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It’s a little late, but I’ve finally started watching the Spring season, and to kick it off I went with the show that I though had the most potential, Rowdy Sumo Wrestler Matsutaro. It’s not been a great start.

Right from the start the show makes it clear that it’s focus will be on the many faces of Matsutaro, as the intro sequence is basically nothing but him with different expressions accompanied by him singing Kareoke. It’s a little odd, but hey, it’s anime, and I generally like shows that focus on multifaceted characters, like Trigun. Unfortunately, that’s not what Matsutaro is at all.

He’s certainly got the big, dumb oaf part that I expected from the artwork down, but other than that he’s just a bully, and completely unlikeable. I’ve said before that likeability isn’t always important for a character, but when a show’s first scene reminds you of your school bully and makes that its main character, it’s a quick turn-off for anybody, and makes it hard to actually care about anything else in the story. But it gets worse throughout, as Matsutaro goes from bully, to animal abuser, to child abuser, to thief, to thug, to kidnapper and potential sexual assaulter. It is all masked somewhat by his innocent stupidity, like no sense can actually get into that thick skull of his, but the show takes it so far that it’s just inexcusable; the character we’re supposed to be rooting for in an absolute ass. But maybe that’s what they were trying to go for. I find it hard to believe a character this bad can actually be written by accident, and I expect that once some actually plot kicks in, he’ll go through some kind of turn around to be more sympathetic. Speaking of plot, there is none.

All that happened this first episode is Matsutaro got in trouble at school, went home early, went to work for some old miner, then stole a car and got drunk. For the first (or at least one of the first) anime about sumo wrestling, there’s a surprising lack of wrestling. I think this episode was just to establish the setting and a few characters, and episode 2 will be where things actually get rolling.

And I can’t not mention the animation. It’s sad; not even bad or disappointing, just pathetic. It’s something that might have been acceptable a decade ago, but now it just feels like I’m watching a dated kids’ show. But I can’t see kids liking it, so I’m really not sure who this is for. It’s a mess, but it’s not so bad as to turn me off this soon. I do try to keep to the three episode rule, and Matsutaro doesn’t seem like an exception to that. I don’t recommend it as it is so far, but maybe if it turns around, I’ll have more favorable things to say about it next time. For now, you’re better off avoiding this one.

Don’t Lose Your Way