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A comedy revolving around a young girl with immense inate talents at judo.

Teenage judo genius Yawara Inokuma (who shares the surname of the gold medalist from the 1960 Tokyo Olympics) wants to get to the Barcelona Olympics and fulfill her grandfather Jigoro's dream of making her a judo champion under his coaching. But she also wants a life of her own outside of training schedules and competitions-her best friend, the plain Fujiko, also strives hard to be a top-class sportswoman. Yawara attracts two suitors, playboy Kasamatsuri and young sports reporter Matsuda. With them come rivals to create anime love polygons-Matsuda is also desired by the buxom photographer Kuniko, while rich-bitch judoist Sayaka sees herself as the perfect companion to Kazamatsuri. To make matters even more complicated, Sayaka's trainer is Yawara's own estranged father, Kojiro-determined that his daughter is toughened by a truly worthy opponent.

Based on the 1986 manga in Big Comics Spirits by Master Keaton-creator Naoki Urasawa, Yawara is one of the better successors to Aim for the Ace, always ready to lay sports aside for more human-interest drama. Her love for her crusty old grandfather is equal to her determination to go to school, have fun with her friends, and maybe even fall in love; this is the main cause of conflict in both manga and anime. The first season ends, in true sports-anime style, with Yawara's defeat of her Soviet rival, Tereshkova, as glasnost takes hold. The series was a hit with more than just the female audience. Life imitated art as it drew to a close with Tokita's movie Wiggle Your Hips (1992, Soreyuke Koshinuke Kids), shown on a double bill with the Ranma 1/2 feature Nihao My Concubine. As the anime Yawara went off to the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, 16-year-old real-life judoist Ryoko Tamura won a silver medal at the actual Barcelona games and was immediately christened "Yawara-chan" by the Japanese media. Four years later, the series was revived for a feature-length TV special, Morio Asaka's Yawara: Only You (Y: Zutto Kimi no Koto ga . . . ), in which Yawara defeats Sayaka in Atlanta and faces another of her father's protégés in the finals, the French Marceau. The real-life Tamura dutifully obliged by winning another silver at the real-life Atlanta Olympics. Four more years later, Tamura finally won gold in Sydney, wearing the fictional Yawara's trademark yellow ribbon in her hair. For other judo-related struggles, see Sanshiro Sugata.
Series Credits
Person Name Episode Count
Hiroko Tokita
Hideharu Mori
Naoki Urasawa

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Original US Poster Art

General Information Edit
Name Yawara!
Romaji: Yawara! The Gentle Judo Girl
Publisher AnimEigo
Start Year 1989
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Aliases A Fashionable Judo Girl
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