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Anime / Action Heroine Cheer Fruits

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Action Heroine Cheer Fruits is an original anime which aired as part of the Summer 2017 anime season. It riffs off the "local hero" and "yuru-chara" (crude character) booms in Japan: where mascot characters and heroes (of extremely variable quality) are created to represent or promote local districts and businesses, government organisations, and public awareness campaigns. Despite (or more accurately, because of) their charmingly low-budget aesthetic, local heroes and yuru-chara have become massive economic powerhouses in Japan and shift billions of yen worth of merchandise annually. In the setting of Cheer Fruits, "Action Heroines" are performers and stunt-women who produce Hero Stage Shows to promote their local districts, and compete against each other in the national popularity rankings.

The city of Hinano has a failing economy, a dying tourist trade, and is facing the very real possibility of being absorbed by a nearby town. High schooler Mikan Kise takes her little sister to see Kamidaioh, the current #1 Action Heroine, only to find out that the performance has been cancelled. In order to placate her sister, Mikan swears to bring her Kamidaioh, and ends up putting on an amateur show with the help of her Tokusatsu-loving classmate Ann Akagi. Their show draws the notice of Student Council President Misaki Shirogane, the niece of Hinano's mayor, who tasked Misaki with creating a strategy that could revitalize the city and save the town hall from demolition — and Ann and Mikan's show gives her the idea of creating Hinano's very own Action Heroine team. The show follows the efforts of the "Cheer Fruits" as they recruit more members, find a performance venue, improve their production values and scripts, and work towards becoming the most popular Action Heroine unit in Japan.

Action Heroine Cheer Fruits includes examples of:

  • Action Girl: Stage shows featuring such characters are very popular. And even disregarding her on-stage work, Ann is very good at Gymnastics and Le Parkour. And of course, all the girls end up becoming this over the course of their series.
  • Actor Allusion: In Episode 6, Misaki thinks to herself that her nine-person team can become saviors.
  • Affectionate Parody: Of Tokusatsu and Magical Girl shows. Since it's written by Naruhisa Arakawanote , this should come as no surprise.
  • All There in the Manual: The official website has a "Cheerpedia" section; despite the name, it's actually just a glossary of various terms that crop up in the show like "Action Heroines".
  • And the Adventure Continues: The final episode shows the girls working on, and subsequently debuting, Season 2 of the Hina-Nectars show.
  • Ass Kicks You: In Episode 8, Genki instructs Mikan and Hatsuri to use more "hip attacks" during the stage shows since their characters aren't power fighters like Ann or Mana.
  • Beach Episode/Hot Springs Episode: Episode 7 is a two-fer, with plenty of Fanservice.
  • Born Unlucky: Misaki feels this way about herself, trying to avoid getting too involved with anything since she seems to feel she'll jinx it; this is the reason she was so reluctant to go along with the script that had her playing the Hina-Nectars' Sixth Ranger. In Episode 11, Misaki finds out that the Hinano convention hall is being torn down despite the Cheer Fruits' efforts and leaves town with barely a word to the others. Her aunt tells the girls that she's had this attitude ever since the birthday where she found her grandfather collapsed on the floor, which was the start of his decline and eventual death — this is also the reason she's not too fond of her own birthday. Thankfully, Episode 12 has her getting over this attitude thanks to the girls saying they'll always stick by her no matter what happens.
  • Butt-Monkey: Kanon always gets the short end of the stick.
  • Casting Gag: Misaki is played by Mao Ichimichi, who's been a part of two different Super Sentai teams (Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger and Uchu Sentai Kyuranger).
  • Chekhov's Gun: In Episode 12's stage show, the "spark" created by the collision of Deep Purple's negative energy and the Hina Apple's positive energy undoes the Mind Wipe that made the girls forget about Platinum; later in the show, Platinum allows Locomo Black to attack her, recreating the effect and freeing Black and Purple from their brainwashing.
  • Colorful Theme Naming: As expected of a show that homages Super Sentai, each of the girls' surnames contains their respective hero color: Ann Akagi (red), Mikan Kise (yellow), Mana Midorikawa (green), Genki and Yuki Aoyama (blue), Hatsuri Momoi (pink), Kanon Shimura (purple), and Roko Kuroki (black).
    • Misaki Shirogane is both an exception and a three-fer thanks to Japanese homophones. She's associated with the colors white and silver; "shiro" on its own can mean white, while "shirogane" (literally "white metal") can mean either silver or platinum. However, the "shiro" in her name is written with the kanji for "castle", referring to her role as The Leader. In Episode 9 she joins the show as Sixth Ranger Athena Platinum.
  • Darkest Hour: Episode 10, where Ann, Mikan, and Yuki all suffer Performance Anxiety after meeting Kamidaioh's actress because they think they'll never come close to matching her. Kanon and Genki get mad at them for giving up so easily while Misaki internally blames herself for everything that's going wrong, and for a few minutes it looks like the Cheer Fruits are going to break up. Thankfully Mana saves the day by showing that the people of Hinano still believe in them.
  • D-Cup Distress: Episode 7 reveals that Mikan's breasts started growing in 4th grade and she was always embarrassed because she considers herself super-plain and thought people were only noticing her for her chest. This seems to be the reason for her lack of confidence
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: "Jounetsu☆Fruits" is performed by all of the Cheer Fruits' voice actresses; for bonus points it exists In-Universe as well, and the girls have performed it during their shows.
  • Don't Think, Feel: Genki uses this exact phrase in Episode 11 when coaching Misaki on recording her dialog for the upcoming show.
  • Dope Slap: Genki brings her sister Yuki out of her "paranoid delusions" by...punching her in the gut with an Extendo Boxing Glove. Ouch.
  • Dreadful Musician: Ann can't hold a note. Kanon finally beats her at something when she is forced to sing karaoke.
  • Edible Theme Naming: The Hina-Nectars are themed after fruits, as seen in their roll call.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Ann refers to Kanon as "Muramura-chan" (derived from her surname Shimura); since "muramura" is a colloquialism for "horny", Kanon repeatedly says "Stop calling me that!".
  • Evil Counterpart: Implied with the Hina-Nectars' villains, Hina-Lemon, who likewise have color-themed names (Locomo Black and Deep Purple). In Episode 12 we find out that this is because they're Hina-Nectars who were corrupted by the Big Bad.
  • Fan Community Nicknames (In-Universe): Some heroine shows have these; Kamidaioh fans are known as "Kamidivers", while Hatsuri coined the name "Cheer Frist" for fans of the Cheer Fruits.
  • Genius Cripple: Genki Aoyama, who single-handedly manages the show's SFX and audio (until pyrotechnics expert Hatsuri joins). She can walk with a cane but most often uses a motorized wheelchair.
  • Fake Nationality (In-Universe): In the Hina-Nectars show, Yuki/Sein Blue is Mexican, specifically from Hinano's sister city of Cuernavaca.
  • Hand Wave: The girls' original shows are supposed to be Kamidaio shows with the same characters, but obviously they look nothing like the actors involved with that production. Their explanations range from Kamidaio gaining a new form dubbed "Kajidaio" to Lottiking being unable to get to Hinano personally due to his advancing age and sending his daughter Jolottiking in his place.
  • Heroes to their Hometown: The Cheer Fruits. Yuki was this even before joining the team, but she doesn't think she deserves it.
    • Driven home (no pun intended) in Episode 10, where the girls get disheartened after messing up a show and dropping 15 places in the popularity rankings. Mana takes the team to the market, where the people of Hinano say that they still believe in the girls and that a stumble or two along the way doesn't mean the end of the world.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Implied with Kanon and Roko's In-Universe characters Deep Purple and Locomo Black, since the opening theme shows them being changed from villains to Hina-Nectars (purple and black respectively) and Episode 5 has them wearing those costumes and singing the theme song alongside the other girls. It happens in the show in Episode 12, which also reveals that it works the other way around, revealing that Purple and Black were originally Hina-Nectars who were brainwashed into becoming villains.
  • Hey, Let's Put on a Show: The basic premise of the show, with the Cheer Fruits having six months to revive Hinano's failing economy before its debts force it to be absorbed by a neighboring city.
  • I Am Not Shazam: Comes up In-Universe in Episode 4 when the girls have to register their new show. As Misaki explains, the Action Heroine title refers to the "company" that produces the stage shows and is separate and distinct from the characters featured in said shows. For example, Kamidaioh is the heroine while her Action Heroine team is named Gingers, though most people just use the Kamidaioh name to refer to both because it's better known. For the girls themselves, Cheer Fruits is the name of their Action Heroine team while their actual hero team is called Seika Senshinote  Hina-Nectar.
  • Identical Twin ID Tag: Ignoring more obvious tells like the wheelchair and glasses, the Aoyama sisters both have a braid on the side of their head; Genki's is on the right and tied with a black ribbon while Yuki has it on the left side and tied with a white ribbon.
  • Idol Singer: Yuki used to be one but quit because she refused to exploit her sister's disability to gain sympathy, despite her manager pressuring her to do so.
  • Improbable Age: Momoi is said to have gotten a hazardous materials engineer license in elementary school.
  • Informed Ability: The other girls heap praise upon Mikan's writing talents after she comes up with the scenario for the Hina-Nectars, with Misaki in particular apologizing for underestimating her. However, we never actually see what her scenario is because the show tends to gloss over the live performances.
  • Irony: Ann beat Kanon only because the latter got her fired up by by unknowingly quoting a Tokusatsu show. This happens twice.
  • Kissed Keepsake: In Episode 4, Ann says "I'm never gonna wash this hand again!" after shaking hands with the fans; Mana says that that's the sort of thing the fans should be saying, not the actress.
  • The Knights Who Say "Squee!": In Episode 10 the girls get interviewed by Kamidaioh's actress Mako Kamisu, which naturally makes Ann flip out. What stuns them even more is when Kamisu says that she's a fan of their show, getting so caught up in the moment that she starts quoting lines of dialog from the last Hina-Nectars show.
  • Last Episode, New Character (In-Universe): In Episode 12's performance, Genki voices the Big Bad in the form of the corrupted Hina Tower; afterwards Misaki has her join the team on stage in a second Sein Blue costume, giving her public recognition for the massive part she played in the Cheer Fruits' success. The end of the episode shows her actually joining the shows proper, getting a more mobile wheelchair and playing the Big Bad role in person (which she's clearly going to enjoy, judging by her Evil Chuckle).
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Roko talks to her toy trains, and they talk back. It isn't clear of this is real or her imagination.
  • Music for Courage: In Episode 7, Mikan helps calm down a group of preschoolers terrified of a thunderstorm by introducing herself in-character and getting the kids to sing "Jounetsu☆Fruits" along with her and the other Hina-Nectars.
  • Nepotism: Discussed and defied in Episode 6. Even though Hatsuri is exactly what the Cheer Fruits are looking for (she has skill in pyrotechnics and is athletic enough to play the pink Hina-Nectar), Misaki can't just give her the job because their families have a pre-existing business relationship and doing so might seem inappropriate. The girls have Hatsuri audition for them just so things are on the level, but unfortunately goes overboard with the pyrotechnics and they have to reject her. Afterwards Hatsuri's father offers to pull some strings to get her into the group anyway but she refuses, insisting that she needs to earn her place on the team, which she eventually does by staging a second audition where she's more restrained with the explosives.
  • Of Corsets Painful: Kanon's villain costume has a corset, and in Episode 6 she asks Hatsuri to tie it tight; unfortunately, that's the exact moment Misaki enters the room, which causes her to pull the strings so tightly that Kanon goes blue in the face.
  • Otaku: A rare girl variant, Ann is obsessed with Tokusatsu. Genki somewhat qualifies; while she doesn't fangirl like Ann, she has an incredible depth of knowledge and insight into Toku gained from all the research she did in order to help with the Kajidaioh shows.
    • Roko is a major railfan; she actually lives in a train car and Episode 4 shows that she enjoys the smell of diesel. When the girls are trying to come up with a theme for their show, naturally she suggests a train theme; while Mikan's fruits idea wins, Roko's villain persona Locomo Black still uses the theme.
  • Parent Service: In Episode 8, Genki encourages Roko to act sexier for the fathers in the audience; however, her utter inability to do so leads to Genki instead suggesting that she try something different and play a shy villainess instead.
  • Performance Anxiety: In Episode 10, some of the girls suffer a blow to their confidence meet Kamidaioh's actress Mako Kamisu (for example, she tells Ann that they're (friendly) rivals by virtue of being fellow performers, which makes Ann realize she's competing with her idol). This causes them to get nervous and make several amateur mistakes in their next show, which makes the team drop from #10 to #25 in the popularity rankings and the stress threatens to tear the group apart until Mana helps restore their confidence by showing how much faith the people of the town have in them.
  • Plagiarism in Fiction: In Episode 8, the girls are dismayed when they discover another heroine show whose plot is basically identical to what they'd scripted out for the Hina-Nectars. In order to avoid looking like they ripped off this other show, they have to start over from Square One.
    • In Episode 10, Kamidaioh's actress Mako Kamisu visits Hinano and brings up the cease and desist from before, admitting to the girls that when she first started out she copied from another show too.
  • Pun: The show's theme song is titled "Jounetsu☆Fruits"; jounetsu is the Japanese word for "passion".
  • Reality Subtext: An In-Universe example comes in Episode 12: Misaki, fearing that she's jinxing the Cheer Fruits, leaves town without telling anyone on the eve of their big performance. During the show, the girls improvise a similar plot for Misaki's character Platinumnote  so they could send her a message that they don't care about bad luck, she's their friend and they should be working together no matter what. It works, and Misaki rushes to the auditorium in time to appear in the show, helping turn it into a massive success.
  • Real-Place Background: The town of Hinano is heavily based on Ōtaki, a town in Japan's Chiba prefecture, with many local landmarks clearly recognizable.
  • Screwed by the Lawyers (In-Universe): For the first couple of episodes the girls just do their own amateur Kamidaio shows, but once they draw enough attention and actually start selling merchandise, Kamidaio's lawyers serve them with a Cease and Desist order. Misaki doesn't seem too surprised (she's mostly just glad it didn't progress to a full-fledged lawsuit), and this serves as the impetus for them to invent their own IP, Hina-Nectars. Later in the series the girls get to meet Kamidaioh's actress, who apologizes for the whole thing and admits that she made the same mistakes when she was starting out.
  • Show Within a Show: Kamidaio and others, plus the Hina-Nectars themselves.
  • Shrinking Violet: Yuki is so insecure that when people talk to her, she imagines them mocking her or being angry with her even if they're actually being polite and friendly. Her sister Genki refers to it as Yuki's "world of paranoia".
    • Mikan is pretty insecure about herself; in Episode 7, she even contemplates putting her own character on a bus since she seems to be the least popular of the Hina-Nectars.
  • Sixth Ranger: Naturally, as a Super Sentai-inspired series; in this case it's Mikan as Athena Platinum. Roko and Kanon's unnamed Hina-Nectars can be seen as Seventh and Eight Rangers as well.
  • Snub by Omission: In Episode 8, Genki takes over directorial duties and ends up giving all kinds of unreasonable (and in many cases embarrassing) direction to the girls...except Kanon, whom she tells just to keep doing what she's doing. Kanon is actually kind of put out by this.
  • Sword of Plot Advancement: Like most Heisei-era Kamen Riders, the Hina-Nectars gain swords along with their upgraded powers and costumes in Episode 10.
  • Three Plus Two: The Hina-Nectar team starts out with three members (Ann as Medica Red, Mikan as Cheer Yellow, and Mana as Terra Green), gaining Yuki as Sein Blue in Episode 5 and Hatsuri as Nitro Pink in Episode 6.
  • Throw It In!: An In-Universe example happens in Episode 3, where in the middle of the girls' show it starts raining hard enough that Kajidaio (Ann) slips on the wet stage and falls. Jolottiking (Roko) calls off her attack and says that she'll let Kajidaio go for today, since beating her while she's weakened would be a hollow victory. This allows the girls to end the show without breaking character or Kayfabe.
    • In Episode 9, Misaki throws on a "dress" (made from a piece of white cloth lying around) and jumps on stage as "Platinum", an Aloof Ally-type Sixth Ranger, in order to buy time after the planned fireworks were delayed. In this case, Platinum was part of Mikan's original script, but Misaki said she couldn't do it so the girls altered the script to remove Platinum.
      • Following on the previous point, Hatsuri picks up on Misaki's intentions and contributes to it by ad-libbing that Platinum is Nitro Pink's long-missing older sister.
  • Unknown Rival: Kanon, a bratty rich gymnast who lost to Ann and is now obsessed with beating her. Ann is not even aware of this rivalry and considers her a friend.
  • Student Council President: Misaki, who organizes the whole thing. Roko calls her "Captain" from their days in the tennis club, which spreads to the other girls (Ann simply calls her "Cap").
  • Teru-Teru Bōzu: In Episode 8 Yuki and Genki make some of these in order to ensure that it doesn't rain on their next performance; however, they get distracted with their conversation and end up making several dozen without realizing it. And then the next day when the girls meet up, it turns out that they all had the same idea.
  • Up, Up and Away!: Ann does this pose in the OP.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Hinano is a fictional town, but it's said to be the sister city of Cuernavaca, Mexico; in real life, Cuernavaca's sister city is Ōtaki
  • World of Action Girls: As the name implies, most Action Heroines are female; it's mentioned that there are some Action Heroes, but they never show up on screen.
  • Writer's Block: In episode 7, Mikan is having trouble writing new scripts for the show.