Hinomaru Sumo #147-250 [End]

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By Kawada

After a strong five year run, Hinomaru Sumo has finally reached its conclusion.  The series started with Hinomaru’s humble beginnings in high school sumo, and now he has reached the ultimate stage of the professional sumo world against the Yokozuna.  The final battle between Hinomaru and Jin’o is here, and it does not disappoint for a single second.

Preceding the final match, Hinomaru recalls the premonition that haunted him early in his professional career; the possibility that his size will end his career in professional sumo.  While Hinomaru once feared this future, he has learned to overcome it and fight against fate itself. Now, he finds himself in the final match of September Tournament, facing the strongest sumo wrestler in Japan.  While Hinomaru’s primary goal with this tournament is to prevent the Yokozuna from retiring, this match’s significance runs deeper than that. Hinomaru aspires to be the Yokozuna, and in order to make that goal a reality, surpassing Jin’o is a necessity.  It is the ultimate test of whether he can survive in professional sumo, and Hinomaru wishes to take the challenge head on.

It’s clear that the stakes could not be higher for Hinomaru, but Jin’o also has his fair share of investment in this match.  For the powerful Yokozuna, this match represents either the end of his career or the beginning of a new age of sumo. While Jin’o has expressed his desire to retire, it’s clear that what he truly desires is to enjoy sumo once again.  Being unmatched at the top of the sumo world has caused Jin’o to feel isolated, and he is forced to carry the future of sumo on his sole shoulders. Jin’o would rather leave the world of sumo than begin to hate the sport that he dedicated his life to, even if it will be to the detriment of the sumo world as a whole.  Neither wrestler can afford to lose this bout, and they are prepared to put everything on the line to make their wishes a reality.

As the match finally begins, we see Hinomaru and Jin’o trade blows in a fantastic display of power.  Every time it seems that the tables will turn one of the wrestlers, the other counters with another technique.  It truly lives up to being the definitive battle of the series in every way possible. This is not only a battle of strength, but also of minds.  Reminiscent of their previous battle, we see Hinomaru and Jin’o mentally discuss their passion for sumo, and once again, Jin’o asks if Hinomaru if he thinks he can become a Yokozuna with his body.  While Hinomaru could not give a proper answer last time, he now understands the path that he must walk down. Hinomaru feels that despite all the hardships he has faced, he is continues to fight in the sumo ring because he enjoys it more than anything else.  Even if people continue to second-guess him and his longevity in the sumo world, Hinomaru will continue to fight against the traditional notions of sumo to achieve his dream.  Hinomaru plans to define what a Yokozuna is on his own terms, so that he can show his love for sumo in the best way possible.

Hinomaru’s idea of the ideal Yokozuna is similar to how Jin’o presents himself in the role.  Jin’o is criticized by the public for his brash and erratic personality, but those traits are what define Jin’o as an individual.  Neither Hinomaru or Jin’o want to conform to how they are expected to act. They are just two men with a passion for sumo, and only wish to enjoy it to its furthest extent.  In the final moments of the match, Hinomaru throws Jin’o to the ground, thanking his mother for the small body that he was given. Thus, the September Tournament ends with Hinomaru as the victor.  As Jin’o leaves the ring, he expresses to the nearby reporters that his desire to compete in sumo has been re-kindled. Hinomaru was the opponent that he long sought, someone who brought a new challenge to the powerful Yokozuna.  Meanwhile, Hinomaru is embraced by Reina and congratulated by his close friends. The story ends with Hinomaru reflecting on how far he has come, and even with the future unknown, he couldn’t be happier.

As expected, Kawada went all out with his artwork for this final match, and it is a sight to behold.  Every move from both Hinomaru and Jin’o is given dynamic emphasis, showing how each decision these wrestlers make is critical to the final outcome.  While each of these panels is fantastic, the most satisfying moment is easily Hinomaru’s final throw. Seeing the Yokozuna finally fall by Hinomaru’s hands brings on a rush of emotions, and is an absolute joy to see.  Kawada’s artwork has been fantastic during Hinomaru Sumo’s entire run, and I’m overjoyed that it has went out on such a high note.

Hinomaru Sumo has come to a fitting and satisfying conclusion.  While I only started reviewing the manga back in February, it has been an absolute pleasure writing about it.  I mentioned in my first review that the series was an anomaly within Weekly Shonen Jump’s lineup, and that’s still true.  Till the very end, Hinomaru Sumo was far from a sales hit, and talk about it within the manga community was relatively quiet.  In a magazine as competitive as Jump, a series like Hinomaru Sumo shouldn’t have lasted as long as it did, let alone ended on its own terms.  Yet, against all odds, it did both those things and told a story that was a rarity in modern shonen manga.  I doubt that this series will be widely remembered in the distant future, and it’s hard to say if there will ever be a series like it in Shonen Jump again.  Still, I’m glad that Hinomaru Sumo existed, and it will easily go down as one of my favorite manga of all time.  Thank you for everything Kawada, and I hope we see you again.

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