The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Wanna Be the Strongest in the World

Title: Wanna Be the Strongest in the World! aka Sekai de Ichiban Tsuyoku Naritai!
Genre: Action/Drama
Company: Arms
Format: 12 episodes
Dates: 6 Oct 2013 – 22 Dec 2013

Synopsis: Hagiwara Sakura is the lead singer in the pop idol group Sweet Diva. During an appearance on a TV program, Sakura’s fellow singer, Miyazawa Elena, is injured by a pro wrestler. Angered, Sakura strikes back, which earns her the scorn of the wrestler, who mocks Sakura and her idol friends. Sakura decides to become a pro wrestler to defend her honor, but she soon discovers that she likes her new life more than expected.

The Highlights
Wrestling: Consistently boring throughout; excruciating in the first half.
Characters: None are all that interesting, though a couple have decent wrestling personalities.
“Sexy” times: Only reason for the show to exist. Which aren’t very entertaining, either.

Nobody is under any illusions regarding the purpose of this series. For anyone even slightly familiar with Arms (Queen’s Blade, Ikkitousen, etc.), you know what you’re getting into: action, amped up sexuality, etc.¬†Wanna Be the Strongest in the World is no different. The premise is there to justify women in skimpy wrestling outfits, lots of ladies moaning while in painful submission holds, and various and sundry close-ups of their nether regions. It is about as fun as one may expect. As someone who isn’t really looking for all that in my cartoons, this stuff ranges from hilarious (because it’s executed with such sleazy desperation) to annoying and dull.

That said, just because the premise is a vehicle for fanservice doesn’t mean the show itself can’t be interesting in some way. There have been anime in the past about pro wrestling, but it’s still a relatively novel concept in a medium where cookie-cutter plots are often driven into the ground. Unfortunately, the need of this show to sell the sexuality holds it back from doing anything interesting or entertaining with the wrestling angle. The matches are frightfully dull for the most part. They have no real flow or story to them other than the basic “Sakura gets put in submission holds and needs to learn how to break out of them.” The focus on submissions — because Sakura needs to meet her moaning and groaning quota, you see — ensures that almost every match will slow down to a crawl at some point. The beginning of the series is supposed to be a learning experience for Sakura, but the repeated use of the Camel Clutch submission maneuver becomes laughable since it destroys what little tension or drama exists in the matches. It’s easy to pick out when Sakura will submit and when she will break out. When it’s so predictable, who cares?

Later in the series when Sakura has more ability and confidence, the matches become more varied and slightly more interesting. However, some little things often get in the way of potential entertainment. The action is rarely framed as well as it could be. When Sakura or someone else executes a move that slams her opponent into the mat, it’s shown at an angle that makes the moves appear far more painful and debilitating than they actually are, in a bad way. The necks of every wrestler in this company should be hanging by a thread at this point for how awkward the angles of impact are. The limitations of animation also keep the matches from being as fluid and athletic as an actual wrestling match would be.

It’s a shame because¬†Wanna Be does a decent job of emulating the silliness and pomp of pro wrestling. Japanese wrestling is not quite as outsized as its American counterpart, but there’s an element of ridiculousness to it with the rock star entrances, wrestler introductions, and storylines. Sakura’s career follows a common path for rookies: she loses a lot until she gains the skill and ability to win, and is then accepted by the audience. If you’ve followed wrestling for any amount of time, the twists and turns are all predictable, but that is part of the fun sometimes.

Wanna Be the Strongest in the World tries its best, but other than for brief flashes, it’s too boring to recommend to anyone, even as a dumb piece of “turn off your brain and enjoy the sexy ladies” entertainment.

The Rating: 3

Reviewed by: Shinmaru

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