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Anime Review: Hinomaru Sumo

Whilst not the first anime based on the traditions of sumo, this one is fairly in-depth. The last sumo anime I watched was Rowdy Sumo Wrestler Matsutaro, where a local bully gets humbled and wants to be a strong sumo wrestler, to impress his teacher who he loves. This anime is a huge step away from that, talking about the desire to be a Yokozuna. Mix traditional sumo with shounen elements and you get Hinomaru Sumo. Sounds good? Read on!

Review

Story

Ushio wants to be known as the best sumo wrestler in Japan. He was already a Yokozuna in the Junior division, however he has his eyes set on the biggest prize, to be the top professional Yokozuna. To get there, he needs to pass through tournaments and work through the best of the best. However, he’s a bit young and, even worse, he doesn’t meet the minimum height requirements. This doesn’t deter him, as his passion for the sport is undeniable. Besides, there’s another way for him to get to be a professional.

All professional sumo have to undergo a course, which effectively qualifies them as a sumo. Unfortunately, sumo favours those over a certain height and a certain weight. Whilst the sumo weight bracket is openweight, the height can’t be worked around… unless you’re the high school division’s Yokozuna! However after a chance encounter with a passionate high schooler, who also wants to be in sumo so badly, Ushio decides to form a team with him. After creating a ragtag team of high schoolers, Ushio and co must work to become the best team in all of Japan.

Artwork

I’m torn on this one. Basically, I think it’s mostly well done. There’s a lot of love poured into the detail of the sumo rings, as well as some genuinely great looking designs. However, when the guys are topless, a lot of the quality is stripped back. Nevertheless, it’s still a fairly well presented anime, with pretty nice shounen animations to boot.

Audio

Oh this opening theme is catchy. Like, really catchy. It’s an upbeat tune which will get you ready to see some men in traditional Sumo garments throwing one another around. The closing theme is even better. I think to elaborate more, I’d suggest that the audio tracks throughout are well thought-out and never overpower the show.

Overall

A strong showing of sumo and the passion that is poured into the sport. The series doesn’t shy away from the tradition of the sport, from the chalking of hands, to the creation of a sumo ring. It also doesn’t hide sumo behind a lot of fanfare, as it rightly points out that it’s a niche. Whilst it puts a lot of detail into this, the series achieves a high-paced, frenetic energy. Each episode gives a strong focus, before leading to the climax. However, whilst it achieves a lot of good, there are a few lows.

I’m not keen about the image of the protagonist himself. When dressed, he’s pretty average looking, but when his top comes off, he’s more jacked than Scott Steiner. Furthermore, the shounen elements of the show are good, but could be smoother. It’s almost as if it added in these elements after the show was being written. Nevertheless, this was a great series that I’d definitely recommend.

If you’ve never seen the appeal of sumo, then I’d recommend checking this out tentatively. At the least, you should understand the draw the characters have to the sport. However, if you’re a big fan of sumo, I’m weirdly in two minds about this one. On the one hand, it utterly respects the sport, but on the other, it takes a lot of liberties. If you’re neutral on the subject, this is a pretty good and fun series with a likable cast. If you’ve seen this show, share your thoughts with us in the comments below or over on Facebook and Twitter.

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