The Path to Yokozuna
- Episodes : 24
- Genre : Sports, Martial Arts, Shounen
- Airing Date : October 5, 2018 – March 29, 2019
- Producers : Gonzo
Hinomaruzumou (Hinomaru Sumo) Introduction
High school freshman Hinomaru Ushio has been competing in sumo wrestling since he was a child with the sole goal of becoming the Yokozuna, or the grand champion. Despite his accomplishments in elementary school, he started to lose matches after becoming a junior high student, which he blamed on his short height. To add insult to injury, he’s merely 157cm (or 5’2” for Americans) by the time he’s in high school, and at minimum, he needs to be 167cm (or 5’7”) in order to qualify to compete as a professional. The good news happens to be that if he becomes a Yokozuna at the high school level, he can get a waiver to be a pro.
While trying to find a high school with an elite sumo club, he accidentally finds himself at Odachi High School, another high school with a sumo club when he sees Ozeki, the school’s only member, practicing while passing by the fence. Touched by Ozeki’s passion for sumo, he decides to join Odachi High School. After besting Yuma, the school’s top delinquent, and Chihiro, its star amateur wrestler, they join the sumo team out of respect for Hinomaru. Eventually, Kei, an undersized freshman, and Kirihito, one of Hinomaru’s childhood stablemates, also join the team in order to become the best team in Japan!
What We Liked About Hinomaruzumou (Hinomaru Sumo)
Very little do we get to see an anime about sumo, Japan’s national sport. Considering there are other mainstream anime about western sports such as tennis, soccer, and boxing, it’s nice to see things changed up a bit with something more culturally immersing. For those that love sports anime, love sumo, or just want something different, Hinomaruzumou offers all of that and a pot of chanko nabe.
1. It’s Educational
As we shared in a previous article as to how this anime portrays sumo, it’s pretty educational. You get to see that the stables that train pros have a strict hierarchy system. In some of the after credit scenes, you also learn that women aren’t allowed to compete as professionals! You can learn about the rules, the size of the ring, how to win, the diet, and more. And in case you wanted to know, there are high schools in Japan that do have sumo clubs, but not every high school is going to have them. If you’re someone who is interested in teaching in Japan, or presently a high school student that wishes to try studying abroad in Japan, you may find yourself at a school with an actual sumo club. So if you want to learn more about sumo, this anime is where you can start.
2. It Has Excellent Development
Every member of Odachi’s sumo team gets to develop individually and as a team. Though Hinomaru is determined to become a Yokozuna in a sport where only one can win, he cares very much for his teammates’ success for their own personal validations, and not just to make Hinomaru’s dream come true. The anime does an excellent job of portraying Yuma wanting to make up for how he bullied Ozeki, and despite Ozeki immediately forgiving him upon joining the team, Yuma feels he still owes him and you see how their relationship grows. As for Kei, he may not be big and things don’t always go his way, but the fact that he still goes out there and leaves everything in the ring shows he’s better than the guy who doesn’t get off the couch, and his spirit still sparks motivation for his teammates. As the series progresses, the cast grows and you learn more about their motivations and it glues you to the series.
3. Showing vs. Telling
What this series does best is balancing showing vs. telling. Since many Western viewers aren’t likely to know much about how sumo wrestling works, this anime does a great job of demonstrating not the basics, but the mentality it takes to become a Yokozuna, in this instance, telling is necessary. As for showing, it does a great job of showing how and why Hinomaru is determined to become a Yokozuna, and why everyone wants to win at sumo.
1. You Don’t See Hinomaru’s home life
The anime does vaguely show Hinomaru’s backstory, but enough to give you an idea of what drives him. However, we don’t see much of his home life or what family he has left until the end, but their presence is more implied than direct. When he was training throughout his junior high years, was he living homeless? In the mountains? With his grandparents? Or other relatives? We see that his family supports his dreams with very little is shown, but when it comes to youth sports, we all know that the power of family support can bring and unfortunately, we don’t get to see that, or how Hinomaru interacts with his family.
As we all know, sumo wrestlers rate 35+ on the BMI scale meaning they’re morbidly obese. In this anime, we see that and a variety of body types from skinny kids to those that could be linebackers for the NFL or compete in professional bodybuilding. Is this to appeal to more audiences? Or is it a subliminal left-leaning agenda to fight against body shaming? We can’t say for sure, but for some audiences, the “unrealistic” body types in this anime that go against real-life sumo could be a turn off.
With the manga still in publication, we hope there can be more seasons. There’s a lot to be desired and we want to see Hinomaru’s dreams come true in anime form. It may exaggerate some things, but you can’t exaggerate heart, hard work, and dedication, which this anime is full of.