Extreme Hearts is about Hiyori Hayama is an aspiring singer who moved to Tokyo to make her debut. She has always loved singing and hopes to stand on stage like her favorite artist. Unfortunately, the entertainment industry is not all fun and games, as she fails her auditions one after another and struggles to sell her songs.
Finding herself still standing at the start line, Hiyori pursues her only opportunity to take the next step forward—partaking in Extreme Hearts. The popular event is a Hyper Sports tournament where participants compete in various sports using ability-enhancing gear for a chance to make their big break. Despite being athletic, however, Hiyori’s lack of familiarity with Hyper Sports poses a problem for her. Fortunately, she befriends girls experienced in different sports, and they join the tournament alongside Hiyori, hoping to see her rise to the top.
Now playing under Team RISE, Hiyori and her teammates learn about the unspoken rule of Extreme Hearts—all competitors must be entertainers or aspire to be one. For the members of Team RISE, facing the competition head-on is an inspiring endeavor that paves the way to discovering newfound interests and everlasting friendships.
You’ve seen sports anime about teens who were new to the game, and you’ve seen idol anime about struggling idols. But have you ever seen an anime about an entire tournament of people who are bad at BOTH?
Because that’s the concept of Extreme Hearts, both the anime and in-universe tournament. Our MC is a failed idol who joins a league of potential idol athletes where the common goal is to use the tournament’s notoriety to go pro. Their world has pro athletes and pro idols without combining the two and adding weird unexplained technology, it seems like all players here NEED this tournament of losers to become successful. While this COULD be an interesting commentary on the entertainment industry and how fame and success is much more thanks to luck and marketing and riding a wave than raw ability, this is the seasonal garbage anime so none of that is here. Extreme Hearts is a fast paced tournament where its contenders must become pro in every sport and in music, which…isn’t normally how attaining pro status and skill in anything works? Luckily the show absolutely refuses to show as much of the games and concerts as possible so we don’t even see most of it to need to argue that they’re good or justify why, and we also don’t spend much time showing meaningful training to need to visualize the concept of improvement or strategy. And when we do…oh boy does it look bad. What isn’t just a slideshow of still shots or narrated about without showing is incredibly poor. Most of the girls’ games are won by a new team member entering mid game, surprising even the team. Which, sure let’s say the first one already had the new players on the roster. The rest…didn’t. How did they come in? And even then it’s still usually clip show or a quick cut to the ending as if the anime is afraid to show it. What little is animated is very poor quality and unexciting though so I can’t say I wanted more. In the final game of the tournament, we actually do show a large portion of the game and I found myself very confused and very bored wondering why we were focusing on it. Clearly nobody on staff was particularly interested in writing staging or combat.
So what is the point of Extreme Hearts? As mentioned it sure isn’t the sports. Even the practice is montage and offscreen. So is it the idol part? That’s a money maker. But the music is given even less time, with concerts glossed over or even skipped and mentioned in passing. Like with the sports, we also never show much practice despite most of the cast is new to music. If this is supposed to be an idol anime, Extreme Hearts does a miserable job at selling its idol waifus. Even their designs are the blandest most uninteresting girls I’ve seen in ages. Who would want a figure of any of these girls? Even within their own show, the main team Rise is very noticeably more homogenous, boring, and uninteresting than every other team they face. I understand simplicity for the budget’s sake, but maybe you’d have more funds if you could expect anyone to want to buy merch of this show.
Ruling out sports and idols….the two things the show markets itself on…maybe the characters are interesting? But I’m sorry to say they’re the most bland and forgettable roles possible. Even the word “archetypal” doesn’t fit because that implies some level of interest to grab onto. Our MC is boring the point the final episode even has a discussion about how she’s never been seen crying, or overtaken by laughter, or angry, or any strong emotion. Whenever shows have to justify how cool their character is by them being a blank slate, I have to ask…are you trying to convince yourself that’s cool? Because I find it boring as can be. Meanwhile every girl that hesitates to join the team is because they’re TOO GOOD at sports and hurt someone physically or emotionally and were shunned because of it. So they avoid the team until they learn ITS OKAY TO BE TOO GOOD. Other characters claim its an offscreen responsibility holding them back, or they have no hesitation at all. That’s really…everything there is to these girls, and it doesn’t even matter because after their intro episodes they fade into the background and have very few lines, let alone development.
So what does Extreme Hearts do with its run time if it doesn’t focus on sport, idols, or characters? Honestly I’m not sure. I watched every single episode and every week it just felt like we were either stalling to avoid more exciting things, or we were rushing through events as fast as possible. I understand this show was clearly low budget in an era where we’ve been having many delays and issues. But this goes beyond adjusting to handle problems because fundamentally from the first moment nothing was working. The designs were bad, the writing was uninteresting, and the pacing was terrible. The show also fails to explore every concept it creates, from what it’s Extreme Heart tech really does or how it works, or how much AI melds into society and how that functions, to even how these new hybrid sports idols function in showbiz that also includes actual athletes and entertainers. Whether it’s a character beat, the end to a conflict, or a whole theme of the show, Extreme Hearts seems not only hesitant but downright unwilling to work with its own premise.
I have to admit, both idol and sports anime are not my particular favorite genre. While some are unarguably fantastic, I feel like these genres can let in even more forgettable trash than some others. However usually there is something about a pitch to latch onto, or to be disappointed about if it doesn’t succeed. But Extreme Hearts is such a…nothing from beginning to end. I was bored out of my mind and resented the time I spent, but at the same time I never cared to begin with to feel let down. It really felt like nobody on staff wanted to be there, and so I didn’t either. For a show about the rejects of the entertainment industry, they sure made a poorly entertaining show itself.