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!
Big men, big hearts. Matsutaro is about to find that although he is incredibly strong, he has a long way to go before he can claim to be the strongest. This rowdy individual will go on a quest to find himself, as well as finally growing up to become a man and find the strength to take down much bigger foes than he. But will he ever stop being such a hot-headed man and actually grow up?
Sports anime are really quite popular, with whole series being dedicated to sports like tennis and swimming. There are also a good number of Pro Wrestling related anime out there, such as the silly Ultimate Muscle. However, Rowdy Sumo Wrestler Matsutaro is the first of its kind that I have seen. If you hadn’t sussed it out from the title alone, this is an anime about a rowdy man called Matsutaro and his transition into Sumo.
**WARNING – Minor spoilers**
It starts off by showing our protagonist, Matsutaro, who is literally one of the rowdiest, rudest men you had ever laid your eyes on. He’s an adult, but he is still going to middle school, just because he didn’t have much else to do with his life. He would bully kids to cheat from, as well as purposefully get himself in trouble so he could see Minami, a teacher he is absolutely infatuated with. We follow him through his little village, where we see he bullies his own siblings, as well as throwing water over a bunch of ladies who are about the village. Basically, Matsutaro is one unlikeable guy.
We learn quite quickly that Matsutaro is very strong… Freakishly so! He’s a big man, so he uses his weight and his sheer power to get his way. We see him stop a running cart by himself, we see him bashing into trucks and everything. He’s not the sharpest tool in the shed, but if he were, that’d kind of ruin the premise of this show! Instead, he is so crass, that we even see him try to take that teacher on a drunken joyride around the village. Unbelievable.
I’ve read from a lot of people that the style of this anime is reminiscent of older anime, from the 70s and 80s. From the art, all the way to the music and the characters themselves. That makes this a bit of a throwback in anime style, which a lot of fans of older anime would be able to appreciate more. Considering my tastes are a bit eclectic however, I found the transition from the usual clean and modern styles to this quite refreshing.
The art is comparable to shows such as Trigun for me in terms of how it looks overall. This is a good thing. Trigun feels as if it is aged, the moment you start to watch it. This is no different, but this was made with an aged style in mind. They made this in a style to simply make it look old and it works, as we are thrown into concepts that do not exist in the modern day. Perhaps a group of women do still gather to get water from a spigot in villages in Japan… At least, the style is explained at the start of the show. It explains that this story is set in the Showa era, which tells us that we’re not in the present, but TV was a thing.
The music is something I’d like to address, as I think opening theme tunes really can make or break an anime. The opening theme I’ve been told is really similar to older anime once again, as it starts off with a really nicely done duet. A nice female vocal and a male lead. The two singing characters at the teacher that Matsutaro is infatuated with and Matsutaro himself, singing as if they were a duet. It’s a brilliant opening and a lot of people have made comments on the videos that they really came to enjoy the theme tune. It’s not entirely unfitting like the last anime we reviewed, either.
Finally, I’d like to point out that this show doesn’t really exaggerate much. It’s relatively realistic. When the old ladies get water chucked over them, it’s not like they’re dying or unable to do anything – They get wet, they get annoyed. Matsutaro isn’t lifting mountains. He’s a big man, able to stop a run away cart, but he’s not going to stand in front of a truck and stop it. I hope to see this style remain as is. It doesn’t need to make him look flashy, as he’s already got a good base to become a really likeable hero. No need for him to be wrestling with monsters or anything, this is a non-exaggerated tale of a guy growing up and accepting himself for who he is.
This one is a mixed bag.
I mean I personally am enjoying it and I love the development of the character from this blumbering buffoon, into something a lot more refined over time. He’s hard-headed but he seems to have his heart in the right place, even if it’s for the wrong reasons. I think because of that, it makes him, our protagonist, quite unlikeable… But sometimes, you have to be prepared to invest in a character to see them become the character you want them to become. This is why I adore character development, as we all know that our budding sumo will get his comeuppance and learn how to be the bigger man, so to speak.
I am hoping that Matsutaro has a change in heart through the medium of Sumo, I also hope he doesn’t seek me out and pinch my cheeks or something, as I’m sure he’d break me. With this in mind however, I’m satisfied that this series is going to conclude in a good way, when I get through it all. If you’re not fond on the idea of watching a ruffian become more refined, then watch this to learn more about the sport of Sumo, as it’s really quite an interesting watch. Once more, I leave you with knowledge that this is available on Crunchyroll. But now it’s over to you: Have you heard of this anime? What do you think of our bullying bruiser? Is this an anime you would watch? Let me know in the comments.