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Through the years, I've watched my fair share of sports anime, from evergreen games like basketball and football to more esoteric ones like ice skating. But none of them prepared me for the likes of Keijo!!!!!!!!. I picked it up late into the Fall season, initially writing it off as a generic fanservice anime produced for the sole purpose of selling merchandise. As shallow as it sounds, I eventually gave it a chance due to how active each episode discussion was on Reddit and how much advertising was done for it in Akihabara while I was in Japan.

Keijo!!!!!!!!'s premise is simple enough. The fictional sport is essentially sumo wrestling cum mixed martial arts on a floating platform in a swimming pool. Also, Keijo players are only allowed to use their breasts and buttocks while fighting. The last player left standing on the floating platform wins, after the rest are either knocked into the pool or are incapacitated. The anime follows 18-year-old Kaminashi Nozomi, a former gymnast who aims to be a professional Keijo player and eventually attain the Prize Queen rank; much like your Meijin rank in Shogi and World No. 1 placing in other sports.

The 12-episode long anime covers Nozomi's time in Setouchi Keijo Training School. For manga readers, this means that the introductory arcs are cut out entirely, for better or worse. As someone who's both read the manga and watched the anime, the chapters before Nozomi enrolled in Setouchi fleshed out her character, providing additional details regarding her family background and how she got to know eventual classmate and bunk mate Miyata Sayaka. On the flipside, these chapters do not translate well into a one cour anime, only serving to slow the pace down drastically. I do wish that they end up getting adapted as an OVA somewhere down the line though.

I'm glad I gave the anime a shot and I'm even considering 
rewatching it during this slow Winter season. The fights were fast paced and unpredictable, with numerous breast and butt puns punctuating the normally serious atmosphere. Be prepared to see puns and references like 'Shoryucans', 'Hip of Babylon/Gate of Bootylon', 'Buttack on Titan/Attack on Hip' and many more. Otaku viewers will have a ball of a time identifying each anime, manga or videogame reference. The students of Setouchi were easy to root for too, each possessing a unique personality and a whole set of original Keijo techniques.

As a result of the anime taking itself so seriously, any potential fanservice is weaved well into the Keijo techniques, attractive character designs and of course, your usual wardrobe malfunctions ala the image above. The only overt fanservice I can think of is Kusakai Mio's flirting and Keijo techniques. 

Through its great mix of humour, action and cast of characters, Keijo!!!!!!!! held its own in a strong 2016 Fall season that featured the likes of Hibike Euphonium 2, Flip Flappers, Yuri!!! on Ice and the third season of Haikyuu!!. Fingers crossed that the Blu-Rays and DVDs sell enough to convince Xebec that a second season is worth producing.

Written by ET

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