[Review] Heroines Run the Show

When something comes along you didn’t even realize you needed, much less wanted, the ensuing satisfaction and affections are that much more memorable. Heroines Run the Show appeared at a glance to be a standard high school romance, a Cinderella story of a country girl falling into the dream of city life and idols. This is mostly not what this show is about, and once again the title explicitly states the true focus of this story: our heroine. Hiyori runs this show, and don’t you forget it!

Right off the bat, Hiyori’s reason for transferring schools is a unique one we don’t often see in anime, particularly for female leads. Sports anime sometimes use athletic scholarships (example: Aoashi) as impetus for the start of a journey. Hiyori knows what she wants in her life right now, and that is to run on a larger stage where she can challenge herself and continue improving. Her love of the sport radiates off her every time we see her dash across the screen; I’d honestly watch a show dedicated just to her growth as a runner in addition to the one we received this season. Spin-off, maybe?

While moving spaces can do wonders for the self, it certainly isn’t cheap. I remember when I first moved states how much money I ended up draining for housing, transportation, furniture, and basic necessities. A tidy sum at the start helps, but you need to keep the flow going or else it’s back home you go (if you even have that option). Hiyori’s job hunt lands her in the most unexpected place given her interests: an idol agency. Her official role as an assistant manager means she’ll be working intimately with idols and learning the basics of what it takes to help them succeed.

Not only are the idols she’s meant to assist a couple of high school age boys, but they’re also her classmates. I’m sure you can understand why I’d assume the writing would eventually lead to some love triangle situation. Perhaps through repeated interactions the idols would fall steadily in love with the energetic girl, regardless of her lack of fashion and disregard for their status. Or, maybe Hiyori would transform like some kind of butterfly in an attempt to fit in, trading her love of running for pop culture. Neither ended up happening, thank goodness, and this show is better for it.

If there’s a slight gripe I do have regarding HRS, it’s that there isn’t quite enough focus on the track. Running led Hiyori to make this big move, and her job serves the purpose of funding, yet most of our time is spent on what should be a side instead of the main. She spends so much of her time on Someya and Shibasaki, and it would have been only fair for us to see an equal amount of support towards her interests—not necessarily from the idols, but at least from her friends.

The time we do get with her friends may be limited, but they do end up serving as fuel for the final arc of this anime. Juri and Chizuru always seemed like steadfast supporters, the kinds of people you can confide in and trust to always have your back. I never questioned this fact, until all signs started pointing towards one of them as a potential problem. By the time shit hit the fan, I wasn’t surprised in the slightest. I made the connection between Chizuru and Chu-tan pretty early on in the series, and the writing was heavy handed with their hints regarding Chizuru’s misgivings about Hiyori’s growing friendship with the boys.

This is where my expectations differ most from actuality. When a betrayal on the level of Chizuru’s happens, I expect there to be consequences. She acted knowing full well the outcry that would follow. Either she’s incredibly naive regarding mob mentality, or she wanted Hiyori harassed into silence. There’s no excusing Chizuru’s actions, particularly since she never actually apologizes for them. She apologizes for punching Hiyori in the face, but not for the deeper betrayal of trust and the encouragement of public persecution. Hiyori reprimanded her, even empathized with her, and then welcomed her back into friendship. A more fitting ending for me would have still included forgiveness, but also a barrier. If Chizuru truly wants to regain friendship, then she needs to prove it by admitting all of her wrongdoing and working towards reforming their bond, not just pretending nothing ever happened and thus not actually changing for the better.

Even worse, Chizuru reveals just how much of her life she’s poured into supporting LipxLip—she works multiple jobs to support them with gifts and attendance at all of their events. While I applaud following your dreams, there is a balance that shouldn’t exceed your own self-health. She’s still in high school, and still has so much to experience in life outside of what she knows. The show never acknowledges her problems as true dangers; rather, we see Juri and Hiyori both accepting these obsessions as some lovable quirk. I can only hope that someday they’ll be there to emotionally support her when she realizes how unhealthy her lifestyle actually is.

I realize now at the end I haven’t mentioned much about the idols who take up so much of our time. Someya and Shibasaki were brats at the start, but through their continued interactions with Hiyori do show progress as individuals and artists. While they may have taken longer than I would have liked to address their fans regarding misunderstandings and acceptable behavior, I understand their hesitation and limited experience as younger musicians. I can’t state enough how glad I am that neither of them pursued Hiyori romantically, and came to see her as the beautiful person and friend that she is. I hope viewers new to this anime will feel this way, too.

Rating: 1 dango


*Rating system:

  • 0 dango – average and forgettable.
  • 1 dango – very good in its category.
  • 2 dango – excellent show that is worth a try.
  • 3 dango – exceptional show one must watch.

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