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Action Heroine Cheer Fruits Blu-ray Anime Review

8 min read

So… this is a thing.

What They Say:
Ann seems like a normal girl, but secretly she’s obsessed with the “local super heroines” who perform in shows that promote regional products and tourist sites across Japan. So when Ann is approached by Mikan to put on a private heroine show for Mikan’s younger sister, Ann jumps at the chance to live out her fantasies. And when their student council president, Misaki, sees the two girls rehearsing, she realizes that a local superhero show might be the way to rescue their town from serious financial jeopardy! But can they recruit all the girls and resources needed in the short time before the bills come due? It’ll take a superhuman effort and a lot of favors from friends, but these real-life heroines might just save the day.

The Review:
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. With no dub here, the show gives us a pretty good mix overall as it’s working a stage performance design for a lot of it while the rest is standard dialogue-driven material. There are a few areas where things ramp up a bit with some of the sound effects for the performances or the fireworks but mostly it’s the dialogue that dominates here with some useful placement from time to time and a good layout for it overall as the expansive cast of characters move about the stage. It’s not going to wow in a big way but it fits the show well and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally airing in 2017, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes are spread across two discs in a nine/three format which gives it plenty of space to work with. Animated by Diomedea, the series isn’t a budget-looking project as there’s a good sense of color design, some fluid animation where it needs to be ramped up, and a crisp and clean look overall. Going with all the costumes that they wear we get some bright and sharp looking pieces here and combined with the settings they stand out even more with largely simple backdrops. The encoding doesn’t have to stretch itself too badly here as there’s a good level of detail without being overdone and that makes for a very solid looking work with bright and engaging colors that leaves you enjoying the visual design of the project.

The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized Blu-ray case that holds the two discs without any hinges being used. The front cover uses the familiar key visual of the main cast of nine girls in their performance costumes set against one of their stages so it’s bright, colorful, and sets the tone well for what to expect. It really is quite honest here in its simplicity. The logo is colorful and cute and the use of the small slices of orange in the corners for information works nicely. The back cover has a lot of soft fruity colors to it with a good shot of Misaki to the left that adds a little more cuteness. The standard strip of shots from the show is here, a bit bigger and easier to see, and the summary of the premise is well-covered in a problem-free format. The rest is the standard breakout of the extras, production credits, and the technical grid that lists everything in how the series is put together accurately in an easy to read way.

The menu design for this release is definitely bright and colorful as we get some of the background color design from the back cover used here along with two different static images for each disc that puts the gaggle of girls together. The first disc has all nine of them together while the second goes for just a few of them, but the end result is pretty good as they’re well-detailed and stand out here. The left side has the menu navigation, which is pretty simple as you’d expect, but it’s so colorful with a rainbow design used for the numbering that wraps around the white box of the episode title, which is done in red and alternating white. It may sound a bit garish but it fits and works with the overly colorful logo of the series itself.

The only extras included in this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
An original series that aired during the summer 2017 season that had a manga adaptation that’s still running, Action Heroine Cheer Fruits is a twelve episode series that was produced by Diomedea. Directed by Keizo Kusakawa, who has directed a number of works that tend to be a bit more action-oriented overall but also with some slice of life works in the mix, it’s easy to view this as the kind of series that’s a more relaxed project than an intensive action piece like the Kantai Collection series and film and so forth. And the show, which we’ll just call Cheer Fruits going forward, is very relaxed and laid back overall.

With the idea of how action heroines are pretty popular in the big city, it’s no surprise that smaller cities would try and work a similar thing to create the equivalent of a mascot team. Sometimes these things are created by the people as it gels into something more formal, sometimes they’re a project of the local councils and all that. Here, focusing on Hinano City, we get a group of girls that come together when a show that was planned in town is canceled and the younger sister of Yuzuka is sad and upset about it. This has Yuzuka working to put on a very low-rent version of it for a small group of kids along with her friend Ann and it’s basically what you’d expect with cardboard box costumes, bad acting, and no different than what most kids put on in their homes on the weekend for playtime. While the audience isn’t exactly receptive at first, the two do manage to make things work well enough that the kids are drawn in and it’s all good.

Which catches the eye of Misaki, the daughter of the governor of Hinano City and also a “power player” in her own right as the student council president. Growing up political, she sees how this can be co-opted into the revitalization plans for the two and she works to draw the pair into it, along with others that forms a nine-unit group. Misaki herself doesn’t perform much outside of a couple of special moments and she’s at the crux of the more serious storyline that crops up during the last couple of episodes, which isn’t bad but like a lot of these things just feels like forced seriousness. What Misaki does bring to everything is someone in charge, hence her being called captain often, as she’s able to be seen as a leader and solve the problems. This has some of the girls letting things go a bit too much and not taking it as seriously as they should, but there’s a fine line in how you’re doing something like this. You have to do it right for the kids but it also has to be fun on some level simply because you’re spending so much time doing it.

Over the course of the series we get a lot of girls added to it as it builds out the ranks so they can do some bigger stories with the characters. Along the way they do face some amusing challenges such as legal ones by copying things a little too much from other popular groups and learning more about set design, fireworks, and costume work. The show also gets into some of that happens as things get a bit more competitive and it’s understandable how upset or withdrawn they get after reaching some solid heights only to drop on the list, but it also feels like it gets taken too far by them since they barely talk to each other initially. With this not being a school activity and no actual employment in regards to it, it becomes curious how serious they get about it. The big draw is the delight that the kids feel with it to be sure but it also feels like everything gets taken a little too seriously, even if you’re doing all of this for the kids and for the image of the town.

In Summary:
I didn’t pay this series too much mind when it first aired simply because of the title alone, so I had no idea what it really was about when I got into it here. Focusing on the Action Heroine concept to promote towns and the like isn’t a surprise and like anything else in Japan of this nature there’s a competitive edge about it that lets people become way, way, too invested in it. This doesn’t get into that all that much as we mostly get a competently produced story about nine girls that come together to help Hinano City by becoming action heroine’s themselves. There’s not a lot of depth to them and their stories and with nine main characters and some supporting characters (and hardly any male characters outside of the kids and some of the adults in the show for the most part), it’s a fairly standard kind of project with a concept that we haven’t seen before. But it follows such a familiar pattern and doesn’t have much of a hook with it or the characters that it’s a kind of paint by numbers project where there are no surprises.

Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing

Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: September 11th, 2018
MSRP: $59.98
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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