- Titles: To Become a Real Heroine! The Unpopular Girl and the Secret Task
- Genre: Comedy, drama, music, slice of life, school
- Episodes: 12
- Studio: Lay-duce
Hiyori just moved to the big city with nothing but a dream in her heart. Well, that’s not entirely true, a dream in her heart and fabulous eyebrows. You should never underestimate the power of a great eyebrow. As for her dream, she’s going to become one of the fastest runners in Japan… maybe in all the world. It’s a big dream but she’s been running since she was a child and now her entire family has put their faith in her dream. Scraping together their earnings to send her to a big city school with a strong track and field team. Can Hiyori live up to the trust they put in her? Will her quick legs allow her to seize her dream? Just kidding, it’s a boy idol anime!
That is quite an alternative title, isn’t it!
I actually thought it was going to be a fantasy anime when I started it. A girl lead isekai or something. And for just a second it looked like a sports anime and I was astounded anyone covered it when it came out. But no, it’s really an idol anime which actually makes it even more impressive that anyone actually reviewed it.
Production-wise it’s sort of a null sum. It’s not good and also not bad. The voice acting is decent but doesn’t stand out. It’s fine.
Personally, I find even a very average anime impressive but I won’t pretend anything stood out about Heroines Run The Show.
Story & Characters
I often feel like I’m the only one regularly watching idol anime, especially boy idol anime, so I’m not sure my post format is going to be very successful. Nevertheless, let me tell you how Heroines Run The Show is different from most of the shows of the genre that I have watched. The setup has the main character Hiyori becoming a manager in training for the group Lip x Lip which is made up of two teenage boys that are also in her class. The natural expectation is that it’s going to end up as some sort of soft reverse harem with both boys vying for her attention.
It doesn’t. The guys are sort of Jerks and even after they all warm up to each other, there isn’t a hint of romance. In fact, the only potentially romantic subplot is with a completely different character and doesn’t go anywhere.
Moreover, Hiyori is a real character. She isn’t entirely defined by her thoughts about the guys and her character arc is her own. Her passion for running is given a lot of importance and is an interest she’s had since she was a child. She manages to make and maintain friendships of her own with other girls that also have their own personalities (a bit more on that later) and she is always the point of view character. Basically, Hiyori has dramatically more depth and agency than most equivalent characters I have seen. In that sense Heroines really do Run The Show.
However, I found that partly because of that, her character never managed to integrate smoothly into the idol aspect of the show and it made the entire series feel more shallow to me. It would have been interesting to see her learn to appreciate idols and respect their business for instance and she does. But it all happens by her seeing a single performance. There’s no real meat to the storyline.
And this is sort of my general review of the show. It has a lot of good elements that aren’t usually seen in boy idol shows but everything is a bit too surface level to be satisfying. Except for how it subverts the makeover trope. That was very satisfying! Not only do we find out that the guy found Hiyori cute before her makeover and is fairly indifferent to it but Hiyori herself goes back to a more casual look just because it’s easier for her. And she can glam up for occasions but she’s fine with being a bit frumpy on the day-to-day and so is everyone around her. Nice!
However, what I want to concentrate on here is the climax of the series and the massive missed opportunity I consider it to be. In the last few episodes some
Pictures of Hiyori and the boys surface. It’s nothing shocking, she’s giving them both a high five outside of school. That’s it. But the thing is, the fact that she’s their manager in training is supposed to be a big secret for… reasons. Come to think of it I don’t know why it’s supposed to be a secret but it felt reasonable while I was watching it. Hmmm. Anyways, because people don’t know she’s part of their staff, they assume she is dating one of the guys or trying to. Because it would be so weird for two classmates to have a high five. They are all wearing their school uniforms so it’s obvious they go to the same school.
Anyways again, it’s a big scandal. Lip x Lip’s management goes into damage control, the boys are forced to give this press conference and apologize and Hiyori starts going out of her way so that they are never together in public. Even though they all sit next to each other in class.
When this storyline started, my immediate thought was that we sure treat idols horribly. Putting aside the fact that speculating on the romantic or even physical relationship of strangers based on a picture of them calmly high-fiving is already creepy and a clear invasion of privacy. Even if two of them were dating, why would that be bad? Oh no, a teenage boy showing interest in a girl his own age… kill it with fire! It’s horrible and the fact that we put very young, very overworked people through this, is awful.
But idol shows almost never touch on the dark side of the industry. And when they do, it’s either stalkers or just individual stories about individual idols not being able to cope with the pressure in a healthy way. Anime that outright condemn the industry and the constant predatory practices that are inherent therein are few and far apart. I’m not sure I have ever seen one. The agencies and handlers are almost always portrayed as positive for the idols they work with. If not, they are isolated bad people and it’s not a feature of the job.
I understand why that is. I figure many of the parent companies of the labels these idol bands make a lot of money for are the same as those of anime studios or distributors. They are also investors and important in the entertainment industry. Finally, the idol shows themselves profit from the completely unreasonable parasocial relationships people form with idols so calling the industry out would be somewhat tantamount to biting the hand that feeds you.
Since Heroines Run the Show seemed to be touching on the subject, I actually had some hope that they might shed a bit of light on the issue. I didn’t think this little show was going to be the brave whistle-blower that changes everything. But I thought they would at least have some soft reproach for how restrictive and stifling the industry can be in general or maybe how much pressure fame can put on someone, especially someone still in high school.
But no, they went the complete opposite way. They leaned into the kool-aid big time. The show basically asks us to forgive the person who leaked the pictures because they were a fan and fans have the right to feel that way about idols. Idols have the duty to respond to fans’ unspoken fantasies and ideals. That’s good actually. And the industry are all angels for providing and facilitating that.
When I say that Heroines Run the Show has a lot of good elements that just aren’t all that satisfying, this last thing is downright unsatisfying. By now, ignoring the problems with the idol industry seems unresponsible bordering on dangerous. And this show goes one step further, not just ignoring but openly and loudly denying them. That was a bummer for me.
You might like this anime if:
I’m not sure, it’s not bad at all but it also feels like i’s a jack of all trades, master of none. I would watch a show about the track and field club.
My favourite character:
Juri and her boyfriend! They’re a cute couple
Hot Lips (this looks tasty)
- Every time we get a close-up of Hiyori’s eyes – take a sip
- Every time Shibasaki calls Hiyori a potato – get some chips
- Every time we see the track and field club – take a sip
- Every time the boys bicker – roll your eyes
- Every time Hiyoru gets swept up by the idol charm – take a sip
- Every time we see coffee and cacao – switch to… coffee or cacao
- Every time Hiyori’s family calls – take a sip
- Every time Lip x Lip performs – clap
- Every time Juri talks about her boyfriend – awwwww
- Every time anyone mentions Full Throttle 4 – take a sip
- Every time Hiyori freaks out – take a sip
- Every time Mona shows up – take a sip
I save all my screencaps on my Pinterest and you can find more there if you are interested. But I still like to show you a few in the post. If you’re like me, screencaps are something that really helps you decide to watch an anime or not.