- Titles: Shakunetsu Kabaddi
- Genre: Sports!, school, comedy
- Episodes: 12
- Studio: TMS Entertainment
Yoigoshi Tatsuya is a prodigy. A genius athlete. And unstoppable force! Well, at least he is in soccer that is. But he quit that sport so now he’s just a dude. The thing is, guys like Yoigoshi want to win and sooner or later he’s going to need an outlet for that. And his school’s kabaddi team has just the thing! But is a star soccer player who is used to being at the top of his field cut out for a sport like kabaddi? Is he really going to be able to shift his mindset to meet this new challenge? Also, what is kabaddi? All very intriguing questions that will be answered in the epic anime that is Burning Kabaddi!
I had heard of kabaddi before watching Burning Kabaddi. But I had only heard of it in Chio’s School Road and they made the sport itself into a joke in that show. I don’t mean that in a bad way, they made everything into a joke in that show. I was however left with the impression that kabaddi was a schoolyard game small children played in japan. I thought it was a weird offshoot of tag made up by little kids.
It’s not. It’s a sport played by adults. There are professional leagues, international tournaments and a world cup. I realize that these things might exist for tag as well. In any case, kabaddi is not an imaginary sport like stride or skate leading. I feel very uncultured that I just learned that.
Obviously, the title of my post is going to clue you in that I have a few things to say about the production of Burning Kabaddi. But I,m afraid it’s a bit misleading.
The thing is, I think the production was fine. Nothing to write home about but not the worse I have seen. The character designs might not be the prettiest and Burning Kabaddi doesn’t seem as interested in portraying hyper-detailed bishies as some other sports shows, which could be disappointing to some viewers. But you know, neither was Hinomaru Sumo and that was a really fun show.
Moreover, Kabaddi is a dynamic sport. There’s lots of running around, lot’s of close-quarter confrontations, dodges and feints. And the animation struggled a bit to really render it all impressively. It resorted to stills a lot. Not as much as Days though. And I really liked Days.
What I’m saying is that Burning Kabaddi has all the hallmarks of a production short of resources but nothing so glaringly out of the ordinary that it deserves to be singled out.
However, when I read reviews for this show both on AniList and MAL, there was a very large number of them that mentioned that the animation or art was what was holding the show back. It seemed that a lot of anime viewers had trouble getting into the show because of the production. And I can understand that. Depending on your watching experience, you may not have seen that many sports anime and might only be used to the top tier ones with jaw dropping animation.
When a story revolves so heavily around people performing physically, it can be a big drawback when the movement is choppy or flawed. I think it’s a valid complaint. It certainly seems to have had an impact on how Burning Kabaddi has been perceived by anime fans. But I will say that for me personally, it wasn’t a big deal.
Story & Characters
I’m surprised that more flack wasn’t thrown at the plot or characters instead of production, to be honest. Not that I think they deserve it but… The characters are sort of stock archetypes of the genre. Yoigoshi is basically the fallen ace type. Think Kageyama from Haikyuu if that helps. He has a pretty similar backstory as well. You also have a naive newbie with a lot of raw potential but no technique who is always cheerful and enthusiastic, an unassuming captain with loads of talent but physical limitations and a “switch”, and a scheming vice-captain who makes up for what he lacks through strategy and plotting… I’m sure these sound very familiar to a lot of you.
None of the characters are bad. I quite like a few of them. When you have watched as much sports anime as I have though, you start to realize a few things. And the characters of Burning Kabaddi could have been part of any show. They were just missing a little spark to make them really unique and solidify their identities. This can be easily remedied. For instance, if the show gets another season, they can be fleshed out a bit. But as it is, they’re just missing a little something in my opinion.
And I’m just talking about the main cast here, the characters that are there from the beginning. There are three members that join the kabaddi team mid-season. I actually love them. One is a scary delinquent-looking guy who is in actuality painfully shy and a huge fan of Yoigoshi. The other two are his friends, a delicate feminine boy who hopes the sport might make him more “manly” (I’ll get back to it) and an ex-sumo wrestler who is just on the edge of being too heavy to compete.
I thought all three had a ton of potetial. I also thought the trying to be more manly storyline was a bit tired and outdated but depending on where they went with it, it could be cool. The thing is, they didn’t go anywhere with it. All three of them might have a combined 15 minutes of screen time. It’s not that they disappear but the show really does nothing at all with them.
I know that Burning Kabaddi is based on a manga. I assume that these characters’ story arcs simply happen later on. But for someone that has only watched the anime, the impression is that these characters are forgotten by the plot. That was a particular shame to me as I was really psyched when they were introduced and I thought they would bring a breath of fresh air with them. Now I just think they took up time that could have been spent developing the other chracters.
As for the plot, it’s somewhat painted by numbers Sports! anime stuff. I already mentioned the fallen prodigy. A small school sports! club without enough members is trying to recruit new ones to keep their funding and have a chance at tournaments. The new members have to learn to work with the old ones and everyone has to practice a whole lot. Basically, it’s the plot of 90% of Sports! anime out there. And I for one find it comforting.
In this case, the show is a bit unique in that Kabaddi is not often the subject of anime. It’s the only one I know of. And if you are like me, you know nothing about Kabaddi other than some vague basics. It’s an eccentric sport with a lot of peculiarities that are genuinely intriguing and occasionally baffling. As such, it does set itself apart in that respect.
At the end of the day, I would call Burning Kabaddi a mid-tier Sports! anime. It’s well-paced, the characters aren’t unpleasant and there’s no weird melodrama. If you happen to enjoy Sports! anime it’s worth a watch in my opinion. However, it also has a lot of flaws so I wouldn’t suggest you go out of your way for it.
You might like this anime if:
You are fascinated by Kabaddi. You are a Sports! anime aficionado like me!
My favourite character:
Oujou. I like characters that have bags under their eyes. I don’t know why…
- Every time there’s a struggle – raise your glass
- Every time we see Yoigoshi playing soccer – take a sip
- Every time Yoigoshi gets frustrated – take a sip
- Every time Azemchi is surprisingly strong – flex
- Every time Oujou gets into it – gasp!
- Every time anyone crosses the bonus line – take a sip
- Every time a guy is dragging a bunch of people holding onto him – take a sip
- Every time the narrator chimes in – listen
- Every time Ban fanboys over Yoigoshi – take a sip
- Every time someone gets a struggle using their legs – take a sip
I save all my screencaps on my Pinterest and you can find more there if you are interested. But I still like to show you a few in the post. If you’re like me, screencaps are something that really helps you decide to watch an anime or not.