Narenare -Cheer for You!- – Episode 1

By: Cy Catwell July 8, 20240 Comments
the five main girls raising one pom-pom in unison

Content Warning: brief non-consensual kiss (as part of a “funny foreigner” trope)

What’s it about? Misora Kanata is a first year student on the Takonosaki High School cheerleading team. Despite her exceptional skills she has one flaw: she can’t jump after she witnesses a major mistake in a competition. Joined by a cohort of new friends under the team name PoMPoMs, she might just find her cheer mojo again. Or will she find herself bound by the past?

I had a cheerleading phase through the notorious Bring it On! series of films, which became increasingly anti-black despite having Rihanna in one of them. Strange how that works, huh? (This is sarcasm.)

But Narenare -Cheer for You!- (hereafter Narenare) is its own thing and from basic research, looks to be an anime-original series. Better, it seems to be taking its sport–cheerleading–quite seriously, tackling it from a lot of interesting angles. But is that enough for me to somersault into this summer premiere? Or am I gonna be left lay-ed out.

(Okay, enough puns, let’s get into the review.)

The Hawk Wings start off their cheerleading set with a series of lifts.

Episode 1 opens in Takasaki City (located in Gunma Prefecture) on a sunny day in April at a cheerleading competition. It’s immediately clear that this is a serious sport in-world, and as the lights dim and the music comes to life, the girls shift into formation and the high kicks and flips begin in a combination of dance and cheer that immediately feels pleasant and peppy. This is also where we meet protagonist Kanata and find out just exactly what the “mistake” mentioned in the show’s description is.

In a single moment, she witnesses a cheerleader go off balance, her back toward the mat, a look of anticipatory shock on her face as she falls backward. We don’t see the impact, but the aftermath is clear, as is the reminder of just how dangerous cheerleading can be.

Kanata walking home against a red-drenched sunset

Cut to the future, and Kanata is still traumatized by her teammate’s injury, even though the team placed in their competition. It feels incredibly realistic, this shattered trust Kanata has in her favorite sport. But life keeps going and so does Kanata, even if she’s starting to avoid practice and the trauma in her heart. Good thing there’s a brand new group of students who are going to help her move through that pain, huh?

And that’s what the majority of the anime is about: girls at an all-girls school getting to know Kanata and help her start to lay the foundation for finding her cheer mojo once more so she can truly bring it on.

Kanata visits her friend Megumi, who was injured at a cheerleading competition when a stunt went wrong.

I’ll fully admit, Narenare charmed me. It’s got a cast of very relatable teen girls, though I don’t appreciate our resident biracial Brazilian-Japanese group member Anna Aveiro Nakamura dos Santos Morella Cuccittini, or just Anna, kissing Kanata as a joke. It’s just icky to be affectionate in that way without asking permission (not to mention playing into a stereotype about “handsy foreigners”). Pretty sure they’ve got consent in Brazil.

Plus, it’s just kind of not my type of funny gag, even if it’s just kisses on the cheek. It’s a bit too drawn out and doesn’t really add anything to the episode, but it’s pleasantly the only instance of any kind of service. This show is actually quite chaste: no one gets an upskirt while flying through the air, and there’s never any exposing moments, inclusive of the myriad of kick and flips the girls do.

That all in mind, I actually like this in the same way I liked things like Let’s Make a Mug Too. There’s a certain simple slice-of-life charm wrapped around a genuine story of recovery and the grief that comes from the sport you love hurting you. I sense that a large part of the story will be Kanata facing the very physical impact she had on her friend Megumi, who spends most of the episode in recovery. I don’t think that’s bad: after all, some of the best commentary on life comes from slice-of-life series. 

Suzuha, a student into parkour, prepares to leap onto campus.

While I ultimately like this premiere, I will say it feels 90% the way there. There’s a lot of characters introduced, and we learn a lot about the dynamic being set up for the eventual cheer square Kanata will be a part of, but a lot of it is cute girls being cute and I’d like just a smidgen more substance between that. I sense that this show will grow and settle into its plot, including creating the cohesion for Kanata and crew to actually become a group.

Overall, this wasn’t a bad premiere: it definitely leaves you interested enough to want to see the incorporation of a lot of different teens, ranging from Suzuha, who has olympic-levels of jumping and running to Megumi, who uses a wheelchair. My hope, based off the OP, is that these girls will form a group that celebrates who they are, differences, skills, and skill levels included.

For now, I’m going to watch and set my expectations to none. I find that it’s frequently much more pleasant when I do that. I highly suggest you join along for a taste of something a little different, as well!

About the Author : Cy Catwell

Cy Catwell is a Queer Blerd journalist and JP-EN translation & localization editor with a passion for idols, citypop, visual novels, and the iyashikei/healing anime genre.

You can follow their work as a professional Blerd at Backlit Pixels, get snapshots of their out of office life on Instagram at @pixelatedrhapsody, and follow them on their Twitter at @pixelatedlenses.

Read more articles from Cy Catwell

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