Wanna Be the Strongest
Sakura the Idol: lead member of the popular idol group Sweet Diva. The idol agency found an unusual gig for promotion, with an idol participating in a women's wrestling match. Sakura volunteers, along with her rival in the group: Elena. Elena's big mouth gets them into trouble, leading Sakura to defend their pride in a real match. It doesn't last long, with Sakura quickly humiliated in front of a full audience. Yet something stirs inside her, a fire she never felt before. Sakura declares she will train to become a real pro and win a revenge match.
Sakura the Idol: her new pro-wrestling alias. In her training Sakura, is near drowning in despair. Losing 50 matches in a row, it doesn't seem like she'll ever make it. Worse still, she's been away from her idol group so long they probably wouldn't take her back. Although Sakura finds it hard to keep a positive outlook, some think she has what it takes to eventually become a champion.
There's nothing profound to be expected of a show about an idol becoming a female pro-wrestler, and wrestling is the bigger draw of this one (aside from cute girls). So if that's not your thing I wouldn't pick this one up. I anticipated Wanna Be the Strongest in the World would be a travesty, but some things come together the right way, even if many things don't.
If you can't stomach a Japanese girl squealing in pain for a few hours, you don't have what it takes to watch this anime. It gets nauseating pretty fast. Even when fast forwarding I'd be surprised they're STILL wailing. The real reason behind this is probably time-padding. Wanna Be the Strongest is actually pretty low budget but hides it very well. The focus was clear (girls!), so no matter what corners were cut, the girls must look good! However looking at stuff like animation, time-padded (wailing) and the super cheesy CGI audience it's more obvious how little they had to work with. Despite all that, it's impressive such details are hardly noticeable unless looking for them.
The concept is weird, making the overall direction difficult to know, even if Wanna Be the Strongest is very predictable on a per episode basis. The idol thing quickly goes into the backdrop, shifting the focus to Sakura's struggle to become a wrestler. There's something about her story I found compelling, especially with her issues overcoming the Boston Crab (submission hold). Sakura can't win until she first succeeds in her mind. That aspect works very well. But before that, episode after episode of Sakura wailing in submission holds.
By the middle the anime is all over the place. It doesn't properly develop Sakura as an aspiring wrestler. She goes from bad to promising within a few victories. What this anime desperately needs are kick ass training montages. However it was the end that frustrated me most. The last three episodes are dedicated to Sakura vs the Blue Panther. Yet AGAIN Sakura ends up in submission holds. This makes the "climax" terribly boring, and it's sad to see ANY sports anime screw this up. The ending is really stupid, but it was cheesy enough for me to like.
It's fan service heavy for sure, but due to the nature of wrestling leotards I don't find it inappropriate compared to leering camera angles going up high school girls' skirts as is common in anime. Even so the anime shoves as much T&A as it can at you, including many unneeded shower scenes. But that's what you'd expect picking this one up anyway.
I liked Wanna Be the Strongest In the World enough to overlook it's many substantial flaws. It's potential is never realized, it's poorly constructed, and Sakura squealing in pain over and over and OVER is incredibly tiring. (Whatever they paid her voice actress, should be doubled). While I still believe the wresting is inferior to Magical Witch Punie-chan, this one has a proper sports ethic, even if it doesn't get the rest of the sports anime formula right. And I think that aspect comes together just well enough to make it watchable if it's your thing. That aside the soundtrack has some surprisingly good points, especially with the wrestlers theme music.
Sakura: I give...
Misaki: There is no "give". It's just you and me here. There's is no ref and this is no match. If you don't want your hips to break, you better figure something out.
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