!!Yawara Inokuma
->Voiced by: Creator/YukoMinaguchi (Japanese)
* TheAce: [[spoiler:Justified that she's a prodigy.]]
* ActionGirl: She's capable to defend herself against perverts and drunken businessmen.
* ACupAngst
* [[ArmorPiercingSlap Armor Piercing Ippon Seoi Nage]]
* BadassNormal
** HandicappedBadass: [[spoiler:In Episode 124, she wins against Sayaka despite the fact the match left her with an injured right arm.]]
* BewareTheNiceOnes
* BigEater: Much like her father and grandfather, but unlike them she is more discreet about it.
* BrilliantButLazy: Somewhat. Yawara practices some Judo every day without being told, but her mixed feelings about it lead her to go periods of time without taking it seriously. Despite this, Yawara has such deeply engrained instincts for Judo that other players have to undergo TrainingFromHell to even hope to match her level.
* CantStayNormal: Even when she tries to live a more 'normal' life, somewhere along the way her prowess in Judo gets revealed and puts her under the spotlight once again.
* [[spoiler:ChildProdigy]]:[[spoiler:She threw her father when she was five years old.]]
* DeterminedExpression: She does this whenever she thinks about her family and friends, and when she's facing a particularly skilled Judo opponent.
* [[ChickMagnet Dude Magnet]]: Kazamatsuri, Matsuda, Hanazono and Sudoh get interested to her.
* EasilyForgiven
* {{Fangirl}}
* FeminineWomenCanCook
* FirstLove: Towards Kazamatsuri.[[spoiler: It didn't work, though.]]
* GirlyBruiser: Yawara is a cute, petite Japanese girl who likes nice clothes and doing domestic chores. She can also throw grown men several times larger than her onto their backs in an instant.
* GoodParents:[[spoiler: Even though Yawara thinks she's the cause of having a broken family,]] Yawara's parents Tamao and Kojiro are shown to be loving and supportive.
* HairDecorations
* HeirToTheDojo
* HeIsNotMyBoyfriend: With Matsuda. [[spoiler: He eventually does become her boyfriend.]]
* IJustWantToBeNormal: Having grown up being trained in Judo from the time she could walk, and being a ''prodigy'' at the sport, Yawara desperately wishes she had a more normal life.
* InvincibleHero: Only seems to ever struggle during the finals of any tournament or while facing ''world class opponents'', and never loses when she tries her best.
* ItsAllMyFault: One of the major reasons for why Yawara spends much of the series having negative feelings towards Judo is because her father left home after she threw him when she was five. She was convinced that the incident left her father hating her and her family, which made her reluctant to keep practicing the sport. [[spoiler: It takes awhile, but her friends and family do succeed in helping her learn to genuinely enjoy Judo again.]]
* TheLeader: Type II. She gives some advice to her friends and other judokas about using techniques in order to defeat their opponents.
* LoveEpiphany: Yawara's epiphany of her feelings for [[spoiler: Matsuda]] comes in two stages.
** Yawara first realizes he means something to her when, after his absence from the audience of a competition is directly pointed out, she becomes nervous for the first time and barely stumbles through her matches until he shows up to cheer her on.
** Yawara's feelings become clear around a year later, when she finally sits down to read [[spoiler: some of the articles he wrote about her]].
* MeaningfulName: Yawara's name is the first character of 'judo'. It also means 'gentle' or 'soft'.
* MsFanservice
* ObliviousToLove
* [[spoiler:OfficialCouple: With Matsuda.]]
* OfficeLady: After graduating college.
* PantyShot: gives a few of these in the series, as she doesn't wear pants under her skirts and she ''will'' throw somebody if they threaten her regardless of what she's wearing.
* ReluctantHero: Yawara is a reluctant ''sports'' hero. After Yawara's Judo skills were revealed to the public she found herself swept into the world of competition against her will by her grandfather's insistence, and news, media, and her peers made her out to be an inspirational icon and sports superstar. But all Yawara ever wanted was to be a normal girl without reporters breathing down her neck. It isn't until around 2/3 through the series that she finally makes peace with her talent and competes in Judo on her own terms.
* [[spoiler:{{Revenge}}]]:[[spoiler: In Seoul Olympics, she does this after she finds out that Teleshikova injured Jody's leg to win. Jigoro is disapproving of it.]]
* RomanticTwoGirlFriendship: With Fujiko.
* SaveTheVillain:
** In Episode 2, she tells Sayaka about how to defeat a criminal who slashed her kimono.
** [[spoiler: In the Seoul Olympics, she helps Sayaka win her match by telling her about her opponent's weakness.]]
* SignatureMove: She uses Ippon Seoi Nage in every match, and wins with it most of the time too. It's even lampshaded several times by announcers.
* SkilledButNaive
* SpiritedCompetitor: Yawara often gets fed up with the Judo that overtakes her life, but the times when she gets faced with an opponent that can put up a good fight against her are when she has the most fun.
* StrongFamilyResemblance: She looks like her grandmother, according to Jigoro.
* ThrowingOffTheDisability: Yawara spends the majority of the series having a complex over the fact she threw her father when she was five, after which he left home. She was in particular, reluctant to use the Tomoe Nage, the move she used on her father back then. She eventually overcomes that mental block in her final match against Sayaka.
* TragicKeepsake: [[spoiler:In Seoul Olympics, she wears a [[MartialArtsUniform judo uniform]] that belonged to her missing father.]]
* UnknownRival: She seems oblivious that her skill causes to attract a lot of opponent's attention from Japan and overseas. In particular Sayaka becomes extremely obsessed with beating her, constantly goading and sneering at her, but Yawara really couldn't care less.
* UnnecessaryRoughness
* WolverinePublicity: She is the only character who appears most in the manga series.

!!Jigoro Inokuma
->Voiced by: Creator/IchiroNagai (Japanese)
* AbusiveDad: His attitude and harsh training in judo caused his son to become distant.
* ADayInTheLimelight: There's a manga prequel called [[ExcitedShowTitle Jigoro!]], where he told some of his stories about his past.
* AmbiguouslyBrown: His skin was brown during his youth, but in present day his skin is quite fair. For the record, japanese people who are naturally fair skinned can easily become very tan if they are outside in the sun a lot.
* AttentionWhore: He loves to tell his achievements as well as getting on national television.
* BerserkButton: Never insult or waste delicious food in front of him.
* BigEater: He is never seen without food.
* {{Determinator}}
* DirtyOldMan
* EccentricMentor
* FarmBoy: He worked as a farmer in Yamagata before he moved in Tokyo to train judo.
* FollowInMyFootsteps
* HeterosexualLifePartners: With Yutenji.
* InstantBookDeal: His only book, "The Judo Way Was Not Built in a Day" became very popular after its publication. Many judo enthusiasts considered it as the bible of judo.
* InsufferableGenius: Often brags about his achievements much to the chagrin and annoyance of other characters (especially Yawara). However his bragging is not without ground, and he is a masterful teacher and a skilled Judoka. He taught a team without experience how to stand and in some cases win against the top national ranking college Judo team in a very short period of time.
* JerkWithAHeartOfGold: He becomes this when he remembers his wife, or if somebody follows his advice.
* LargeHam
* ManipulativeBastard: Frequently manipulates situations to his own liking by means of extortion and taking advantage of peoples feelings and desires.
* MeaningfulName: His first name was based on the founder of judo, Jigoro Kano.
* MiniatureSeniorCitizens: Although it was shown that even in his youth he was still pretty short.
* TheMourningAfter: He never forgets to include mention of his wife Kaneko whenever he tells his life story.
* MusclesAreMeaningless: He's a skinny old man shorter than his granddaughter but he's still the best Judoka in the world.
* TheNicknamer: He nicknames almost every one of Yawara's friends and acquaintances.
* OldMaster
* RetiredBadass: He worked as a soldier in UsefulNotes/WorldWarII, according to the prequel.
* StageMom: Unfortunately he often makes decisions for Yawara's life and forces her to do things without considering her feelings. Much of her professional Judo career is because of ''his'' insistence at getting titles and medals, rather than being her own desire.
* ScrewPolitenessImASenior
* ThroughHisStomach: He always brings his food in every tournament. He also appreciates Yawara's cooking.
* TinyGuyHugeGirl: Him and his wife.
* TrustMeImAnX
* UglyGuyHotWife: His wife is a gorgeous and strong YamatoNadeshiko.
* VSign

!!Kosaku Matsuda
->Voiced by: Creator/ToshihikoSeki (Japanese)
* AmbiguouslyBrown: somewhat dark skinned, but his father is too so its probably inherited.
* [[BigDamnHeroes Big Damn Hero]]: many times he arrives at the last second to either help or cheer Yawara on.
* ButtMonkey:[[spoiler: In episode 102, his leg was fractured after he managed to send Yawara on gym on time.]]
* ComfortingComforter:
* TheConfidant: Intentionally or not, Matsuda often ends up being the go-to person for many characters to talk to when they have personal problems that they want to vent about.
* CoolBike
* {{Determinator}}: He WILL see Yawara fight. Even if he needs to visit someone in the hospital first, travel to another city, his car breaks down, or he breaks a leg.
* DeadpanSnarker: He has a few moments, especially to Yawara's rivals.
* DoggedNiceGuy: Has a pretty difficult time saying no to requests, which leads him being dragged around or being put in compromising situations.
* DreamingOfThingsToCome: After seeing Yawara's Judo skills, he becomes convinced that she's destined for stardom, and envisions crowds cheering for her at the Olympics. [[spoiler: 6 years later, this finally comes true.]]
* {{Fanboy}}: To begin with he was a huge sports fan, and put up posters of his favorite sports heroes in his room. After he meets Yawara he becomes her #1 supporter, following her story from the moment they met and cheering her on without missing a beat.
* GenerationXerox: for Matsudaira, but they're not related.
* GenreSavvy: When he first met Sayaka, Matsuda pointed out that Sayaka looked like a rich villain from a shoujo manga.
* HeroStoleMyBike:
* IntrepidReporter: Once he sniffs a good story in the making, he's willing to do almost anything to make sure its recorded and written.
* JerkWithAHeartOfGold: He sometimes is grumpy and snarky towards others, but he might be the nicest and most helpful guy in the cast, often going out of his way to help his friends and acquaintances.
* LongingLook: Often gives Yawara these when she's not looking.
* ManlyTears: He sometimes cries when Yawara is engaged in an awesome Judo match and/or seems to be enjoying herself.
* [[spoiler:OfficialCouple: With Yawara.]]
* {{Paparazzi}}: He's sometimes forced to act as this when there aren't any big sports events to report on. He hates it.
* RichSuitorPoorSuitor: With Kazamatsuri
* [[spoiler: SecondLove]]: To Yawara.
* TagalongReporter
* TearsOfJoy: [[spoiler: Matsuda cries when he realizes that his dream of hearing crowds cheering for Yawara at the Olympics finally came true.]]
* TragicDream: He aspired to be a 'sports star who people could be inspired by' when he was young. Unfortunately, no matter what sport he attempted he never could find one he was good at. In the end, he decided to become a journalist specializing in sports so that he could report on athletes like the ones he wished to be. Ultimately, he decides that he's satisfied that he can create articles about his favorite players reaching their goals.
* TrashOfTheTitans: His apartment is an incredible mess.
* UnresolvedSexualTension:
* UseYourHead: [[spoiler: In the manga, he has used this to escape from two kidnappers.]]

!!Sayaka Honami
->Voiced by: Creator/YoshinoTakamori (Japanese)
* BadassNormal: Despite the fact she has excelled in literally every sport that she's tried, Yawara's father is of the opinion that Sayaka isn't actually 'gifted' in anything, it's just pure hard work.
* ArrangedMarriage: [[spoiler: With Kazamatsuri.]]
* BrilliantButLazy: Completely ''subverted''. Sayaka is a spoiled rich kid who gets everything she wants at the drop of a hat, but she ''works'' for her athletic achievements, to the point of near insanity.
* ClingyJealousGirl
* {{Determinator}}: Really doesn't know when to take a break. She out-trains entire gyms of Judo practitioners and ''still'' wants them to keep coming at her, even when she herself looks like she's about to collapse.
* FalseTeethTomfoolery
* GenerationXerox: As Saimonji's younger sister.
* GirlPosse
* InferioritySuperiorityComplex: While she rightfully can claim she's amazing at almost everything, Sayaka has this attitude towards Yawara. Sayaka formulates every excuse she an possibly make to avoid admitting that Yawara is actually a better Judoka than her, while also elevating her own achievements as reasons for why she's the best.
* LonelyRichKid: But she has absolutely zero interest in making friends - instead she actively antagonizes and belittles those around her. That said, once people do enter her social circle she tries to control them to make sure they don't leave her.
* LookWhatICanDoNow: Goes from being a complete newbie in Judo to being the second best female player in all of Japan in the span of a few years.
* MakeWayForThePrincess
* NoblewomansLaugh:
* {{Ojou}}
* TheOnlyOneAllowedToDefeatYou: She eventually develops this attitude towards Yawara.
* RavenHairIvorySkin
* RichBitch
* TheRival: As far as Sayaka and the media is concerned, she's this to Yawara.
* ShipperOnDeck: She thinks that Matsuda is Yawara's boyfriend.
* SpoiledBrat:
* TookALevelinBadass
* ToothyIssue: She has a false tooth that she doesn't want people to know she has. It always seems to pop out when she's feeling frustrated.
* TrainingFromHell: Sayaka undergoes insane amounts of training to beat Yawara, going on world tours to train in elite Judo dojo's from various countries, and even once agreeing to spend 10 months in the mountains with no electricity.
* WorthyOpponent: To Yawara. Eventually.
!!Shinnosuke Kazamatsuri
->Voiced by: Creator/AkiraKamiya (Japanese)
* ArrangedMarriage:[[spoiler: With Sayaka.]]
* TheCasanova: Although he walks a fine line between this and HandsomeLech. Played for comedy in the anime, but he comes across as more dangerous in the manga.
* TheChewToy: His tendency to lie and two-time on others makes it hard to feel that sorry for him, but for a popular, rich guy who is good at Judo, his luck sucks. His crippling stage fright made it impossible for him to be a pro in Judo, but his skill made him a good enough coach that Sayaka hired him, and Sayaka having the personality she has holds a tight leash on him. When Sayaka surpasses him in skill, he ends up being basically used as her rag doll that she can throw around, and in the end [[spoiler: he gets roped into marrying her against his will.]]
* TheConfidant: A major reason why so many girls go gaga for him; he knows how to be approachable so people open up to him about their troubles.
* CoolCar
* DirtyCoward: He'll lie and play dirty to keep ahold of the things he likes, but he's too chicken to tell anyone the straight truth when it really counts. On top of that he's deathly terrified of large swathes of people watching him and will run away to hide, his pride be damned.
* {{Fanboy}}: He admires Jigoro very much.
* GenerationXerox: As Saimonji, but they're not related.
* GoldDigger: The reason he [[spoiler: ultimately fails to gain Yawara's affection]] is he is far too often caught between the feelings he developed for Yawara, and the allure of the money and prestige that staying with Sayaka would grant him. [[spoiler: in the end he gets the money and prestige, but that clearly isn't making him happy.]]
* [[spoiler: HenpeckedHusband]]
* MrFanservice: Being the resident shameless pretty boy, he winds up being the main source of male fanservice in the form of shirtless scenes, shower scenes, and even at times being seen fully in the nude from the back.
* MrImagination: this guy does a crazy amount of inner dialogue and fantasizing for how situations will turn out.
* OhCrap
* RichSuitorPoorSuitor:With Matsuda.
* TheRival: To Matsuda.
* {{Salaryman}}
* ShipperOnDeck: He once told Hanazono that [[spoiler: the only way to make Fujiko relax is to yell his feelings out of her.]]
* ThinkingOutLoud
* ToplessnessFromTheBack

!!Fujiko Ito
->Voiced by: Creator/ChiyokoKawashima (Japanese)
* BadassNormal
* BetaCouple:[[spoiler: With Hanazono.]]
* ClubPresident: Forms a Judo club for the women's college that she and Yawara attend in order to help Yawara enjoy Judo again.
* DanceBattler: While she still mostly uses standard Judo moves in her matches, Fujiko can't help but use some of the skills from her Ballerina days to supplement her movements.
* {{Determinator}}
* GracefulLoser
* [[spoiler:HappilyMarried]]: [[spoiler:With Hanazono.]]
* HardWorkHardlyWorks: She aspired to be a prima ballerina while she was a child and practiced for it so hard her pointe shoes became bloody, but she had to give up her dream when she grew too tall for it.
* HugeSchoolgirl: She's about 5'9", which is unusually tall for a Japanese woman.
* TheLancer
* LookWhatICanDoNow: She was convinced her days amounting to anything were through when she grew too tall to continue Ballet. Then she tries Judo and discovers a hidden talent for it, and quickly rises in the ranks.
* NervousWreck: She tends to get extremely nervous before and during her big matches, which requires her friends to give her support to help her break out of it most of the time.
* OcularGushers
* RomanticTwoGirlFriendship: With Yawara.
* ShipperOnDeck: She's starting to be supportive of Yawara and Matsuda ever since she found out from Jody.
* SurvivalMantra: "Une, deux, trois...Une, deux, trois...UNE, DEUX, TROIS!"
* TenMinuteRetirement: [[spoiler: Fujiko was expected to completely retire from Judo after she became pregnant. She ends up going back to training soon after giving birth to help motivate Yawara, and goes on to win a bronze medal at the Olympics]].
* TragicDream: Fujiko grew up aspiring to be a ballerina and actually excelled at it, but her dream to be a prima ballerina was cut short when she grew too tall for the position.
* TaughtByExperience: Fujiko ends up excelling in Judo partly because of her background in ballet. Even while she was a newbie at Judo techniques, she discovered during her early matches that her flexibility and balance made it incredibly difficult for her get tripped or pinned down.
* TearsOfJoy
* TrueCompanions

!!Kaoru Hanazono
->Voiced by: Masashi Sugawara (Japanese)
* BetaCouple:[[spoiler: With Fujiko.]]
* TheBigGuy
* BigEater
* TheConfidant: To Fujiko.
* ClubPresident: At Musashiyama High School.
* GentleGiant
* {{Gonk}}
* [[spoiler:HappilyMarried]]:[[spoiler: With Fujiko.]]
* ManlyTears
* OcularGushers
* StalkerWithACrush: To Yawara.

!!Kuniko Kaga
->Voiced by: Runa Akiyama (Japanese)
* ClingyJealousGirl
* CryCute
* DamselInDistress:[[spoiler:She was kidnapped by two thugs to be a prostitute.]]
* FirstNameBasis: She refers Matsuda by his first name.
* IntrepidReporter
* [[spoiler:IWantMyBelovedToBeHappy:]][[spoiler: In the final chapter of manga, she pushed Matsuda to get him closer to Yawara.]]
* NerdGlasses
* TheTease

!!Jody Rockwell
->Voiced by: Miyuki Ichijou (Japanese)
* AnimeAccentAbsence
* BigEater
* BoisterousBruiser: A rare female example. Jody has a huge, hulking figure for a woman and she's also extremely cheery and friendly.
* DefeatMeansFriendship:Subverted. Jody and Yawara became friends after the first match they have, which Yawara stopped in the middle after Jody hurt her arm. [[spoiler: In the final match she has against Yawara in Barcelona Olympics, the two of them seriously fight it out but after Yawara wins Jody holds her hand in congrats]].
* FriendlyEnemy: Jody and Yawara are always super happy to see one another, but they go all out against each other in a Judo match.
* FriendToAllChildren: During Yawara's visit in Canada, Jody creates a judo club for children [[spoiler:with her future husband.]]
* GameBreakingInjury: Suffers one of these against [[spoiler: Teleshikova twice. Thankfully she does recover.]]
* HairOfGoldHeartOfGold
* [[spoiler:HappilyMarried: To Lune.]]
* LookWhatICanDoNow
* ShipperOnDeck: She's the first character who thinks that Yawara and Matsuda are a couple.
* TookALevelInBadass: In her first fight against Yawara, the match gets stopped midway due to Jody injuring her arm. By the time they face off for the second time, Jody is able to fight intensively with Yawara point for point until time's almost up.

!!Kojiro Inokuma
->Voiced by: Masaaki Okabe (Japanese)
* AmbiguouslyBrown:
* BigEater: He is always seen eating while watching his daughter's tournaments.
* [[spoiler:TheChessmaster]]
* DaddyHadAGoodReasonForAbandoningYou: [[spoiler: Kojiro left his family for training to prove that he's better than his daughter. During the tournament in Seoul, he admits to Matsuda that no matter how hard he trains, he thinks that his daughter is more talented than himself.]]
* DeathGlare: His glare is intimidating that even Sayaka loses her resist.
* DisappearedDad
* IdenticalGrandson: In the anime, he looks like his grandfather Umanosuke Ushio, minus the moustache.
* LikeFatherLikeSon: He and his father are both masters of judo and like to eat while watching tournaments.
* LineageComesFromTheFather
* [[spoiler:ManlyTears: He is proud that he saw her daughter in olympics.]]
* NiceHat
* PerpetualFrowner: He rarely smiles.
* [[spoiler: SoProudOfYou]]
* TheStoic
* ThroughHisStomach: He often praises the cook for making a good meal.
* [[spoiler:WhenSheSmiles When He Smiles]]: [[spoiler:The only moment that he is seen smiling is when he sees her daughter won the gold medal in Barcelona Olympics.]]

!!Anna Teleshikova
->Voiced by: Creator/YukoMizutani (Japanese)
* CurtainsMatchTheWindow
* DeathGlare
* {{Determinator}}
* GeniusBruiser
* LadyLooksLikeADude: She's tall, muscular, and her hair is closely cropped to her head like a soldier. Jigoro even nicknames her 'army cut girl' because of this.
* NotSoStoic: When Yawara fails to enter a competition that Teleshikova entered for the sole purpose of fighting Yawara, Teleshikova is so upset over it that she starts losing her cool during her matches.
* TheOnlyOneAllowedToDefeatYou
* RenegadeRussian
* TheRival
* SignatureMove: Uses uranage.
* [[spoiler: SingleTear: She lost against Yawara for the second time.]]
* TheStoic

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