Keijo is a sport where girls in bikinis stand on platforms floating in swimming pools and have to knock each other to the ground or into the water, using only their backsides or breasts. Fanservice is baked into the premise and is constant from the very start, but surprise! I don’t hate Keijo!!!!!!!!.
I will always look far more kindly on an anime that is upfront about its intentions, from either direction. Last season’s Alderamin introduced its protagonist as a rapey creep then abandoned that characterisation entirely and put him in the centre of a smart, political story. The season before that, Kuromukuro gave us a chivalrous samurai character for three episodes, at which point he deliberately grabbed a woman’s breast in a fight to get her to back off. I am far more annoyed about the three shots of nudity in the first episode of otherwise fanservice-free Izetta than I am about the butt acrobatics of Keijo!!!!!!!!.
And Keijo!!!!!!!! does some things better than anime with less fanservice. For example, episode one features a very muscular girl and a fat woman, both of whom are assumed to be skilled in this fanservice sport. It’s not a lot of body type diversity, but it’s more than many anime manage. It also reads very much as a sports anime, with determination, secret techniques and a ranking system. That’s pretty rare for an anime about women. (More on that point later.)
The butts and boobs are extremely cartoony, treated as tools and actually sexualised very little, apart from two uncomfortable moments. While fully clothed, one woman caresses another woman’s butt when they’ve just met and the other woman is clearly not sure what to do about this complete stranger groping her in public. During a match, one girl uses her own breasts to pull away her opponent’s swimsuit top to expose her breasts and embarrass her into backing off. In other words, there’s not a lot of active sexualisation but what is there relies on non-consensual contact. That’s pretty unpleasant, especially since one of the selling points of Keijo!!!!!!!! is that it features physically strong adult women.
And that’s how low the bar is. Frankly, after watching Scorching Ping Pong Girls I‘m just relieved to see a sports anime featuring adult women who all have real names which don’t feature body parts. That’s the problem: any praise I muster for Keijo!!!!!!!! owes more to the dearth of sports anime about women than any merits of Keijo!!!!!!!! itself, which seems like a pretty pedestrian sports anime once you look past the butt sumo gimmickery. If anime like Chihayafuru were as fundamental to anime programming as anime like Haikyu!!, Eyeshield 21 or Ace of the Diamond, I could dismiss Keijo!!!!!!!! without a second thought. Instead, we are put in the position of being grateful for scraps.
So no, I don’t hate Keijo!!!!!!!! but it sure would be nice if zero-fanservice sports anime about women were as common as zero-fanservice sports anime about men.
Read the ANN Preview Guide review.
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