|A very fun show, good humor, the characters take the sport seriously, fun matches||main character isn't that memorable, antagonists sometimes a bit too similar to each other|
There are just some shows that embrace the absurdity of its premise and treat it with enough seriousness that it just works. Keijo is surprisingly one of those shows for me. This premise is the kind that immediately would have people giving you weird looks. The basic idea is a female sport where women knock each other off platforms using only their breasts and butts. Yeah, that definitely seems like a weird setup. I think what makes this show more than simply a guilty pleasure (which I suppose it still is) is because they do actually treat it like a sport. At the very least the crowds that we see react to events like a sport rather than a chance to stare at women in swimsuits.
In the end I found this show to be fun and enjoyable. A lot of the standard sports series tropes made their way into this and yet still worked just fine. I had fun watching characters overcome their weaknesses, face challenges, and chase their dreams. Even if the premise is one of the weirdest sports out there, it is nice to see people moving forward towards their goals. Not a show easily recommended for everyone, but if it works for you it works really well.
The story is pretty straight forward. Kaminashi Nozomi is one of many girls that has decided to enter the sport of Keijo. For that purpose she is going to a specialized school. The school takes young athletes and prepares them to enter the professional ranks. The plot for the show basic-ally just covers Nozomi and her friends training in the school setting with various tests and tournaments occurring along the way. It isn’t much more complicated in terms of plot than a lot of other sports series. The goal for all these characters is to gain the skills they need in order to go from girls with potential to athletes in a sport.
The sport involves women in swimsuits knocking each other off platforms and into the water. Yes that aspect definitely changes how you immediately view the show and it is a series with definite fanservice. Still, it has a fair amount of similarities to other sports and competitions. Like soccer/football they are limited in terms of how they can use their bodies. They can’t use their hands or feet to touch a competitor. This forces the characters to come up with various ways to knock their opponents off the platforms (or “lands” as they call them) with only their breasts and butts to work with. That is actually a fair challenge and requires them to come up with over the top techniques that fit their body types and physical abilities.
The show just has decides to go all out. It both has some really hilarious and interesting techniques along with having the characters treat it very seriously. For them this is a legitimate sport that has a benefit of fame and fortune to those who can rise to the top. And there are people who legitimately love it like any athlete who loves their sport. The show has all kinds of strange techniques, though at least many of them make some sense. Still, Keijo is one of those sports series where characters are going to have some pretty over the top methods. However the show explains a lot of the techniques and they have some logical sense (within that world). Things like lung capacity and body types do play a solid role in terms of how skilled various characters are.
And goodness knows this show both loves references and puns based on the subject matter. A really obvious one that they show in the OP is a reference to Fate/stay night’s Gate of Babylon. In some ways I’m rather impressed how many things they can twist to connect to either breasts or butts. And yet while it is an absolute pun to the viewer, the characters again just treat it as absolutely normal. That does allow them to treat the absurd seriously and thus have some actual drama and character development. In the end I think the story is pretty standard for a sports show, but works well enough.
The cast is pretty solid for this show. A lot of the focus though was on two characters. Nozomi and Miyata Sayaka were the primary characters for this show. Though I’d say right behind them in importance was Aoba Kazane and Toyoguchi Non.
Nozomi is the primary character though among even herself and Miyata. She is the type that has the most to learn, but also has an incredible ceiling for her potential. Nozomi goes through some of the more intense personal training in the show and has to constantly work to improve and deal with her weaknesses. However she does triumph over her challenges. She is very much a standard lead in that sense. The girl isn’t perfect, but has a very positive attitude that lets her get involved with those around her. A very aggressive athlete who wants recognition from the elite opponents she faces.
Miyata is a different kind of competitor than Nozomi. She has a smaller bust and focuses much more on moving fast and rapid strikes. There is some solid drama for her character through the show. Miyata goes up against the reality she gave up a potential Olympic career in Judo for Keijo. How others react to her because she changed her sports focus is an interesting side of her story. While Nozomi is an upbeat kind of aggressive fighter, Miyata is a bit more hotheaded at times. There are points in the series when she gets angered and doesn’t hesitate to charge into the fray. That can work out sometimes and other times…blow up in her face. In the end she’s a girl who will work herself to the bone to improve and make her change of sports worthwhile.
Aoba and Non are both pretty likable characters. Aoba’s ability as a Keijo fighter is one that doesn’t immediately lead to results but could make her a monster long term. She is a somewhat quiet girl at times in the story, but easily qualifies as the tactician of the cast. While it isn’t like the other characters are thoughtless, they don’t plan to the degree that Aoba does. She can consider the skills of her opponents and the terrain they are dealing with and come up with very effective strategies to conquer her opponents. She is one of the characters I can’t help but support when she’s in a match.
Non is a bit of a silly character, but has a good heart. She does manage to luck her way to success sometimes. That is in part thanks to her natural abilities that let her function as someone who can use good counters. She isn’t a character I cared that much about, but still is helpful to her friends.
There are a lot of side characters who have various levels of interest to them. The elite athletes in the show normally have some kind of unusual technique or quirk to them. The majority of the athletes just seem to perform in Keijo using the normal kinds of hits you’d imagine for this show. I’d say most of the opponents our main characters run into have abilities that make for interesting matches. Sometimes the antagonists have a common flaw of being too cocky, but that might not be that strange for some athletes. There are a few too many side characters to note them all, but will say they do their part nicely. Whether they are there to be rivals, mentors, or simply obstacles they do a solid job.
The show is pretty solid visually. The characters all look good and are pretty distinct considering how many side characters there are. For a show where fanservice is indeed part of the focus they do a good job making the characters appealing on that level.
What is more interesting though is some of the effects. The Gate of Babylon-like move actually looked pretty good. There are decent effects for some of the more over the top moves. The characters look pretty solid while in motion and unleashing various hits and slams. In terms of backgrounds they are sometimes pretty plain, but the focus is on the characters. There are a fair amount of close-ups that save them having to show every motion, but it isn’t distracting. They do enough in terms of showing the characters move and attack to make it balanced. It isn’t a shockingly good looking show, but it is above average.
In the end this is certainly a show that combines a few different elements together. It is a series with a strong fanservice element, a sport series, almost a battle show at times with the various special abilities, sometimes comical, but the competitions were tense at times. I think it is a show easily written off by the premise and true enough that the premise isn’t exactly a lie. But it is a show that is more a sports series than an ecchi series. It was a fun show with decent characters and has more substance to it than you’d expect.
I think the quality of the show is thanks to the writing. It would be extremely easy to write this show up as a big ecchi series without any substance to it. Just have some girls slamming into each other, make some chests bounce and call it a day. And while one character does use pleasure as a weapon in her matches, as a whole it is far more about being a sport. The premise is silly and some of the lines in the show are pretty corny. It is a show that does have fun with that premise. But it does that while also trying to at least treat the sport and characters surprisingly serious. At least the characters treat the world they live in as legitimate. Comedy comes from how we view it.
I’m not going to say this show is the best of the season or the year, but it is a solid B.
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