The latest two chapters of Hinomaru Sumo have turned the September Tournament into an even more unpredictable event, and it sure is a sight to behold. Saenoyama has secured his victory against Jin’o on Day 7, causing the Yokozuna to finally fall from his undefeated pedestal. While this victory is huge for Saenoyama himself, its impact can be seen even on the faces of the spectators and his fellow wrestlers. Jin’o has represented a wall that wrestlers had failed to overcome time and time again, but Saenoyama has managed to break through this barrier and show that they can end the Yokozuna’s reign on their terms. This victory has also now given Saenoyama the confidence to openly aim to win the September Tournament, and also fight Hinomaru in a play-off match for the championship. That being said, Okanehira still remains undefeated in the tournament, with Jin’o and other wrestlers still being equal contenders at only one loss. With the direction that the competition is now heading in, it appears that this may lead to a multi-way play-off following Day 15 to determine the champion. For now though, the wrestlers seem focused on winning their remaining matches in order to maintain their standings. Jin’o seems to have taken his loss especially bad, getting consolation from his wife over his defeat. While Jin’o desires to retire after the September Tournament, it’s clear that he still loves sumo and still aspires to be the best at it. If he retires from the sumo world, he wants to do it while standing at the top. It’ll be interesting to see how he strengthens his resolve in his upcoming matches, and if he can be dropped down to a two loss record. With the start of Day 8, the focus has now shifted towards Hinomaru and his next opponent Dojikiri. While Dojikiri had inflicted an injury in his previous match against Okanehira, it’s interesting to see that he has decided to go through with his match against Hinomaru instead of sit out the match. Still, Dojikiri has been a formidable opponent for Hinomaru since his high school sumo days, so it is important for Hinomaru to defeat him if he has his sights on the championship. Chapter 230 ends with the match between Dojikiri and Hinomaru finally starting, with Hinomaru resolving to go all out against his opponent.
In both these chapters, Kawada’s artwork does a great job of establishing the emotions and tension of the wrestlers inside and outside the sumo ring. The standout moment from chapter 229 is by far the spread where Saenoyama finally pushes Jin’o out of the ring to a crowd of shocked faces. The panels of both Hinomaru and Saenoyama tearing up over the victory helps convey how significant this victory is, and what it means Saenoyama’s career as a sumo wrestler. Chapter 230 does a similarly great job with its artwork, particularly during the scene in which we see Jin’o’s frustration over his loss. While the series has shown the Yokozuna’s polarizing emotions before, he displays some clear vulnerability in the conversation with his wife and this is paired perfectly with his shift in facial reactions. As the chapter shifts back to sumo matches, the intensity of the bouts is on full display. The final page of Dojikiri rushing towards Hinomaru particularly establishes how threatening of an opponent he is, and that Hinomaru won’t be receiving an easy victory.
Things are continuing to heat up in Hinomaru Sumo, and Hinomaru is only going to be facing tougher battles from here on out. While Doujikiri is injured, his tactical sumo methods are still a critical advantage that he has in the match, and it will be up Hinomaru to find ways in which to counter these attacks. Kawada’s work is continuing to keep me glued to every page, and I’m excited to see how the story will turn out from here.