Sumire UesakaChiaki TakahashiSora TokuiSora Amamiya
Wanna Be the Strongest in the World!
Also known as: Sekai de Ichiban Tsuyoku Naritai!
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2013
Director: Rion Kujo
Writer: Kazuho Hyodo
Actor: Ayana Taketatsu, Chiaki Takahashi, Eri Kitamura, Haruka Tomatsu, Hisako Kanemoto, Kana Asumi, Kana Hanazawa, Kyoko Narumi, Miku Ito, Rina Sato, Sora Amamiya, Sora Tokui, Sumire Uesaka, Suzuko Mimori, Yuka Otsubo
Keywords: anime, boobs
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 12 TV episodes, plus some fanservice-heavy mini-episodes on the Blu-rays
Website category: Anime 2013
Review date: 30 April 2024
Sekai de Ichiban Tsuyoku Naritai
It's a sports anime, but it sounded silly and it has naked boobs. (It's the kind of series where they've added nipples for the Blu-rays.) I started watching... and, to my surprise, quite liked it.
It's about an idol who goes into pro wrestling. If you think this sounds insane... yes, it is, but Japan is the land that laughs at sanity, so that's also happened in real life. Maki Itoh and Reika Saiki have both been idols, singers, actresses and pro wrestlers. (Ladybeard, aka. Richard Magarey, is in a different category. Saiki was also a bodybuilder, incidentally, but she retired from all the physical stuff in 2022 after a broken jaw.) Anyway, Japanese pro wrestling is usually scripted, as with WWE, but this anime ignores that and pretends it's all real.
Its heroine, Sakura Hagiwara, is a member of idol group Sweet Diva. One day, she and her over-competitive colleague Elena Miyazawa get into a pro wrestling challenge. Their professional opponent, Rio Kazama, takes it personally and goes at them full strength... so Sakura announces that she'll train seriously in wrestling until she's beaten Kazama in the ring and got payback for Elena getting hurt.
You know how this will go, don't you? Anime underdogs never lose! Sakura will demonstrate that idols can't be underestimated! Well, yes, sort of, sometimes, eventually... but only after getting hammered and humiliated for several consecutive episodes and her first 65 public fights. She has a tough time. The audience boo her for being boring and for always having to surrender. Mot of her idol fans leave. It's a slow, painful crawl for her.
This is great. I loved it. It's a million miles away from the usual sports cliches, in which victory traditionally goes to the protagonist almost as a moral right. I'd never expected to see a sports series where the protagonist just keeps losing and losing and losing, even though it's it's the only realistic outcome. Even fighting hard and well is no guarantee that the Gods of Drama will let you win. Nonetheless, Sakura sucks it up and perseveres. It's amazing when in ep.5 she at last performs well in the ring. She still loses, but then ep.6. Wow. That's one hell of a fight. I was in awe. Sakura and the show had crawled through broken glass to give us this battle.
I've been told that the wrestling's quite accurate, e.g. basing most of its submission holds on real wrestling holds. The show loves its subject matter.
It's a heartwarming show. The characters are warm and supportive of each other, despite the odd abrasive exterior. Moe Fukuoka is adorable. The show's also silly, mind you. The final revelation about Blue Panther made me laugh like a loon and needs taking with a truckload of salt, but I loved it and it's perfect for the characters. The finale is wrestling as an expression of love. See also Sakura's realisation that "idols are the same as pro wrestlers! The essence is the same! Entertaining the audience."
The fanservice is milder than you'd think, except in the mud-wrestling Blu-ray bonus mini-episode. However, the wrestlers all have striking figures and Sakura's leotard is almost open down to her navel.
For me, this show hit a deceptively tricky golden spot of two mismatching achievements. (a) it's a strong underdog sports anime that made me care about its drama and its wrestling matches, which are surprisingly realistic (if you accept the myth that they're unscripted). In ep.8, I was gobsmacked when it looked possible that Sakura might beat a world champion. (b) it's high camp that can get away with almost anything, because its ridiculousness is part of the fun. The silliness made me laugh. This series is genuinely worth a look.
"Because I love pro wrestling for making me feel this way!" (i.e. screaming in pain, which is apparently a staple performance element in Japanese female pro wrestling. Sakura's a masochist, then?)