Rakuten TV, the VOD streaming platform of Japanese e-commerce marketplace Rakuten, has commissioned an original docuseries that is to spotlight some of the greatest wrestlers of Japan’s national sport, sumo.
The three-part docuseries, titled The Giants, will provide a peek behind the curtain into the lives of the iconic figures currently dominating the world of Sumo wrestling. Featured throughout will be stories of the non-Japanese wrestlers who became the first Foreign Champions and Grand Champions of the sport, thereby paving the way for other foreigners to pursue a career as professional sumo wrestlers.
Production is currently underway with London’s NEO Studios (Take Us Home: Leeds United) filming in Hawaii and Japan to document the lives of these athletes. As a result, camera crews will provide intimate insight into their daily lives and the challenges these wrestlers face as they take part in one of Japan’s most traditional spectacles.
From the sacrifices and dedication involved in “devoting a lifetime to a rigorous and isolated lifestyle with extreme dietary demands,” to life after retirement, The Giants will zero in on the Hawaiian-born wrestlers who have altered the face of the Japanese sport.
Highlighted in the docuseries are Konishiki Yasokichi (pictured), one of the heaviest sumo wrestlers in history and first non-Japanese-born wrestler to reach Ōzeki, or champion rank; and Musashimaru Koyo, the second foreign-born wrestler to reach the rank of Yokozuna, winner of 12 top division championships.
The Giants, which will be available exclusively and for free on Rakuten TV in summer of 2021, is directed by Aristocrat Content CEO J LaLonde and is executive produced by NEO Studios managing director Anouk Mertens. Each of the three episodes will run 30 minutes in length.
“This documentary series reinforces our commitment to developing quality, free original content through our Rakuten Stories,” said Teresa López, EU content director at Rakuten TV, in a statement. “We are strongly focusing on sports content that captures the brand’s DNA and core values of empowerment and optimism through stories that showcase the human side of sports and all the effort and determination behind greatest victories.”