Shows You Might Not Have Watched: Keijo!!!!!!!!!

Hello New Years everyone, Lance here. This review was written before Christmas as I prepare to fly off to Tokyo with the family for abit. Just got back from watching the new Star Wars film Rogue and it was pretty decent for what it is, a standalone story with a good amount of action, space battles, and a solid conclusion. The characters weren't really memorable, the first act was weak, and people still walk into gunfire waaaaaay too much, but the great final act and some memorable scenes throughout make it a satisfying if not amazing watch. But I digress, today I'll be touching abit on the anime adaptation of Keijo!!!!!!!! (Yes its 8 apostrophes) 

An adaptation of the manga series by Sorayomi Daichi, The titular fictional sport of Keijo involve swimsuit-clad (albeit mostly tasteful ones) female competitors who must knock their opponents off a platform above a pool, using only their buttocks or chests. Now I was as ready as the next guy to simply write this off as some cheap fanservice show, but some recommendations persuaded me to at least give it a watch, and I won't regret that I did, because this is a very solid show, even in a conventional sense.

In this world, Keijo is a well recognized spectator sport with a strong established culture and large viewer-base from both genders, and so much of what makes the shows outlandish concepts work is in how genuinely and wholeheartedly the world and its people is committed to that fact. Not everyone is as accepting of it as a matter of course, but to the people involved, it treated completely and totally like a genuine sports anime, with the player truly loving and are committed to their craft. The grueling training, theory-crafting, team building, rivalries, special techniques and other staples of the sports genre are all present here. And like any good sports anime, it shows a respectful amount of genuine sportsmanship outside of the ring. From Shokugeki no Souma and now Keijo, just goes to show that the genre still works regardless of what sport it is......
What makes Keijo a solid piece of entertainment though is in how consistently good it is at making new and creative use of its setting. The actual act of playing Keijo is a wacky mix of normal sprts and old-school shounen arena-style battles, with all the ridiculous special powers and dramatic scripting that comes with the latter. The special techniques unique to each contestant are often wonderfully creative and hilarious in an deliberately outrageous way. I hesitate to spoil the specifics, but suffice to say a move like "Ass of Vajra" will very quickly be the least interesting thing you'll come across. The constant introduction of new players and new creative arenas also help keep thing more interesting throughout than you might think. Besides, the action scenes themselves are pretty good, with a nice amount of tension and dynamic pacing to keep things interesting. Alot of it is cliche and predictable for anyone familiar with the genres, but gosh darn if it isn't a damn good piece of entertainment. I do miss the arena style format from the old days with manga like YuYu Hakusho and Flame of Recca, but I never quite envisioned to see it in....this particular way.

The way the show treats Keijo as a legitimate sports also extends to the production itself. With a show so focused around a sport involving swimsuits, breasts and butts, its quite surprising that how so very very little of it felt like actual fanservice and lewd pandering, and besides the serious nature of the sport and its contenders, much of this is credited to the camerawork and framing of its scenes. As more shows are content with risque angles, lewd slow-pans, and shoving T&As right into our faces for no real reason and often to the detriment of narrative pacing and immersion (hi Grimgar), Keijo sidesteps this but framing it in such a matter-of-factly way as to make it seem completely natural to the players and their audience. I'm not a big fan of fanservice in anime in general, but I certainly won't complain if the fanservice is inherent to the premise, and the other merits of the show are fortunately no lesser for it. Heck its entertaining even if you have absolutely zero interests in animated boobs and buttocks.

Keijo is beyond any of my prior expectations a pretty good watch. It won't blow your mind in anything it does, but still well worth the watch for its short 12 episode runtitme for its first season, it might genuinely surprise you.


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