Our Favorite Anime References at the Tokyo Summer Olympics

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Yali Perez
Yali Perez: The all around nerd who will lead you to victory in any quizzes! If it’s pop culture, she loves it and knows 72 random facts about it. Check out her podcast, YMUB, about her other love: makeup!

The Olympic Games have arrived in Tokyo! And us being anime fans, we were excited to spot references to some of our favorite series all over the place!

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You readers know as well as us that anime can be uplifting! So it only makes sense that the Olympic Games, from background music and subtle references to the athletes themselves, brought the magic of anime to the competition.

Let’s take a look at some of our favorite anime references we’ve spotted so far. What are your favorites? Share this post and let us know!


Hear that? 🎶

The opening and ending themes in anime are often perfect for getting fans excited and in the mood for their favorite shows. And the music of the Tokyo Olympic Games recreated that same feeling by dropping some iconic OPs and EDs during specific moments.

For example, during a men’s indoor volleyball match between Brazil and Japan, the OP for My Hero Academia Season 5, “No. 1” by DISH, was played when Japan scored a point on Brazil.

Or how about the men’s volleyball team from Japan, who rocked to the opening “Hikariare” from Haikyu!! during their match against Italy! Or when the women’s basketball team from Japan was introduced and the theme from Slam Dunk was, we may say, appropriately played.

It’s tough to get hyped without some Attack on Titan music, right? Well, during the men’s archery semifinals between Japan and the Republic of Korea, “Guren no Yumiya” from Attack on Titan was played.

And of course, you know “Gurenge” by LiSA had to be there. During the men’s archery finals between Japan and the Netherlands, the chart-topping OP from Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba played. Japan went on to take the bronze medal.


Anime and the athletes

For the athletes, anime helps transform and transport them into the hearts and minds of their favorite characters, channeling that energy for electrifying displays of skill!

For example, Team Mexico gymnast Alexa Moreno performed her floor routine to an epic cover of “Zenitsu Theme” from Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba.

Or maybe you saw that Team Greece long jumper Miltos Tentoglou struck a pose inspired by Monkey D. Luffy’s Second Gear from One Piece before the finals. Tentoglou took home the gold medal and gave Luffy a shoutout!

Anime inspiration isn’t just defined by references or music, though. For some, it’s about channeling that love into perseverance and optimism, as U.S. men’s track and field star Isaiah Jewett describes in this piece from Yahoo! Sports.

Jewett said before his Olympic debut match in the 800m run, he watched the episode of My Hero Academia where Deku takes on Muscular. He said it inspired him to give it his all in what’s known as a challenging track and field event.

And, of course, NBC Sports was all about the anime this year, giving inspired animated makeovers to athletes from Team USA, like Olympic Gold Medalist Katie Ledecky!


BONUS: Channeling Naruto!

Before we go, take a look at one Olympic television presenter who sported the style of the lovable sage, Jiraiya, from Naruto!

UP NEXT: 8 Must-Watch Sports Anime to Inspire Your 2021 Fitness Goals

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