Since the beginning of the Professional Sumo arc, Saenoyama has been shown to be struggling to reach the rank of Ozeki despite his best efforts. Beyond the wall he was facing, sumo fans had lost faith in his generation, placing their bets on National Treasures to usurp the foreign rule within sumo. Saenoyama’s career had become all but an afterthought to the sumo world, and no one expected anything more from him in the September Tournament. Chapter 228 shows that the sumo veteran hasn’t given up on claiming the title of Yokozuna, and is out to create the biggest upset of the tournament so far. As Saenoyama continues to swiftly push back Jin’o, we delve into his passion for sumo and what drives him to keep improving. In particular, we learn the importance Hinomaru has had in his sumo career. Saenoyama had a close bond with Hinomaru, viewing him as not only as a sibling but also a rival. When Hinomaru got severely injured, Saenoyama realized that for both their sakes, he needed to become stronger and push past the limits that had constrained him for so long. The strength of Saenoyama’s resolve can be seen as he faces off against Jin’o’s “mental jury,” refusing to stand down despite their complaints. Saenoyama is only looking for victory and nothing else. The chapter ends with Saenoyama finally pushing Jin’o to the edge of the ring, causing a foot to suddenly step out of it.
Kawada’s artwork drives home the intensity of this bout. Saenoyama’s unwavering determination can be seen in his expression and gesture as he’s pushing back Jin’o, who’s struggling to even fight back against his opponent’s spirit. The excited expressions from Saenoyama’s fellow stablemates contrasted with surprised faces of the spectators also encapsulate both the excitement and shock of the match, creating an even immersive experience. When Jin’o finally reaches the edge of the ring, Jin’o unsettled expression in the face of Saenoyama’s still focused mindset further raises the tension of the bout to a peak, causing the reader to want to know the outcome even more.
If Jin’o has really lost this match, the ramifications will be huge for the outcome of this tournament. Okanehira will become the front runner, but even more so, it will ignite a fire in among wrestlers which will cause them fight even harder in the remaining eight matches. The invincible king of sumo will be no more, and everyone will be aiming for the throne. Hinomaru’s quest to win this tournament is sure to get even more interesting from here on out, and I know that I’m ready for all of it.