Keijo is similar to Sumo… only sexier. Just like Japan’s national sport, the objective of Keijo is to eliminate your opponent by pushing them out of the arena. In the case of Keijo however, matches are fought on platforms that float atop a pool. Unlike Sumo, which is practiced exclusively by obese men, Keijo participants are swimsuit clad athletic ladies. Why is this a fictional sport? I imagine Keijo would have more of a mainstream appeal than something like cricket. Five days whacking a ball, with a bat, only for the match to then be declared a draw when it drizzles? What a waste of time. Unlike the singer of 10cc, I don’t like cricket.
Nozomi Kaminashi is an aspiring Keijo player who recently abandoned gymnastics, after realizing that prancing about with ribbons isn’t the most lucrative of careers. When the series begins she enlists in a school staffed by retired Keijo professionals, who specialize in coaching students on how to use their busts and posterior in combat. Joining Nozomi in her studies is best friend Sayaka Miyata, who has a strained relationship with her father. Daddy dearest just cannot comprehend why his daughter has ditched the martial arts in favour of a sport that is effectively Dead or Alive Xtreme’s butt battle mini-game.
This twelve-episode adaptation of Daichi Sorayomi’s manga is split into two story arcs. In the first half Nozomi learns the ropes and bonds with roommates Kazane Aoba and Non Toyoguchi. Kazane is a bashful gal, with a funny accent, who is adept at counterattacks. Toyoguchi on the other hand relies on her squishy buttocks to succeed. In many matches she emerges the fortuitous winner, after her opponent bounces off said ass and into the pool. Keijo’s second arc sees the girls travel eastward, to compete in an exhibition bout against a rival academy. Who will emerge victorious in the East versus West BUTTle… um battle?
My rating for Keijo is four stars. I went into the series expecting to admire the eye candy and laugh at how ridiculous the story is. On both counts the series delivers. There are numerous fan service scenes at the hot tub and on the comedy front we get a plentiful amount of tongue in (butt) cheek humour, plus some funny anime references. What surprised me about the series is that after a few episodes I genuinely got invested in the plot. Remove the silliness and Keijo still holds up as a legitimate sport show. The cast train hard to master new skills, put their determination to the test and rely on the virtues of teamwork. I also have to say that the action scenes are bad-ass… no pun intended.
Although the matches are highly unrealistic, I like the logic used to explain the special techniques each character commands. Sayaka for example enhances her speed by reducing swimsuit surface area, which she accomplishes by giving herself a wedgie. Nozomi’s signature move, on the other hand, is an attire busting energy wave that she generates by somersaulting. Later in the series the heroines face an adversary who uses her shiny cleavage to blind enemies. It’s simultaneously goofy and creative. Even if the Ecchi elements will put off some viewers, I can recommend Keijo to open minded anime sport fans. Sadly, due to poor sales, we are unlikely to get another season. That really “bums” me out.