by Dalton Martin
When you go into a series with absolutely zero expectations, you never know how you will come out after viewing the first episode. My initial thoughts upon viewing the trailer for Keijo were less than stellar, having proclaimed the anime a mistake immediately upon watching it. In fact, I probably would not have even started the show were it not for some inside joke among my friends. That being said, I am so glad my first thoughts were completely wrong and that Keijo is not only one of my favorite shows coming out of this year, but quite possibly the decade as well.
Literal Heart Stopping Action
With quick, fluid motions and a colorful array of auras, one can easily get sucked into the spectacle of the bouts.
Keijo is the tale of Nozomi Kaminashi and Sayaka Miyata and their journey into becoming top-Keijo stars, a sport that can only be described as acrobatic butt sumo wrestling in bikinis with the only goal being to knock opponents off the land and into the water below. As utterly confusing as that sounds, it surprisingly works quite well and never seems too ridiculous. While this could have ended up being a very simple show dedicated entirely to fan-service, Keijo instead turns out to be a very complex sport anime with fan-service that plays into the show itself. With ridiculous fighting techniques like the Vacuum Butt Cannon and vibrant characters that include pop-idols and magicians, Keijo is a real treat if you do not take it too seriously.
Those familiar with the tournament-style fighting genre will find Keijo not much different from the likes of Dragon Ball or Yu Yu Hakusho. There are exponentially stronger opponents around every corner that know ludicrous techniques. The leads use the power of determination to overcome all obstacles, and the series climaxes with the reveal that there are somehow transformations, which allow contestants to suddenly stop feeling pain and exhaustion. Even when it comes down to the fights, Keijo doesn’t loosen up on the intensity contained in the anime mentioned above. With quick, fluid motions and a colorful array of auras, one can easily get sucked into the spectacle of the bouts. The best part is that the fights never seem to drag on for extended amounts of time, as each one lasts a single episode at its longest sans the final match.
The moves that the girls use could be considered downright diabolical at times, with some techniques being able to lock up character’s bodies by directly attacking vital organs. However, being equally goofy, Keijo never misses an opportunity to pay homage to other anime such as Attack on Titan and Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, often making a pun in the process when things begin to become too serious.
More Than Fan-Service
Admittedly, some people will have a difficult time getting past the perverted exterior of this show as it can be quite embarrassing to view with others in the room. Many times my roommate would walk in while I was watching the series and simply shake his head in disapproval as I frantically tried to explain that the show actually had some neat storylines and decent character development. While the show does sexualize some of the characters, it is seldom the focus point and never overstays its welcome. One of my favorite characters, Mio Kusakai, ends up using sexuality as a psychological weapon, intimidating her opponents by being extremely flirtatious on and off the land. If you haven’t caught on yet, this show is a bit ridiculous, but that is part of its amazing charm.
However, once you get past all the lewd parts, you’ll discover some really deep and complex stories amongst the individual Keijo athletes. As laidback and goofy Nozomi is initially presented, the reveal of why she wants to be the highest paid Keijo star is equal parts heartbreaking and sweet.
The Boring Calm Before the Storm
Luckily, Keijo wastes no time getting back into the swing of things and immediately picks back up for a fantastic finale that ups the ante even further, cranking the ferocity and outlandishness to 11.
At the shows peak Keijo is quite intense, and admittedly had me on the edge of my seat at more times than not. Keijo never misses a beat when it comes down to the action-heavy episodes with some amazing animation sequences. At the worst, however, the series got to be a bit tedious whenever there wasn’t much action happening on-screen. This is hardly ever an issue in the series’ 12 episode run, but there was one slight misstep that messed up the flow temporarily. After being spoiled with non-stop bouts, Keijo seemingly takes a hard turn with the sixth episode , which has the girls explore a city while they wait for a hotel to open. In the episode ‘Alluring Kyoto Trip’, not much happens outside of getting some insight on Sayaka’s family and backstory along with seeing the rest of the girls bond before an arduous boot camp for future Keijo stars begins. This particular episode was very uncharacteristically bland compared to the others.
By no means is the episode bad; it just felt a bit out of place compared to the previous episode that showcased an athlete that can summon a flaming Cerberus out of her backside. Luckily, Keijo wastes no time getting back into the swing of things and immediately picks back up for a fantastic finale that ups the ante even further, cranking the ferocity and outlandishness to 11.
Keijo has the distinct honor of being the only anime series I actively watched as it aired that isn’t Dragon Ball related. There is just something creatively refreshing about a bunch of girls brutally and ruthlessly attacking each other with only their waists and breasts. Everything about Keijo is just a wondrous thing to take in, from the lovably quirky characters to the insanely powerful and colorful techniques they use. I sincerely hope there will be a second season because Keijo is just too great to not continue.
All Images From: Keijo!!!!!!!!
+ The outlandish techniques and fighting styles
+ Sayaka Miyata’s character arc
+ A refreshing and creative concept
- The fan-service may be a bit too much for some