English Dub Review: Hinomaru Sumo “100-yen-coin Training”

Cooking on a budget is an essential sumo skill.

Overview (Spoilers Below)

A mysterious old man at the Nagoya training camp has offered to take Hinomaru under his wing and turn the “100,00 Demon Drop” into a real weapon. It’s an offer than Hinomaru graciously accepts, though it means from here on in he’ll have to do exactly what this old man tells him to do. The man turns out to be a former yokozuna named Shunkai.

The first task of Hinomaru’s apprenticeship is to get some food for the three of them and make curry from the store, using a pittance of money given to him. It doesn’t go well, and the other training regimens don’t go much better, given that they’re all chores. Soon, however, Hinomaru get some real training with Ganryu, a powerful sumo wrestler. Shunkai orders Hinomaru to beat Ganryu using only his triple combo, but because Ganryu figures out how to beat it after its first use, its no good. Later, Hinomaru hears Ganryu mocking Hinomaru and his training, but Shunkai swiftly shuts him and demands that he never mock Hinomaru for giving his all.

The next day, Hinomaru continues his odd training, and while he makes progress, he still isn’t where he needs to be. Word of his training reaches the ears of Tenma, who is deeply curious to hear more about what’s going on. Later that night, Reina, while taking a bath, speaks with Shunkai, who keenly discerns that Hinomaru has definitely caught Reina’s attention, both in spirit and romance. He reiterates how much Reina cares about Hinomaru, and how she wants to help him succeed.

After her bath, Reina shows Hinomaru a coupon app on her phone that ignites Hinomaru’s imagination about how to beat the grocery shopping challenge. Hinomaru returns the next day as Tenma arrives to speak with Shunkai. Tenma asks to be Shunkai’s apprentice as well, rather arrogantly, and challenges Hinomaru to a match to prove he’s more worthy of training. Shunkai orders Hinomaru not to take the match, but Hinomaru asks Shunkai to let him prove himself, a request which he acquiesces.

Hinomaru and Tenma face off with all they’ve got, but surprisingly Hinomaru is able to reverse his throw to initiate his Demon Drop. His training comes full circle as he realizes that the point of the exercise was to learn creative ways to initiate the Demon Drop, that way he can defeat his opponents still using his small size. Hinomaru passes his training with flying colors, and is rewarded with getting to meet a current yokozuna and have a bout with him. A bout he promptly loses, but enjoys immensely.

Our Take:

Everyone loves a good training story. Stretching as far back to the days of Mr. Miyagi from the “Karate Kid” and Mickey from “Rocky”, there is a certain curious appeal to seeing a cool training method that transforms our hero from an aspirant to true warrior. Hinomaru Sumo is no exception to this, and wisely decides to dip into this trope and pulls it off splendidly. This episode is a winner from start to finish; it gives us a great chapter of the ever-expanding saga of Hinomaru Sumo, while also tying itself into the major themes of the show to create a united storytelling experience. We go deeper into the ideas behind Hinomaru Sumo than ever before, creating an episode that is sure to get even a dead man’s blood pumping.

The “Grocery Store” training is the most clever of this episode, and the lynchpin that brings the whole story together. The level of mystery involved with the challenge of buying groceries with 100 yen was high enough that it wasn’t inherently obvious what the trick to it was. Obviously it was an exercise in creative thinking, but having “Food delivery” be the answer was something I certainly didn’t see coming. Furthermore, its Hinomaru’s relationship with Reina that helps him figure this out, (Because apparently Hinomaru doesn’t know too much about technology) which develops their relationship out further, development that I think Reina sorely needed.

Everything comes together when Tenma shows up to be the first training dummy for Hinomaru’s new change-up on initiating the Demon Drop. This is a great moment not only because it turns the power on its head from their last encounter, but because it awakens a new strength within Hinomaru, cunning. up until this point Hinomaru has won pretty much with raw strength and dedication, but keeping those as his only heroic qualities would cause his character to stagnate and bore. Now that there is an element of strategy at play, especially considering his size, the fights he’s in can become that much more interesting to watch.

Anyone who has watched this far will find this episode a treat to behold, and those who are still on the fence about the show will no doubt find this to be a strong step in the right direction for the series. Hinomaru Sumo continues to grow ever stronger, earning its rank among the long list of solid sports anime.


Erich Hau

Erich is a northern California based writer on the front lines of the nerd frontier. When he's not burning the midnight oil he enjoys musicals, smooth jazz, and a good cup of dark roast. Cream and sugar not included.

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