The Indian traditional sport of kabaddi is getting a Japanese makeover. The sport that is seeing a major rebranding and promotion around the world is set to be immortalized in a Japanese anime.
Several movies have been made in India with the sport as its central theme including Ghilli, Okkadu, Kabaddi Once Again, Badlapur Boys, Panga and Vennilla Kabaddi Kuzhu. But Japan has taken the lead in creating the first animated version with Hajime Musashino’s Burning Kabaddi (Shakunetsu Kabaddi) set to premiere on April 2.
It is fitting that Japan should come up with the manga as they were the first truly non-South Asian nation to adopt the sports seriously.
Together with Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, they are the only nation to have participated in every single Asian Games since its debut as a medals sport in 1990.
The former Asian Championships bronze medalist has seen their mantle as the top teams outside the Indian sub-continent by the likes of Iran and Korea in recent times.
The manga’s story centers on first-year high school student Tatsuya Yoigoshi, a former ace soccer player who gave up sports after graduating from middle school.
He gets invited to join a team for the contact sport kabaddi scouted by Masato Ohjyo, the captain of the Noukin High School kabaddi club.
Tatsuya was initially convinced that kabaddi was just a joke, but his athletic instincts awaken when he attends a practice match and discovers that the sport is actually closer to a martial arts competition.
The manga debuted on Shogukan’s Manga ONE app and the Ura Sunday website in 2015.
The series ranked on the top 20 list of manga for male readers in the 2017 edition of Takarajimasha’s Kono Manga ga Sugoi! (This Manga Is Amazing!) guidebook.
The anime stars Yuma Uchida as Tatsuya Hoigoshi supported by Nobuhiko Okamoto as Masato Ohjyo , Gen Sato as Sōma Azemachi , Makoto Furukawa as Kei Iura, Tatsuhisa Suzuki as Kyōhei Misumi, Shunsuke Takeuchi as Shinji Date, Shin’ichirō Kamio as Nobutaka Ban, Wataru Komada as Ryuta Seki and Ayumu Murase as Yūki Hitomi.
Kazuya Ichikawa (The World Ends with You the Animation, Clean Freak! Aoyama kun) is directing the anime at TMS Entertainment, in collaboration with Domerica. Yuuko Kakihara (Aikatsu! franchise, Digimon Adventure tri., Cells at Work!) is writing and overseeing the series scripts, and Midori Gotou (Otogi Zoshi, Hozuki’s Coolheadedness) is also writing the scripts.
Mari Takada (Bakugan: Armored Alliance, Bakugan Battle Planet) is designing the characters. Shōji Hata (The Ancient Magus’ Bride, Fairy Tail) is directing the sound, and Ken Ito (Hina Logic – from Luck & Logic, I’m Standing on 1,000,000 Lives.) is composing the music.
Stage musical actor and singer Shunya Ōhira performs the opening song “Fire Bird,” while the anime’s lead cast member Yūma Uchida performs the ending song “Comin’ Back.”
While most fans of kabaddi may not understand Japanese, the manga is expected to still stir the interest of its horde of fans.