This essay will be split up for easy-reading and will be released over a couple of days.
Keijo!!!!!!!! is the ongoing 2013 manga series recently adapted into a 12 episode anime. Also using the subtitle Hip Whip Girl, the series follows Kaminashi Nozomi and friends through their lives in the gambling sport Keijo, where athletes fight atop a buoy platform using only their breasts and ass. By it’s elevator pitch alone, the series entices images of mud wrestling and fanservice. 130 translated chapters in, however, it’s proven to be greater than the sum of its parts.
It isn’t easy to defend a series where every chapter focuses on a character’s boobs, butt, or both. As a fan of anime for over a decade now, I’ve never enjoyed male-focused fanservice. I find it intrusive, cliché, and pandering. Sometimes it’s outright turned me off a series. Out of the three female friends I’ve recommended Keijo!!!!!!!! to, however, all have come back to tell me how much they like it.
Although written by a man, Keijo!!!!!!!! depicts woman rather respectively. It takes the overused tropes and renews them into, dare I say, admirable moments. I want more people to be aware of this series and to not judge it by its promotional material. I think a lot of girls could get into it and I really do think it’s a good representation of women.
Over the course of four parts, I’ll be touching on four main themes that separates Keijo!!!!!!!! from other traditional anime and why I believe it is empowering to women.
Part 1: Women are literally super powerful
The power levels of Keijo!!!!!!!! escalate in ridiculousness at a rate almost equal to Dragon Ball Z. There are no moments of collecting energy, but the parallels are evident.
The story begins as most sports anime do by introducing our main character, Nozomi, to the sport of Keijo. She is a gymnastic prodigy, but isn’t interested in pursuing it after high school. Here, in the first chapter, we learn her primary goal – to make lots of money. Which thereby leads to the goal of the series – to become “Prize Queen” in the sport of Keijo.
The first 40 chapters stay within the realm of possibility. The most outlandish move presented is ‘Ass Gatling,’ There are some unrealistic physics and body movements, but otherwise it’s all acceptable.
Cue chapter 41, where the ‘Vacuum Ass Cannon’ is introduced. It is a move so powerful that the air pressure it creates can shred swimsuits. This move is only the tip of the absurdity iceberg. As the series continue, characters use attacks like ‘Titty Hypnosis,’ ‘Nipple Full Shoulder Throw,’ ‘Boob Copter,’ and ‘Heavenly Ass Decapitation,’ to name a few.
Taking the series with a gain of salt, we could interpret these attack moves as exaggerations to hype up a story. It’s a common tool in sports anime – which is why Keijo!!!!!!!! is an apt satire on the genre. In-universe, however, it’s obvious these attacks have legitimate power.
An apparent piece of evidence is the constant swimsuit shredding. Unlike Shokugeki no Souma, where clothes shredding is a metaphor for a food orgasm, it’s real in Keijo!!!!!!!!. It is acknowledged both in and out of sporting events. There are consequences for characters because of it – which makes a fantastic cliff-hanger at one point.
A good example of serious, real power comes from chapter 112, where a character attacks another and causes an indentation in a stone wall. Another example, just one chapter later, causes a crater-like hole in the ground from one girl’s ass. Just her ass. The perpetrator even states afterward “I might’ve gone too far … I’m gonna get flamed by the Keijo world again! … ‘The usage of asses needs to be questioned!! Pass the ass damage control bill now!!’”
Using this line of dialogue, we can infer that Keijo asses can cause legitimate damage in-story. Based off the abilities of these women, I’m surprised they haven’t killed each other. They have hospitalized each other, however, which is important to mention.
In a lot of shonen anime, characters will get beat up, but keep standing to continue the fight. It’s practically a plot cornerstone in One Piece and Naruto. It happens in Keijo too, which implies these women can dish out power and receive it, but they’re not invincible. I find that humanizes them.
As crazy as this series is, it helps to know there are legitimate consequences to actions. When the ‘Vacuum Ass Cannon’ is introduced, we learn that over/incorrect use can seriously injure a player. In chapter 95, we learn that excessive training put a minor character in a wheelchair. The latest arch revolved around a character’s muscle degradation in their breasts. This is serious stuff for a satire!
I find the various possible injuries is good world-building and brings more dynamic to the plot.
I really like these super-powered asses because it is truly women-exclusive. There are very few males in the series (which we’ll discussion next in this essay) and I can’t fathom any having equal butt power. Thinking about it, it comes down to biology: women have more prominent hips. And since the series has the subtitle Hip Whip Girl, it’s obvious one gender has a huge advantage.
Also, most men don’t have breasts, which is another huge advantage to ladies.
Although it’s refreshing that a series empowering to women has super-powered women, but there’s still huge elephants in the room. There’s the obvious issue of fanservice that could be considered degrading, and that Keijo is a gambling sport which could also be considered degrading.
I’m not saying they should show Keijo!!!!!!!! in Women Studies classes (I’ve never taken one myself so I am genuinely sorry if I misused any theories or ideas in this essay), but I think it’s a good step for the anime industry.
We’ll discuss why in Part 2: Men are basically non-existent and act as tropes to be subverted.