First Impressions: The Gymnastics Samurai

Jotaro was once a successful gymnasts who’s won a number of medals and was famous for his samurai-like hairstyle. However, he currently deals with an injured shoulder and the harsh reality that gymnastics is a sport that favors the young. Pressured by his coach to retire, he tries to take his daughter Rei on a trip to Edo Wonderland (an actual theme park based on the Edo period of samurai and ninjas) to break the news to her. However, while there he encounters a “ninja” who seems to be on the run from some shady folks, and Rei’s excitement over the show keep him from being able to tell her. To make matters worse, that ninja follows Jotaro home, and his grandma allows him to hide out at their house, so he gets no opportunity to say anything until the press conference where he is supposed to make his official announcement… but at the last minute, realizing how much his daughter looked up to him as a gymnast, he changes his mind and declares he will continue on with gymnastics.

Well, this was a nice surprise. Sports anime might be fairly common, but in contrast to most typical shounen-flavored sports anime, this one features an older protagonist, who has a daughter to care for and a body that is not nearly as well-suited to sports as it used to be. The struggle of trying to figure out how to best provide for Rei but not disappointing her admiration of him feels very real. As for the ninja, “Leo”, he’s more of a curious element; he clearly has gymnastics skill and seems to be a fan of Jotaro, but only wants to “support” him, so it’s currently unclear what his role in all of this will be. Still, this is shaping up to be a good story of defying the odds in sports, with a more adult take on everything, so I would say it’s worth checking out.

Side notes:
1. Rei is adorable.
2. I was not expecting a remix of “Shanghai Honey” for the opening theme.

The Gymnastics Samurai is streaming on Funimation.

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