Image source: アニメ チアフルーツ&トキメキ感謝祭公式 on Twitter

The main characters of Action Heroine Cheer Fruits are faking it ’til they make it—or get slapped with a cease and desist order with their hero shows.

The high school girls Ann Akagi and Mikan Kise’s low-budget self-produced hero show of Kami Daioh wasn’t just a hit with Mikan’s younger sister, but also became popular on-line. To capitalize on the performance’s popularity, Ann and Mikan’s upperclassman and School Council President Misaki Shirogane has enlisted them to create even more Kami Daioh shows. But, it’s only a matter of time before the producers of Kami Daioh have the girls cease and desist, forcing them to create a whole new hero group.

The idiom “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” applies very well to the early episodes of Cheer Fruits. What the main characters are doing is using the popular fictional hero Kami Daioh to promote their hometown of Hinano City. But, herein lies an interesting question: Are they “faking it ’til they make it” with their Kami Daioh shows, or will they cross the line and have to make their own local hero?

What the girls have done is take the character Kami Daioh and adapt it into something that’s new but resembles and uses the core elements of the original character and show. In other words, they have altered Kami Daioh to the point where it’s no longer a clear imitation and different enough to be called a new product.

Examining the second and third episodes of Cheer Fruits, we see Ann, Mikan, and Misaski take the basic ideas from Kami Daioh, such as the characters and powers, and retool them for their own needs. In this case, giving the character Kami Daioh a new villain to fight named Jorocchioh and new form called Kaju Daioh.

While the girls clearly use Kami Daioh as a template, they’ve taken the characters in a new direction that’s arguably unrecognizable from the original. The fact the Kaju Daioh form becomes wholly independent of Kami Daioh is important here because as much of an adaptation the form is—it’s something new and different. What the girls have done, then, is essentially what every other story creator has done, take old stories and readapt them.

Image source: アニメ チアフルーツ&トキメキ感謝祭公式 on Twitter

For instance, George Lucas’ Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope has elements from many different stories, including the Flash Gordon serials, Akira Kurosawa’s Hidden Fortress, John Ford’s The Searchers, and many other stories. The girls in Cheer Fruits, though, are working off of one intellectual property, Kami Daioh.

But, as they keep creating self-produced shows, they eventually make a hero that’s definitively their own creation. And we actually see this metamorphosis in the third episode when the children of Hinano begin to recognize and acknowledge Kaju Daioh and the characters associated with the Kaju Daioh shows more as an original hero rather than being borrowed from Kami Daioh.

However, there is one large issue looming over Ann, Mikan, and Misaki’s heads with Kaju Daioh. Although it’s clear the character Kaju Daioh has taken on a life of its own, it still can be construed as copyright infringement. Remember, they’re still working off the premise of Kami Daioh and keeping many of the elements the same. Yet, this infringement serves one key factor for the series.

Taking the character Kami Daioh and readapting it is a great starting point for the girls because it gives them an idea of what does and doesn’t work when creating a hero show. So, when they eventually get slapped with a cease and desist order, they can easily take what they’ve learned and apply it to a new hero or hero group and product. They’re imitating for the purpose of learning and it’s serving them well.

Taking ideas from other works and readapting them isn’t new in the media business. What’s important is making sure the idea’s you rework are different enough from the original. The girls in Cheer Fruits are on definitely on that path and using the fictional character Kami Daioh as their test bed.

Action Heroine Cheer Fruits is streaming on HIDIVE.

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