The Indian sport will be portrayed in an ‘anime’ for the first time.

Kabaddi enthusiasts can get excited as the sport is all set to appear in an anime from Japan. Burning Kabaddi (Shakunetsu Kabaddi in Japanese) is set for an April 2021 release on TV Tokyo. The show is the adaptation from the ongoing manga of the same name by Hajime Musashino, which was introduced back in 2015.

The show will be produced by TMS Entertainment, that have brought us popular anime shows like, Detective Konan, the movie Akira and also worked on western cartoons like Spiderman: The Animated Series and Batman: The Animated Series. 

Kabaddi and anime are two very different worlds that have not been merged ever before. For people new to the world of anime, it is an animated cartoon series originated from Japan. Usually, the anime shows are adaptations from manga, which is the Japanese version of a comic-book series or a graphic novel. Famous anime shows over the years include the likes of Dragon Ball series, Naruto, Pokemon, etc.

The teaser for the anime Burning Kabaddi, scheduled to release in April 2021

For people and anime enthusiasts that are not familiar with Kabaddi, it is an Indian-origin sport which is played by many Asian countries. In recent years, Kabaddi as a sport has gained immense popularity across the globe and more countries like Japan, Australia, Kenya and the United States of America have taken a keen interest in the sport.

In Kabaddi, two teams of seven players face off on either side of the mat. The dimensions of the playing area vary for men and women. The match is played across two halves. Each half of play consists of 20 minutes.  

India have usually dominated any international competition of Kabaddi, mainly the Asian Games where they secured gold medals on every occasion since 1990 barring 2018. However, in recent times, countries like Iran and Bangladesh have mounted a tougher challenge. With the sport set to gain more popularity due to the anime, India will find it tough to maintain their dominant status.

Pro Kabaddi League has commercialized the sport in recent times.

India have won every Kabaddi World Cup and they are also the current Asian Kabaddi Championships after they overcame arch-rival Pakistan in 2017. Kabaddi as a sport has enjoyed a new lease of life due to the inception of Kabaddi Pro League in India that has the best Kabaddi talent from across the globe playing for different franchises.

The manga for Burning Kabaddi debuted on Shogakukan’s Manga ONE app and Ura Sunday website in 2015 but enjoyed a limited niche. However, an anime adaptation reaches a wider global audience, due to the nature of the animated themes, exciting action, music and storyline with English dubbing and subtitles available.  

A quick review of the manga’s storyline suggests that it is centred around a high-schooler Tatsuya Yoigoshi, who was a brilliant soccer player in junior-high but becomes bored of sports. However, he develops an interest in Kabaddi after being invited to join the Kabaddi club, due to the action-packed elements of the sport.

Kabaddi as a sport has been commercialised in recent times and has since earned a lot of new followers across the globe. The anime adaptation is a proof of the popularity the Indian sport is gaining. An anime adaptation is only signed off by a production house in Japan if the manga enjoys a sustained period of success. Anime enthusiasts have begun to study Kabaddi since the news of the new anime broke out. 

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This is the perfect opportunity for Kabaddi stakeholders and India as a country to take an indigenous sport to the international stage and bring it the attention it deserves. Kabaddi players are elite level athletes and the game requires extreme levels of fitness to excel in.

It will be interesting to see how the anime portrays the sport. That being said, the show itself looks incredible from the early teaser released on social media. Several sports like football, basketball, volleyball and boxing have been depicted in various anime shows before, so it is interesting to see Kabaddi get included in an exclusive list like that. 

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