Pick of the Geek – Hinomaru Zumou
You can’t have failed to notice the rise in sports anime and manga in recent years, and now we have an almost Olympiad selection with swimming, cycling, soccer, rugby, basketball, volleyball, tennis and many more. The fact that many are accurate and true to the sports they represent unlike earlier ‘sports’ anime (those who have seen Battle Athletes will know what I mean), is a significant positive point. Among the plethora of choices out there there is one series which has gone relatively unnoticed – especially here in the West.
Hinomaru Zumou is a martial arts/sports anime that focuses on high school sumo wrestling.
Now I know what you’re thinking – how is a bunch of fat guys in nappies going to make an entertaining series? I’ll admit I was pretty much the same when I started as here in the UK sumo isn’t really understood and what we see of it is restricted to UK based athletes who might get on the news for a 5 minute feature or even a comedy show (see the video from Russell Howard). This is of course a very small and skewed view, and it’s something that Hinomaru Zumou has corrected for me. It may even light a fire in you that might make you look into taking up the sport – this series is that good.
A sample of what the UK has in terms of ‘Sumo’
This is a fantastic sports manga that doesn’t need to rely on attractive bishounen characters or fan service – which is more surprising given the amount of skin on show in the sport. If you decide to read this series you will get a greater understanding of what is a religious sport from Japan, but more than that you’ll find passion, intensity and real character growth. The protagonist is set up as an already strong character who has one major flaw that has hampered his development in the sport. As you read you will experience one of the best series for character development, and the author manages to amalgamate different forms and disciplines of martial arts to give an insight into the complex world that is Sumo.
Hinomaru Zumou is a must read for any martial arts or sports anime and manga fan, and I’m recommending it because it has a solid plot and stable development. Kawada has a true understanding and love for the sport which means you get an entertaining and educational look into the world of sumo wrestling.
You can find Hinomaru Zumou in Shounen Jump over at the Jump Website. To date only ten volumes have been released so you can easily catch up.