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Manga / Yawara! A Fashionable Judo Girl

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Yawara and her manipulative grandfather.

Yawara Inokuma is an Ordinary High-School Student. Well, she'd like to be. Unfortunately, she's got a Judo-obsessed grandfather and natural talent for the sport. Her grandfather, Jigoro, is determined that she'll win gold at the Olympics, and has been training her all her life for just that. He's not above using any method to manipulate, trick, or force Yawara into competing.

When a chance encounter (that is, almost being run over by) with bored rich girl and sports fanatic Sayaka Hon'nami, Jigoro jumps at the chance to set up a proper Rival to get Yawara excited.

With over three years left to go before the Olympics, will Jigoro succeed in sparking Yawara's competitive spirit, or will his forceful methods raise her stubborn streak? It doesn't help to have a sports reporter sniffing around for a scoop, either.

The manga was written and drawn by Naoki Urasawa, the creator of Master Keaton, Monster, and 20th Century Boys (yes, really), and it ran in the Seinen magazine Big Comic Spirits from 1986 to 1993. The anime was produced by Kitty Films and Yomiuri TV in Osaka with animation by Madhouse and ran on the Nippon Television network from 1989 to 1992, and has also been dubbed into Italian and Catalan.

The series had such a cultural impact in Japan that teenage judoist Ryoko Tamura, who won a silver medal at the real-life Barcelona Olympics, was tagged by the Japanese media as "Yawara-chan" thanks to her resemblance to the manga character (she eventually did win two gold medals in future Olympics and is now a politician). However, it is much less well-known outside Japan. Its Japanese TV run was contemporaneous with that of Kitty "sister show" Ranma on rival channel Fuji TV, but although Yawara! beat Ranma in the ratings, it was Ranma's less realistic and more fantastic take on martial arts that became the international favorite. In the United States, Yawara! received a partial subtitled-only DVD release in the United States from AnimEigo which was cancelled at episode 40 when the distributor was unable to license the rest of the series, and is now out of print.

Yawara! A Fashionable Judo Girl provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Accidental Misnaming: In Episode 90, Jigoro keeps calling Davis "Debeso".
  • All Men Are Perverts: When Yawara's forced into her first tournament, the all-male opposing club are thinking exclusively about how they're going to use full-body holds on a girl.
  • Almost Kiss:
    • Yawara and Kazamatsuri in their first date, but they're interrupted by Jigoro, Sayaka and Matsuda.
    • Even worse between Yawara and Matsuda. At the last episode, Matsuda almost kisses Yawara, but he was pushed by drunken Jigoro and their friends.
  • Anime Accent Absence: Subverted in Jody Rockwell. Yawara has to correct her Japanese frequently, although it does improve over time. Some of the other world-class athletes have to use translators, and some try to use English. At least one picks up enough Japanese to trash-talk.
  • As Himself: Judo legends Yasuhiro Yamashita and Kaori Yamaguchi, as well as popular professional wrestlers Akira Maeda and Nobuhiko Takada (and, even more bizarrely enough, diving champion Yoshino Mabuchi), show up as themselves in the series's 1989 live action movie.
  • Ass-Kicking Pose: Subverted, in that they all use a real judo stance.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Yawara is polite to everyone, including her opponents. This infuriates Sayaka.
  • Big Eater: Jigoro, although it seems to run in the family as Kojiro is the same way. Yawara even shows signs of this, much to her own disgust when a friend points it out. Toudoh does this as well. Subverted in Coach Yutenji, a huge man who can't keep up with Jigoro's appetite, but is too polite to refuse offers of just one more.
  • Bland-Name Product:
    • There's a Game Boy lookalike called "Tennento Game Bozz".
    • The banners in tournaments like JVD and Koniko are present too.
  • Bound and Gagged: Jigoro pulls this on a member of a high school judo club to trick Yawara in to doing a match.
  • The Bro Code: After the girls think Kazamatsuri has dumped Yawara, Kyoko gets a bit dreamy and the others ask if she's interested in him. Yawara immediately gives her a Death Glare.
  • Burger Fool: Subverted. Yawara and Fujiko both take fast-food jobs, but it doesn't last very long thanks to Sayaka's attempt to start a Bar Brawl.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Of the "That's the legendary such-and-such-and-something-or-other technique!" variety, where themselves never actually call their attacks, but the announcers do. Justified in that modern judo moves do indeed have names.
  • Can't Stay Normal: Yawara repeatedly quits judo, but over 15 years of habit can't be broken that easily, so she keeps her practice routine going until she gets drawn back in.
  • The Casanova: Kazamatsuri, although he walks a fine line between this and Handsome Lech. Played for comedy in the anime, but he comes across as more dangerous in the manga.
  • Caught in the Rain: Yawara and Matsuda take cover in the telephone booth. Matsuda accidentally holds Yawara's hand.
  • Cool Bike: Matsuda has this but it was accidentally fell on the river once.
  • Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You: Kojiro abandoned his daughter and his wife since he discovered his daughter's natural talent in judo. Matsuda then convinces Yawara that her father still cares for her and continues to watch her in tournaments.
  • Dance Battler: Subverted in Fujiko. Her flexibility from her past experience in ballet makes her extremely hard to pin, and she uses ballet music to time her moves, but her judo isn't particularly dance-like at all. Inverted when Jigoro uses judo and karate moves at a disco.
  • Diegetic Soundtrack Usage: In Episode 57, Jigoro sings the opening theme while he's in the bath.
  • Disappeared Dad: Yawara's father Kojiro has been off on a training journey since she was 5. Frequently turns into Parental Abandonment as her mom is usually gone looking for him, but they have a normal relationship when she's home.
  • Diving Save: Yawara does this to catch a kid who trips. And his ice cream cone.
  • Does Not Like Men: At least sometimes. Nanda joins the judo club in order to beat up the guys who keep dumping her.
  • Double Knockout: Sayaka and Kim both collapse from exhaustion after their practice match is over.
  • Dresses the Same: Yawara and Sayaka meet near the changing room while trying on the same dress. Given Sayaka's normal buying habits, this is more than odd.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Yawara does this once during what's supposed to be a celebratory dinner party. With rather expensive wine.
  • Dub Name Change: Yawara's name is Jenny in the Italian dub of the anime, and Ginger in the Catalan version.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: That girl in the boat in episode #6? She'll be back MUCH later (somewhere around the mid 50s.
  • Engagement Challenge: Subverted. Jigoro uses this on several of Yawara's suitors, but never intends to follow through.
  • Entertainingly Wrong: Kazamatsuri doesn't understand why Yawara had no defensive response when he grabbed her and forced her against a tree, and so he thought her judo appeared weak. What he didn't get was that Yawara was hoping to be pushed against a tree and kissed, not to throw him.
  • Evasive Fight-Thread Episode: Yawara's first match with Jody Rockwell, although it does eventually get resolved
  • Expy: Jigoro Inokuma is obviously named and modelled after the founder of judo himself, Jigoro Kano. The surname Inokuma also comes probably from famous judoka Isao Inokuma.
  • Eye Catch: Courtesy of Jigoro with this sentence.
    "Lovely and cute Mr. JIGORO INOKUMA is a fantastic judo boy!"
  • Fighting Series: Unusually, actual judo moves are involved here. This means Yawara isn't really learning new moves, but later on fights opponents that require more than a quick Ippon Seoinage.
  • First Kiss: Subverted. Yawara is expecting one of these, but Kazamatsuri is really just trying to figure out how skilled she is at judo. Three years later, it happens.
  • Flexible Tourney Rules: Averted in that standard judo tournament rules are used. Though there are two different types of team duels, and Hanazano once asks for a switch from the agreed on one to the other to try to protect Yawara.
  • Funbag Airbag: Matsuda bumps into Yawara this way when he rushes out in his room.
  • Generation Xerox: Several characters in Jigoro's stories look similar to the present day counterpart.
    • Kaneko, Yawara's grandmother and is able to do judo. Much stronger than Jigoro.
    • Although not related by blood, Matsudaira looks like Matsuda and is the exact same sports reporter...only he's a friend of Jigoro and Kaneko.
    • There's Saimonji, a rich man who wants to marry Kaneko. He was beaten by Jigoro just in time to stop the wedding.In the present day, the tale is hinted that Yawara will never marry Kazamatsuri.
  • Gonk: Toudou, although it is on purpose. She wants to weigh as much as possible since she practices power judo. Sayaka always calls her Todo (no long vowels) = sea lion/sea cow.
  • Instant Fan Club: Lots of people try to join the judo team at Yawara's high school, until she scares them off. Sayaka gets a huge cheering section of her own as well.
  • Intrepid Reporter
  • It's a Costume Party, I Swear!: Sayaka invites Yawara to a party, specifying casual attire while everyone else is in formal wear.
  • It's All My Fault: Yawara blames herself for throwing her father when she was five years old, leading to have family problems. This is one of the main reasons why she wants to quit judo.
  • Kingpin in His Gym: Sayaka does this against other trainers in her gym to relieve frustration to Yawara's achievements. Jody and Teleshikova also are in this state when they remember about Yawara.
  • Late for School: Sayaka finds out that Yawara is a judo master when she tries to delay Yawara when Yawara is in a hurry to get to school.
  • Lighter and Softer: Compared to Naoki Urasawa's later, darker body of work, this early title from him is a lighthearted comedy.
  • Lingerie Scene: Happens a few times to Yawara. This is a Seinen series, after all.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: Sayaka, whose interest in sports seems to be largely sheer boredom. Somewhat unusually, she's far more interested in becoming The Rival than she is in becoming True Companions.
  • Look What I Can Do Now!: Subverted. Sayaka tries this, and does become stronger during her training. Just not strong enough.
  • Love Confession: Yawara and Matsuda in the Grand Finale.
  • Love Letter Lunacy: Parodied. Yawara writes a challenge letter to Sudoh, but has never written one before. The rather polite message makes Sudoh think it's a love letter.
  • Love Triangle: A few overlapping ones.
  • Mad Love: Kuniko towards Matsuda.
  • Magic Skirt: Averted.
  • Make Way for the Princess: Sayaka expects this when she visits Yawara's school, planning to challenge Yawara. However, she gets hit on and has to show her stuff.
  • Manly Tears: Hanazono
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Yawara's name is the first character of "judo". Yes, it was on purpose. No, she doesn't like it.
    • Also, the founder of Judo was Jigoro Kano.
  • Miniature Senior Citizens: Jigoro
  • Miracle Rally: Played straight, subverted, averted, lampshade and justified, all more than once. This series likes to play with this one.
  • Moment Killer: More than once, to more than one pairing.
  • Muscles Are Meaningless: Justified in that this is the whole point of Jigoro's style of judo, that skill beats pure strength. Lampshaded in most of the open weight class fights, since Yawara is in the extra lightweight class, but most of her opponents are heavyweights, so people comment on this frequently.
  • Nervous Wreck: Fujiko
  • Noblewoman's Laugh: Sayaka
  • No Guy Wants an Amazon: One of the main reasons Yawara doesn't want to continue judo is her worry about this. Since boy Idol Singer Nishikimori is absolutely terrified of her after she saves his life, she's got a reason to worry.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Kuniko sets up a lot of these to discourage Yawara.
  • Ocular Gushers: Hanazono cries like this whenever he sees Yawara winning. It also happens to many characters who are watching the championships.
  • Office Lady: What Yawara becomes after she graduates from college.
  • Official Couple: Yawara/Matsuda and Sayaka/Kazamatsuri in the series finale.
  • Oh, Crap!: Kazamatsuri, especially when he deals about marriage with Sayaka.
  • Paparazzi: Matsuda and Kumoda get stuck doing this when nothing more interesting is going on, and hate it.
  • Parental Abandonment: Not complete, but Yawara's father has been out on a training journey since she was five, and her mother is frequently out chasing rumors trying to find him.
  • Parents as People: Jigoro and Kojiro. The only way to express their love is to let their children become the best judokas.
  • Porn Stash: Subverted in that when she discovers it, Yawara keeps cleaning like it isn't anything unusual. Matsuda is the one who panics.
  • The Promise: Yawara promises to fight Jody Rockwell again in a tournament somewhere, the first time she actively agrees to a real tournament.
  • Refusal of the Call: Yawara is not interested in judo and is not getting back into the sport, ever. She's totally getting back into judo.
  • Ring Out: This stops a match and returns the fighters to the upright position. Most notably used in the match between Sayaka and Tohdoh, where both fighters end up in pinning positions and try to escape the ring to cancel the hold.
  • The Rival: Played straight and subverted in Sayaka, who sees herself as one and is seriously frustrated when Yawara doesn't really think that way. Jigoro sets her up as a rival for Yawara in an attempt to encourage Yawara's fighting spirit. She does eventually become one, along with a number of world-class judo athletes from other countries.
  • Shipper on Deck:
    • Jody and Fujiko are supportive of Yawara/Matsuda.
    • Seems that Sayaka ships the pairing as well. She once asked Matsuda if he's tired of following Yawara.
    • Matsuda's taxi driver from Zegrab, who encouraged Matsuda to get close in the stage.
  • Shotgun Wedding: Fujiko and Hanazono in manga only.
  • Show Some Leg: Subverted in that Yawara isn't doing it intentionally, and in fact the only reason she wins the matches is because the guys she's fighting are so obviously attempting to sneak a peak that she gets creeped out and forgets her intention to lose quickly. Played straight with Miririn, who even gets disqualified from a match for it.
  • Shrinking Violet: Kyon-kyon, who joins the college judo club because she thinks it'll help her stand out more.
  • Signed Up for the Dental: Yawara takes a job at a travel agency for the travel discount, to help find her travelling father.
  • Springtime for Hitler: Yawara tries to throw her first big public match to defuse the media attention she's getting. It doesn't work.
  • Squash Match: Yawara is really good, bordering on Invincible Hero. If she isn't distracted or facing one of the top 5 in the world, the other judoka is going to be looking at the ceiling quick. Her first tournament fight with Sayaka... lasts 2 seconds.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Ganryuji High School's club are a bunch of macho jocks who think girls should be dressing up and dating, not fighting. Then they go against Yawara and appropriately end up on the floor.
  • Survival Mantra: Fujiko chants this mantra whenever she wants to concentrate on her movements or to calm herself. She even says this when she's giving birth to her baby.
    Fujiko: "Une, deux, trois... Une, deux, trois... UNE, DEUX, TROIS!"
  • Took A Levelin Badass: Sayaka. Come on, a pampered rich girl becomes more than a match for a judo princess, granddaughter and daughter of legendary judokas and trained since birth, just after some months/years of (admittedly hard, and administered by some of the best masters in the world) training?
  • Toplessness from the Back: Subverted, in that Kazamatsuri is the one involved.
  • Tournament Arc: Lots of them, justified by the fact that the series largely involves modern professional judo, which is in a tournament format.
  • Training from Hell:
    • Justified. Olympic-class athletes train in a manner that qualifies as Training from Hell for the non-obsessed. Those in the series never quite reach Charles Atlas Superpower levels.
    • Yawara "goes easy" on her high school judo club when she trains them. To her, hundreds of repetitions of each exercise, plus early morning training, are a light workout. To the rest of the club, they're this.
  • Translation Convention: We hear Kim's withering list of insults to Sayaka in Japanese. She's actually speaking Korean and the translator declines to repeat anything she says.
  • Trust Me, I'm an X: Jigoro, who works as a bone-setting doctor.
  • Unnecessary Roughness: Subverted, in that Yawara's about the only one who thinks so. Even the main target of this argues that it's all part of the sport.
  • V-Sign:
    • Sayaka frequently shows this pose before the match.
    • Jigoro does this too whenever he wants to get attention.
  • Who Needs Overtime?: Averted. Several matches run out of time, and go to decision.
  • With Due Respect: When Matsuda's boss is chewing him out for running around with a woman instead of getting the Yawara story, Matsuda shuts him up by explaining that he was out with Yawara and then explains the conditions of the match he got out of her, finishing with an "Any problems with that, sir?"
  • Wrong Guy First: Yawara falls in love with Kazamatsuri for years before she realizes that she truly loves Matsuda after reading his old articles.

Alternative Title(s): Yawara