Episode 4 – Heroines Run the Show: The Unpopular Girl and the Secret Task

When I made that quip in my last review about an endgame polycule, I didn’t expect the next episode to immediately canonize it. Although it’s dream-only for now, it further proves that Heroines Run the Show has a good degree of self-awareness and an amiable sense of humor about it. Romance, it seems, will likely play a part in Hiyori’s arc over the course of narrative, but it’s also worth nothing that her budding feelings are hardly the only complicating factor in her relationship with Yujiro and Aizo. It only takes a few moments of reality for them to remind her of how much they suck. Later, however, we also see the three of them together at their friendliest yet. They’re people who contain multitudes, and Heroines‘ main draw at the moment is how it continues to develop our understanding of them.

Both our main boys, essentially, have excellent reasons for not being idols, yet still they are idols. While we don’t know the complete truths behind those contradictions, we have a better view of the big picture after this fourth episode. Aizo receives two major developments: his 404 error, and the introduction of his brother. His discomfort around women seems to be a bigger deal than I thought, if it’s enough to make him shut down in the middle of class. He might have just been playing it up to get out of there, but Yujiro’s tone suggests it’s a more serious problem. And his brother, in turn, suggests that Aizo’s deal might not be a problem with women specifically, but with the prospect of a relationship. If we trust Ken (which is a big ask, because he definitely comes across sketchy as hell), Aizo probably has some kind of abandonment issue that he has in turn projected on women en masse, and this might be exacerbated by another kind of trauma. In short, the dude has issues, even if we don’t know the full extent of them yet.

Meanwhile, Yujiro suffers the slings and arrows of the tabloid scene after the viral success of their “Nonfantasy” video. It sucks for him, but it’s good for us! We learn that he’s the prodigal son of a renowned kabuki master, and that alone lets a lot of pieces fall into place. He has a genuine passion for performance—he’s said as much—but he abandoned his fine arts apprenticeship for the glitz and glam of crooning boys and screaming fans. However, it definitely seems to have less to do with the allure of the spotlight and more to do with a frigid relationship with his yet-unseen father. Did he not want to live in his father’s shadow? Does he just hate kabuki? Does he have an inferiority complex regarding his dad/brother? We need more information to say for sure, but like Aizo, these developments make him a richer character than just a surly idol boy. Although their surliness cannot be denied.

Among all this, the series’ mood is lightened Hiyori’s pure-hearted, if clumsy attempts to help both of them. Her overstretched squid metaphor doesn’t have the intended effect on Aizo, but she does get him to laugh, and that’s just as good for his mental state. Her comment about Yujiro’s mom probably misses a lot of familial angst, but she does appear to make him pause and reflect on his relationship with her. In both cases, Hiyori’s forthrightness is her greatest weapon against the boys’ shady selves. Her job is, in a sense, a competition against the two of them, and so far she’s winning. While she beams with cuteness after seeing that they went with her medal idea, there’s also a sense of triumph underneath her glowing mien. She’s getting under their skin, like a good manager should. Her forthrightness, however, is also consequence of her stubbornness, and that’s a double-edged sword. She’s been juggling a lot of bowling pins for a long time, and one of them finally bonks her on the head, leaving her with a sprained ankle. Any one of us can only push ourselves so far. We all have breaking points.

It’s not all bad, though. My favorite scene in this episode happens during Yujiro’s press conference, when Aizo butts in to help him. The two of them have a lot of issues with each other, but their relationship is more complicated than that. I especially like how the friendly façade they each put up for the press paradoxically gives them an avenue in which they can be vulnerable and open to each other. While they’re both putting on a show for the reporters, there’s also truth behind their words. They might hate each other, but they have each other to lean on when times get tough. Hiyori’s also becoming part of that team. The lunch they share together in that small room is friendliest they’ve all been to each other, and it’s really heartwarming to watch! I hope Hiyori’s injury comes with an acknowledgment, if not a reckoning, of her taking on too much responsibility, but I also hope it provides an opportunity for these three hard-headed kids to push past their personal gripes and lend each other a hand.

All in all, this was another very pleasant episode of Heroines Run the Show—some drama sizzling in the background, but mostly a nice serving of fun and rewarding character interactions. I can sympathize with people who might find Hiyori a little one-note still, but I think she’s a strong counterbalance for Yujiro and Aizo’s moodiness, and I’m also optimistic she’ll receive more depth next week as she deals with her busted ankle fallout. And while this has nothing to do with anything, I have to make note of the little kiss marks Aizo and Yujiro have on their necks as part of their performance getup. I know they’re called LIPxLIP, but implied hickey makeup is on another level. Idols are a force to be reckoned with.

Rating:




Heroines Run the Show: The Unpopular Girl and the Secret Task is currently streaming on
Crunchyroll.

Steve is a world-renowned golf expert and commentator, but if you just want to read his thoughts on anime and good eyebrows, then there’s always Twitter. Otherwise, catch him chatting about trash and treasure alike on This Week in Anime.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.