One Piece, Naruto, Dragon Ball and more get referenced, Tokyo Olympics serving more anime feels

Written by: Allysa Malicdem

Published on: August 9, 2021 at 8:32 PM PHT (GMT+8)


Japan has always been the heart of anime, so much that even recent events have paved means in channeling and rekindling the love for Japanese culture and entertainment. The Tokyo Olympics has witnessed immense inclination and passion for anime through the various references caught from the sporting events, not only through anime/video game themes and tracks but also even signature moves from some of the loved characters.

Here is a list of some anime references/moves featured during the games:

A “Haikyuu”-type of volleyball play

Watching the men’s volleyball rallies had reminisced a vibe similar to the awesome plays and tricks from the hit sports anime, Haikyuu. Japan’s national team has portrayed a real-life Haikyuu set-up during the games. One particular circumstance is during the match against Canada where outside hitter Ran Takahashi go for what seemed like a power spike, but upon approaching the net has faked a strike before passing the ball to team captain Yuki Ishikawa who successfully killed the ball into the opponent’s side. The technique, often called “fake”, has been one of the wittiest, trickiest (not so mention, annoying) plays pulled off by several characters in the anime series. Talk about cunningness and top play!


The signature trick was performed during the fourth season of the volleyball anime where Inarizaki High's Osamu Miya was seen doing the "fake". This is one of the many plays where the move can be referenced. There was even a video produced showing the Haikyuu character and Japan's Takahashi. Got you covered!

Luffy’s signature poses relived!

Miltadis Tentoglou, a Greek track athlete, paid homage to the future King of the Pirates by performing Luffy’s famous Gear Second Pose during the players’ introduction. This signature move allows Luffy to increase his strength and speed. The “king” seemed to be amused when Tentoglou won a gold medal during the long jump competition. Italian athlete Massimo Stano was seen sporting Luffy’s Gear Third Pose as he finished his lap, winning the gold medal in the men’s 20km walk. Kings bowing down to a king!

Franky’s “SUPERRR” caught on cam

One Piece sure have avid international fans! USA athlete Payton Ottherdal channeled another character from the series, the cyborg from Luffy’s pirate crew: Franky. Ottherdal imitated and screamed Franky’s “SUPERRR” pose and catchphrase during the final match of shot put. A SUPERRR-b move!

Jiraya-sensei made cameo!

Naruto’s teacher was a presenter at the games! One of the Japanese TV presenters on the third day of the games showed up dressed as Jiraya. Naruto and Sakura also made special appearances in a Brazilian local channel to pay tribute to the games. Fans were delighted to see cosplays at the heat of the Olympics!

The “Sailor” crew steals hearts!

Sailor warriors came to the rescue! Uzbekistan’s team for group rhythmic gymnastics dressed inspired by the legendary sailor uniform from “Sailor Moon” and danced to the tune of the series’ theme song, Moonlight Legend.

Tributes to Dragon Ball

Goku’s iconic pose, “Kamehameha” had quite a number of portrayals during the games. One was from the Chinese 4x100m team. American track athlete Noah Lyles was also seen doing the signature move as he grabbed the bronze medal for the 200m race. Hungarian Balint Kopasz celebrated his victory in the men’s kayak 1000m competition by posing with the powerful Kamehameha. Surely, Goku is proud!

Seeing these anime references has proven that Japan’s culture is spreading like wildfire and served as an inspiration to many. Apart from the entertainment value, the passion transcending from these iconic anime characters has touched people including athletes. Japan’s influence through anime has served as a bridge in connecting people from all walks of life and corners of the world.


#feature #TokyoOlympics2020 #animereferences

Sources: Various sources | Twitter

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