In Defence Of – Keijo: Hip Whip Girl
“In defence of” is a brand new article series in which we look at titles from all media that were criticised for whatever reason and champion them, standing up to the wave of overwhelming negativity. Whether the consensus was right to marginalise the featured titles remains to be seen, we will merely be making a case for these anime, movies, video games and comic/manga books with as little bias as possible.
Author: Daichi Sorayomi
Content: 13 Manga Volumes, 12 part series + 6 OVA
Studio: Xebec (Buso Renkin, Tokyo ESP, Love Hina, To Love-Ru)
Synopsis: In an alternate reality a women’s only gambling sport known as Keijo has quickly become a popular sport. Set atop floating platforms the combatants must try and knock each other into the water or incapacitate using only their breasts and buttocks.
The Problem: Immediately it’s easy to see where the hatred for this series comes from, this is a fan-service series that focuses on Breasts and Buttocks.
Keijo is one of those series that looks like it’s almost impossible to defend. However, it’s key asset is that it doesn’t need to be defended. It’s one of the few series that is honest with itself. You know by looking at the poster that you are getting a fanservice anime and within the first five minutes, you’ve already decided if this is a series you’ll enjoy or not because the series gets it’s biggest issue out of the way it has a lot of fun with the material. I would personally say this is the most unique and creative sports anime in a long time. You can sense the mangaka and the animators were clearly having a huge amount of fun in bringing this series to life. Something I’ve personally not felt in a sports anime since Eyeshield 21 all those years ago.
Having a fictional sports series as opposed to being based off a real one allows the series to go all out with its presentation. While other series embellish the truth to fit the world of the characters, creating a false sense of what the sports are like, Keijo has little rules save for the limits of what a human body can really do. Except the series is aware of this, managing to create ludicrous shonen-style over the top moves such as a Cerberus Butt slam which allows the user to chase opponents around the field (much like a rabid dog) or a Hypnotic Boob attack (which lets face it could be found within the realms of reality).
Characters are hit and miss, however, one thing I did feel the stood series in good stead was the use of different body types. Keijo implied ‘anyone can play!’, we have girls of all shapes and sizes. From the traditional perfect bodied girls to overweight to muscular. It’s one of the few series that embodies this and because of the nature of the sport, it fits in naturally whereas other series take extreme liberties. Sorry All Out, if pretty boys played Rugby it wouldn’t be long before they were beaten into more realistic shapes – and vitally, pretty no more. A nice added touch for me also was the fact that the series sets itself imposed the rule that each character is over 18. Allowing the series and characters to escape the creepy depths of being ‘underage’ in Anime.
Some of the characters are surprisingly deep too. The main character has a justifiable goal of wanting to be an Olympic Gymnast but ultimately has to settle for the higher paying Keijo in order to support her poverty-stricken family. It’s times like this that shows a sense of realism in the characters, with it being normal and relatable to put one’s dreams aside in order to support loved ones.
The animation is actually pretty nice, too. It’s entirely colourful and you can easily tell that this was made by someone who worked on ecchi and hentai in the past. Being an ecchi, the series knows where to excel at and all of the ‘important’ parts to be featured. Keijo is an honest series. It knows what it is and is incredibly self-aware. It knows that people will decide if they like it before they watch it. This allows it to have so much fun with what it does. Keijo doesn’t lie. It doesn’t lure you in with a serious overtone. It doesn’t try and pretend to be a serious anime. It’s true with what it is and what it is nonsense.
It’s certainly not a series for everyone and it’s not even trying to be. It’s daft, it’s stupid and it has a lot of heart. If you can get past the butts you’ll be in for a fun treat.