Ayane SakuraNobunaga ShimazakiTakuya EguchiNatsuki Hanae
Heroines Run the Show: The Unpopular Girl and the Secret Task
Also known as: Heroine Tarumono! Kiraware Heroine to Naisho no Oshigoto
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2022
Director: Noriko Hashimoto
Writer: Yoshimi Narita
Actor: Ayane Sakura, Inori Minase, Jun Fukuyama, Koki Uchiyama, Momo Asakura, Natsuki Hanae, Nobunaga Shimazaki, Saori Hayami, Soma Saito, Takuya Eguchi, Yoshitsugu Matsuoka, Yuma Uchida
Keywords: anime, favourite
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 12 episodes
Url: https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=24673
Website category: Anime 2022
Review date: 5 June 2024
Heroine Tarumono
I loved it to bits. It's fantastic. I'd recommend it even to people who hate idol anime on principle (which sometimes includes me). Its heroine (Suzumi Hiyori) isn't an idol, but instead the trainee manager of two idols who are also dicks. She's adorable. They'll become a bit adorable too, eventually, but still dicks. Shibasaki Aizou is two-faced and avoids girls who adore him (which is all of them except for Hiyori), while Someya Yuujirou is gloomy, nasty and vindictive. They're always bitching at each other and it's like pulling teeth to make them say anything nice. Seeing Hiyori thawing out this duo is comedy gold.
There are also scary fans, dreadful management decisions, bitchy classmates who don't like Hiyori getting close to Shibasaki and Someya, etc. This show isn't a love letter to idols, but instead is gleefully painting them as petty and a pain in the arse. (Although Shibasaki and Someya end up caring about Hiyori and will go a long way to help her.)
I also loved the romantic avoidance. Had there only been one boy, we'd have all assumed this was a slow-burning romance. Inevitably, inescapably. Authorial intention wouldn't matter. With these brats, though, that's clearly out of the question (and ep.6 gives Hiyori a childhood friend and love interest to make doubly sure). The show's more fun with romance off the table and Shibasaki, Someya and Hiyori simply being idiots working together, albeit dedicated to their personal goals.
Hiyori's the show's star, of course. She's great. She has no sex appeal, as the brats immediately observe (and it helps Shibasaki relax around her). She has monster eyebrows, a goblin voice and a hick accent that I loved. Initially, she thinks idols should all jump in a lake. She loves running so much that she's in Tokyo because her local high school doesn't have a track team. She's a live wire, always running and squeaking with all her energy. I fell in love. By the end, she'd become capable of making me laugh just by saying her lines while jumping up and down. She's also mostly immune to Shibasaki and Someya's charm, e.g. thinking nothing of going into the men's showers to deliver shampoo, because the brats don't count as males. Their reaction: "she's not a girl!"
Shibasaki and Someya are also wonderful, because they're childish. They're terrible. Mind you, they're good at yanking people's chains and wriggling out of things with the strategic deployment of weapons-grade charm. Hiyori learns to gauge their moods by their fake smiles. Eventually, they decide that Hiyori's great (although they'd never admit it) and I ended up really liking them too. If you can get it right (not easy), this show demonstrates that likeable characters with appalling personalities can be hilarious.
There's a head-banging story point. Hiyori's contract bans her from telling anyone that she's the trainee manager of two idols in her class at school. This is another example of the "pointless secret" plot contrivance that I hate in anime, especially when it doesn't make sense (as here). It causes a crisis late in the series, which is resolved by Hiyori telling her friend something she should have said eleven episodes previously. Well, that was dumb. (I don't blame Hiyori, though, since a contract is a contract. She also hates lying to her friends and wanted to tell them from the start.) Similarly, that "crisis" could have been resolved at any point by giving a press conference to say that Hiyori's their manager. That doesn't occur to anyone here. Idiots. (You couldn't even argue that it's wrong to employ a schoolgirl as a manager, since she's the same age as the brats and their workload is ten times more gruelling.)
That said, though, it's plausible. Japanese show business is full of nonsense. Idols aren't allowed love lives, etc. Personally, I had no problem believing that their agency were twats and scared of their own shadows.
RANDOM CURIOSITY: this show is part of the Confession Executive Committee franchise, originally based on some music videos. The franchise also includes I've Always Liked You (2016 film that drove me nuts), The Moment You Fall in Love (another 2016 film that I avoided after seeing the first one) and Our Love Has Always Been 10 Centimeters Apart. (2017 TV series, ditto). Maybe I should go back and give them another chance... but I won't.
Idol stage/TV nonsense is kept to a minimum and the dance performances are hand-animated, not CGI. That's a surprise these days. The show isn't without predictable plotting (e.g. "will Hiyori really quit as manager?") but I loved it all. I adore Hiyori, I'm amused by the brats and the show kept making me laugh. This one's a keeper.