Hinomaru Sumo – Anime Preview
Synopsis: Ushio Hinomaru is a middle schooler looking to transfer up into a high school, one that specifically has a Sumo club. When he gets caught up with the police trying to stop a groping incident on the train, Ushio’s search gets sidetracked as he comes upon a high school with a struggling Sumo club. Ushio meets Ozeki Shin’ya who seems as passionate for Sumo as Ushio is. However, this school’s Sumo club can’t even get off the ground, as the school’s worst thugs have taken the club dojo for themselves. When Ushio decides to challenge the thugs things seem stacked against him. Except Ushio isn’t your average middle school kid….
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: While Hinamaru Sumo has a rather uncommon sport as its main theme, it also employs a fair number of sports anime staples. Biggest and most obvious case in point being its very earnest and enthusiastic lead, whose love for sumo is so intense and pure that he has no issues walking around in his unusual sports garb and breaking into school grounds just to practice the sport with a complete stranger. It’s a cliche that appears in a lot of sports anime and depending on how much you enjoy or dislike that, your enjoyment of Hinamaru Sumo is going to vary wildly.
Tom: Hinomaru Sumo starts strong with a likable, if tropey hero. We literally begin the episode with him saving a girl from being groped on the train, perhaps one of the most noble first feats a shonen lead can perform. From there Ushio Hinomaru continues to display selfless character, choosing to aid Ozeki despite the fight for this Sumo Club not at all being his fight, to even him abandoning his number 1 school of choice in order to help Ozeki get this school’s club off the ground. In a lot of ways, Hinomaru Sumo feels like a series out of its time due to these factors. It’s more like a shounen from the 90s than modern day. In some ways the whole thing is a bit cliche, but because Hinomaru is such a likable lead, and bullying is such a repugnant concept, it all works despite its worn nature.
Linny: The bond that forms quickly and easily between Ushio and Ozeki is as heartwarming as it is cliche, giving the premiere episode heart and emotion even if it feels oh so predictable every step of the way.
Tom: Sumo is a Japanese Sport that gets little attention outside Japan, and even rarely features in Japanese Entertainment itself. Certainly I can’t think of too many Sumo based anime. So the idea of a series focused on this intrinsically Japanese sport is immediately appealing. It helps that there’s spurts of eye-catching animation too, especially when Ushio sticks it to the lead thug at the end of the episode. Hinomaru Sumo isn’t exactly breaking new ground narrative-wise, and mostly adheres to many of the classic shonen tropes in order to produce a tale that feels like there’s some noble heart and heroism to it, even if it’s just about a not often thought of sport. Still, this first episode is strong and grabs your attention immediately, marking a solid start for the series, one it can hopefully continue to build on throughout the season.
Linny: Hinamaru Sumo isn’t a revolutionary show, save for its choice of sport to focus on. There’s a lot of cliches and tropes every step of the way and the credits also hint at more tropes further up ahead such as the villain of the first episode turning a new leaf and joining the very club he bullied at the start. However, the show uses enjoyable animation and voice acting to make its story feel lively and engaging. Unless you are someone completely tired of cliche ridden sports anime, there’s enough to make trying the first episode of Hinamaru Sumo worth your while.
Hinomaru Sumo is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.