Changing The Face Of Sumo Wrestling
Japan is a country rich in tradition. From strict hierarchical language and societal cues, through to their cuisine and anime offerings, this Asian island is highly regarded the world over. Sumo Wrestling is one of the staple sports of this country too and arguably what Japan is the most popular for. Usually reserved for men, Little Miss Sumo tells the story of Hiyori Kon, a little girl with a big dream of becoming the world’s number 1 sumo wrestler.
In Japan, women are strictly prohibited from competing professionally but having seen women fighting for gender issues around the world, Hiyori is undeterred and sets out on a mission to change the Japanese perception around female sumo-wrestling. Although only 20 minutes long, Little Miss Sumo packs an awful lot into its run-time, with a look at Hiyori’s family life and the run-up to the World Championships in Taiwan. Although more of a fleeting snapshot than an in-depth analysis, what’s here is enough to whet the appetite and add further weight to the notion that women can keep pace with men in everything, including Sumo Wrestling.
Just like other documentaries of its kind, Little Miss Sumo keeps things consistent with a good pacing and a balanced mix of archival shots and fly-on-the-wall reality scenes. There’s a particularly neat artistic shot late on depicting Hiyori walking to the ring in solitude and this is probably the highlight of the entire documentary. The musical score is good too although thankfully doesn’t detract from the main message here which gravitates around equality and pushing for change in Japan. For that alone, the documentary is worth watching but I can’t help but feel it could have done with being longer to add an extra emotional punch at the end.
Still, despite all this Little Miss Sumo is a compelling and interesting documentary and at 20 minutes long, an easy one to recommend. While it may not be the best documentary on the topic of Sumo Wrestling, it does shed light on a sport that’s slowly changing steadfast perceptions. Quite what the future of Women’s Sumo Wrestling will hold is up for debate but Little Miss Sumo certainly asks some important questions on the topic.