“After graduating from high school, the lively 17-year-old Nozomi Kaminashi enters the world of keijo, hoping to bring home a fortune to her poor family. As a gifted gymnast, Nozomi quickly proves herself a tough competitor after stealing the spotlight in her debut tournament. Meeting new friends and rivals as she climbs the ranks, Nozomi discovers that the path to stardom as a keijo player is filled with intense competition that will challenge not only her body, but also her soul.”
But what is keijo, you ask?
Keijo is “Japan’s latest competitive sport, keijo, is dictated by a simple set of rules: female-only participants must stand on circular platforms floating in a pool—referred to as “lands”—with the goal being to knocking off opponents using only their breasts and butts. Despite this outlandish premise, the sport attracts millions of viewers across the country and boasts a lavish prize pool.”
Now, after finally getting down to seeing Keijo for the first time, I can finally share my opinion on this. I may come across as ‘salty’. I may even come across as being ‘your typical feminist’. But hey, this is my blog. I can share my opinions on here. Let me have my two cents on this topic. And, no, I’m not going mad with the exclamation marks. That’s how many there are.
Firstly, the concept as a whole is simply ridiculous. Don’t get me wrong, if it just stuck to girls knocking each other off of platforms in swimming pools using just their breasts and butts, it wouldn’t be too bad. I personally wouldn’t enjoy it, but it’d be a lot more bearable than what it continues to introduce. The power moves are introduced quite early on and, despite knowing about their existence since the show originally aired, seeing them in action only brought me to despair.
One of the characters – Sayaka – gives herself a boost in speed, seemingly breaking the laws of physics in the process, by giving herself a wedgie. Another – Hanabi – is able to decapitate anyone who meets her butt cheeks if she slams her butt down from above with enough force. And, of course, the protagonist – Nozomi – has the strongest ability. Her “Vacuum Butt Cannon” is a rotating mass of presumably energy that endangers the user somewhat, yet also manages to decimate both foes and clothes in its path.
First things first, I don’t mind people getting excited to play sport. Heck, I’ve been there myself when I was on school swimming teams years ago. But are you seriously telling me that poor Sayaka is excited enough and willing to give herself a wedgie every time she participates in keijo? Swimming costumes aren’t the comfiest of things anyway, but c’mon – let’s not make the situation worse for the poor girl.
The thing is… it doesn’t even stop there. Iron walls created by butt cheeks. Erect nipples used as swords. Boob hypnosis.
I probably wouldn’t have an issue with any of this if the show somewhere acknowledged that, yes, this is ridiculous. But it doesn’t. You can tell from the set of personalities within the main cast, the tone of their voices, the script… It wants to be classed as a serious sport anime. Some audience members may find this concept absolutely hilarious. It might be the best thing ever. Sadly, though, for me, I can’t find it in me to give Keijo the same credit as actual serious sport anime such as Haikyuu!! or Kuroko no Basket. If I somehow do find it within me, I can’t help but feel like that would an insult to such franchises.
Call me an elitist, I don’t care.
Secondly, the amount of boobs, butts and camel toe – personally, I can’t cope. I know that boobs and butts are the whole point of the show. I get it. But I was bombarded with boobs and butts in most frames. And don’t get me started on thelingering camel toe. It’s definitely safe to say that Keijo is a show full of fan service. I wouldn’t really expect anything less from a show focused on boobs and butts. Nor would I really expect anything different from Xebec – the show’s studio – who have produced ecchi series such as To LOVE-Ru, Shuffle! and Love Hina in the past.
Do I think it’s a little bit too much? Yeah, a little bit. We don’t need intense close ups of camel toe, thank you very much. Imagine, let’s say, a lingering crotch shot that lasts for a good five seconds in the middle of Haikyuu!! – it’s not at all necessary.
However, I’m not intending to start a sexism argument here. I know for a fact that Keijo’s ‘lack of men’ isn’t unique to Keijo. In fact, if we look at other ecchi anime, such as Strawberry Panic, or even slice-of-life shows such as K-On!, there’s a distinct lack of male characters there too. And, in all fairness, if you want fan service based on male characters, Free! is, although stereotypical, probably more likely to suit your needs in the first place. It’s a similar enough concept. The amount of times we see butts and boobs in Keijo probably equates to be a similar number of the number of times we see butts or abs in Free! – that’s just how fan service shows work.
Despite the negativity, I do also see how Keijo can be a positive thing. My exposure to Keijo has come from watching it in my university’s Anime Society (how many times do I mention this, haha). Funnily enough, the most votes came from female members of the society, despite it being a fairly male-dominant environment. Can we therefore deem it a ‘sexist’ anime? Arguably, that’s not the case after all.
Instead, Keijo could indeed be the exact opposite. The girls within the show don’t see it as a sexual act – they see it as a sport, just like we see netball or hockey as sports. They don’t do this to sexualise themselves. They don’t do this to appeal to lonely men. They do this to feel good about themselves. They do this to not feel self-conscious. And, well, kudos to that aspect of the show, I guess.
Along similar lines, I do also want to praise how they’ve managed to draw up different types of body types. You have skinny girls, you have the not-so-skinny girls. You can see the difference in boob sizes. There’s differences everywhere and this is probably the one aspect I can appreciate. For too long we’ve seemingly been lacking different body types in anime, particularly in ecchi shows (the only difference of which I’ve personally seen being the differences in boob size), so, again, I have to praise Keijo on this.
Praise aside, though, Keijo at the core is simply an ecchi sports show. Like I’ve said in the past, I find ecchi shows to be unpredictable and this is another show which personally makes me want to avoid the genre as best as I can. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Ecchi as a whole is not everyone’s cup of tea, just like how slice-of-life shows or shounen shows are not everyone’s cup of tea. It’s safe to say, however, despite the fact that I can somewhat see where the show is coming from in terms of it being encouraging to girls, that this is one sports anime that, as a girl, I’ll be avoiding as best as I can from now on.