Khafre 78, "Shodai Dohyo-iri Fukuoka" 2016/11/21 CC by SA 4.0 (Left) | © PR Times, Inc. (Right)

“Made in Abyss” fan sumo wrestler Shodai wins tournament, praise from creator A. Tsukushi

Perhaps with the exception of fans of the sumo-themed anime Hinomaru Sumo, the Venn diagram between anime lovers and sumo fans is rather slim. But this fall, that intersection has become just a bit larger thanks to the unlikely connection between a sumo wrestler and a manga author.

On September 30th, Shodai 正代 was promoted to ozeki after winning the autumn basho tournament on Sunday. The 28-year-old from the Tokitsukaze stable is the Japan Sumo Association's first Kumamoto-born wrestler to ascend to ozeki ranking in 58 years.

Among the messages of congratulations Shodai received upon winning the tournament, one of them stood out. It was from the official account of the animated series Made in Abyss:

"Shodai, congratulations on your first (tournament) victory!"

As it turns out, Shodai is an anime fan. He discovered Made in Abyss during the time that his Tokitsukaze stable was under self-quarantine due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, a fact which was made public on May 30th when the JSA posted this video message from Shodai in a series of videos showing fans how wrestlers were spending their time "at home" in the stable. Towards the end of the message, when Shodai explains that he was watching videos to help him pass the time, a captioned message states that he was specifically watching Made in Abyss

According to, Shodai began watching and quickly became hooked, even demanding that his junior stablemates join him in watching the show. Apparently, the anime moved the wrestler to tears, which in turn provoked tears among his stablemates.

The anime's official account Tweeted the news as well.

Just as Made in Abyss had helped Shodai, creator Akihito Tsukushi was also encouraged and inspired by Shodai's public expression of interest in his work, and he began supporting the wrestler as a result.

"Thank you very much, Shodai!" | "Today, I was watching Shodai's bout. It was too bad but his opponent was very strong. When I asked who was that sekitori wrestler with bruises all over his body, I learned that he was an indomitable hero. He had to slam into a strongman like that time after time. That's not something you see every day! Sumo is so interesting!"

Tsukushi was watching Shodai face off against Mongolian wrestler Terunofuji, who had won the Nagoya basho in July after making an astonishing comeback to the makuuchi division this March after an injury layoff that saw him demoted to the second-lowest jonidan division last year, the first wrestler to do so from such a low rank. On the day Tsukushi watched Shodai wrestle, Terunofuji was strapped in a total of six bandages in his feet, knees, and arms.

Although he lost the bout that day, Shodai went on to victory, prompting Tsukushi to post another message on his account:

"I really want to say congratulations. (Watching the tournament), it was the first time I was so excited about something other than my own personal affairs."

The unusual connection between sumo wrestler and an anime has prompted some fans to speculate that we may perhaps see Shodai wear a keshō-mawashi (a decorative belt such as the one Shodai is wearing in the header image) with an original illustration by Akihito Tsukushi in the future...

By - Ben K.