That's right, folks! We're looking at two shows that center around sports anime with an exclusively female cast that is known for their fan service. Which one is better, though? Mild spoilers for both shows below.
Wanna be the Strongest in the World, airing from October 3, 2013 to December 22, 2013, follows the story of Sakura Hagiwara, lead singer for the popular idol group Sweet Diva, as she joins the professional women’s wrestling league and tries to become a pro wrestler. The motivation to join came when her and her idol friend Elena visited the Berserk(subtle reference) gym and began to mess around on the ring, leading to one of the wrestlers insulting the idols and being challenged by Elena. Elena is swiftly defeated, followed by Sakura when she tries to avenge her friend’s honor. What follows is a revenge story of Sakura training to defeat Rio, the professional wrestler, and restore the honor of herself, Elena, and her idol group.
The few strengths of the show lie in the only two episodes that I didn’t find miserable to watch; 7 and 8. It is in these episodes where the main character, Sakura, is allowed to have a relatively intense match with an opponent well above her level, and doesn’t have half the episode dedicated to her moaning on the ground. The action was mildly entertaining at times during the match, and her opponent was the closest to a likable character that the series had up to that point.
However...the negatives of the show far exceed anything positive I could say about it. While I will touch on my major complaints about the show in my comparison section, I can say that the show dedicates too much time to showing Sakura on the ground in a hold of some form, moaning in pain. The entire first 6 episodes are almost exclusively dedicated to this concept; Sakura not even so much as putting up a fight against her opponents as much as sitting there for minutes on end complaining about the hold she’s in. For much of the series, the lofty goal Sakura had was to endure the pain enough to crawl her way to the ropes and touch them, forcing her opponent to break the hold. Little attention was given to actual methods of counterattack until the latter half of the series, after many fights of watching nothing but “It hurts!”
Keijo!!!, airing from October 6, 2016 to December 22, 2016, is a show about a class of trainees in the Setouchi Keijo Training School as they learn how to play Keijo professionally in hopes to join the pro league when they graduate. The protagonist of the show is Nozomi Kaminashi, an ex-world class gymnast who decided to shift her career to Keijo in hopes of becoming the Prize Queen(best Keijo player) and gaining all the riches that come with it. She is joined by her friend Sayaka Miyata, an ex-Judo player who left her career against her father’s wishes to join Keijo, a sport that she loved more than Judo. At the academy, we meet our two other main leads; the intelligent yet shy Kazane Aoba, and the clumsy Non Toyoguchi.
Unlike wrestling, Keijo is a fictional sport with only two main rules; you must knock the opponent off of the floating platform and into the water, and you can only use your breasts and butt. While this sounds boring on paper, the show displays a surprising amount of variety in fighting styles only using those two body parts. Players are classified according to three different playstyles; Infighters who prefer close range, powerful strikes like our lead Nozomi, Outfighters who rely on their incredible speed like Nozomi’s rival Sayaka, and Counters who use the opponent’s moves against them, like Non. In order to make the show more exciting, most characters exhibit special shonen-esque moves that are especially powerful against opponents. Examples include techniques as mundane as doing an uppercut with one’s breasts against someone’s chin, the ‘Shoryucans’, all the way to insane techniques like Aoba’s signature move; Gates of Bootylon. As one can glean from the examples; most of the special techniques parody moves exhibited in other games and anime, such as the Shoryuken in Street Fighter.
Part of the reason why Keijo is entertaining to watch is that the show is aware of how ridiculous it is, and turns the crazy scale as high as it can. The main cast are all likable, and have well-written personalities that make each individual player unique and provide a different dynamic when they enter into a Keijo race. For instance; while one would expect Sayaka, an Outfighter, to be speedy and strategic on the field, Nozomi would be brash and try to simply overwhelm her opponents through sheer grit and gymnastic maneuvers. In addition to their fighting moves, each character has aforementioned traits that set them apart from the enormous cast; though more on that in the comparison section.
My only real complaint with the series was how one of the main 4, Non didn’t appear as if she was ready for professional Keijo yet. All of her fights were won not via skill, but by relying on one feature that her opponent didn’t know about. Should she face someone much faster than herself, it would be a breeze to knock her off the platform. Non also doesn’t seem to mesh well with the other 3 main girls; Nozomi is the powerhouse, Sayaka is the speedster, Aoba is the smart one...and Non's clumsy. Aside from Non, the only other flaw I could think of is how the animation quality seemed to drop toward the end during the final fights, which was a little disappointing to see given how important the scenes were to the overall story.
Nozomi Kaminashi Sakura Hagiwara
Sakura and Nozomi look similar on the surface; both newcomers to a sport when they both had lucrative careers in other fields, both determined to reach the top of the sport, and both having a rival throughout the show. However, that is where the comparisons end. Nozomi’s motivation to join Keijo was rooted in wanting to both join a sport that she loved to watch, as well as become the champion so she could help her family out financially. By contrast, Sakura merely wanted to become a pro wrestler because one of her idol friends decided to take on a pro wrestler, and got rightfully beaten. If merely insulting idols is enough for Sakura to drop her lucrative career as lead singer of a popular idol group, it’s a shame that it was a pro wrestler who insulted Ellena and not an engineer, or they might have been on Mars by now with the blind devotion Sakura has.
In addition to motivation, Nozomi exhibits far more personality than Sakura ever could. Nozomi is brash, fun-loving, loud, slightly dumb, and loves to challenge strong opponents. When she is facing down a challenge that looks too strong for her skills, she smiles at it and pushes her body even further, even against the warnings of her teachers. There is a sense that nothing could stand in her way from getting to the top, but instead of being rude to people, she loves to make friends with fellow competitors and even offers a helping hand if she defeats someone in a race. Sakura, meanwhile, seems to have one personality trait; blind determination. There is no scene that lets us know what Sakura likes, dislikes, anything that would make her seem more like a human being and not a punching bag with boobs. I think my comparison can best be shown by how they both experience pain.
As we can see, Nozomi is battered and bruised, but is still loving the challenge her opponent is presenting. Sakura, meanwhile, almost looks like she is enjoying the pain and isn’t making an effort to defeat the opponent. When Nozomi loses a race, she grits her teeth and vows to defeat the person who beat her, leading to Nozomi having very few losses. Sakura merely wallows in self pity, losing the most matches in her short time being a pro wrestler than any wrestler has ever lost. Nozomi is by far a more interesting character to watch, and that’s excluding the intense fighting style that she has that is much more engaging to watch compared to Sakura being endlessly held in a choke hold.
Main Rival: Sayaka Miyata Rio Kazama
Rio Kazama’s main claim to rivalhood is that she is the one who insulted both Sakura and Elena in episode 1, leading to Sakura joining the sport solely to defeat this mid-level wrestler. Her personality is virtually nonexistent past being a rival, though. She merely acts arrogant around Sakura and belittles her status as an idol. Sayaka, meanwhile, is actually Nozomi’s best friend and a direct contrast to her fighting style. Sayaka is fast, yet Nozomi is strong. Nozomi is brash and determined, Sayka is more reserved and soft spoken. Despite their differences, the two accept each other as rivals and work to help each other, as well as their teammates, become better Keijo players. Sayaka even has her own backstory that gets a proper payoff at the end of Keijo, while Rio got virtually no development.
Sport: Wrestling is an established sport, with rules in real life that the audience would reasonably think would be followed in the anime. And that would be an incorrect assumption. There are a myriad of scenes that would be absolutely unacceptable in any professional sport, including; using metal blocks as weapons, other people jumping into the ring to help out during a fight, weapons such as a wooden sword being used to choke opponent, and using punches and kicks in a sport that is supposed to be about grappling and throws. All of these instances make the show seem not about wrestling, but merely about MMA mixed with WWE, except they try to make it appear legitimate and not staged.
Keijo, by contrast, has the two aforementioned main rules; knock your opponent off the arena, and only use your boobs and butt. Even though characters have supernatural moves that include a spectral representation of Cerberus that tracks an opponent’s body down and viciously attacks them, it is still legal because the spectre only directs the user’s butt to strike the opponent. Winning a match comes down to who is the strongest, fastest, most clever, and has the best special technique to counter the opponent’s. No more is this apparent than the 4v4 team battles on the second half of the show, where characters learn to use their own individual strengths together in order to take down opponents who have the raw power to destroy any of the individually. For the best example of this, I recommend watching Aoba’s team’s fight in episode 10.
One other aspect I’d like to touch on is practicality of outfits. Here are the two main outfits for the leads;
Notice a difference? Sakura’s wrestling outfit is hardly suited to the sport she is playing, providing no support for her chest with straps that would undoubtedly release her boobs at the first throw. The leotard is also too small, giving her a constant wedgie that would only serve to inhibit her ability to wrestle. Now look at Nozomi’s swimsuit. A standard, blue/black one-piece-suit that attaches at the shoulders to make sure it stays on during even intense battles. This is actually a practical design for an outfit that fits the sport, while also hugging her butt for the audience to see both the fanservice shots, as well as the impressive blows that result from that region. Keijo’s outfits are simply more practical to the sport they are playing.
“But wait, Vapo! Wanna Be Strongest is clearly a more fanservice-oriented anime! Surely it has that down, right?”, you may be asking. And to that I’d say; no. Even if we throw out the plot, characters, animation quality, sound design, and boil it just down to quality of fan service; Keijo still blows Wanna Be Strongest out of the water. Sure, Strongest does have much more time dedicated to fan service, with many, many shots devoted to showing off Sakura’s boobs, ass and especially her crotch when she’s held in a hold by an opponent, while she screams as if she is having an orgasm. But that’s all there is. The show doesn’t give any other variety of fan service aside from shots of Sakura in compromising positions while in the ring. Keijo, meanwhile, dedicates only a short amount of time to each fanservice moment, but they don’t overstay their welcome and allow the plot to continue unhampered. After falling on Aoba, Nozomi only makes one comment about her having a nice rack before being shoved off and letting the scene continue. When in the locker room getting dressed, the characters are talking about actual topics that people would in a locker room; how the match just went, what to do to get around a certain character’s techniques, etc. No fanservice scene drags on too long to kill the pacing, at least how I saw it. Wanna Be Strongest is akin to watching the same scene in a porn 12 times over, while Keijo is merely peppered with unique scenes that are woven into an interesting overall narrative.
Conclusion: The verdict should be simple to tell by now; Keijo utterly destroys Wanna Be Strongest in terms of story, soundtrack, characters, animation, and even fan service. If you’re not bothered by a little bit of fan service and are looking for a crazy show that doesn’t take itself too seriously, Keijo is a perfect candidate, earning an 8/10 from me. Wanna Be Strongest, in my opinion, should only be watched if you are really into orgasm-like screaming and constant lengthy shots of a character’s boobs, butt and crotch. Otherwise, can’t recommend and it earns a 2/10.
Actually if someone does want to watch I wanna be the world strongest, I just recommend them the ova, they are short, plus the fan service is actually good and not just annoying moaning. Also nice breakdown on the characters and the outfits.
Very nice review here! I had the dumb fun aspect for Keijo and it turned out to exceed my expectations enough to be my favorite ecchi series. Also thinking back on the antics back on the old Anime Vice, I had no idea what me and Taka were on when we checked out Wanna Be the Strongest in the World back then (hormones aside). It was really bad news.
Current Situation: I wanted another excuse to use Enterprise as an avatar again.
We definitely had a fun time watching Wanna be the Strongest. It was a decent show. The pacing and character development were its main issues since most episodes weren't as exciting or produce results since Sakura had a huge losing streak. You would think with that, she should have a huge payoff.
Old Man Dream: ...later titles in the Macross franchise can finally come stateside with all involved parties finally coming to a truce over how to handle things with the Macross trademark and all later anime in the franchise associated with it.
Apr 9, 2021 10:26:05 GMT
Taka: I see. A global release will benefit it. Gundam did pretty good. The only few franchises that are only popular in Japan but not popular in the west - Yokai Watch comes to mind.
Apr 10, 2021 1:55:16 GMT
Master Menos: F for Respects. DMX did all his work while suffering from a drug addiction, and I almost never knew until a point. I hope his next life treats him far better.
Apr 10, 2021 15:30:45 GMT
HungryWorld: Sorry for taking so long for the things i have to do, have been suffering from some health issues (including mental health deterioration). Anyways hope i can be a bit more active here soon enough once i am properly patched up again.
Apr 27, 2021 17:45:38 GMT
Taka: No worries, health, family, school, and work take priorities first.
Apr 28, 2021 7:41:52 GMT