sister. The show itself is low-budget—so low-budget the wires are clearly visible during the stunts—but, is filled with the poses and over-the-top action that are inherent in Power Rangers-type shows. Despite the low-budget nature of Kamidaio, it captures the imagination of Mikan’s sister to the point she gives into the idea that the product the show is pushing is truly the source of Kamidaio’s power.
It’s that product push, though, that’s the key to Chotenkai Kamidaio reviving a community in Japan. This is because the show is designed for two specific purposes: selling the product and reviving a local economy. Is it deceptive? Yes. Yet, there’s an understanding among older viewers that the show is helping a community.
However, it’s the second scene that really captures the essence of hero shows in Japan. The scene is a performance of Chotenkai Kamidaio by Mikan and her classmate An Akagi for Mikan’s sister and her firends. While it’s super low-budget with cardboard costumes and a bicycle standing in as Kamidaio’s motorcycle, it has the same energy as a real-life hero show. In other words, the children who are watching Mikan and An’s show are engaged with what’s going on. This is what makes a hero show amazing because children really get into the performances and the story. Mix this energy with how the series is about a town trying to revive their economy and we have an interesting setup for the series.
The reviving local economies genre has gained some traction in anime. Action Heroine Cheer Fruits has taken that genre, mixed it with Power Rangers-type heroes, and run with it. While the first episode only previews some of the action we’ll see in the hero shows produced by the characters, we get a good sense of the dedication that goes into developing a show and which characters want to revive the community of Hinano.
Action Heroine Cheer Fruits begins on Thursday, July 6, 2017. Streaming details haven’t been announced.