In professional sumo, there are no weight classes. It's a savage sport where the strongest survive, and anyone willing to test their mettle can step into the ring. There is, however, a minimum size requirement to be a pro sumo wrestler, and young Hinomaru Ushio, incredibly talented and hardworking though he may be, does not meet that requirement. This small boy has big dreams of reaching the highest class of sumo, Hinoshita Kaisan. The only way he could possibly go pro is if he becomes the High School Yokozuna, a title given to the strongest wrestler in high school tournaments. Ushio is under a lot of pressure, as well as a time limit. If he can't show off his skills in the high school tournaments, he may lose his chance to go pro permanently, and the odds are stacked against him. Instead of enrolling in Ishigami High, the best school for sumo in Japan, he enrolls in Odachi High and must build a sumo club from the ground up with the one devout member Shinya Ozeki. Odachi High is the true underdog of the sumo world, but Ushio has to push forward with all his strength if he is going to make it professionally. [Written by MAL Rewrite]
Fat guys wearing diapers and sweating like pigs. Over weighted = over powered. Who cares if you can’t bend to tie your own shoe lases when can just walks thru walls anyway. Let the slimiest man win!
I never quite understood why sumo was called a sports instead of the male version of plus sized beauty modelling, but Hinomawhatever helped me to open my eyes to the beauty of this art. Partly because it quite closely follows the normal, formulaic pattern commonly seen in sports anime and partly because of its manly and bro cast. I never quite respected sumo nor thought much about it, but now I kinda do.
The setup for our story will seem rather familiar to anyone who has seen classic sports series. Main bro is a prodigy with the heart, but he can’t be the unbeatable sumo Jesus just yet for there are several things in the way. He himself is a manlet, practically new unit between meter and decimeter -tier midget who is too short to officially be able to become a sumo pro. He also can’t join the school with the best sumo club in Japan because he is terrible at reading maps, so instead he ends up in a school which sumo club is practically dead and the whole fight sports scene in the school ruled by thugs, delinquents and cool badasses. The nearly-a-Jesus type of character with these hardships/obstacles is used to create some rather interesting mixed martial arts battles very early on and also to introduce bunch of characters who get to discover the beauty of sumo sports in the same manner as the viewers who are new to sumo do when watching the series. Development and awe-inspiring coolness exists for a while, offering a strong start for the series. This commonly slows down the pace later on and requires some back stories, build-up and character depth. And this is more or less like the route that was now chosen, but the route itself is ever so entertaining to follow.
The events are rather simple since Hinomary is a simple series that doesn’t try to really be anything more. Our cast contains a wide variety of characters from people who are totally ignorant to sumo to pros whose entire life centers around it. This brings quite a few different perspectives in to the mix and shows many sides of the sports itself. The series can be rather educational from this part and thanks to the colorful cast, the way Hinomary is dealing with the basics of sumo feel very natural and smooth. The author is clearly knowledgeable about other sports series as well as the sports in question and that at least carried all the way thru this season, which main focus outside showing what sumo is and who our main characters are, is a simple interschool sumo tournament where different sumo clubs from different schools face each others.
The strongest sides with the series lie within the awe moments, fights, GAR-like atmosphere and Hinomaru’s (sumo Jesus’s) personality. The weakest parts are the believability of other club’s members success and the lack of a proper training arc + the pacing which can be — at time — jumpy and seem like new episodes start off from episodic settings rather than continuing from anywhere that was shown in former episode.
Outside Hinomaru, the most interesting (and relatively bro) main character is Chihiro Kunisaki, who is a talented wrestler that now joined Hinomaru’s sumo team. The remaining 4 club members from “our side” can occasionally feel bit filler-ish and much less interesting. We have super shy and skinny dude who looks incredibly unfit to physically even participate in the sports. Fat dude who is practically the exact same as the thin dude (personality-wise) except has always loved sumo and is somewhat good at it. There is also another Jesus in the series named trainer-Jesus person and he is more or less like anyone else in the series except supposedly holds lots of sumo-wisdom and wear glasses and is training our main cast.. kind of. The last club member is a delinquent thug person who was portrayed to be incredibly cool and badass in the beginning of the series, but then his personality was put on a leash pretty much and now he is just another person doing sumo without many visible&interesting personality traits, but even he gets thru some development later on and his personality change gets explained rather well eventually. There is also one more “main”character in the series because all sports series need a mascot girl. Student council president who is the thug dudes sister and has a brother complex over him. The good part is that the opponents of our sumo Jesus themselves are way more interesting and cool than the main cast which is more so portrayed to be “real people” than completely badass sumo pros. Other basic sports elements exist also, such as tragic past story for main bro’s mother and a love interest subplot. The series has many things to offer due to these simple elements, but it should be noted that these things didn’t really go anywhere during the first season.
In terms of production, Gonzo is underrated as ever. The first ED is beast as hell. Side character bros look awesome. Like really advanced awesome. Some sumo wrestlers still are just big and otherwise they do not stand out, but others have highly unique and manly character design which is also memorable. The music is fitting and those sounds when men fall on the tatami exactly as loud as they should be, meaning hella. The animation is especially fitting for a series of this sort and art design along the color choices do their work splendidly. It’s subdued and simplistic and I see no reason to complain about it, much rather praise this simplicity for how efficient it is. Some weird errs still exist, such as sumo Jesus really looking like 1 feet tall compared to the bigger and fatter sumo dudes who are like 8 feet compared to him during certain shots. This may seem ridiculous/annoy some viewers. It stands out, but personally I didn’t find it annoying.
I highly enjoyed this series because I am a huge fan of sports series and Hinomaru didn’t especially do anything that was there to ruin the experience for me. The story board is somewhat lacking and clearly unoriginal + the other main characters are not as amazing as the real mains and their opponents, but the generic sports pattern itself is being dealt with in respectable manner and Hinomaru’s way to deal with its characters and execute the common tropes are pleasure to watch even when the series lacks some depth.