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The cover of Yawara volume 1.
Genre Romantic comedy, sports[1]
Written by Naoki Urasawa
Published by Shogakukan
Demographic Seinen
Magazine Big Comic Spirits
Original run 19861993
Volumes 29
Live-action film
Directed by Kazuo Yoshida
Produced by Yukio Sakamoto
Hitoshi Ogura
Toshimine Kobayashi
Hiro Oda
Written by Ikuo Sekimoto
Music by Ken Yajima
Kaname Kato
Studio Toho Doga
Mycal Group
Released April 15, 1989[2]
Runtime 97 Minutes
Anime television series
Yawara! A Fashionable Judo Girl!
Directed by Hiroko Tokita
Produced by Masao Maruyama
Michihiko Suwa
Satoshi Suzuki
Tatsuya Mukai
Written by Toshiki Inoue
Music by Hideharu Mori
Studio Madhouse
Licensed by
AnimEigo (2006-2012)
Original network NNS (ytv)
Original run October 16, 1989 September 21, 1992
Episodes 124 (List of episodes)
Original video animation
Yawara! Soreyuke Koshinuke Kizzu!!
Directed by Hiroko Tokita
Produced by Masao Maruyama
Michihiko Suwa
Tatsuya Mukai
Shigeaki Komatsu
Written by Toshiki Inoue
Music by Masahide Sakuma
Studio Madhouse
Released August 1, 1992
Runtime 60 minutes
Developer Sofix
Publisher Sofix
Platform PC Engine CD-ROM, Super CD-ROM²
Released October 1, 1992
Yawara! 2
Developer Sofix
Publisher Sofix
Platform Super CD-ROM²
Released September 23, 1994
Anime film
Yawara! Special - Zutto Kimi no Koto ga
Directed by Morio Asaka
Produced by Masao Maruyama
Michihiko Suwa
Toshio Nakatani
Shōji Muronaga
Written by Toshiki Inoue
Music by Hideharu Mori
Studio Madhouse
Released July 19, 1996
Runtime 110 minutes
Wikipe-tan face.svg Anime and manga portal

Yawara! (also stylized as YAWARA!) is a Japanese manga series by Naoki Urasawa which ran in Big Comic Spirits from 1986 to 1993. In 1990, it received the 35th Shogakukan Manga Award for general manga.[3] It was adapted in 1989 by Toho as a live action movie directed by Kazuo Yoshida, starring Yui Asaka in the main role and singing the main theme, "Neverland".[4]

In the same year, Yomiuri TV began broadcasting an anime adaptation titled Yawara! A Fashionable Judo Girl!, which ran from October 16, 1989 through September 21, 1992 for 124 episodes. Each episode ended with a countdown of days remaining to the start of the Barcelona Olympics. The anime, produced by Kitty Film with animation by the Madhouse studio, aired on Japanese television contemporary with Kitty's Ranma ½ but achieved higher ratings than Ranma ½, despite the latter series being better known outside Japan. AnimEigo licensed the TV series for North American distribution in August 2006.[5] However, as of April 2010 AnimEigo has been unable to license the remaining episodes of the TV series for North American distribution.[6]


Yawara Inokuma is a girl who aspires to an ordinary life but due to her innate talent is forced to practice judo by her authoritarian grandfather, Jigorou Inokuma, with the aim of achieving the championship in Japan and the gold medal in the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games. Because of the pressure from her grandfather she has a generally bad attitude about judo, avoiding it as much as she can. However, over time she comes to understand why her grandfather loves judo and appreciates it more.


Yawara Inokuma (猪熊 柔, Inokuma Yawara)
Voiced by: Yuko Minaguchi
Played by: Yui Asaka
Yawara is a girl who aspires to an ordinary life but who is forced to practice judo by her grandfather. She is always having romantic daydreams; her biggest dream being to find a boyfriend. (Inokuma means "Pig Bear"; Yawara is the same Chinese character as "ju" in "judo".) Although she has a lot supporters and very close friends such as Fujiko, sometimes she acts selfishly and does not appreciate their commitment toward her (e.g., almost failing to help Fujiko in her All-Japan Selection match).
Jigoro Inokuma (猪熊 滋悟郎, Inokuma Jigorou)
Voiced by: Ichirou Nagai
Played by: Keiju Kobayashi
Jigoro is a seventh-dan Judo Master (though he often inflates this to eighth- or even ninth-dan) and five-time national champion. His passion for judo is rivaled only by his love for Yawara and food (particularly sweets). He has great expectations for Yawara's judo career and is constantly pushing her to do her best and focus primarily on judo. His motto is "Judo was not built in a day." He does work on the side as a bone-setting doctor. He is a bit of a media hound as he often tries to hijack publicity events for Yawara to highlight his own life and achievements. He is often overbearing toward Yawara and is not above using mean tricks to get his way, either to thwart her goals and desires or to force her to do what he wants.
Tamao is Yawara's mother. She is rarely home as she searches all over Japan for her husband Kojiro. Unlike Jigoro, she does not pressure Yawara to do judo, but she does not detest judo either because it was through judo that she met Kojiro. She tells Yawara that there are other ways to be strong other than judo and that it is possible to be a judoka and be feminine as well.
Kojiro Inokuma
Played by: Bunta Sugawara
Kojiro is Yawara's father. He disappeared soon after winning the 1974 Japan Judo Championship in his debut as an unknown judoka, supposedly training in secrecy in extreme environments (for 20 years?) without letting his family know his whereabouts.
Sayaka Honami (本阿弥 さやか, Honami Sayaka)
Voiced by: Yoshino Takamori
Played by: Yorie Yamashita
Sayaka is an extremely spoiled daughter of one of Japan's richest families. She has never failed to dominate any sport she has cared to try. When Yawara shows her up, she decides to stop at nothing to defeat her and becomes her rival. She has a false tooth, which is a sore point for her, and one that Yawara keeps accidentally bringing up. She becomes Yawara's rival not only in judo but also for Shinnosuke's affection.
Shinnosuke Kazamatsuri (風祭 進之介, Kazamatsuri Shinnosuke)
Voiced by: Akira Kamiya
Played by: Riki Takeuchi
Shinnosuke is one of the finest judo coaches in all of Japan; he idolizes Jigorou and has been hired by Honami. Despite suffering from stage fright, he is an unbelievable babe-magnet and incorrigible womanizer thanks to his good looks and ability to flatter women with ease and superficial caring.
Kosaku Matsuda (松田 耕作, Matsuda Kosaku)
Voiced by: Toshihiko Seki
Played by: Hiroshi Abe
A reporter working for a sports paper (Daily Every Sport), Matsuda becomes convinced Yawara is going to be the next great sports superstar in Japan. He is conflicted by his feelings for Yawara and his goal of making her into a judo superstar.
Kamoda (鴨田, Kamoda)
Voiced by: Chafurin
Played by: Koji Nakamoto
A cameraman working for a sports paper, Kamoda seems to have a knack for taking "the perfect shot" for headlines. He never refuses any offer of food.
Voiced by: Masashi Sugawara
Hanazono, the large, overly emotional captain of the judo club at Yawara's high school, becomes devoted to Yawara when she comes to his attention as a skilled judoka. He has a crush on Yawara and tries to be her chief protector, until he meets Fujiko and the two bond over their mutual enthusiasm for Yawara. He is later trained by Jigoro and becomes his college's strongest judo player.
Yuki Tohdoh
Yuki is a heavyweight judoka who lost to Yawara in the latter's "unofficial" debut, though Yawara was trying to lose the match. She outweighs Yawara by 20 kg (44 lbs) and looks, talks, and eats like a sumo wrestler.
Jody Rockwell (ジョディ・ロックウェル, Jodi Rokkuweru)
Voiced by: Miyuki Ichijou
Jody is the previous year's heavyweight judo world champion (>72 kg division); she is a Canadian who comes to challenge Yawara to a match part way into the series, becoming a friendly rival and regular character.
Kim Yonsky
Kim is the South Korean "secret weapon" whose judo incorporates Korean close-in wrestling. She and Sayaka have a judo match in which they come to an exhausting draw and pronounce mutual hatred.
Anna Teleshikova
Teleshikova is Soviet/Russian judo star who looks like a platinum robot with a butch haircut. She kicks Jody Rockwell in their first match and severely injures Jody's leg. Her habit is to study tapes intensively to figure out her opponent's weak point, which she attacks relentlessly.
Belkins is the Belgian judo champion who is also a model, known as the Judo Queen. She loses to Yawara in the semifinals match at the Judo World Cup and crowns Yawara the "New Queen".
Yuutenji is the judo coach for Sakai College, reputed to be the best in judo. He has been scheming with Jigoro to recruit Yawara.
Kaga Kuniko
Kuniko is a new photographer for the Daily Every Sport. She wears glasses, flaunts her big breasts with revealing clothing, and uses her ability to cry hysterically on command to get her way. She develops a crush on Matsuda and falsely pretends to be his "girlfriend" in front of others, repeatedly plotting to ruin the relationship between Matsuda and Yawara.
Ito Fujiko
Played by: Reiko Hirayama
Fujiko is a very tall student (180 cm, a little over 5′11″) at Mitsuba Women's College whose goal is to experience a "once-in-lifetime youth" and meet a wonderful man. She is somewhat gloomy and sensitive about her height, which she inherits from both sides of her family. She is not popular with men (until she meets Hanazono) and often ends up drinking alone at social gatherings. She dedicated her youth to ballet dancing until she grew too tall. She becomes Yawara's best friend at college. She organizes Mitsuba's first judo club to help restore Yawara's passion for judo. Under Jigoro's training, she becomes an excellent judoka herself due to her ballerina training, height, and hard work, but lacks confidence and psychological toughness as a competitor. The latter part of the show features her development as a judoka as much as Yawara.
Komiya Yukari
Komiya is a short-haired student at Mitsuba Women's College. She is flirtatious and a veteran dater. Her stated goal is hook a rich man for marriage. She is friends with Yawara and Fujiko but never joins the Mitsuba judo team.
Minamda Yoko
Yoko, aka "Paddy-field", joins the Mitsuba team out of frustration after being repeatedly dumped by men (13 when she joined; 19 when she graduated). She uses "(Man's name) you jerk!" as a battle cry when she fights. She becomes a police officer after judo.
Kikage Kyoto
Nicknamed "Kyon-kyon" (the shadow), she is a small sickly woman who is usually "invisible" in gatherings. She weighs only 36 kg (about 79 lb). She joins Mitsuba judo to get stronger in health. Although weak, she is also brave and great with details by keeping notes on opponents and is able to absorb Yawara's instructions even without being taught any real moves by Jigoro.
Yoshinagawa Sayuri
Sayuri joins Mitsuba judo to lose weight. Although not skilled, she often is able to use her weight to pin down opponents ("Thank God I'm fat!") and can take great punishment. She believes that each match reduces her weight by a few kg. People often mispronounce her surname.
Oda Mari
Nicknamed "Marilyn", she is the least serious of the Mitsuba judo club and is mostly seen preening for the camera. Often attracting men's attentions and sometimes molesters, she joins judo to fend them off. She is buxom and wears makeup and earrings to matches, causing her to be disqualified. She aspires to be an actress.



The series was published in Big Comic Spirits from 1986 to 1993.

The series was collected into 29 volumes between June 1, 1987 and December 1, 1993.[7][8] A 19 volume edition was then released between July 17, 1998 and March 16, 1999.[9][10]


Yawara! was adapted into an anime series by Kitty Films. The series was broadcast on Yomiuri TV between October 16, 1989 and September 21, 1992. A total of 124 episodes were produced.[11]

The series was licensed for release in North America by Animeigo. Preorders were opened in early 2008.[12] A box set of the first 40 episodes was released on October 31, 2008[13] and the boxset went out of print on August 31, 2012.[14]

Live action film

A live action adaptation of Yawara! premiered on April 15, 1989. Having Yui Asaka in the title role, the film featured cameos by real life judokas like Kaori Yamaguchi and Yasuhiro Yamashita, as well as shoot wrestlers Akira Maeda and Nobuhiko Takada.[15]


The significance of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics in the story is that in the real world, this was the first time that Women's Judo would be a full competition event and would thus see the awarding of the first Olympic gold medal for Women's Judo.[16]

Yawara! was very popular in Japan, so when real life Japanese teenager Ryoko Tamura won a silver medal for judo at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, she was seen as a real-life Yawara (her age, stature, and ability all being strikingly similar to those of the fictional character) and promptly nicknamed "Yawara-chan".[17] She was still known by this name eight years later,[18] indicating perhaps the enduring popular recognition of the series as well as that of Ryoko Tamura.


  1. ^ "Yawara! DVD Box Set 1 - Review". Anime News Network. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  2. ^ YAWARA!(1989). allcinema.net (in Japanese). Stingray. Retrieved 2015-01-10.
  3. ^ 小学館漫画賞:歴代受賞者 (in Japanese). Shogakukan. Retrieved 2007-08-19.
  4. ^ "Yawara! at the Turner Classic Movie Database".
  5. ^ "AnimEigo Picks up Yawara". Anime News Network. 2006-08-17.
  6. ^ "AnimEigo Unable to License Rest of Yawara! Anime". Anime News Network. 2010-04-29.
  7. ^ YAWARA!. 1. Shogakukan. June 1, 1987. ISBN 4-09-181341-0.
  8. ^ YAWARA!. 29. Shogakukan. December 1, 1993. ISBN 4-09-182809-4.
  9. ^ "YAWARA! 1". Shogakukan. Retrieved January 11, 2015.
  10. ^ "YAWARA! 19". Shogakukan. Retrieved January 11, 2015.
  11. ^ "YAWARA! A fashionable judo girl!". tvdrama-db. Retrieved January 11, 2015.
  12. ^ "AnimEigo Now Accepting Yawara! DVD Pre-Orders". Anime News Network. April 3, 2008. Retrieved January 15, 2015.
  13. ^ "Yawara Season 1 Box Set". Mania.com. December 24, 2008. Retrieved January 11, 2015.
  14. ^ "YAWARA!". Archived from the original on April 8, 2012.
  15. ^ Yawara! film
  16. ^ Judo at the 1992 Summer Olympics
  17. ^ A Decade of Dominance | Sports and Fashion | Trends in Japan | Web Japan
  18. ^ Olympic Glory | Sports and Fashion | Trends in Japan | Web Japan

External links

  • Official website (in Japanese)
  • Official Madhouse website (in Japanese)
  • Official Fuji TV website (in Japanese)
  • AnimEigo Official site
  • Yawara! (manga) at Anime News Network's encyclopedia
  • Yawara! (anime) at Anime News Network's encyclopedia
  • Yawara! on IMDb
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