The Fujoshi Files 176: Sakurazaka Hinata

Name: Sakurazaka, Hinata (桜坂ヒナタ)
Alias: N/A
Relationship Status: Single
Origin: Tribe Cool Crew

Along with her younger identical twin sister Manabi, Hinata is a member of the dance group “Team Sakura.” Together the two specialize in using their close bond as twins to perform dances with superior synchronization, which leads them to be invited to participate in a secret underground competition called “Dance Road.” The more reserved and feminine of the two, Hinata often refers to her mood and situations in general using the English words “happy” and “unhappy.” It is at “unhappy” points that Hinata becomes scarier than her Manabi.

Hinata comes from an extremely wealthy family. In addition to having a loyal butler, she and Manabi frequently travel around the world both to explore and to meet their favorite dancers in person. In spite of all of the amazing performers they have seen, Otosaki Kanon from team Tribe Cool Crew in particular quickly catches their eyes.

Fujoshi Level:
Hinata herself does not seem to realize her unusual fondness for “friendship among boys” until very late into Dance Road. Manabi comments that her older sister’s character “suddenly changed.”

Adulthood in Tribe Cool Crew

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Tribe Cool Crew is the kind of kids’ show I really enjoy, one that combines a surprising amount of maturity and actual consideration for children with an overall fun and vibrant spirit. Rather than just moralized preaching, it tries to understand where kids are coming from. It’s why I’ve already written two separate reviews for this hip hop dancing anime, one towards the beginning of its broadcast, and the other right in the middle. Now that the anime has finished, it brings me to consider how important the idea of “maturity” (and all that it entails) is in Tribe Cool Crew. By the end, there are a number of developments that are rather surprising and even arguably out of place for a kids’ show, but also create a varied image of what it means to be an “adult.”

Note that this post will be especially spoiler heavy compared to the other two reviews.

Throughout Tribe Cool Crew, there is a general sense of development and progression in the characters, or at least a few episodes dedicated to each character. For the main duo Haneru and Kanon, it comes across as learning how to dance better by overcoming psychological barriers. However, when it comes to the adults, there are three prominent versions of maturity that are presented.

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For Kumo, Mizuki, and Yuzuru, the adults that team with Haneru and Kanon to become Tribe Cool Crew, their worries tend to be about managing expectations. The character Mizuki, for example,  at one point has to learn that her tendency to overwork herself through multiple jobs, favors, and a lack of appreciation for sleep should be reined in a bit lest it wear her down to a nub. What’s interesting is that this all originally came from a good place: she worked hard as a kid to go from overweight, shy girl to a cool and curvaceous dancer. Rather than the lesson being “DO YOUR BEST!” or “NEVER GIVE UP!”, it’s a more tempered outlook that is valuable to both children and adults.

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A different kind of maturity appears with the character Jey El, who focuses on ideals. Essentially a highly idealized Michael Jackson figure with all of the controversy stripped out, Jey El is a peace ambassador whose dancing is beloved throughout the world. He came from the slums and has dedicated his life to stopping war and violence. Because of this, Jey El is revealed to have numerous enemies in both arms-dealing and the military-industrial complex, with attempts on his life being not that uncommon.

Of course, just the fact that I typed “military-industrial complex” in reference to a show about kids dancing seems kind of weird. Sure enough, the reveal that the ever-important “Dance Road” tournament that defines the series is sponsored in part by warmongers is quite ham-fisted, reflecting a tendency in a lot of kids’ series in general (anime or otherwise) to slip in something more serious towards the end of their lives. Nevertheless, Jey El’s maturity is rooted in a kind of uncompromising vision that is optimistic even as he’s fully aware of the horrors of the world.

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Then there’s the idea of adulthood and maturity from Jey El’s head of security Gallagher, which is grounded in cynicism and the need to compromise even when it goes against one’s values.

In the second half of the anime, the biggest problem facing Tribe Cool Crew, aside from their progression through the underground dance tournament “Dance Road,” is an unusual dance called “Crowd High.”  With dynamic movements and easy to learn moves, Crowd High has gone viral on a global scale, but the characters discover that the dance is actually quite dangerous to perform as stories of injuries begin to pile up (keeping safe while dancing is a recurring message in the series). As Tribe Cool Crew reaches its climax, it’s revealed that the Jey El they’ve seen encouraging them on is in fact a robot, and the real Jey El is in a coma as a result of a bombing by a small child in a war-torn region.

Gallagher explains that he is behind the popularity of Crowd High, seeking to spread dance just as Jey El wished but utilizing a style that has no need for soul, talent, or inspiration so that anyone can learn it, even if it comes at the occasional risk of injury. He also happens to be working with the very military/weapons moguls that Jey El was fighting against. Gallagher’s idea of maturity is one where success is tempered by a view of reality as harsh and unforgiving, and that achieving one’s goals may require a deal with the devil if the ends justify the means. Underlining all of this is the fact that Gallagher was also emotionally affected by the bombing, questioning if Jey El’s methods are even feasible if they can’t reach that one small child.

Children are thus introduced to these varying perceptions of what it means to be an adult, and I think that on some level it allows young viewers to decide who to follow. That said, I think it’s not surprising that in the end Haneru and Kanon do not follow Gallagher’s example, and that Jey El’s revival (brought back thanks to the soulful dancing of our heroes) also inspires a change in Gallagher. Nevertheless, what I find especially notable is how Gallagher is in the end portrayed not as a true villain or even someone with malicious or self-serving intentions. On some level he still believes in their mission, and it is the tragedy of losing Jey El that prompts him to adjust his way of thinking.

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Tribe Cool Crew and Kanon’s Interesting Dilemma


Tribe Cool Crew doesn’t get a lot of attention, at least in English media on anime. Sure, it runs on Crunchyroll, and I won’t deny that every time I tweet about the show I do get a few responses. I know my fellow fans are out there. However, because I mostly tend to talk about a particular series only a few times (the main exception being, of course, Genshiken), I often find that I’m not contributing all that much to the general awareness of a series until it’s, in a sense, too late. While I also strongly believe in giving a show a fair shake before passing a thorough judgment on it (snap judgments are okay if acknowledged as such), Tribe Cool Crew has also hit a point that reminds me more than ever of why I got into the show in the first place. So, I want to talk about it.

In Episode 33 of Tribe Cool Crew, the female lead Otosaki Kanon is having a problem. Even though she’s at this point more than established herself as a skilled and talented dancer, something feels off, as if she’s being weighed down. Over the course of the episode, Kanon is informed by multiple people that she’s not getting worse at all. Instead, she’s getting so good that, in an effort to keep in sync with everyone, and to maintain the presence of the “group” in terms of stage performance, she’s subconsciously restricting herself.

Kanon’s becoming too talented, so to speak, but it isn’t jealousy that lies at the heart of the conflict of the episode. Rather, it’s Kanon’s own desire to keep everyone together. She feels herself to be the outlier in this situation, and as someone extremely self-conscious about her height (yet at the same time cognizant enough of it to use her long limbs to accentuate her dancing), the fact that she’s grown even taller and thus has even greater potential to become a “star” (what Tribe Cool Crew calls individual performers rather than dance crews) is frightening to her. What I find fascinating about all this is, then, is that it’s something of an unusual problem to have in anime.

There are plenty of anime and manga where characters have to overcome personal challenges that are defined by their own history and development within an activity. For example, Masumi in Swan, despite her talent, has to re-learn the basics of ballet because she was taught incorrectly and thus has to undo all of her bad habits before she can progress. Amuro in Mobile Suit Gundam begins to outperform the Gundam itself, but that’s more man overcoming machine. In fact, the closest thing I can think of that resembles Kanon’s predicament in recent memory is actually Aomine Daiki in Kuroko’s Basketball, who finds that his skill level becomes so overwhelmingly untouchable when he puts in actual effort that it makes the opponents give up, thus making the game of basketball itself less enjoyable. However, I find Kanon’s plight to still be unique, because the competitive aspect of street dancing doesn’t play so much into it.

In saying that Kanon might be better suited as an individual dancer, it does make me wonder if the series would ever make her the center of the team, as opposed to the main character Haneru. That would be quite the daring move indeed.

You Should All Check Out the Street Dancing Anime Tribe Cool Crew

I’m not a dancer. In fact, I don’t have a single rhythmic bone in my body, and the only reason I can or will ever dance is because I’m fairly shameless when it comes to humiliating myself. That’s why it might come as a surprise that my favorite anime out of the current season is Tribe Cool Crew, a show about street dancing. Though only a few episodes have aired, I find myself looking forward to Tribe Cool Crew every week because of how it combines the best of boys’ anime and girls’ anime for children.

The thing that really drew my attention to Tribe Cool Crew from the very beginning is the dynamic between the main characters, a boy named Tobitatsu Haneru, and a girl named Otosaki Kanon, both of whom love to dance. The two complement each other well not only in terms of personality and style, but also because they’re essentially the typical morning boys’ anime protagonist and typical morning girls’ anime protagonist who have met up in a single show. Haneru is small but energetic with a constant in-your-face attitude, and his burning desire to be the best and to meet his idol, Jey-El, wouldn’t be out of place in shows like Mushiking or Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal. Kanon is shy but comes alive while dancing as the anonymous internet celebrity “Rhythm,” utilizing her great height and long limbs to accentuate her moves. In many ways she reminds me of Hanasaki Tsubomi, the main heroine of Heartcatch Precure!, especially because the show takes time to focus on her gradually building confidence.

Essentially, I find that it combines the ambition of the boys’ anime with the care and consideration of the girls’ anime. Though Tribe Cool Crew is still incomplete, it gives me the same general vibe as anime such as Battle Spirits: Shounen Toppa Bashin and Ojamajo Doremi, both of which I consider to be among the best of children’s anime. As the dances are all done in motion-captured CG, it’s also clear that the show is a response to popular CG dance anime such as Pretty Rhythm and Aikatsu!, taking what was previously solely the realm of idol anime and giving it a bit of a hip hop twist. It’s the kind of expansion of a genre or trend that I can really get behind, even if I don’t quite understand dance.

One aspect of the show that might be difficult for people looking for more plot-centric or character aesthetic-focused shows is that Tribe Cool Crew is still a show meant for kids at the end of the day. For example, the show sometimes features lessons for young, aspiring dancers on topics such as isolation. That said, the anime does feature some characters that an older audience might relate to better.

The look of the show might also take some getting used to, as the character designs are somewhat unusual for anime. They appear to take lessons more from Disney or other American cartoons that emphasize heavy variation in silhouettes to a heavy level of caricature, which can be a bit jarring. It has its own charms, however, such as in the case of Kanon, who is portrayed as an awkwardly lanky girl that perfectly fits both her personality and age, looking as if she just hit puberty and is beginning to feel conflicted between how she believes her upper-class family wants her to be and her inner passion for dance.

You can watch the show on Crunchyroll. Overall, I think Tribe Cool Crew is a really solid show and perhaps the sleeper hit of the season. It has a lot of potential, and I look forward to seeing where it all goes.