This essay will be split up for easy reading and will be released over a couple 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.
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 3: There are no romance plots
This is probably the craziest thing about Keijo!!!!!!!!. There is no romance. This section will be a case study comparing this series to another currently running female-main-cast sports manga, Mai Ball.
Mai Ball centres around main-character Mai, her friend/rival Reika, her school’s newly formed female soccer team, and her childhood friend/crush Kunimitsu. Sports-wise, the plot is like all sports anime: play matches, defeat other teams, advance to playoffs, and eventually win a tournament. Nothing new there. Character-wise, however, the story focuses on a love-triangle between Mai, Kuminitsu, and Reika.
I would probably give the series a 60/40 split in terms of plot focus. Yes, the soccer is very important, but there never fails to be some sort of reference or remainder that Mai and Reika are both pining for the same guy.
Even worst, however, is that EVERY GIRL ON THE TEAM HAS A CRUSH ON KUNIMITSU. I can’t tell if these are facetious, as though the girls are just hungry for a hot boy’s attention, or if they actually like him.
I have issues with Mai Ball. On the one hand, female-centric sports series are not common. Besides Keijo!!!!!!!!, could you even name one? I sure as hell can’t. One the other hand, it’s just another tropey, fanservice-y, high school harem story! Seriously, if Kuminitsu was the lead instead of Mai, this would be a harem series. It’s insulting!
We will talk about the fanservice in Keijo!!!!!!!! in Part 4, but simply put it works. Well, in Mai Ball, they just throw that shit in because they can and it’s a story about cute girls and their crushes! Lining up for the face off? How about a panty shot! A character flopped down because of exhaustion? Better show an upshot of their shirt, revealing their bra! We can’t tell a serious story, we’ve got boys to charm!
Can you tell I’m salty?
Case in point: Mai’s family owns a bathhouse where the team spends a lot of time. THAT IS TO SAY, a lot of page time is spent with legit interesting characters measuring each others’ breasts and brandishing their asses to the readers. This is why we can’t have nice things.
How is it that the anime about WOMEN FIGHTING EACH OTHER WITH THEIR BOOBS AND BUTTS is less insulting then the development of a high school soccer team?
I originally wrote ‘the saving grace of Mai Ball is…’ but after some consideration, I’m not sure there is one. The art is very good throughout it, there is interesting plot points set up (such as a rivalry with the top school in the district), and I like some of the girls – but what manga doesn’t have that these days? I think it’s redeeming quality is the premise alone. Like I said before, a female-centric sports series is uncommon. Dare I say unique, but they don’t do a lot with it.
Compare all of these issues to Keijo!!!!!!!!. First; cut-and-dry, there are no romances. Two; the plot is focused on the sport of Keijo and becoming Prize Queen. Three; the fanservice is blatant but works in the story presented. Four; the plot is unique and fun. Lastly; THE CHARACTERS AREN’T DESPERATE FOR DICK AND ARE MOTIVATED BY THEIR OWN GOALS.
I said it before, I’ll say it again. The series about women fighting each other with their boobs and breasts is a more progressive series than a female soccer team trying to win a high school tournament. I would easily recommend Keijo!!!!!!!! over Mai Ball.
And it kinda hurts me to say that. I like both of these series, but one is just so frustrating to my identity as a woman that I can’t promote it. I want more female-centric stories that aren’t moe bullshit. Things like Yotsubato and Teen Mom are great, cute, interesting stories about women that DON’T focus on romance. I’ll even take fucking Danberu nan kiro moteru, which at least encourages a healthy lifestyle, over Mai Ball.
I don’t know what the hell is going on in Japan. I don’t know their views on women and progressiveness. BUT CAN’T THEY SEE THE ISSUE HERE? I can’t help but think it’s a marketing thing. Publishers know how easy it is to sell moe girls to men is, so they take series with cute girls and heavy fanservice.
(Which baffles me because Keijo!!!!!!!! somehow managed to fail in this industry)
But, newsflash Japan, WOMEN GOT CASH TOO. Just look at Yuri on Ice!! as proof. The Blurays for that series sold like FUCKING CRAZY (and okay yes, that’s bc of the yaoi-fujoshi niche market) BUT I PROMISE IF YOU TRY, YOU CAN MARKET TO WOMEN AND MAKE PROFIT.
Here’s a question for you. Can fanservice directed at men (ass shots, bouncing boobs, etc) be appealing to women?
We’ll discuss the elephant in the room that is the extensive use of fanservice in Keijo!!!!!!!! in Part 4: The fanservice goes from traditional to unsightly and that’s a good thing.