Chapters 234 and 235 of Hinomaru Sumo focus on the critical match between Hinomaru and Okanehira, with both wrestlers pushing themselves to new heights and showcasing their resolve for sumo. While both wrestlers have chosen to use their “Inhuman State” sumo style to overpower their opponent, Hinomaru seems to have his sumo under control in contrast to Okanehira. Hinomaru had already seen firsthand the dangers of fighting recklessly in the ring, and the toll that it inflicts on himself as well as those around him. That being said, Hinomaru understands that the blood-thirsty drive that this sumo style evokes plays to his strengths. Instead of running away from this sumo, Hinomaru has chosen to tame it instead, so that he can use it on his own terms. This arc has placed a lot of focus on what drives Hinomaru to continue with sumo despite numerous obstacles, and this encapsulates that perfectly. Hinomaru is resolved to reach the top of the sumo world, but he now knows that he can’t be willing to die to achieve that goal. Rather, he has chosen to find strength in living to see his dream become a reality.
Shifting to Okanehira, he currently faces the situation that Hinomaru once experienced. His drive to win to has caused his sumo to become increasingly more reckless, and is no longer displaying a will to live within the ring. We get to see deeper into his mental state as he is slowly overpowered by Hinomaru in their match. Okanehira feels inferior to those around him, and views his feelings towards sumo to be much different than those of his peers. While wrestlers like Doujikiri and Hinomaru enjoy the struggle of the sumo ring, Okanehira fears it and the idea of losing in sumo. This acknowledgment of his own insecurities makes Okanehira come to terms with his will to live, and allows him to finally fight back against Hinomaru in his own controlled Inhuman State. Kawada has time and time again displayed his ability to develop his characters to new heights through the act of sumo, and this match is no exception. Through their fierce battle, Hinomaru was able to use his new resolve to shape his sumo into a new form, while Okanehira was able to better understand his own disposition and find new meaning in his sumo as a result. As both wrestlers now face each other with their full strength on display, a flurry of sumo techniques is unleashed between the two, ending in Hinomaru finally throwing Okanehira out of the ring for the win. While he’s lost the match, it’s clear Okanehira has come out of it with a better understand of himself, and can even admit that really does love sumo.
Kawada’s artwork is fantastic as usual in these set of chapters, perfectly displaying the intensity of the match that is unfolding. With both wrestlers utilizing their Inhuman States throughout the match, there’s a sense of intimidation is evoked from the striped line-work covering Hinomaru and Okanehira. Their facial expressions as they fight back against each other’s strength also brings further weight to their clash as you can see them truly struggling to gain the upper hand on their opponent. The biggest artwork highlight is Hinomaru’s final technique that pushes Okanehira out of the ring, depicted on a fantastic two-page spread. Kawada ability to continually build tension to an immensely satisfying pay-off can’t be understated, and these two chapters are great examples of it.
Hinomaru has toppled the undefeated front-runner of the September Tournament, and with only four matches remaining in the main tournament, the competition is only getting more intense. There’s no telling what’s going to happen in the coming bouts, but with Hinomaru Sumo’s track-record, they’ll surely be an absolute joy to read.