Title: Keijo!!!!!!!! aka Hip Whip Girl
Format: 12 episodes
Dates: 6 Oct 2016 – 22 Dec 2016
Synopsis: Enter Keijo, the next generation of sporting events. In it women compete to force each other off a floating platform with only their breasts and butts to fight with. One day the sport catches the eyes of Kaminiashi Nozomi, a talented gymnast in desperate need of money. Determined to become the richest Keijo player of all time, she enrolls in a school for new players. Training is murder and the competition is intense. But luckily for Nozomi, she has happened upon one of the sport’s most powerful, and dangerous moves, the Vacuum Butt Cannon.
Premise: It is what it is.
Attitude: Has all of the sincerity of a sports anime with all the execution of shounen action.
Absurdity: Vacuum Butt Cannon is the most grounded thing this show has to offer.
Fanservice: Almost respectable in its irreverence.
Animation: Better anime deserved this quality, but I’m glad it went to this show.
I feel as if I will lose my anime critic credibility by suggesting that Keijo!!!!!!!! (henceforth unpunctuated) is a good, or even brushing up against decent. It doesn’t do itself any favors. Boiled down, this is about sexualized horse races, where women box each other with their rear ends. Conceptually the narrative features many of the elements of rock bottom shows that formulate from the question, “What juvenile and demeaning way can I titillate my audience today?” The thing is, however, with the right attitude, you can actually get a lot done at rock bottom.
A lot can be said for taking a questionable premise and rolling with it without reservation. If there is anything that can be said for Keijo, it is that in spite featuring more frequent T&A than any anime I can remember, it doesn’t treat itself like a T&A series. This show is remarkable for having the chutzpah to take itself seriously. For all intents and purposes, Keijo is treated as a legitimate sport, which means the show treats itself as a legitimate sports anime. Never do Nozomi and her classmates come off as foolish or fake for taking up Keijo over sports like gymnastics or judo. The cast is knowledgeable about the game and expresses a passion rivaling that of football fans. And the strangest part of all of this is how easy it is buy into this. Then the games begin and this anime becomes an exercise in the absurd.
The first red flag of Keijo‘s direction is when the it enters Dragonball Z timescale, stretching out five minutes across a whole episode. The second sign rears its head as wedgies and lower back massages become tactical tools. The show keeps it low key, for about five seconds, before entering shounen action territory, with character specific moves in which womens’ behinds transform into cannons and demon dogs, and soon enough the phrase “Nipple Judo” is uttered without any jest or irony. Keijo‘s willingness to submerge itself in camp is an instant credibility killer, though not one without entertainment value. I admit no guilt or shame in saying that. For in its insanity and triviality, it doesn’t so much as snicker at itself. Some great things are bound to go horribly together like chocolate and eggplant. One would think the same thing of Yu-gi-oh and swimsuits. And it does go horrible, horribly right.
Given it’s subject matter, it may come off as somewhat of a surprise that Keijo is comprised of beautiful frames and smooth animation. Of course this is Xebec, who could produce an anime about flies mating and would still make it gorgeous. I doubt anybody is complaining about the effort, certainly not myself. It may be disingenuous of me to enjoy fanservice here when I generally find it to be flagrant and pointless. But the funny thing is, for a sexploitation anime where a woman users her nipples as acupuncture needles, I can’t remember a single moment which I would explicitly call fanservice. By that I mean that all of the cleavage, close ups, and upward/downward angles comes off as vital to the story telling, rather than as a distraction from it. Whether grounded or audacious, every shot is in the service of the narrative before the audience’s titillation.
As much as it may sound like I am showering Keijo with praise, I still would be hard pressed to call this a good anime, at least in the traditional sense. Entertaining as it may be, this is no fountain of strong characterization, clever (intentional) humor, tight pacing, any semblance of an intelligent thought. Nobody watching will be taken on a spiritual or emotional journey. And no, nothing about Keijo makes it anything less than shallow. But at the end of the day I can blame nobody for being in awe with what it pulls off in the kiddy pool.
The Rating: 6
Reviewed by: Kavik Ryx