In the near future, there's a new sport called Keijo, where women compete on platforms, trying to knock each other into the water by using only their breasts and butts. One 18 year-old girl - Nozomi Kaminashi - wants to become a pro and get rich in the process. So she enrolls in a keijo school, unaware of just how difficult it was going to be.
Stig: And boy, when I read about that for the first time during one of our season rundowns, my old Eiken war wound started aching again. It sounded dumb. It sounded trashy. And it sounded like something I wouldn't want to touch with a ten foot pole. Yet, here we are.
Tim: Like Stig, I was a bit hesitant to watch Keijo!!!!!!!! when I first read about it. (Being animated by Xebec didn’t help.) It sounded harmless, but it also sounded like something we’d drop in a couple of episode if we watched it together. Aaaaaand we ended watching the whole thing. Go figure.
It's weird to look back and see how fanservice of all things has evolved over the years. While it was once something made to occasionally spice up a scene in an otherwise non-sexual show, over the years we've been subjected to a rather large variety on the big evolutionary ladder of service. And a lot of the shows have been remarkably fun despite -- or sometimes because of -- its willingness to talk dirty to us.
In that, Keijo!!!!!!!! has a rather refreshing approach. Instead of trying to be subtle about it and pretend the show isn't about the lady parts, the show puts all the soft stuff front and center, ironically making the show less sexual. That's "less", though, because there’s still plenty of visual eye candy for those who want it. Big breasts and huge butts are upfront and center in Keijo!!!!!!!!, a show that seems unconcerned about whether you should be ashamed for finding fanservice titillating and would rather have fun with it instead.
So what is keijo? It’s a women’s only sport where you use only your breasts and butt to knock off your opponent into the water off the platform they’re on. The last remaining person standing wins. It’s not unlike that boring mini game in the Dead or Alive Extreme Beach Volleyball games, which evolved two girls using their butts to push each other off of platforms above water. And if Keijo!!!!!!!! just did this, well, we wouldn’t be talking about this show today. Instead, it elevates it from dumb titillation to a surprisingly ferocious sport. The contestants, which consist a large roster of girls in swimsuits, face off on various structures on the water in what looks a lot like a martial arts duel. If your screen at any point is almost entirely filled with butt, that's because it's a second away from slamming into a competitor's body part so hard, energy sparks will fly. Keijo!!!!!!!! wants you to believe that its titular namesake is a honest-to-god sport, and by the end, you might actually buy that.
See, while comparisons with Eiken were made, the two shows couldn't be any more different. Eiken might've had a larger variety of events, but most of the "sports" there were mostly performed by a group of guys and girls, with the girls looking like they'd rather be anywhere else, including Hell. It was waterslides filled with a suspiciously slimy, grey matter, where the contestants were being "accidentally" molested all the way down. It was some kind of competition where you had to suggestively eat chocolate bananas or endure a lot of general sexual harassment for the crowd's entertainment.
Compared to that, the girls in Keijo!!!!!!!! have a build that looks more athletic and strong. The school itself has a training program that wouldn't be out of place in a military camp in terms of intensity, with the addition of classes about the texture and consistency of breasts and butts, or even racial studies on the difference between Asian and Western hips. (How accurate and well-researched they are, who knows.) And if the sport sounds somewhat limited, it varies it up by having the girls have different strengths and builds, and the training segments having a lot of...odd exercises, to put it mildly. The show both takes its main subject seriously and not at the same time. It’s the former in that the characters are actual competitors that are deserving of respect, especially the elite class. By it’s also the latter it that, well, it's martial arts with lady parts, and is more concerned with having fun than imparting any kind of message. It’s closer to Ranma 1/2 than Dragon Ball Z (well. almost. We’ll get to that when we get there).
Which is not to say it doesn't have any. Part of the reason the show is so much fun is because it is big on sportsmanship. Two of the main stars of the show are friends from the get-go, and Keijo!!!!!!!! -- and yes, we have to use the eight exclamation marks each time we mention the title -- closely follows the Nanoha school of "friendship through defeat". If you want to level a complaint about how Keijo!!!!!!!! approaches its storytelling, then that would be that it's strictly shounen-ish in build. The girls are in it to fight and win, and most of the time spent not fighting is instead spent training for the next fight. Keijo!!!!!!!! is basically taking an old shounen tale and dressing it up in fanservice.
Talking about all the characters in this series would take far longer than would ever be productive for a review, so let’s focus on the four core girls of this show, starting with the heroine. Our main protagonist is Nozomi Kaminashi, a girl whose original motivation to taking up the sport is monnnnnnney -- that is, she wants to become excellent at this show so she can live in the lap of luxury. (Which didn’t exactly make me like her much in the beginning. - Tim) She eventually grows out of this mindset and instead starts playing both for money AND the value of meeting new people/friends along the way. She’s a bit on the dumb side (which is fairly typical for shounen protagonists), but later learns she is one of the few who can master a very powerful but damaging attack called the Vacuum, which involves very violently shaking her rear end to make a wind attack that can even shred the participants’ clothes into confetti. It's initially introduced as a forbidden move, mostly because it puts a strain on the competitor's spine that can lead to permanent, career-ending damage. But then, the show kind of forgets about that and allows Nozomi to use it freely whenever she needs to, so... hooray for selective memory, I guess?
Our other big lead is Nozomi’s rival/former high school classmate Sayaka Miyata, a more level-headed girl and former judo athlete who later switched to the sport of keijo. She’s also the only girl in the show with a normal bust size (well, normal as in “not Senran Kagura cartoonishly big”, because she still has one), and relies on her shapely butt instead to attack. She also has a bit of a sarcastic tongue to her as well, and is usually the straight man to the other’s antics. Her fights tend to be more strategy focused, which make for some of the more creative fights in Keijo!!!!!!!!. Although one of her strategies seems to consist of giving herself a solid wedgie to... minimize air resistance and up her speed to a significant degree. She was also a bit of a judo prodigy before deciding Keijo to be her life.
There's a joke in there somewhere, but it's just not coming to us. Maybe we should be happy about that.
Joining in third is Kazane Aoba, a girl of few words who uses knowledge to strategize her fights, as opposed to raw power. (One way of which involves... touching the butts of all of her other teammates, in probably one of the series’ weirdest scenes. Which is saying a lot.) The poor pony-tailed lass gets the short end of the stick, though, and her battles don’t tend to go well, mostly because shounen tend to prefer raw power and/or athletic ability over the ability to strategize, though she is at least allowed to go out with a great showing, as if Keijo!!!!!!!! is at least aware of its genre's shortcomings. Lastly is Non Toyoguchi, a scatterbrained girl born with super-squishy breasts and butt cheeks, using them to literally bounce other players off of her because of them, and it's a credit to the art of the show, at least, that she looks like it too. Because of this, her fights tend to be... rather brief.
Keijo!!!!!!!!’s story generally follows the old well-worn shoe of shounen two-arc build: a training sequences followed by battles, the last arc centered around a tournament involving rival keijo team Suruga, who have won for over the past decade every single tournament. And while some of Nozomi’s teammates can come off as rather eccentric, petty, or a bit self-centered at times, most of the Suruga girls just come off as jackasses who strut around as if they own the place (which they do, but still... hospitality) while also simultaneously having sticks up their asses to make them more bitter. The one exception is their coach’s “daughter” Maya, who’s basically Fate Testarossa in a bathing suit; a pity party girl with a troubled past who just can’t lose. Ever. Because then mommy would hate her and throw her out on the street and boo hoo of course that will never happen. Competitive attitudes are usually expected from shows like this, but honestly, the 180 that Suruga does here is almost as unbelievable as watching the animation quality take a dive as much as it does here.
And heeeeere’s the part Keijo!!!!!!!! shoots itself in the proverbial foot; or rather, slams itself in the ass. The final match of the series, without giving much away, is mainly between Nozomi and Maya. Up until this point in this series, Keijo!!!!!!!!, as wacky and bizarre as it got with its characters’ special attacks, was mostly grounded in reality -- well, as far as the spine-jangling acrobatics in Keijo!!!!!!!! could be called just that. The world of Keijo!!!!!!!! is very much a regular world. But then you got Maya’s split personality disorder, which includes her hair changing color and unleashing a completely different side to her, which also restores her energy back to full. This is dumb enough, but then the show - which, up until this point, has had lots of fun, crazy battles - boils down to swimsuit Dragon Ball Z, resulting in the absolute worst fight in the entire show. The absolutely horrible animation during said fight doesn’t help, and we want to stress the words "horrible animation". As we said earlier, the way the animation quality takes a dip -- no pun intended -- in the last couple of episodes has to be seen to be believed.
But that awful fight aside, there’s a lot to love about Keijo!!!!!!!!. It’s not the deepest or most intelligent show out there, but it’s fun. A lot of fun at times even. The series’ fights are actually very well-done -- even the outlandish animation quality drop during the last episodes are partially salvaged by inventive use of what they have -- and the characters, while not the freshest around, have just enough to them to make them likable (or love-to-hateable in the rival school’s case). It’s a fan service show done right; just enough cheesecake upfront to please you, but also having a group of girls in these tight swimsuits who are far smarter and cunning than they initially appear. Keijo!!!!!!!! is a hoot.
Stig: And there you have it. While there has been a rise in good fanservice shows lately -- or maybe I've just become a bit more lenient with them -- along comes Keijo!!!!!!!!, taking a dumb concept and making it goofy and fun. It's a little bit too dependant on the old, well-worn shounen shoe, so don't expect a whole lot of surprises. That said, I had a lot of fun with this show, which was certainly not what I expected when I heard about its concept. This is Wanna be the Strongest in the World done right.
Tim: I don’t think there’s much more to be said. Keijo!!!!!!!! is a silly, fun, entertaining show that, with the exception of the final fight, was a show I looked towards every week with Stig when we watched it together. Even if you’re just here for the eye candy, you’ll still plenty of variety with the girls. Who knows, you might learn to appreciate the silliness of the show as you do so.
Recommended Audience: It goes without saying that a show that's primarily about girls' saucy bits moves it out of the range of children, though the show focuses on said bits with a wink and a grin, like a certain Monty Python skit, rather than the hungry male gaze. And while said bits are used in scenes of violence... sort of... it's more the competive kind rather than the kind meant to hurt and damage. It should be fine for teens.
Version(s) Viewed: Digital stream on Crunchyroll, Japanese with English subs.
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Keijo!!!!!!!! © 2016 Xebec.
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