Sumo

Sumo 101: Manga

by John Gunning

Contributing Writer

Sumo is currently experiencing a boom in popularity overseas.

The ability to watch bouts in real time has been a contributing factor, as has the large increase in coverage in this paper and elsewhere.

Sumo’s addictive nature is well documented.

Any online discussion of how fans got into the sport will be littered with “I saw it once and was hooked” posts.

A lesser-known gateway drug for the sport recently, though, has been manga.

The popularity of the “Hinomaru Sumo” manga has exposed sumo to a demographic that normally has little interest in sport, but one finds sumo with all its ceremony and tradition fascinating.

Japan’s national sport hasn’t been heavily featured in manga but during times of extreme popularity, publishers naturally want to cash in.

During the Waka-Taka Boom of the early ’90s, when interest was at an all-time high, sumo manga “Aah! Harimanada” was turned into an anime series and even had a video game adaptation.

Outside of the aforementioned books though finding sumo-themed takes a bit of digging.

“Okami-san,” “Notari Matsutaro” and “Sameshima — The Last 15 Days” are probably the only others that had a decent sized readership.

For anyone using comics as a way to learn Japanese, however, the three volume 1988 series entitled “Ottoto! O-Sumokun” is well worth a read. It’s a hilarious and irreverent take on sumo and quite easy to read.

While there may not be many sumo comics there is one famous sumo artist.

Junya Kototsurugi is a former rikishi who now creates illustrations for magazines and newspapers and as well as designing whole ranges of merchandise featuring the likenesses of various wrestlers and personalities in sumo.

GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5