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Manga / Wanna Be the Strongest in the World!

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Wanna Be the Strongest in the World! (Sekai de Ichiban Tsuyoku Naritai!) is a manga series by ESE and Kiyohito Natsuki, which was serialized in Comic Earth Star from 2011 to 2013. It was adapted into an anime series in October 2013.

Sakura Hagiwara is a member of the incredibly popular idol group Sweet Diva, along with her good friend/rival, Elena Miyazawa. One day, they are asked to scout the female professional wrestling stable Berserk for promotional purposes. Unfortunately, Elena's mouth gets her into trouble when she makes slightly negative remarks about pro wrestling within earshot of Rio Kazama, a "heel" from that stable, who takes issue and challenges Elena to a match, mops the ring with her, and in turn insults the idol life. In order to defend the pride of idol life, Sakura challenges Rio to a match. The match ends up being a life changing experience for Sakura.

Tropes associated:

  • Achilles' Heel: The Boston Crab is Sakura's biggest weakness, so much so that it causes her to give up in her first 50 matches.
  • Ass Kicks You: Sakura hits Jackal Tojo's face with her butt during their match. Jackal does the same, but it hits Sakura in the stomach.
  • Badass Adorable: Moe Fukuoka. She's a Cute Bruiser who is a huge fan of Sakura.
  • Big "NO!": Played with. While Sakura does say this a lot, this isn't because something awful has happened, but because she won't give up.
  • Character Development: Sakura goes from simply wanting to defend her idol's pride into genuinely wanting to be the strongest and best pro wrestling in the world.
  • Child Prodigy: Moe is a world champion karate practitioner, despite being in high school. She's also the granddaughter of a wrestler.
  • Cool Teacher: Sakura is mentored by Berserk's biggest wrestler, Misaki Toyoda, herself a former idol, who was in turn mentored by Jackal, formerly of the Shangri-la stable.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • An inexperienced idol against someone with four years' worth of wrestling experience? The results are predictable.
    • Blue Panther does this in the matches that she sabotages.
    • This is averted in the Sakura vs. Jackal match; the latter could've ended the match this way, but decided to give Sakura a fighting chance to test her mettle.
    • Happens in the first round of the Dream Tag Team Match special. While Misaki may be the queen of the singles events, she and Sakura are tag team newbies going up against the champs, Digger Yamamoto and Hornet. Once Misaki tags in Sakura, they dominate Sakura with a chair shot to the head, a vicious top rope groin drag into the turnbuckle, and a series of double team headbutts that actually knocks Sakura out cold for an easy three count.
  • Cute Bruiser: Moe, who instantly takes down Rio with a single kick in her first appearance.
  • Defeat by Modesty: Rio's Shame Hold invokes this by putting the opponent in a compromising position before the audience and cameras, as Sakura finds out the hard way.
  • Defeat Equals Friendship: When Sakura finally defeats Elena, and both Jackal and Juri opine that they balance both their idol and pro wrestling careers, the latter admits to them and everyone present that the only reason why she wanted to become a pro wrestler was to have Sakura come back to Sweet Diva by any means necessary. After realizing that she too enjoys being a pro wrestler, Elena makes amends with Sakura.
  • Determinator: After losing 50 straight matches, Sakura never gives up, to the point of replying to every one of the referee's questions about giving up with "NO!!"
  • Eagleland: Subverted with Jackal. While she uses an American ring name, has a very American "feel" to her, and has blonde hair, she originated in Japan, as she was one of Berserk's top wrestlers. At any rate, she's a Type I, as she serves as an All-American Face and is a nice woman both in and out of the ring.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After a very grueling match, both Sakura and Elena get what they wanted without having to sacrifice any of their dreams. Months later, they are seen racing each other to the ring, fresh from performing a concert with the rest of Sweet Diva and stripping of their idol attire to reveal their wrestling costumes underneath (with Elena even wearing a new garb different form the one she wore as Blue Panther). It wasn't clear if the impending match would be a rematch of their last encounter in the ring or a tag-team battle against an opposing pair of wrestlers, but their manager reminds them that they have a another idol performance after that!
  • Easily-Distracted Referee: In episode 11, the referee just stands there gawking until Sakura reminds her that she's supposed to count the pinfall. Elena, on the other hand, did not even attempt to break free from Sakura's pin until the ref nearly counted 'three', hinting that she was more used to breaking out of pins this way from her training with Juri. Nevertheless, the commentator even says that if the ref started counting immediately, the match most likely would have been over.
  • Ecchi: Due to the premise, this series has a lot of fanservice.
  • Expy: Misaki Toyoda is fairly obviously based on Manami Toyota.
  • Face: Most of the heroines.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Elena, sort of. She becomes Blue Panther so Sakura would come back to Sweet Diva with her.
  • Finishing Move:
    • Sakura's Sakura Special, a backflip kick.
    • Misaki's Misaki Special, a modified half-chicken wing, bridging German suplex.
  • Flash Step: In a series largely devoid of supernatural elements, Moe oddly can pull this off. While it works great against Sakura initially, it eventually tires her out.
  • Game-Breaking Injury: Misaki was scheduled to have a match against Jackal for the latter's comeback, but she fell off a ring post to the ground and broke her ankle, Jackal has to find a replacement. She picks Sakura.
  • Generation Xerox: A former idol who easily gave up when placed in a submission hold, but became a Determinator and came to love pro wrestling: both of these things apply to Misaki and Sakura. It is also implied that Juri and Elena are the same way.
  • Gratuitous English: Jackal does this a lot in the Japanese version.
  • Groin Attack: Sakura is on the receiving end of a double team version by Digger and Hornet. The two of them drag her crotch first along the top ropes, giving her a nasty friction burn between the legs before ramming her crotch into the turnbuckle. This attack leaves Sakura on the ground, holding her crotch.
  • Heel: Mostly if you wear a mask or have face paint on. Another way to spot one is if you use your assistant to disrupt matches in your favor, or use foreign objects to enhance your move. This is subverted for Rio, who wears a mask during her intro, but then tosses it away for the match and mostly uses face-style wrestling. However, she's very aggressive and prone to trash talking.
  • Idol Singer: Sakura, formerly. Elena continues in her stead.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: While Rio is extremely aggressive, she's capable of being a good sport as long as no one insults wrestling.
  • Jobber:
    • Sakura loses her first 65 matches.
    • Misaki was this earlier in her career.
  • Kick the Dog: Rio's "Shame Hold" on Sakura, done solely for the sake of humiliating her. In the manga, even reporter Kanae Fujishita said it was "a little too much."
  • Made of Iron: Every wrestler in Berserk. To enter the stable, each applicant must withstand 100 slams from their peers.
  • Male Gaze: There are plenty of ass, boob, and crotch shots.
  • Master-Apprentice Chain: Jackal > Misaki > Sakura > Moe. There is also Jackal > Juri > Elena.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Almost all the girls. This is especially true concerning Rio and Hornet.
  • Naïve Newcomer:
    • Sakura initially grasps the idea that it will take a lot of hard work to go pro, but the immense length of her consecutive losses to the Boston Crab demonstrates that she's still out of her depth in how much training is actually required.
    • Moe is not only naive when she starts out but is also arrogant due to being the World Karate Champion. She finds out literally the hard way that wrestling is nothing like karate when Sakura and the girls show her the ropes during her training.
  • Navel-Deep Neckline:
    • Sakura's wrestling outfit has a v-shaped neckline that plunges to her abdomen.
    • Elena's as the Blue Panther has a similar plunging neckline
    • Not to mention their respective mentors, Misaki (whose neckline is more or less the same as Sakura's) and Juri (who has a huge Cleavage Window that exposes both her cleavage and her stomach).
  • Pro Wrestling Is Real: There's no such thing as kayfabe here.
  • Red Herring: Blue Panther's identity. After spending her time as The Voiceless, Jackal pays a visit to the Miyabi stable, where The Ace there, Juri Sanada, openly reveals herself as Blue Panther and it looks like she's aiming for Sakura. So Juri is Blue Panther, right? Not exactly. While Elena reveals to Sakura that she was Blue Panther all along, Juri admits that she was the one who sabotaged the matches, which was why everybody was convinced that she was Blue Panther.
  • Retired Badass: Kanae is implied to be this, as Jackal referred to herself, Kanae, and Misaki as "The Golden Age Girls".
  • The Rival: Sakura for Elena. She and Sakura always competed for the center vocalist position in Sweet Diva, which Sakura always won. Although Sakura treated it as a friendly rivalry, Elena did not, although she was still good-natured about it. It was the idea that Sakura would never return to being an idol that made Elena take up the persona of Blue Panther, in the hopes of bringing Sakura back to Sweet Diva by force.
  • Serious Business: Rio takes pro wrestling seriously. Insulting her sport is a one-way ticket to a world of hurt, as Elena learns the hard way.
  • She-Fu: The Sakura Special is basically a flip kick with the feet hitting the opponent's jaw one shortly after the other. It's a modified version of the "Ice Cream Somersault" that Sakura did with Elena when she was still an idol.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Sakura's long run of losses before notching her first win is reminiscent of Japanese wrestling legend Kenta Kobashi's.
    • Rio's Shame Hold looks very similar to Candy Cane's Humiliation Move.
    • Sakura's idol group is called "Sweet Diva". It's probably not a coincidence that WWE referred to their female wrestlers and valets as "divas".
    • The "Hell of 100 Throws" Sakura had to get through before she was judged ready to debut was part of All Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling's training regimen, except that the AJW trainees had to do it every day.
  • Sink or Swim Mentor: Misaki is this for Sakura as she teaches her how to endure the pain once she is put into a submission hold. In turn, Jackal served this role for Misaki, as the latter had to learn the same lesson Sakura did when she started wrestling.
  • Stage Name: Mostly averted except for Jackal, Digger, Hornet, and Blue Panther.
  • Stripperiffic: Several of the wrestlers wear skimpy wrestling outfits.
  • Take a Third Option: After defeating Blue Panther, who's revealed to be Elena, in a retirement match, a tearful and begging Elena still desperately tries to get Sakura to come back to Sweet Diva. Then the rest of the group and a horde of Sweet Diva fans call out to Sakura to rejoin the group. Sakura is torn as she truly wants to become the strongest in the world, but she still loves the idol life and can't abandon her old friends and fans; not when she saw and experienced first-hand the lengths of what one of them was willing to go just to have Sakura back. Jackal breaks the impasse by offering both Sakura and Elena a place in Shangri-La so they can be idols and wrestlers.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: Sakura calls out Blue Panther for the latter's brutal Curb-Stomp Battle. This apparently impressed Jackal enough that she picks Sakura as Misaki's substitute for her match.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Sakura, as part of her Character Development.
    • Elena. In the first episode, she gets her ass handed to her thoroughly by Rio. When she faces Sakura in the final episodes, however, she is shown to be a very capable wrestler. Such that she impressed even Rio herself.
  • Training from Hell: Comes with the territory in pro wrestling. Sakura and later Moe are put through this when they join Berserk. Also, given that Elena was able to match, and in some cases even surpass Sakura, it's almost certain that she was put through some hellish training of her own by Juri at Mayabi.
  • Traumatic Haircut: Sakura used to have really long hair, but a misplaced bet against Rio cost her a good length of her hair. This didn't slow her down, and as time passed she regrew her hair.
  • Underdogs Never Lose: Averted. Sakura is a Naïve Newcomer to the pro wrestling world and being inexperienced, she lost 50 matches straight due to her lack of ability to endure pain, and 15 more later despite being able to endure pain because of the lack of a Finishing Move before she gets her first win.
  • Untouchable Until Tagged: Moe easily dodges all of Sakura's jabs and is dominating the match with a series of karate kicks and punches. And then Moe runs out of steam and freezes up. The moment Sakura hits her once, it all falls apart from there.
  • Victory Is Boring: How Elena feels about being Sweet Diva's center vocalist. She feels she did not really succeed as Sakura left their group to become a pro wrestler.
  • The Voiceless: The mysterious Blue Panther doesn't speak until she challenges Sakura to a match.
  • White Hair, Black Heart: Averted with Rio. While she's not blackhearted, she's seriously aggressive in wrestling.
  • The Worf Effect: This happens to Rio a couple of times. First, Moe knocks her out with one kick to show her karate strength, and then before her tiebreaker match with Sakura, Blue Panther interrupts, ambushes, and knocks her out with a sleeper hold.
  • World of Action Girls: As a women's wrestling promotion, Berserk is naturally this.
  • World of Buxom: Due to the premise, this series has a lot of fanservice.
  • X-Pac Heat: invoked During Sakura's 50 match losing streak, fans have grown sick of her always giving up once she is put in the Boston Crab. She eventually manages to get rid of it once she becomes a Determinator.
  • You Are in Command Now: Sakura has always won the position of center vocalist in Sweet Diva, with Elena always finishing a close second. Now that Sakura has become a pro wrestler, Elena now became Sweet Diva's center vocalist.

Alternative Title(s): Sekai De Ichiban Tsuyoku Naritai