Review of Wanna Be the Strongest in the World


Back during the late eighties I used to be a big fan of the WWF (now called the WWE due to a dispute with a well known nature conservation group.) Alas as I grew older my interests shifted from the squared circle to Premier League football pitches. These days I barely keep up with “sports entertainment” as modern wrestlers lack the charisma of Macho Man Randy Savage or the technical skills of Brett Hart. Perhaps I would still be interested in the sport if it were anything like Wanna Be the Strongest in the World. This twelve episode anime series (known as Sekai de Ichiban Tsuyoku Naritai in its native Japan) features female grapplers who wear wrestling attire that is ill suited for containing their colossal mammaries.


Wanna Be the Strongest in the World stars a pop idol singer named Sakura Hagiwara who fronts the popular all girl group Sweet Diva. One day a promotional tour takes Sakura and her band mate Elena Miyazawa to a gym where female athletes are coached in the ways of pro-wrestling. Whilst visiting the premise, Elena disrespects the training facilities incurring the wrath of a sadistic brawler named Rio Kazama. Rio retaliates by placing Elena in an excruciating submission hold before mocking the singers for being complete bimbos. Determined to uphold the honour of pop idols everywhere Sakura challenges Rio to a wrestling match. The resulting bout sees Sakura get pulverized much like Leona Lewis facing Brock Lesnar in a fight.

Unperturbed by the humiliating loss Sakura challenges Rio to a rematch. Rio agrees under one condition – Sakura must abandon her pop idol career and instead become a full time wrestler. Surprisingly the busty singer agrees to the stipulation faster than you can bite into a Slim Jim. Sakura’s baptism into the wrestling industry doesn’t go well initially, but under the tutelage of champion Misaki Toyoda she eventually becomes an accomplished competitor. The gruelling training regime she suffered may be for naught though. Just when the wrestling community begins to accept Sakura into the fold she is confronted by a luchadora named Blue Panther. The masked beauty demands that Sakura quit the ring unless she can best her in a match. Insert dramatic music here.


My rating for Wanna Be the Strongest in the World is three stars. I don’t get the opportunity to watch many sport centric shows so this anime ended up being a delightful treat. Although the cast is lacking in memorable personalities I was still able to get behind the underdog tale of Sakura triumphing over adversity. From a production values point of view the series clearly doesn’t have a huge budget to play with, but it still accomplished its objective of recreating the original manga’s artwork to a satisfactory standard. The lack of dazzle is barely noticeable as the in ring action keeps gravity defying acrobatics to a minimum, instead favouring more slow based duels were opponents counter each others submission moves.

Critics have universally panned the cartoon for being a lowbrow fan service show, which I feel is a little harsh. The cast is no sexier than the well-endowed ladies found in most other animes and their clothing doesn’t disintegrate into thin air, like some other examples I could mention. The eye candy on offer is restricted to a few tame shower scenes, although harder to defend is the show’s fascination with extreme crotch close-ups. Instead of the visuals I think the opening episodes may be what puts most viewers off. The first story arc has Sakura suffering an incredibly long losing streak. Although realistic, given her pampered background, the way she continuously succumbs to the same painful manoeuvre makes her come across as a whiny crybaby.

In Sakura’s defence, her mentor shouldn’t have taken so long to teach her how to escape the hold in question. The show however requires some suspension of disbelief to enjoy. This applies to the manner in which interference and weapon usage go unpunished during matches, along with the contrived episode twelve finale. The decision whether Sakura will ultimately sacrifice wrestling or singing wraps up a little too nicely for my cynical tastes. Overall Wanna Be the Strongest in the World is no classic, but I still managed to enjoy it for what it was. If the WWE Divas could match this Sweet Diva’s wrestling talent I would perhaps still follow the sport.

15 thoughts on “Review of Wanna Be the Strongest in the World

  1. I wanna be the strongest in the World is a different take on feminine sports anime and I think it’s also one of its forte. They’re normally romance-focused as this one is more sports-centered, and it’s refreshing, even if the wrestling part might be why there’s so little romance. Also, maybe the numerous crotch shots are also really unappealing. So much for being a somewhat underrated yet hollow anime.

  2. I watched this show back when it aired. I think it was the only sports anime that I have watched to date as well. I keep forgetting about it, that was until Funi started to show the fact they are releasing a dub of it. Did you see the dub?

    • My all-time favorite sports anime was “Bamboo Blade” about a high school girl’s kendo team. If you can find it, it is well worth checking out (it ran 2007-2008?).

      • I heard about that show 2 years ago and was thinking of watching it then, but never got around to it, maybe now I will once I finish the show I currently watching.

      • It is a good “slife of life” show. There are no aliens or vampires. The girls do not have any superpowers or magic. I also think it would be a good series for young women to watch, and has some positive sports messages. I also learned a lot about kendo. At first when they were shouting “MEN” I thought they were angry at boys. Didn’t know it means “I will strike the head”.

  3. Still one of my fav shows of 2013, specifically because I’m a semi-smark. Maybe that’s why when the show got to the Sakura vs Rio rematch it got astronomically better for me. Before that was submission hold city and all I could rely on was the sexiness.
    Anyway that’s my take on it.

  4. There’s only one “t” in Bret Hart….. πŸ™„

    Fan service and exaggerations aside this could have been better but it did stick to some of the traditions of Japanese wrestling.

    Unlike WWE where anyone can get in the ring after a few months of training, in Japan they won’t debut a wrestler until they’ve had sufficient training which could be up to a year. And even then rookies are only allowed to wear basic gear and do fundamental moves in their matches – they have to earn the right to use more adventurous moves and wear flashier clothes, which is why it is right Sakura wasn’t shown that special move straight away.


    • Mr Hart has suffered so many head shots that he doesn’t know how to spell his own name. That’s my story and I am sticking to it πŸ™‚ I’d correct the typo, but WordPress seems to remove line breaks when I hit the edit button so I’d rather not risk messing with the page formatting. Thanks for the interesting info on Japanese wrestling btw.

      • I don’t have that problem. Are you sung the crappy new “beep boop” editor or the properly working classic one?

  5. You beat me to the punch once again, Anyway, I liked the series back when I watched it, but it did like something was missing from it – especially going into the latter half of the series. Still an okay watch, nonetheless.

  6. Sounds like a strong story for females, which is good compared to the sidelined heroines I’ve been following. Interesting that you used to follow wrestling. Perhaps if they did things like these girls did then I’d follow it, too. Though I’ve never seen wrestling nor this anime, I’ll give one or both of them a try. Good review I was looking forward to read!

  7. Ahem! As a pro wrestling fan of todays era, I find your statement that the modern wrestlers have no personality to be entirely wrong, Mr. Judge. It died a near death around 2007-2010, but 2011 saw a change in the attitudes and the ability, as well as the charisma of modern day wrestlers. Now they’re actually a part of geek culture, too! (Seriously, they’re always hanging around comic cons!)

    Pro Wrestling fandom aside, great post as always Mr. Judge! I’ve just started to watch a different wrestling anime: Rowdy Sumo Wrestler Matsutaro – It’s proving to be –yet another– take on the sport and is a proper throwback to old school anime πŸ™‚

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