Anime: Wanna Be The Strongest In The World (DVD & Blu-Ray) Released By: FUNimation Release Date: June 2nd, 2015 Retail Price: $64.98
Sakura Hagiwara is a 17 year old established pop icon and member of the Japanese idol group known as Sweet Diva. One day, a well known female wrestler named Rio Kazama attacks (and beats) Elena Miyazawa, who is also a member of Sweet Diva and a rival to Sakura. Sakura takes it upon herself to seek retribution on Elena, leading Sakura to be introduced to the Berserk Wrestlers team, of which Rio is already a member of. After numerous trials and tribulations, Sakura proves to be a capable athlete with who will only grow stronger, and ultimately joins the team of women that she quickly becomes fascinated by. Sakura is used to accommodating her friends and fellow pop-star associations, and tries to take care of others, setting her up as the series protagonist.
Wanna Be the Strongest In The World is exactly what its premise hints at, a series that portrays female wrestlers undergoing various grudge-matches, with constant shots of the female anatomy (if you get what I’m saying.) The matches themselves can surprisingly get nerve wracking, but unfortunately for viewers Sakura is mostly shown losing repeatedly in her quest for strength, and loudly screaming after experiencing pain or loss (if others hear you watching this it may be misleading to say the least…) Sakura is mostly pinned down by her numerous competitors, making you feel sympathy for her. The notion alone is uncomfortable, with Japan’s fanservice fueled anime series, making you wonder if this is powerless girl-on-girl wrestling matches is in fact a turn-on to viewers. Not to say that physicality can’t be included in anime, but there are series (very much like Freezing Vibration) that takes the time to cut away from moments to show angles of a female that don’t need to be the focal point of a plot.
It does eventually lead to a point where Sakura begins to dominate, or at the very least have equal competitors to fight, unfortunately that just leads to revealing shots of her opponents who have now taken the role of the fanservice characters. The series does embrace its campy moments, and plays up wrestling clichés which make Wanna Be The Strongest entertaining from time to time in its 12 episode series, but vastly differs from the sport of wrestling. The moves exhibited are not actual wrestling techniques, and making it a “wrestling” series seems to be far from the hopes of the creators, and it becomes apparent that the ladies themselves are the reason for this concept.
My issues with fanservice don’t completely undermine the show, as Sakura is a character that you root for and hope to see finally earn the respect she deserves from the others. The animation is vivid, the voice cast brings personality to the women (in-between awkward noises), and there are some well-done action sequences, but if you are seeking this out strictly for wrestling, you will need to readjust your expectations. Wanna Be The Strongest In The World isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but if you are intrigued by kick-ass women, light wrestling tropes, and tons of female fanservice in general you may find yourself enjoying the series.
Aedan’s Final Thoughts: -I really wanted to move the angles every time a female character was pinned in a revealing wrestling pose. -You could say I definitely didn’t expect to watch a pop-star/wrestling based series unless it was airing on the E! Network. -I hope to see more sport animes in the near future include women, just hopefully minimalize the constant body part focus.